Following on from my previous post, where I mentioned having been on tv in the late night dance music show The Hitman And Her, I thought I would give you an insight into the making of the show and what it was like to be a Hitman dancer.
Rehearsals were held every week on Tuesday and Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon at a dance studio in central Manchester – I went to the Sunday sessions as I worked evenings during the week. The Sunday ‘dance mega-blast’ sessions were three hours long and consisted of an hour of high-powered aerobics, an hour learning a new routine and an hour of practise. Clive, the main dancer/choreographer/ instructor (the guy known as ‘Wiggie’ with the wild white wig who appeared in all the programmes,) was always there to teach/nag/bully everyone to get things right (he was a great guy really and a lot of fun) and in his words those sessions weren’t “a walk in the park but bloody hard graft as nothing else works!!” And that was true, Sunday afternoons were three hours of intense work but they were also fun and I enjoyed every minute.
Although the tv programmes were broadcast late on Saturday nights – well early Sunday mornings really as they were shown between 2am and 4am – they were actually recorded on Thursday evenings. They came from a different nightclub each week and all dancers had to be at the venue no later than 6pm. The evening would kick off with an hour of high powered aerobics to get warmed up then 7pm to 7.45 was a practise session and run-through of dance routines. This was followed by an hour of relaxing and getting something to eat and drink from the free buffet which was laid on for us and at 8.45 we would have a final quick briefing and take to the stage/floor/podiums/balcony etc, then at 9pm the music would start, the doors would be opened to let the crowd in and the night started.
The first hour was just like it would be on any club night with the resident dj (though probably with a lot more clubbers) then at ten o’clock the Hitman theme tune heralded the start of the actual tv programme being recorded. There were really only two ‘rules’ which had to be adhered to – (a) that no space should be without a dancer so any dancer seeing an empty space had to take over, which meant that I often moved round from stage to podium/balcony/front line crowd control etc and back to stage again, and (b) that no-one was allowed to go to the bar – anyone wanting a drink had to ask one of the production crew to get it. Programme recording finished at midnight though we would usually carry on dancing until the end of the night to music played by the resident dj.
The whole evening would be very hot and thirsty work – I could quite easily drink three or four pints of orange cordial during the four hours I was dancing – but it was also very very enjoyable and I loved every minute. It was a very sad time when the Hitman programmes finally ended in December 1992, and although Pete and Michaela have appeared separately in other programmes in the years since then I’ve sometimes wondered what became of Wiggie and the other dancers. My own love of dancing has stayed with me throughout though – a couple of years after Hitman finished I got a job in a local nightclub working weekends as a dancer – and even though I’m older now I would be the first to apply if that show was ever brought back again.
Today I was cleaning at the boss’s house when I had the mother of all disasters.
Four months ago he moved from a modern detached house with a large kitchen and modern units to an old bungalow with dated kitchen units and nowhere near as much cupboard space as in the previous house, but as the bungalow will eventually be demolished and an ultra-modern eco-friendly house built in its place it’s not worth him replacing the units. One of these is a cupboard with a drawer above it and a slide-out shelf inside, with the shelf having plastic-coated wire sides and front rather like a freezer shelf, and it’s this cupboard where the crockery is kept – plates and bowls on the bottom and cups, mugs and glasses on the slide-out shelf. I’ve often had my doubts about putting breakables on that shelf but with limited cupboard space there’s nowhere else for them to really go.
So today I emptied the dishwasher, put all the pots and pans in their rightful places and the mugs and glasses on the shelf, and it was when I pushed the shelf back in that disaster struck. Somehow – and I really don’t know how as it happened so fast – the shelf came off its runners, tilted forwards and crashed down into the bottom of the cupboard, depositing most of its contents in a heap on the kitchen floor. Fortunately most things survived the drop but several things didn’t, the breakages totalling 3 tumblers, 2 mugs, 2 large cappuccino cups, 2 beakers, an espresso cup and a half-pint beer glass – luckily the shelf had missed the plates and bowls in the bottom of the cupboard otherwise the damage would have been a lot worse.
It was while I was surveying the carnage that my phone rang – it was Michael with the immortal words “Are you busy Mum?” “Yes Michael, I am a bit – I’m standing in the middle of Andy’s kitchen wondering how the hell I’m going to tell him that half his pots are in the bin”. Now when Michael starts a conversation with that sentence I know he wants something, this time he wanted me to check online for flights to Ireland so I told him I’d do it when I finally got home and I set about clearing up the mess. The front and sides had also come off the shelf so I fixed those back on, checked that the runners weren’t broken and put it back into place, then with the surviving mugs and glasses also back in place I gingerly pushed the shelf in and closed the door on it.
I was just about to ring Andy to tell him what had happened when someone else rang me; the conversation was long and tedious so I decided to see Andy in person instead and I called up this evening after work – and the conversation went like this – “I’ve come to confess my sins and I just hope you won’t kill me” “Why, what have you broken?” “Well let’s just say you won’t have as much washing up to do now”. When I explained what had happened with the shelf he told me that he wasn’t surprised as it’s been playing up for a while, and there was still lots of stuff that hadn’t got broken so not to worry about it.
Breaking things belonging to other people isn’t something I make a habit of doing, especially not on that scale, so I’m glad Andy was okay about it. And just for the record, when I finally got home this afternoon I checked the flights for Michael and he’s off to Ireland again tomorrow, coming back next Thursday – it’s alright for some!