Letterman in London – tape 1756

This tape opens with Peter Snow in a curiously bucolic setting, discussing genetic engineering. Is this the oddest set that Newsnight have ever used?

There’s a trailer for Doing Rude Things.

Then, the second episode in a week of Letterman in London. It opens with a silly skit with Pierce Brosnan.

Paul Shaffer’s house band has two rather amazing guests, Chuck Berry

and Little Richard. Either one would be a huge guest, but they have both of them.

Dave goes around London sampling food and drink, accompanied by Zsa Zsa Gabor

They send one of their writers (Steve Young) out to Trafalgar Square with a suit covered in bird seed.

A town crier does the top ten

Pierce Brosnan is the first guest, hotfoot from the Pinewood stages where he was shooting Goldeneye.

Dave’s Mom is around town.

Jennifer Saunders is the next guest, saying how nice it is to be interviewed on her own, as she’s usually with Dawn French or Joanna Lumley.

At which point Joanna Lumley appears. She’s really good here, in character as an overbearing, more successful actress.

There’s music from Elvis Costello and the Attractions.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 23rd May 1995 – 23:15

As the next episode starts, I’m scrolling through twitter, and randomly there’s a tweet about David Letterman, not someone who’s constantly being talked about. Yet another example of the strange synchronicity this blog turns up.

First guest is Peter O’Toole, who comes out on a camel.

“My noble transport is a little thirsty”

He’s so louche.

There’s music, with an extremely eccentric performance by Van Morrisson

Joined by Sinead O’Connor

And the Chieftans.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 24th May 1995 – 23:15

Before the next episode, there’s the end of Newsnight, talking about cricket.

There’s a trailer for Children of the Video

Then, the next episode of Letterman in London. Jamie Lee Curtis shows us her passport.

Top Ten Reasons why John Cleese can’t be here tonight

Jamie Lee Curtis joins Dave as a guest. She’s currently filming Fierce Creatures with Cleese, hence the expectation he might be there.

And she’s brought her dad.

Dave’s Mom visits St Paul’s Cathedral

David Duchovny is another guest

Music from Mary Chapin Carpenter

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 25th May 1995 – 23:15

There’s a trailer for Forbidden Weekend. Then Weather from Peter Cockroft

Then recording switches to another episode of Letterman in London. There’s a very funny segment where he talks to people in London about stuff, and he asks this woman what she likes about America. She answers ‘Disneyworld’.

Then they cut to her – in Disneyworld.

Clancy (with the beard) had a porkchop for breakfast.

Letterman regulars Mujibur and Sirajul turn up.

Clancy keeps appearing in this segment.

Until the end, when we see that he got to go to Disneyworld too.

And they’re in the studio that evening.

Salman Rushdie delivers the night’s Top Ten list.

Meg Ryan is the first guest. She doesn’t seem as nervous as she’s been on other talk shows in Britain.

I wonder if Annie Lennox had been to Disneyworld too.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 26th May 1995 – 23:15

After this, there’s a trailer for Forbidden Weekend, then the recording stops. Underneath, there’s a quite interesting programme about maths, from the Open University.

After this, there’s a trailer for Doing Rude Things.

Then more weather from Peter Cockroft.

Then there’s a trailer for Fine Cut featuring two programmes, one of which was about a far right nationalist candidate for the Russian presidency, Tripping with Zhirinovsky. TV was treating these people as cranky eccentrics even then.

Then, the tape ends during an episode of The Record, about the week in Westminster.








  1. Mary Chapin Carpenter! I wish could say my signed copy of “Stones in the Road” is my most cherished disc in my collection for the benefit of this post. But….

    Sadly she’s indirectly responsible for “Fly Away Home”not having a soundtrack album, not a legal one anyway. Because they didn’t to put out an album of just Mark Isham’s score without MCC’s”10,000 Miles” and Sony’s trademark dickishness went into effect.
    I remember someone wrote a frothing letter to the “Radio Times” about Letterman’s London shows, the bloke equated him to Bernard Manning… which seems strange.

    1. Indeed, I remember that, he complained that the shows were full of jokes about how odd us Brits were and pondered whether US TV would welcome a show where Manning takes the piss out of Americans.

      I remember reading in Private Eye at the time that one of Michael Jackson’s ambitions when he was Controller of BBC2 was to have Letterman on every night, and he used this London run as an excuse. I was really excited about it at the time – but I’m a sucker for anything that involves Americans being bemused about British culture – but it seemed a bit underwhelming, and I remember people saying that Dave was never at his best when he was away from the Ed Sullivan Theatre.

      I do remember him introducing David Duchovny as “star of Britain’s most popular TV show!”. Not quite, Dave.

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