Friday, 14 August 2015

Watt the Duck?

Further evidence – as if it were needed – that TV sop stars should never, ever enter a recording studio (well, not unless your name is Kylie, obviously): ladies and gentlemen, today we present Tom ‘Lofty from EastEnders’ Watt and his 1986 single Subterranean Homesick Blues backed with Guess I Had Too Much To Drink Last Night.

Thomas Erickson "Tom" Watt (born 14 February 1956 in Wanstead, London) is a radio presenter, sports writer and actor who rose to fame playing the role of the gormless and put-upon Lofty Holloway in the long-running BBC soap opera EastEnders. He studied drama at Manchester University where he directed several stage productions – and made a number of friends in the local music scene. One of his first television roles was in the dire ITV comedy series Never the Twain in 1981, but his big break came in 1985 when he was cast as Lofty Holloway, the asthmatic barman of The Queen Vic. He stayed with the show until 1988.

Other acting credits have included roles in the BBC drama South of the Border, the role of Norman in the 1990 ITV film And the Nightingale Sang, Boon (with Michael Elphick, who would later also star in EastEnders), Gerry Anderson’s Space Precinct, the 2002 TV comedy tlc, Doctors  and New Tricks as well as roles on the big screen in Patriot Games and Sherlock Holmes. He has also appeared in many theatre productions, starring in the one-man show Fever Pitch, based on the Nick Hornby novel of the same name.

Since leaving EastEnders he has become better known as a sports journalist, writing regularly for the Guardian and presenting shows about football on Channel 4, Radio 1, Radio 3, Radio 5 Live, BBC London Radio and others. He also hosts Arsenal TV's Monday night Fan’s Forum, has authored two books about football, The End and A Passion for the Game and was the ghost-writer for David Beckham’s autobiography My Side.

So why in God’s name did he – in the midst of his fame as Lofty Holloway – record this abomination? The A-side, a vile electropop retread of the Bob Dylan classic (which, I have to admit, I have played and sung on stage as part of the short-lived three man band Murder Inc.) is just horrible. Due to the fact that the original video features several of Watt’s Manchester mates – including Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris and Josie Lawrence – it’s often erroneously reported that members of New Order and The Fall appear on the disc. They don’t. The B-side was written by John Scott, of the group Bet Lynch's Legs and the author, broadcaster and lecturer Chris ‘C P’ Lee, who fronted Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias before joining Scott in Bet Lynch's Legs. As far as I can ascertain, Watt, Scott and Lee are the only performers on the disc. 

Recorded at Paul "Machiavelli" Roberts’ Drone Studio in Manchester, Subterranean Homesick Blues was released on his own Watt The Duck label (the only record issued by the company), in 1986. The single entered the UK singles chart at number 67 before disappearing completely the following week.

“That was just a good laugh really,” Watt told EastEnders fan site the Walford Gazette. “Most people in soap operas have more money than sense, and I was no exception. I had these mates in Manchester who had a band and I worked them ages ago just messing about doing comedy routines and theatre stuff. They had this idea for a record and this idea that I might like to pay for the studio time. Yeah that went to number sixty-seven with a bullet, that one. 

"You can't get one in a music shop; I think they might be up in my mum's attic. It was a good record… New Order (were in) the video. The only time they were ever seen smiling. It was just a good crack, you know what I mean? It wasn't the kind of record that people in soap operas are supposed to put out, a money-making exercise.”

Big thanks to WWR reader Stephen Green for suggesting this week's post.


1 comment:

  1. "was released on his own Watt The Duck label..." - this song is a WTF moment! AT least the B-side has some nice guitar riffs.


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