You’ve famously missed only one episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Did you think it was going to go for 16 years?
Television’s such a fickle industry. There’s no point where I realised it would be running this long. To be honest, quite genuinely, the position I was in in ’96, if someone had come up to me and said, “I’ve got a television job for you, it’s a series, it will take about 12 weeks of the year to do and you’ll do 250 of them and it will last for 16 years”, I’d probably have said no.
Do you think it embodies a particular British take on popular music?
It’s got that British self-effacement. We’re a very self-deprecating nation. We like to not take ourselves too seriously, and Buzzcocks is in that tradition: “Oh, you’re only pop stars, get over yourself.” It’s an externalising of that.
Do the American guest panellists get that?
Sometimes people come on and it’s a bit rabbit-in-the-headlights: “What the f— am I doing here?” We had Mark Hoppus from Blink 182 on one of the early shows of this series and he was absolutely fantastic; really funny, really sharp, really on the money. Ne-Yo, the American R&B singer, hosted an episode, and again, the kid’s in his early twenties, unbelievably self-possessed, very talented, understands television and media, incredibly confident, can deliver a joke. We had a Jackson once – Jermaine – and he didn’t really understand what was happening.
Which guest have you been most excited about?
The late Ian Dury was on the show once; Kirsty MacColl, she was a mate of mine, having friends on was always nice; Billy Bragg came on a couple of times; the brilliant Tom Robinson. The people I used to get really excited about were from my childhood. [As I was] born in ’62, people like Noddy Holder from Slade and David Essex and Suzi Quatro, they’re people I remember from when I was seven.
Juliette Lewis hosted the show once. Was she the most crazy?
Indeed. Well, define crazy. She grew up in that Hollywood atmosphere, an Oscar at 14. She’s seen it all. So, there’s that sense of them being so self-possessed, and a bit scatty and bit lovely. She was really, really good fun. Sometimes Americans come on and not a lot happens. I would adore Courtney Love to host the show. I’m not joking – and she knows Noel [Fielding]. I keep saying to Noel, “Get Courtney to host the show; she’d have a right laugh; she’d be really good at it.” Juliette Lewis was just kind of kooky and “what’s happening?”
Who gets the most fan mail between you and Noel Fielding?
I imagine Fielding; he’s got adoration off the scale. I’m a 50-year-old father of two and Noel Fielding is a minor sex god.
You were involved in that very political period in the 80s with Red Wedge and Billy Bragg. Do you look back now and think that achieved what it set out to do?
What it changed was myself. It had a massive impact on me. That kind of activism makes you think twice about the way things are happening, and certainly as a parent it makes me think about how I tell kids the world is, and I think it’s made me a better person.
What’s the music scene like in the UK now?
You know what, 50-year-old father of two, I really can’t tell you. I’m in a band with other men who are parents and grandparents; we’re in our own zone.
NEVER MIND THE BUZZCOCKS, Prime, Monday, 8.30pm.