The first time they’re on Buzzcocks, it’s less than two weeks to Christmas. He’s in approximately thirty or forty things that are about to air on BBC, whether it’s the telly or the radio, and his phone hasn’t stayed silent for more than ninety seconds at a time. Catherine’s called him five times to inform him he’s a git and an arsehole for being presenter when she’d obviously be funnier, obviously David. It’s not that he doesn’t agree, but it’s his competitive spirit that he informs her right back that she knows shit-all about music, especially the stuff that counts, and her team is going to lose by a mile.
To be fair, It’s probably true.
The thing they both should have expected is Cribbins stealing the whole fucking show out from under them.
(He finds he’s still singing right said Fred both of us together and steady as she goes to himself a month after.)
Catherine sends him an email at 3:48 in the morning that simply reads, Guess who’s presenting Buzzcocks now ha ha ha.
He writes back the next morning after he’s had his coffee. Who’d you get?
Her reply comes three days later, in typical Catherine fashion. Katy Wix & 3 people I will need to wikipedia before I tape. Couldn’t they get me Sting or something?
He watches it live and laughs every time she’s obviously confused, but he laughs the hardest when Catherine slips and calls the girl from N-Dubz a slag, which, dear god.
He calls her after it’s over, but all he gets is a busy tone. So he emails her instead, should have brought me along as your music consultant, but that was a lovely story you told about the Monkees.
(The reply is much faster this time. All it says is, you complete twat.)
He’s booked again after the announcement in November that they’re taking Much Ado about Nothing to New York. The producers very clearly have something up their sleeves, since they barely tell him anything, beyond letting him know that it’s a charity episode and he’ll be a team captain against a very familiar face. He doesn’t know a single person who’s involved, although he at least has a pretty solid guess on his fellow captain.
He tries calling Ian, who’s cagey to the point of disturbing. “I don’t want to spoil the surprise, David. Seriously. We’re even going to film you walking in the door.”
His next call is to Catherine.
“How’d you know it was me?” she asks, without any preamble whatsoever.
“Of course it’s you. At this point we might as well have the same agent.”
“Point. They tell you anything?”
“Absolutely nothing except they’d film before we left. I shouldn’t be worried, right? It’s just Buzzcocks.”
“Naw, ‘course not. We’ll be fine.”
It’s probably for the best they didn’t warn him, in the end. If he had known his team would be Chris Martin and Bono, he’d probably have vomited the entire night before. How did they even get Bono? It seems impossible, even if the episode is a charity special for his charity. He knows he’s panicking when suddenly Bono’s name seems incredibly strange.
B o n o.
Nope, still weird.
No matter what, if he slips and pronounces it wrong, he’s going to have to commit some form of ritualistic suicide. He has a thought, just for a second, to err on the side of caution and call him Mr. Vox, which is probably the worst idea he has ever, ever had. He wonders if he just hides under the desk now, if anyone would notice.
Catherine sits across from him, a gleam in her eye. She’s always had a talent at knowing when he’s in a fit. To her left sits Miranda Hart, to her right, Jessica Hynes. The three of them already seem a unit, whereas on his side of the room, Chris and Bono are mostly talking around his head. So far the topics include Jay-Z and their kids, so. He’s doomed.
Stephen Fry takes a seat at the presenter’s spot (how much are they even paying for all of the appearances on this episode, dear god), and winks in his general direction. But he’s mostly focused on the fact that Bono is less than a foot to his right, and that Chris Martin keeps smiling at him, and that he should just be normal.
Ian shouts a series of last-minute instructions, and before he knows it, Stephen’s intoning, “Hello and welcome to the show. Tonight on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, the music men take on the lovely ladies of laughter. This is a very special episode presented in the hope that you will donate to the One Campaign.” A small montage plays on the screen behind Stephen’s head, and he lists off the website and phone numbers for people to call or text. He’s finally starting to feel like he can wrap his head around it all and just remember it’s work. Incredibly nerve-wracking starstruck work, but work.
“On David’s team tonight, he’s best known for—”
David cuts in, “You watch your mouth, Fry. I’m warning you all, there will be no Coldplay jokes tonight.”
Chris Martin, whom he’s struggling to think of as Chris, since his mind automatically corrects him to something resembling CHRIS MARTIN (OF COLDPLAY), claps him on the back and Catherine applauds him. It’s the first time he genuinely smiles since he’s walked in the door.
“Fair enough,” Stephen tells him, once the audience dies down. “The love of David Tennant’s life, and the man who must be very glad Phil and Noel have the night off, it’s Chris Martin! And of course, the man who’s too good for a proper name, the co-founder of the One Campaign and lead singer of The Larry Mullen Jr. Band, it’s Bono!”
The applause never seems to end. David decides its worth the risk to make an obscene gesture at Catherine, and the resulting scowl he gets is the best reward. The cameras catch it all, and he will be deeply shocked if any of it makes it to broadcast.
“And on Catherine’s team: the star of her very own comedy on BBC One, even if she spends most of it falling on the ground, it’s Miranda Hart! And while you might know her best from the classic show Spaced, she’s working on her stand-up career, and no, she won’t sign your bloody Doctor Who merchandise—a problem that no one else on this panel can understand, it’s Jessica Hynes!”
After her team’s been introduced, Catherine’s return gesture can only have one meaning: it’s on.
It’s either going to be the best Never Mind the Buzzcocks ever filmed, or a disaster as soon as they get the first question.
(It’s the best, thank god.)
(Even if it turns out Bono is absolute pants at Intros.)
He still hasn’t really bought anything for the apartment he’s rented in New York for the run of the show. There’s a rented sofa and telly in the main room, which is really all he needs. And there’s a bed, obviously, and a coffee maker and a tea pot, so he’s pretty much set as far as he’s concerned.
So when he has the idea to sit down and watch some Buzzcocks, he’s surprised to find out that absolutely no one in America carries it, which is just mental.
He talks to Tom about it the next day when they’re in make-up, and Tom tries to explain something called bit torrenting to him, which he doesn’t understand at all because he’s not sure why Tom is talking about seeds and leeches when he needs something for his computer. Tom finally takes pity on him and simply takes his laptop for a few hours.
When he hands it back, still an hour before curtain, Tom shows him a new folder on his desktop and tells him all he has to do is click on each one and then he’ll be able to watch it.
“Can I only watch it on here?”
Tom looks like he’s already got more than he bargained for. “It’s just a process. You’ll need a cable, and I can’t tell you which one unless I see what you already have set up.”
“No, it’s fine. We can watch them on the computer. We’ll just have to huddle a bit.”
“We? As in—”
“Oh, sorry, I was going to have Catherine round, since Buzzcocks, it’s sort of a me and her thing. But I mean, if you want to come over—”
“No, it’s completely fine. Anyway, I put everything I could find on there, so. Enjoy!”
It’s definitely not the most awkward a conversation’s turned, but it’s definitely not comfortable by any stretch either. In fact, he’s reasonably sure Tom was convinced he was just being chatted up, so, there’s that.
“Good show,” he says, and gets out of there before it can get any worse.
He collapses on the sofa, with Catherine plunking down right next to him just as heavily. It’s not like Much Ado’s an overly short show, and it’s well after midnight. He drags up a little footstool and rests his laptop on it. He wishes he had speakers, but they’re just going to have to live with the volume turned all the way up.
“Let’s go then, Mr. Tech Wizard. Are you sure you don’t want to just put in West Wing on DVD so we can watch on that?” She nods her head in the general direction of his television, which is, admittedly, much larger.
“If we watch West Wing, you’re just going to stare at Bradley Whitford all night, so no thank you. I’d like to kick your ass at answering the questions.”
“As if this show ever actually has real questions,” she says.
There’s fifteen or so files that Tom’s stuck in the folder, but they’re all titled with numbers and things like hvid and lol (that’s the first thing that makes sense; he frequently laughs out loud at Buzzcocks). He has absolutely no clue which one is which or who’s on them. So he clicks one at random. The theme is an immediate comfort, and Catherine makes vague music noises along with it.
They get past the intro though and the first thing that appears on the screen is the TARDIS, which, absolutely not. He leans forward, ready to immediately stop it, when Catherine puts her hand on his arm.
“No, leave it. It’s been long enough, I think we can suffer through watching ourselves.”
He sighs, but settles back on the sofa. Catherine companionably bumps her shoulder with his, and he tries to focus on Cribbins being a fucking comedic genius.
They probably don’t even make it to the Identity Parade before they’re both fast asleep. The last thing he remembers laughing at is Catherine asking, are these songs people have heard of?
(It’s not the first morning he’s ever woken up to find Catherine asleep on him.)
(She still drools.)
He’s right to think that his next time on Buzzcocks can never live up to the previous ones, and he’s dead on. Worst of all, they ask him to fill in last minute. It’s not like he can miss a performance of Much Ado either, which means he has to take the red-eye to London and then once they’re done filming, immediately head back to America. He won’t really even get to see anyone, while he’s back.
Catherine goes with him to the airport, since she’s the one with a driver. They sit in the backseat and patiently wait out the New York traffic. He could have just taken the AirTrain to JFK, but Catherine had offered. Terminal 4 is jam-packed when they arrive, but her driver manages to push his way in and park right at the entrance to Virgin. He gets out reluctantly, since he doesn’t really want to be on a plane for the next six hours, struggling to sleep so he’s not a complete zombie during filming.
He leans back in through the open door. “I don’t even get a goodbye hug?”
“We're going to get a fine, David. This is America; look, that policeman is staring at us already.”
“Bully to him, come on.”
She grudgingly gets out of the car, and he wraps her in a tight hug on the sidewalk. “It won’t be the same without you there, harassing me and talking complete rubbish.”
“Oh, shut up.” She says, although he call tell she’s pleased just from the way her hands spread across his back.
“Who else will inform the British public that Kate Bush stole her lyrics from Emily Brontë?”
“You should really quit while you’re ahead.”
“You’re picking me up tomorrow night, yeah?”
“Wouldn’t miss it. Have a good flight,” she says, and kisses him on the cheek.
(It’s not the same without her, not at all.)