Twenty Years Ago Today Page 2

The bit cuts together like a dream and it is one of my favorite pieces from the entire series so when I'm invited to host Saturday Night Live in October 1976 and Lorne Michaels asks to run something from my series I show him the Rutles clip and one other piece, a parody of The Who's Tommy called Pommy, which is about a deaf, dumb and blind man stuck in a Ken Russell film and his struggles to get out of the cinema.

Pommy from the Rutland Dirty Weekend Book

It's a nice bit in which I run around as a rather whacky Roger Daltry, eventually running straight into camera and being impaled by it. (You'll notice I was heavy into camera gags that year.) Lorne selects the Rutles piece. On the show it gets a huge laugh and a great audience reaction to the song and the sight of the Rutles. After the show there is a surprisingly strong response, many fans begging for more and writing into the show sending letters to the Rutles. I'm gratified to hear this because encouraged by George (the former Beatle) I've been thinking that this might make a nice documentary special. I mention to Lorne that I'm thinking of doing this for BBC TV. "Don't do that," he says, "do it for me through my deal with NBC, you'll have a much bigger budget." Now you should realize that Rutland Weekend TV as well as being about the world's smallest TV station was also done on the world's smallest TV budget. The entire first series of six cost only thirty thousand pounds, and was filmed in the world's smallest TV studio (on the fourth floor opposite the weather studio). We could hardly afford sets. Everything had to be brought up one at a time in a large lift. Our only advantage was since there was no room for an audience we could tape and shoot at will. The artistic joys of having no budget which I foolishly associated with independence and thrift were beginning to wear off. "Come and meet me for Christmas in Barbados and we'll talk about it," said Lorne jovially on the trans-Atlantic phone.

Now the idea of leaving rainy, miserable, November London for a spell in Barbados in 1976 was a very attractive proposition. My marriage had broken up the year before and the beautiful teenage Australian model I was dating was making mating noises, bringing in 'HIS and HERS' cushions to my house and leaving large hints that she should move in with me and begin the important task of re-arranging the furniture. Since this thought induced panic attacks and interfered with my serial dating plans, it was clearly time to move on. I accepted Lorne Michael's invitation to join him, his girlfriend Susan, Paul Simon and Shelly Duval (an improbable couple then and now) at the Barrier Reef Hotel in St. James Barbados. My word it was tough. I could tell you about days of lounging in the sun, hours wasted plunging into the sea, decades spent playing guitars all day, drinking rum punch, dancing by night, visiting extraordinary parties where the young, famous, gifted and fat rubbed shoulders with some of the shapeliest shoulders on the planet. It was a really tough life but someone has to do it.

One day, I took a walk along the beach in St. James, and met a strange, tall, dark-skinned gentleman sitting cross-legged on the beach gazing at the sea. "I'm Rikki," he said. So Stig entered my life, under the guise of Rikki Fataar, a most unlikely attractive fellow who had been a twelve year old rock star drummer in South Africa at the age of twelve with The Flames, passed through swinging London en route to joining the Beach boys. Several tours and a wife later he was, like me, in transition.


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