Tuesday, July 10, 2012
How ANS Founder, Dan Wooding, ‘accidentally’ launched the careers of the zany Monty Python’s Flying Circus TV series and also that of rock keyboard superstar, Rick Wakeman -- in the same week
Now Wooding’s book on Wakeman has been re-released and the Monty Python team are still making people laugh through their re-runs and movies
By Michael Ireland
Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
SOUTH EALING, LONDON, UK (ANS) -- When Dan Wooding was much younger – he’s now 71 – we both worked together on a West London newspaper called The Middlesex County Times.
After a few weeks, Bert Munday, the editor of the County Times, as it was known, called Dan into his office and told him that he was appointing him as the South Ealing reporter.
“We haven’t had even one story from South Ealing for six months now, and so I want you to start digging out stories from there for us,” Munday told Dan.
It didn’t take long for Wooding to discover, as he later told me, that the reason that they hadn’t had any stories was the fact that the previous reporter used to go fishing instead of “fishing” for stories in this small part of the newspaper’s circulation area.
So it was natural that Dan would make the Ealing Film studios his first call.
“The BBC had recently taken over the studios and when I arrived at the front office and explained that I was ‘looking for stories’, the receptionist called the BBC press officer and she told me that a ‘crazy group called Monty Python’s Flying Circus’, where about to start shooting a new series for the BBC and added, ‘How would you like to write the first story about them?” recalled Wooding.
“Of course I jumped at the opportunity and when I got back to the office, I wrote up the very first story about them. Soon, I was being invited to report on them as they filmed their strange antics in the streets of Ealing and I was invited to many of their film launches.”
Dan told me that when his son arrived home, he told his father to sit down watch the video. Suddenly, Palin came on the screen and said, “Dan, on behalf of the whole Monty Python team, I would like to thank you for helping to launch our careers. None of us could have imagined what was going to happen in the years to follow, so again, a big thank you.”
After starting off this with story, Dan decided, later that week, to again try and see if he could dig out any more stories in the area and, after visiting various shops where he was asked to “leave” by the owners who said they didn’t want any publicity, he found himself inside a rather non-descript store at the end of the South Ealing Road called The Musical Bargain Center.”
“Rick told me that he had never been interviewed before, so I wrote up his first story for the paper and we became best friends. He invited me to his home in Northolt and I sat there spellbound as he played for me on his home piano. I had never heard anything like it.
“I shared with him a little about my background, explaining to him that I was born of missionary parents in Nigeria, and it was then that Rick told me that he was also a Christian and had been baptized at South Harrow Baptist Church and, at that time, was also a Sunday School teacher there.
Wooding, who now lives in Southern California, added, “Rick and I have remained close friends for all these years and he has also performed several concerts for ASSIST in the United States.
“I am delighted that his incredible story, or at least the earlier part of it, can be told again for those in this new generation, who possibly don’t know too much about the ‘Grumpy Old Man’ that they see on British TV, will be able to learn about his incredible talents as a keyboard player, composer and songwriter.”
Why the title? Wooding says it comes from the fact that the blond figure of Wakeman would wrap his glittering shimmering cape around his giant frame and head on stage at arenas around the world to start another incredible performance on his battery of electronic keyboards.
And, even today, the “Caped Crusader” continues to push back the limits of music with his extraordinary talents.
So there you have it, as Dan Wooding looks back fondly at the week that he “accidentally” launched these two lots of careers – and it all began because the previous reporter decided to go fishing!
By the way, I also went on to cover the South Ealing beat, but I never was fortunate enough to find stories that matched the caliber of Wooding’s that launched these two careers.
And finally, if you know Dan as well as I do, you may now understand where he get is rather off-the-wall humor from – Monty Python’s Flying Circus!
After reading this, you may like to go ahead and purchase a copy of “Caped Crusader”. If so, just go to: http://www.amazon.com/CAPED-CRUSADER-Rick-Wakeman-1970s/dp/1908728302/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1335474883&sr=1-1
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