There are meant to be three phases of TV celebrity. But I’ve discovered a fourth

I’ve heard it said that there are three phases of fame and fortune. During the first phase, people ask: have you heard of such and such? During the second phase, when you’re flying, they ask: did you see such and such last night? Then, when it’s all gone pear-shaped, you enter phase three. This is when people, perhaps to fill a lull in conversation, say: whatever happened to such and such? As far as live television is concerned, which I did more or less every day for 30 years, I’ve been very much stuck in phase three for a while now. I ask not for pity, not a bit of it, as I love doing my radio show and various bits of writing. But it is wearing to constantly have it pointed out to you in the street that you’re not on television any more, especially because it’s said in a tone of voice appropriate to a comment like: oh, I thought you were dead.

Now, though, rather like Spinal Tap’s amps going up to 11 instead of just 10, I’ve discovered a fourth phase, which I’ve just entered. I have a part in a sitcom in which I play myself as presenter of a breakfast television show. I write this on location, sitting in a makeshift dressing room having just had my makeup done by a nice woman who happened to have made me up back in the day, when I was a real breakfast television presenter. Outside I can see the small van they have given me to drive. On the side it says: “Wake Up with Adrian Chiles.” I might be wrong, but even for Alan Partridge I don’t believe it quite came to this. Naturally I’m fantasising that someone senior on the crew is going to look up from a monitor and say: “Eh, what have we here, then? This lad could go far.”

No sign of this so far, I’m afraid, and I’m freezing to death. I can’t say I’m not enjoying it, though. One of the extras has just spent three weeks saying nothing on the set of Batman, the costume woman’s from Venezuela and the stunt bloke once pole-vaulted for Great Britain. All interesting chats – a change is a good as a rest.

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