On this week’s episode of The Jonathan Ross Show, Jonathan is joined by one of the most iconic musicians in history, Phil Collins for a music performance and interview; James Nesbitt, Fay Ripley and John Thompson from the formidable ITV drama, Cold Feet and comedian, Joe Lycett.
Multi-award winner and one of the greatest artists in the history of music, Phil Collins, joined the show and spoke to Jonathan about Genesis and his solo career, relationships with the Royals and family life.
Phil shared some anecdotes from the past about the Royals, Prince Charles and the late Diana, Princess of Wales who he knew reasonably well: “We didn’t go out for curries or anything,” he laughed, “I played at his 40th, I arranged his 40th birthday and I played at her 30th and I played a completely insensitive set of [my hits] ‘Separate Lives’, ‘Doesn’t Anybody Stay Together Anymore’ and it was like, I didn’t know they were splitting up, no one told me!”
And on whether he felt closer to either party following their separation, Phil said: “If the situation had arisen, I was involved in the Prince’s’ Trust, I had been since 1983 and so I was kind of drawn to Prince Charles who I think is a great bloke. I’m not a Tory, I’m not a monarchist but I just think as a bloke, he’s a good bloke and I could see that at that time Diana was being a little bit of a loose cannon… We did loads of Prince’s Trust concerts and I say apart from the birthday parties that I played at, no I didn’t see her so much.”
On organising the Prince’s birthday party, Phil explained: “We went to a Michael Jackson show at Wembley and I was sitting behind him [Prince Charles] because I was a trustee and when Michael Jackson was playing something, he turned around and said, ‘I’d like something like this at my party, will you organise it?’ And you think, ‘Yes of course Sir, yes’ so I did but no, I just found people who could play Michael Jackson songs.”
On being asked to work with Adele a few years ago, Phil explained how it didn’t quite work out: “Adele approached me and in my dark years when I didn’t really pay much attention to what was going on, when I was drinking myself to death. Adele came and I didn’t know who Adele was so she called me and asked me if I wanted to write to her… She’d had two albums out by this point and sold billions of records. She was lovely, we met in London and she gave me a piece of music to finish which I went hell for leather to finish but then she got a bit difficult to find and then it was because she had just had a baby and it was a little bit early I read later. First thing, she walked into the hotel room and I thought ‘I think she’s thinking he’s older than I thought he was going to be.’ I made her a cup of tea which she seemed to like and then I didn’t have a phone number I just had an email address and I tried to stay in touch.”
Speaking to Jonathan about saying he was retiring six years ago, Phil admitted: “That’s the only thing I could say to stop. I was an oil tanker and I needed to stop so I said I wasn’t going to work anymore. I got a bit fed up with it frankly, I had two young kids and I just wanted to be a Dad. Then they moved to Miami – which has got it’s lighter side but I can’t think of it right now but there is a lighter side – then I started drinking.”
On his time as the frontman of Genesis, he said: “Nobody else wanted to job. We auditioned and I really didn’t want to be the singer. Ever since five years old, I was playing the drums and the last thing I wanted to be was [the lead singer], it just didn’t appeal to me but we couldn’t find anybody else that we wanted in the family, that was the thing, so I said I’ll have a go and gradually it took shape.”
On his first gig as frontman, he said: “It was a bit terrifying. We were playing in London, Ontario, Canada and it was a given that I could sing the songs, I’d done the album and I’d sung backup with Peter [Gabriel] on older songs but I was more terrified about what to talk about between songs because Peter had this thing, he would tell these funny stories, surreal stories and that really wasn’t me… I eventually kind of finessed it a bit. I got more comfortable with it.”
And on the turn from the band to his solo career, he said: “I just was accepting of what was going on because we were still getting great reviews, the audiences loved it. My solo career, started from a great sorrow. I got divorced and wrote some songs. I could have [put those songs in Genesis] but around that time when we were thinking of reorganising ourselves because Tony [Banks] and Mike [Rutherford] and Steve [Hackett] had solo careers so we had agreed to keep all the solo songs for solo careers and we’d go in and do stuff that was just us so no, we kept our stuff to ourselves.”
And on his success as a soloist, which eclipsed Genesis, Phil said: “For a while yes [it did eclipse the success of Genesis]… Suddenly this guy comes out from behind the drums and starts singing and suddenly starts making records – Who the hell does he think he is? I mean it went down very well… [Money] was nice but it wasn’t the fuel that drove it. I always viewed myself as going forward and someone throwing money in a bucket… The fact was when I did the book I finally realised how much I worked… it was unbelievable and it was quite scary to look at because I was just doing it… I just didn’t think to ask [for time off]… You just keep going and we just kept going… Crack America, once you’ve cracked America make sure you’ve really cracked America then do Europe. It was endless shows.”
On his life now, he said: “I’m now at an age where I live with my children which, you all take it for granted but when you’ve been doing what I’ve been doing all my life it’s actually a rarity. I live with my two young boys and I’m part of their lives, I wasn’t able to do that with my eldest three… it was hard.”
Jonathan said, “You’ve always had a rough ride, you were an easy person to make jokes about – it must have hurt…” Phil replied: “Of course it does but you just get on with it and get over it. With age comes some wisdom and you understand. I certainly understood writing this [book] that I was annoying. Not to the people that liked what you do but to the people who were just on the periphery. Jesus, Phil Collins if I hear [one of his songs] one more time… I will say in my defence, I only wrote the song once. I wrote the song once and I recorded it once, after that it’s out of my control and thank God the Disc Jockeys played it because I could buy a house in Miami but the fact is, I only did it once and I found myself getting flayed for it.”
Phil also responded to the rumours that it was reportedly said he divorced his wife via fax. He said: “To this day I don’t know how that happened but I haven’t really asked really deep questions about the people who were near to me. Well forgive and forget, well at least pretend to. At one point that was one way of communicating because of the time change… I’ve got limited time to try… anyway I didn’t do it but it will be on my headstone – ‘He came, he went, da da, da da, da da, and divorced his wife by fax.’”
On the support he is receiving now, particularly from American rappers such as Eminem and Kanye West, he said: “I think America doesn’t have the same attitudes towards what’s cool or what’s not, they just like it, good or bad, especially the rhythm and blues community. They took to me not out of sympathy, just because they liked the stuff, they liked the music. You’ve got to remember that here, the Sun and papers alike, it goes all across England. America it’s all so regionalised that what happens in New York doesn’t necessarily affect what happens in Boston… so it’s a different kind of scenario. I think I had to retire… I retired for my own reasons but being away and then doing these reissues this year of the old albums, that people were able to reassess and pick up things they missed and realise it probably wasn’t as bad as they thought it was.”
Asked if he felt at ease being so successful, Phil said: “I always felt a bit lucky. I mean, Eric Clapton and I lived close to each other and we became great friends… He didn’t know who I was… I felt lucky a lot of the time. I’ve never felt shy playing drums, I’d play behind anybody and I have on many occasions stepped out of my shoes and played drums and come out on top.”
On his family, Phil said revealed one of his sons may follow in his drumming footsteps: “I’ve got three sons, my 40 year old Simon is a fantastic drummer I’ve got to say but he has his own career he’s got his thing now mapped out. Nicholas is one of my two youngest, he’s 15 now… He is a good lad and I’ve got a younger lad who actually doesn’t play drums and we had a long period when he thought he wasn’t a Collins because he didn’t play the drums. He’s got rhythm but he just wasn’t interested in it.”
On Nicholas joining him on his upcoming tour, Phil said: “He’s 15 now, he’s going to be 16 when we do the shows he’s going to be my drummer. Yes it’s fantastic and he wouldn’t be there if he couldn’t do the job, I have to say.”
On getting back together with his wife, Orianne, after the couple divorced, Phil said: “[When he first met] I arrived in Switzerland to do some shows and a friend of hers was the promoter, [Orianne] was there to get me from the airport to the hotel to the gig to the hotel to the airport and get out of there and in the meantime, I kind of fell in love with her. I mean she was a lovely girl and we are back together and I think the fact that we are back together, we went through a divorce which is always at times acrimonious, it’s always expensive but when we were back together again, we had kids and we thought are we going to [stay apart] because of pride or are we going to try to do it again? And we tried to do it again and we are together and the boys are incredibly happy and I think that there must be some people out there that don’t hate their ex-husbands or wives, that actually this could happen to but most of the time pride gets in the way and you just get on with your life.”
Cold Feet star, John Thompson is also a talented drummer having played for 35 years. He along with James Nesbitt, Fay Ripley and Phil played a game called ‘Phil or Not Phil’ where John played popular drum solos and the guests had to guess if it was a Phil Collins song or not.
James Nesbitt, Fay Ripley and John Thompson joined the sofa and spoke to Jonathan about returning to the popular ITV drama, Cold Feet, Jimmy Nesbitt’s hair and OBE and also John’s depression storyline.
Speaking to Jonathan about the series’ much anticipated return, 13 years on from the original series, Fay admitted they were all “terrified.” James said, “I think we were all scared, we hadn’t seen each other for a long time.”
John added on the return: “It was rumoured for years but there were so many false alarms when it came around this time I went ‘yeah whatever, I don’t believe it.’ Then we saw something tangible and we saw their was an actual script for episode one of this season.”
Fay admitted: “I just thought it was a practical joke to be honest.”
James said of their nerves ahead of bringing the show back: “I think there was certainly trepidation. It’s only a TV show at the end of the day but we were very aware when we were doing it that it meant something to people and that those characters, people could relate to… So to bring that back and the notion of maybe not only letting our characters down but also letting the audience that had grown with those characters was a worry but you know once we saw the script… certainly when we read it and we got back together… very quickly I think we felt that we had been away for only a couple of months. It felt really great so I think as a result of that we were then quite protective of it and fearful but also hopeful.”
The friends and co-stars joked about James’ hair and the fact he has more now than he did in the original series. James joked: “Northern Ireland is a special place and we have a habit of growing our hair back rather than losing it… I have more hair now than I had a long time ago. As I said, it’s the Northern Irish sea air.”
On why they made references to James having a hair transplant in the new series, John said: “It was a case of none today, hair tomorrow – and the thing was, and Jimmy won’t mind me saying that, we’re good friends, so it had to be addressed. It was in good humour and I was a right porker at the end of last series before and I’ve slimmed down a bit from that so…”
Fay added: “Listen we need something to have a go at Jimmy about after the whole OBE thing to be honest. He plays that card quite heavily I’d say.”
James responded, “Listen I’m just as God made me. Actually I wrote it on the makeup truck, I did put James Nesbitt OBE after it,” he laughed.
John spoke about the depression which his Cold Feet character, Pete, suffered with: “I didn’t expect on social media the incredible reaction I’ve had and honesty and frankness from people genuinely suffering from depression, men in particular… I can’t say I’ve suffered from clinical depression which I sense is a chemical imbalance but circumstantial depression, absolutely. Over the last say ten years on and off I’ve had periods that I could draw upon that I could use perfectly for Pete.”
Speaking about one of the most memorable images from the early days of Cold Feet where James’ character Adam holds a rose between his naked buttocks, James was challenged to recreate the scene by Jonathan. James laughed: “There was a poor dresser guy who had to do that [place the rose]… He had to put it there and it was his first job, a big butch fellow from Manchester. After he had a day of doing that he disappeared, we never heard from him again.” [Pictures available from Rex]
Comedian, Joe Lycett, joined the sofa and spoke to Jonathan about the selfies he takes for a long-running joke to annoy fans. Getting the cast of Cold Feet involved, Joe said: “There’s a thing I do called ‘Always a Pleasure’… I take selfies and I’ll post them saying ‘Always a pleasure to see my family’ but it’s not a pleasure, obviously because in the photo we are all looking glum. I’ve been doing it for about three years because I love when people always reply ‘It doesn’t look like a pleasure’ and they’ve just missed the joke and that’s my absolute favourite. It’s an OK joke but it’s because I’ve been doing it for three years and it’s got out of hand now, I just love it.”