In the five years since co-founding Touretteshero I’ve had the chance to do some incredible things I’d never have dreamt possible.
But today we’re about to do something on a totally different scale. I’m terrified, excited and very, very proud to be part of the team that’s making this happen.
Tonight, live on TV, I’ll be sharing my life with Tourettes in our Broadcast From Biscuit Land which is part of Live From Television Centre, a celebration of theatre on BBC4. The two-hour broadcast will come live from the BBC’s iconic Television Centre building, which is currently undergoing a radical transformation of its own, with much of the site being turned into flats.
When I think about the moments on TV that I find most memorable, I realise most of them were exciting because they were live. There was always the tantalizing possibility of something going wrong, the thrill of seeing people rushing into place at the last moment, or stolen glimpses of life backstage.
Without live TV we would never have had the joy of watching a baby elephant wee on the floor, the raw emotion and swearing of Live Aid, or the comic confusion of a taxi driver accidentally being interviewed on a subject he knew nothing about.
One of the elements I love most about going to the theatre is this sense of ‘live-ness’, the feeling that anything can happen and that you’re sharing an experience with a room full of other people.
For many years these same elements felt like a barrier to me, and I worried that I wouldn’t be welcome because of my tics. I was fearful of them disrupting performances, and of other people’s reactions to the noises I made.
I’m glad, though, that I didn’t give up on theatre because it’s through this medium that I’ve experienced entirely new ways of thinking. I don’t want anyone else to miss out because of preconceptions about who theatre’s for, or how it should be enjoyed.
And in a celebration of all things live, creative and unpredictable, what could be more fitting than a Tourettes-enriched show? After all, a lot of what I’ll be saying tonight will be a surprise to everyone, including me!
We’ve gathered a diverse and amazing team of people who’ve worked together to make tonight’s performance possible: the builders we’ve been sharing the site with for the last four weeks, the lighting and camera crews who’ve shared their skills and knowledge so generously, the directors and technical managers and the Battersea Arts Centre team whose creative vision and nurturing approach has made this a wonderful adventure.
Biscuit Land is never a place I inhabit alone and this exceptional group has helped bring it to life for the small screen (and a bigger audience) – making many giant biscuits, sourcing several sensational felines, writing new songs and keeping us all on track. I’m more nervous than I’ve ever been, but I also feel incredibly well supported.
Just a few years ago I wouldn’t have had the confidence to go through the doors of a theatre, let alone get up on a stage. I really hope that Live From Television Centre helps open up creative possibilities to whole new audiences.
But most of all I hope our show makes people laugh and think.
I’m off now to a wonderful world of dancing biscuits, brass bands and lovely cats. I hope you can join us later tonight from 9pm to watch it all unfold.
Besides us you’ll see ‘The Time of Your Life’, an amazing dance piece by Gecko, ‘No Guts, No Heart, No Glory’, by Common Wealth, about female Muslim boxers in Bradford, and Richard Dedomenici’s The Redux Project, which recreates memorable moments from TV history. Also available, exclusively on the iPlayer, will be Brainstorm, a brilliant piece by Islington Community Theatre about the neurology of the teenage brain.
Biscuit Land will be on at 10.30pm, and whatever you do don’t miss the tic-driven grand finale.
Now all I’ve got to do is keep calm and not let any cats out of the bag.