Bill Oddie has developed a firm Twitter following and is pitching the show to broadcasters. But its makers say he’s expected to be ‘a bit nippy in the middle’
If Bill Oddie’s show “was really seriously presented by Bill Oddie, and transmitted from his original studio at home” he might get past BBC TV censors because it would be called Queens.
Or, rather, what he would call it. After seven years of pestering Oddie about a TV show “to explain the fascinating facts of life to our teenagers in a fun and entertaining way”, Oddie now has a pitch ready for broadcasters to buy. He and Michael Marmot of the London School of Economics are writing the script and Oddie says he hopes “Queen may be nominated for the Bafta equivalent” of the Royal Television Society awards.
He has not been allowed, however, to admit that he is presenting the show, other than to add that he has a “wobbly voice” and is expected to be “a bit nippy in the middle”.
The show, said Oddie in a recent newspaper interview, would have “the sort of feel of a university seminar”. In Marmot’s words, he is excited by Oddie’s “sparkle of ideas and enthusiasm”.
The role of creator of a show has become increasingly important as TV broadcasters switch to multi-channel services.
Oddie said that if a letter came from Britain’s broadcasting regulator Ofcom asking him to stop “sniping” at the BBC, he would stop. He may be struggling to find paid work but he has an active Twitter following of more than 230,000. He also has “about 50,000 opinions on it”. His opinions on the show may attract attention for a few months, say Oddie’s producer, Jane Rutter of Eyecon Films, not least because of Oddie’s support of gun control and his unhappy marriage.
The broadcaster Jeremy Paxman was recently reported as saying of Oddie that he was “more like a Queen of Hearts than a King”. “He could get into some trouble,” said Paxman, who argued that he would be particularly vulnerable to charges that his show would make fun of the Queen. He and Oddie have made similar comments in previous interviews.
The details of the pitch to broadcasters are not public but Rutter said that the chief aim was to “make Bill Oddie funny”. The six-part, 15-minute series would offer more than 100 facts each week and could be broadcast over a Monday, Wednesday and Friday lunchtime slot. It would focus on different “myths and legends” with a hard-hitting approach such as Mrs Thatcher “meets Gordon Brown” at Chequers.
Oddie said he hoped to find a writer for the show – preferably from Blackpool – and viewers would help shape it. “As I did with Bill Oddie’s Animal Parade, the British public will be an integral part of Queen,” said Rutter. “What is in this piece will be based on what people put in to us.”