Sun, 12th Oct 2014 | EcoWorrier | 2,927 Views, 3 Nods.


Many of us will have experienced that phenomenon of as one door closes, so another door opens'' but does it always occur as a result of our actions? Or is there another unseen, intangible agency at work?

I am convinced something way beyond my control was involved in my own one door closing and another door opening'' experience in 2014, and so I'd like to share it with you here. All I ask, dear reader, is that you keep an eye on the quite extraordinary timing in the sequence of events.

It all began at 7.15pm on Tuesday April 15, 2014 when I took an unexpected telephone call from my agent Louise Dyson. Up to then, I hadn't heard from Louise for a couple of years, so the reason for her call came as quite a surprise.

At this point, I should point-out that through the 1990s I was fairly active in TV and film. Under my stage name of Lewis Adler, I played numerous supporting cast roles in such UK television productions as Wycliffe, Dangerfield, Casualty, Inspector Linley Investigates and The Choir, among others. However, due to the increasing severity of a pre-existing Dystonic Tremor disability, by the end of 1997, my TV and film assignments had dried-up completely, thereby initiating a lengthy dormant period. Nevertheless, from 1997 to 2014, I had continued my fully paid-up membership of the British Actors Equity union, and for much of that time my name and details had remained on the books of Louise Dyson's Visable People agency the first agency in the world to search for opportunities for disabled actors, models and presenters.

So, right out of the blue on April 15, 2014, there was Louise Dyson telling me she'd forwarded my details to the BBC, and they had invited me to attend an audition. Only two problems,'' she announced. It's at Elstree and it's the day after tomorrow!'' Elstree is more than 250 miles from my home in Devon, and April 17 was Maundy Thursday. However, it was one of those rare moments when I knew instinctively that I simply had to say yes''.

Two days later, I attended the audition and, on the long drive home, while mulling over the experience, I felt I'd acquitted myself reasonably well. At least I was confident I hadn't made a complete hash of it. The casting director and director had both been friendly and easy to work with and, as they wished me a safe journey home, the former told me they'd be making a decision the following week after the Easter holidays.

Easter 2014 and the week that followed it passed by quickly, but I heard nothing, so I assumed the part had gone to somebody else. Meanwhile, I carried-on as normal with my BBC radio work; producing and presenting a weekly regional show featuring the enduringly popular music of the mid-20th Century. Indeed, I pre-recorded the April 27 edition of the programme on Easter Monday, April 21, just four days after the Elstree audition.

In the running order of that show there had originally been a request for me to play a 1930s recording by Frank Crumit entitled Abdul Abulbul Amir''. As soon as I'd received that request in the post several weeks earlier, I had begun to ponder the possibility that some listeners may be offended by the subject matter of the recording itself. In the end I checked the lyrics of Abdul Abulbul Amir'' on-line and, after doing so, I felt even more uncomfortable. I, therefore, referred the matter up to my managing editor, and he agreed. Best to play an alternative recording,'' he wrote back.

Sitting there in my study, contemplating the managing editor's reply, I gazed out of the window and whispered to myself, Okay, I need to find a similarly jokey 1930s recording that the listener in question might have remembered from his childhood. I know! I'll play The Sun Has Got His Hat On''. Sorted!''

Over the past fifty years I guess I must have heard The Sun Has Got His Hat On'' hundreds of times. In fact, I can even remember singing the first few lines with my two young children, over and over again in the summer of 1975, as we journeyed by car through the picturesque county of Devon to holiday on the north coast of Cornwall in England's far south west. Yes, it would be the perfect alternative to Abdul Abulbul Amir''. Or so I thought.

Midway through the transmission of the April 27 show, I was sitting at the PC in my study at home when I decided to go on-line and check-out my Facebook pages. A few minutes later, up popped a private Facebook message from a gentleman who I knew to be one of my regular listeners. Did you know that the 1932 recording you've just played of The Sun Has Got His Hat On'' by Ambrose and His Orchestra contains the N'' word in the lyrics?'' I blinked hard because I thought I'd miss-read the message but, no, I'd read it correctly first time.

Suddenly, my heart was in my mouth, and I replied to the listener to thank him for the heads-up. He responded almost immediately with, I'm not complaining, but I thought you would wish to know.'' I thanked him again and added jokingly, If I'm not on-air this time next week, you'll know why'', to which he responded, If you're not on-air next week, there'll be a bloody riot!'' With that, I laughed out loud and told him so, then logged-off. Moments later, I switched-on my CD player and retrieved the aforementioned Ambrose track from my CD racks, placed my headphones over my ears and listened intently. It took me three plays of the track to actually hear the N'' word but, yes, it was definitely there and I knew I was in trouble.

However, instead of alerting my BBC bosses to the matter, I decided to let sleeping dogs lie for a while. The next day, I travelled to the BBC's Exeter studios and pre-recorded the following weekend's (May 4) show as normal. On my return home, I discovered an email from the BBC advising me they had received a complaint from a listener. Astonishingly, the actual email complaint was embedded in the body of the BBC's message, so I was able to read the complaint in full and see the originator's name and email address! My email response to the BBC was to offer an unreserved apology to that listener and my other listeners during the next available programme on May 11. Regrettably, it very soon became clear to me the BBC middle management didn't want me to make any announcements on the matter, so I suggested ' in jest ' my only other option was to fall on my sword.

Over the next few days, I exchanged more emails with my BBC bosses in the hope they would have a change of heart and give me permission to apologise on-air. Sadly, no such permission was forthcoming. In the end, I received an email from a BBC middle manager to say, Regrettably, we feel the only way to resolve this issue is to ask you to fall on your sword.''

So, after more than 32 years as a radio programme-maker, one silly mistake on my part, followed by one email complaint from a listener, and I was history. As a further point of interest, the complainant not only admitted to the fact that he'd never before listened to my radio programmes, but he also failed to do me the courtesy of using my proper name: he referred to me throughout his complaint as David Young.

Nevertheless, despite the apparent finality of the situation, over the next couple of days I produced the running order for the May 11 show, plus a draft apology, in case the BBC had second thoughts. But, by Friday morning May 9, I'd heard nothing from them so I decided to apologise in another way. As far as I was concerned my listeners had an inalienable right to know what was going-on behind the scenes, and I was determined to do something about it. I, therefore, wrote-up a detailed, explanatory article titled And Finally'' and published it to the Blog I'd created in 2012 as a running commentary on my radio shows. That Blog address is: www.mid20thcenturymusictalk.blogspot.com.

Little did I suspect, however, that the simple act of posting the And Finally'' article to the Blog would result in an international media maelstrom. The following afternoon (May 10), my wife Jenny and I returned from a Dystonia support group meeting to find a reporter from the Mail on Sunday waiting on our doorstep. I invited him into our home and we talked through the episode.

The following morning, it all kicked-off. When I booted-up my PC early on Sunday May 11 one of the first things I saw was an email from an Australian on-line listener urging me to look at the front page of that morning's Mail on Sunday newspaper. BBC SACKS DJ FOR PLAYING SUN HAS GOT HIS HAT ON!'' blared the main headline. To put it mildly, the rest of that Sunday, plus the whole of Monday May 12 and well into Tuesday May 13 passed in a crazy blur of national radio, television and newspaper interviews, photo shoots and telephone calls. By the Tuesday lunchtime, Jenny was in a state of near collapse and I was beginning to tire too.

But help was at hand. Some months earlier, Jenny and I had decided to take a short break in the county of Cornwall, starting from the evening of May 13, and lasting until the Friday afternoon of May 16. Consequently, soon after lunch on Tuesday May 13, we escaped the media circus and motored to a hideaway guest house in a delightful little village called Tywardreath near St Austell. Our plan was to visit the famous Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan on consecutive days and follow that, on the Friday morning, with a long-planned radio interview discussing my literary activities on St Austell Bay Radio.

It was good to be back in a radio studio again, and my interview with presenter Marj James seemed to go smoothly and quickly. Soon after the programme ended at 11am, Marj, Jenny and I retired to the studio's green room to wind-down. A few minutes later, my mobile phone rang. My immediate thought was, Oh bother, I should have turned the phone off before going into the studio for the interview, but I'd forgotten to do so.'' Pulling the phone from my pocket, I was surprised to see Louise Dyson's name on the screen.

With the sound of relief in her voice, Louise said, Oh Lewis, I'm so pleased to catch-up with you. I've just left a message on your home number, but I thought I'd try your mobile too. A few minutes ago, I had a call from the casting director at Elstree. He and the director were so impressed with your audition on April 17, they want to offer you the role!'' My first reaction was stunned silence, followed by the recollection that, during my radio interview with Marj James ' not half an hour earlier ' I'd made a passing reference to an audition I'd attended in Elstree just before Easter and then added, I haven't heard anything since, so I guess the part must have gone to somebody else.''

Needless to say, I was very happy indeed over this completely unexpected turn of events. Marj and Jenny were delighted for me too. In fact, ten minutes later, Jenny performed a little skip and a dance across the car park after we'd said our farewells to Marj.

Ten days later, I began two weeks of filming in Cardiff on an episode of the popular UK prime-time television series Casualty'' in which I play a character called Timothy Blake. I'm not allowed to reveal any of the plot, but that episode of Casualty'' is scheduled for transmission on BBC 1 television on Saturday evening, October 18, 2014.

Of course, I can't predict how much of my 'performance' has ended-up on the cutting room floor, but I'm hoping the final edit will contain enough of my on-screen efforts to be well received by my agent, plus TV industry movers and shakers, not to mention the wider viewing audience. And, who knows, maybe, it'll open-up more TV and/or film opportunities for me in the coming months? For now, though, it's a case of Que Sera Sera fingers crossed!

So there you have it: a remarkable and bang up-to-date example of the old maxim as one door closes, so another door opens''. But just look at the timing in the sequence of broadly unrelated events! Who or what was at the controls of this amazing story of synchronicity? I'm still trying to puzzle that one out, because it certainly wasn't me.


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