One great thing about watching Peter Simon on Bid TV was that he was so unpredictable, and it always felt that at any moment something rather amusing and bizarre could happen with him on live TV because he liked to make it up as he went along, but there was one moment in November 2011 which really was remarkable even by his own standards.
I was watching one Sunday evening, when Peter came on and did his usual rather daft introduction where he treated all this as if he had just walked on stage at the Palladium. Once he’d finished his highly amusing anecdote, he then introduced his assistant for the night Helen, and Peter was somewhat surprised when Andy Hodgson walked on instead.
Andy announced that it was the 10th anniversary of Peter joining Bid, so they had decided to do something special. I was always pleased to see Peter enjoy a second wave of popularity after his Double Dare days, and Andy explained how Peter was hired. He said that he phoned Peter’s agent, asked “I’m looking for somebody cheap”, and got the reply, “I can help you there, it’s Peter Simon, he’s not busy.” I imagine that Andy was joking but he was probably closer to the truth than he realised.
Because Andy also said that he’d had a right old laugh with Peter over the years, he revealed that tonight there would be a very special item for sale… the limited edition Peter Simon commemorative anniversary figurine! Yes! Andy also said “it is numbered individually, because it’s your favourite word”, and Peter didn’t seem to notice Andy taking the mick right in front of him.
It was then that Steve and Helen came on with a special cake and some soppy music played. Peter seemed to have no advance idea of all this and he looked like he couldn’t believe it, and then Andy asked Peter because it was Remembrance Sunday if he would sell the figurines if for every one sold they would donate some money to a favourite charity of Peter’s choice.
Peter’s response to this was somewhat unexpected and made something that was already unusual seem rather more odd. Peter just paused and said “can I just say… thank you very, very much”, and then he practically started to sob, and Andy and Steve put their arm round him, realising that they probably should’ve done this at the end of his shift because he was overcome.
When it came to Peter actually selling the figurine later in the evening, that was a very odd experience too. He didn’t put any humour into it at all, and just sat there practically sobbing for about ten minutes about all the things that had happened over the years, talking about how touched he was that viewers sent kind messages to him, and reminiscing about a programme that he had recently heard on Radio 2 about parents talking about the musical choices of their fallen solider children.
Eventually they did sell the 1,000 quantity, with Peter going for a very reasonable £14.99, raising thousands of pounds in the process. What a bargain. And I’m sure that Peter takes pride of place not only on a mantlepiece or a bay window in houses across the country to this very day. Now you wouldn’t see that happen any other channel, would you.