Celebrities choose the TV moments that have shaped their lives. John Prescott talks about how his admiration for a charismatic politician influenced him in the early days.
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TV, the magic box of delights.
As kids it showed us a million different worlds,
all from our living room.
This takes me right back.
-That's so embarrassing!
-I am genuinely shocked.
'Each day, I'm going to journey through the wonderful world of telly
'with one of our favourite celebrities...'
It's just so silly!
Ah! I love it!
Is it Mr Benn?!
-IN LONDON ACCENT:
'..as they select the iconic TV moments...'
'..that tell us the stories of their lives.'
Oh, my gosh!
-'Some will make you laugh...'
HE GROWLS LOUDLY
-'..some will surprise.'
DUCK QUACKS, SHE SHRIEKS
'..many will inspire...'
-Look at this.
Why wouldn't you want to watch this?
'..and others will move us.'
Seeing that there made a huge impact on me.
Got a handkerchief?
So come watch with us as we rewind to the classic telly that shaped
those wide-eyed youngsters into the much-loved stars they are today.
WHOOPING AND APPLAUSE
Welcome to The TV That Made Me.
My guest today was once the man who was second in command
of the entire country.
John Prescott started his working life in the Merchant Navy,
where he slugged it out in the boxing ring
and, for the first time, the world of politics.
He became a Labour MP in 1970
and he eventually served as Deputy Prime Minister for over a decade.
Now, he's an actual baron.
The TV that made him includes a globetrotting giant...
..some royal pageantry...
..and a gritty cop show.
Ladies and gentlemen, Lord Prescott. APPLAUSE
Welcome, John, come and join us.
I liked the cheering bit. Can you do that again?
Come on, sit down.
Make yourself at home.
And do I call you Lord Prescott, can I call you John?
No, the pantomime season's finished.
I know they call me Baron -
you played it in a pantomime, didn't you?
-I've done many pantomimes.
-Call me John anyway.
-All right then, John.
And if there's any bother, John, I've got an egg.
-Now, that does make me shiver.
Does it really? Why?
Well, it all happened very quickly.
Look, I've been 40 years in politics.
-40 seconds, when a man hit me with an egg...
..and basically, when that obituary comes for all of us,
I'll have that situation of me thumping that fella.
That was my contribution to politics in 40 seconds.
Tony Blair rung me up afterwards. He said, "Are you all right?"
I said, "Yeah." He said, "What were you doing?"
I said, "I was carrying out your orders."
He said, "What do you mean?"
I said, "You told us to go out and connect with the electorate,
-"so I did."
Well, welcome, John, and we hope to connect with you today,
because today is a celebration of television that you have loved
and watched over the many years,
-that you've been around and...
Well, we're going to show that now, because we've got some clips
and a little bit of footage of what it was like
being a very young John Prescott.
John was born in May 1938
in Prestatyn in Wales to Phyllis and Bert Prescott,
a railway signalman and Labour councillor.
He grew up with two sisters, Dawn and Vi,
and two brothers, Ray and Adrian.
When John was just three, the family left Wales and moved briefly
to Brinsworth in South Yorkshire, before settling in Upton, Cheshire.
After leaving school, he joined the Merchant Navy as a ship's steward
during the last days of the great ocean liners.
There he got involved in trade unionism,
which brought him to the national stage.
He became MP for Kingston-upon-Hull East in 1970
and in 1997, Deputy Prime Minister in the new Labour government.
In 2010, he was elevated to the House of Lords
to become Baron Prescott of Kingston-upon-Hull.
So, John, it's time for your first choice.
We're going to take a look at your very first TV memory.
'They asked the crowd to be forbearing
'and not to try to surge forward,
'and now here is the Queen.'
-This, of course, is the Queen's coronation.
An estimated three million people lined the streets of London,
hoping for a glimpse of the newly crowned Queen.
And with over 8,000 guests and dignitaries attending,
there weren't enough horse-drawn carriage coachmen
to transport them to Westminster Abbey,
so millionaires and country squires
offered their services, dressing up as Buckingham Palace servants.
Did you know, there was an estimated 27 million people watched this?
Yeah, my father had won a horse bet and won £1,000 in 1953,
and therefore he bought a television.
It was 14", a big cabinet, small screen
and all the neighbours came in to watch it.
They all came with a flask of tea and their own sandwiches.
A lot of things were just getting over rationing,
so you couldn't come in and have your tea
and your sandwiches provided.
But I got a bit annoyed cos I couldn't see anything.
Because the lounge was so busy?
The room was all full. They'd all turned out.
They were from number 29, they were from 24
and they all had their little tea things,
they were sitting around looking at this little television.
I was a bit annoyed, so they kicked me out
and I was riding in my bike around the streets.
-Are you very much a royalist?
I think she does a remarkable job.
It's a judgment as a kind of democrat, in my way.
I find it hard to believe that you have a monarchy,
but they're well-loved in this country.
But let me tell you, the Queen came to Hull on her Silver Jubilee
and they said, "You must come up and meet the Queen."
I'm not a monarchist, so I didn't really want to go there,
but I didn't want to cause offence,
cos a lot of people do think it's important.
But in the end, I said, "I'll come up, but I won't bow."
I was standing there when the Queen arrived and I was standing up.
The wife had done her curtsying.
She came to me, the Queen, and I didn't realise how small she was.
And then I shook hands with her and she said...
HE IMITATES MUMBLING
I said, "Pardon?"
That wasn't so clever.
The Queen has always been a massive draw to TV audiences
and a number of famous actors have played her over the years.
Dame Helen Mirren won a Bafta and an Oscar for her performance
in the drama The Queen,
about the royal response to Princess Diana's death.
Prunella Scales wore the crown
in Alan Bennett's A Question Of Attribution,
about the KGB's double agent, Anthony Blunt.
But who could forget the legendary Kenny Everett,
who played the Queen in his 1980s TV sketch show?
But it wasn't necessarily...
IN AMERICAN ACCENT: ..in the best possible taste.
So what sort of telly did the Prescotts watch
in those early days when they got that...?
Anything. You just switched on.
Of course, there weren't going 24 hours,
there was only one programme, there weren't a dozen programmes.
You go from that now, now when you look at them,
there's about 200 stations you're looking through.
Then there was one, and only certain hours.
So what was the house like growing up?
My father was a railwayman, so he moved around a bit.
I was born in Wales, in Prestatyn.
He, at that time - I was born in 1938 -
-lost his leg at Dunkirk.
He used to have a stump stocking
and they used to put the orange at the bottom,
because it was your Christmas stocking!
So your love of politics,
did that stem from your father?
Yes, from my parents. My mother was from a very strong Labour family.
In fact, we're proud that my grandad then
was on the front of the Daily Herald as a miner
as those who had fought for the nationalisation of the mines,
so you came from that family background in Wales.
It was pretty hard in north Wales.
My father was from Liverpool
and he had his approach to it, so it was always the room
for Labour committee rooms, visiting MPs, all that thing, so it was that
and I think the one lesson taught to me,
whether it was right or wrong -
I think about it today - my father said...
I'm saying, "Why should you nationalise the railways?"
He said, "Look, when you have a bag of sugar for ordinary people
"and you send it by railways, it costs them less,
"cos they don't get the profit."
It seems a simple enough analysis,
but probably a bit more sophisticated today,
but looking at the railways today, I'm not so sure it's not true still!
Bridlington was always the place we went on holidays,
because that's where the unions had their conferences
and my mother, in that union, Transport Salaried Staffs,
and in that union,
they used to send the money to the house before the conference,
where you'd usually get it after.
My father was always a man who thought you could double it
on the races, so my mother used to fight to get the package
of the money coming, else we wouldn't get a holiday,
so Bridlington was always the holiday.
They were a good mother and father.
They got difficulty later in life and they separated,
but you're forever grateful to your mum and your dad,
-whatever their difficulties.
Though when I got into politics,
they were giving more press releases than me.
I was on the Today programme and John Humphrys said, "Well, John,
"the Labour party's middle class now."
I said, "It's always had middle class in it.
"They've played a major part."
I said, "Anyway, I'm middle class -
"how could I be anything else with two Jags?"
He said, "Well, OK, then, bit of a shock."
My mother and father rung up the Today programme,
went on the programme and disowned me, saying,
-"We're working class, I don't know what he's saying."
So it's quite a divisive family, and very political, of course.
So what age did you leave home at?
I left the school at 15
and then got a chance at 16, 17,
before the army conscription came along,
and I joined the Cunard steamship company as a waiter.
-So I had ten years at sea, got eventually kicked out of it
and blacked by most of the shipping companies
because of my union activities.
The working conditions at sea were tough,
with very little time or space for recreation.
A seaman on the Franconia, whether he washes dishes in the galley
or tends the engines in the extreme heat of the ship's belly,
works on average an 11-hour day,
seven days a week.
There's no break in the routine, no place they can escape to.
Cruises can last for three or four months
and in all that time at sea, they're working half the day
and on call for the other 12 hours.
The men had to find their own entertainment
and for John, that meant entering bruising boxing bouts
with colleagues, a sport he had dabbled in before.
The first time I ever did box was in Butlins.
They used to have boxing competitions at Butlins?
And I got in the ring, I had my bathers and a pair of pumps,
and this fella got in the ring, he had boxing boots on,
he had the shorts, he had the gear
and he was, "Shu-shu-shu-shu!"
I thought, "What have I done?"
So I go out, but he'd come with the most beautiful girl
I'd ever seen up to that stage, until I met the wife.
Anyway, she's there and I'm looking at her like that.
He hits me and sends me in a complete somersault across the ring
and I'm so embarrassed getting up, not because of him,
though I'm not happy about that,
but this woman sees me battered by her boyfriend.
-So you never won?
-No, I didn't.
I hit the ropes on the other side.
-I learned, don't take your eye off the man in front of you.
Here's your next choice, John.
Oh, Alan Whicker.
Alan Whicker started his globetrotting TV career
on the early BBC current affairs show Tonight.
But with his suave looks and distinctive voice,
it wasn't long before he was fronting his own show,
reporting on the unusual and bizarre.
-Whicker's World, aye.
-What is it you loved about it?
Just the fact he was travelling...?
It was interesting and he went to interesting places.
They were usually out of UK,
they were abroad, weren't they, Whicker's World?
He did it in such a way, it makes a difference.
It depends on the character of the person who's presenting it,
that's where the key comes.
This is a clip about medicinal bee stings.
Now, is the sting any different from that of an ordinary bee?
Yes, now, you've been stung many times yourself, I suppose.
So many thousand times, I'd like to have it in farthings.
That's how he introduced programmes, though.
It awakened your interest to say, "What is he talking about?"
I really did open windows into worlds you didn't see.
Into Whicker's world, yeah.
In some cases, you mustn't go near her head at all.
-Because once you put it up the back of her head,
you will have a patient just covered from head to toe with sores.
Oh, yes, I have got a photograph, I can show you hundreds of them.
I had them so much...
I always thought he had a posh voice, of course.
-You expected that from the BBC.
IN RICH VOICE: Yes, this the BBC.
Alan Whicker established himself as a living room favourite,
by which time John was about to swap sea life for married life.
How old were you when you met your wife?
I'd have been about, um, 25, I think.
And how did that come about?
I saw this beautiful-looking girl standing by the bus stop.
I said, "All right, love."
Oh, yeah. Oh, you've got the lines.
-"All right, love."
-So I said, "Are you doing anything tonight?"
"Do you want to go to the pictures?"
Then it was all pictures, weren't it?
They knew there's a kind of clicker guys in Chester, where we lived,
which were from the Merchant Navy
and the thing we could do, coming over from New York,
you could get the records then,
-six months before they came out in the UK.
We were persuading them with all the good gear
-you're bringing back from the States.
-Yeah, yeah, yeah.
And she's a very good-looking woman, even today - very smart.
Now, your next choice comes out of the first year you were married.
Let's have a look at your must-see TV.
-That's it, that's that theme.
-Z-CARS THEME PLAYS
-It's Z-Cars. That's the old Ford Zephyr.
At that time, it was quite a car.
-They didn't have a Jag, them.
Z-Cars reinvented British TV cop shows.
Out went the gentle bobby on the beat
and in came police in fast cars,
chasing the criminal underworld.
It was an instant hit, topping 14 million viewers during its run.
A bit of a squeeze.
-Is that Smithy there?
Yeah, there he is, Brian Blessed.
You look a bit like him.
I thought I'd lost a bit of weight.
Where will the master criminal strike next?
Get out of it, ya mug, you!
Look, this bloke will try it again,
only he won't be expecting us this time.
Ah, it's a beat bobby's job, not ours.
What you do associate it with was Dixon Of Dock Green, "Evening, all."
This was just a major change from it,
-about police acting probably more like they are.
-So a bit more gritty?
-Oh, aye, Smithy was, wasn't he?
It was a radical change.
Ah, it's a waste of time, this bloke was a casual, a down-and-out.
He'll be miles away at a seaport by now.
Spending his ill-gotten gains.
But coming into that was the reality of dealing with difficult problems
and how individuals dealt with them.
-I never missed an episode.
Z-Cars was one of Brian Blessed's first ever TV roles.
He had a roaring success in the BBC serialisation
of the Three Musketeers, alongside future Sherlock, Jeremy Brett.
He played Caesar Augustus
in the triple Bafta award-winning I, Claudius,
a drama series about the history of Rome.
And he boomed "Gordon's alive!" as Vultan, Prince of the Hawkmen
in the 1980 film Flash Gordon.
He was a household name by the time he played the mad, comical figure
of Richard IV in the first series of The Black Adder saga.
And he was in fine voice as the lovable Greek fixer Spiro
in My Family And Other Animals,
about the life of famed conservationist Gerald Durrell.
Now we move on to your next choice now, a comedy character.
Till Death Us Do Part was conceived
by legendary TV writer Johnny Speight
as a satire of the bigoted views around at the time.
But some of the audience didn't see it that way,
instead embracing the often offensive views of Mr Alf Garnett.
This scene shows Warren Mitchell,
playing the right-wing caricature at his full-blown ranting best.
-Number one, the Tories has got money, right?
-Right, you agree with me there?
Number two, if you've got money,
-you don't need to fiddle, right?
-Aw, give over!
Therefore, number three, the Tories can afford to be honest!
What was it about Alf Garnett that you loved so much, John?
Well, he kept to the character.
A lot of people actually thought about it like that.
I disagreed with him politically, but he captured it, didn't he,
with the accent, language, the most reactionary part of things,
but it's what I call a working class Tory.
-And he was very much that.
Many of Garnett's tirades were about politics
and took direct aim at socialist son-in-law Mike,
played by Tony Booth,
who later became real-life father-in-law to one Tony Blair.
On that last election, see,
they was betting, wasn't they?
-Not only on who'd win the election, but when it'd be, right?
And the only man in the country who knew when it would be
was Harold Wilson himself, cos he's the bloke
what had to choose when it'd be, didn't he?
Garnett's rants used language that would shock today's audiences.
But back in the 1960s and '70s,
it was prime-time viewing.
..which is his pero-jative, I'll grant you that.
But he played off against him, Antony Booth.
Great satire, great programme, great acting.
-I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Alf was one of the first of a long line of TV big mouths
who didn't hold back.
Dad's Army's stroppy chief air raid warden William Hodges,
played by Carry On star Bill Pertwee,
was the scourge of Captain Mainwaring
and anyone who left the light on.
Nearest And Dearest, by Love Thy Neighbour creator Vince Powell,
unleashed the caustic tongue of Nellie Pledge
as she tried to make a success of the family pickle business.
Unemployed motor-mouth and street philosopher Rab C Nesbitt,
played by Gregor Fisher, regularly broke TV's fourth wall
by ranting at other characters, then directly to us watching at home.
Foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker, played by Peter Capaldi,
was always ready to verbally strike down anyone who caused him
even the mildest irritation,
which became known as "being Tuckered".
We're going to take a TV break now, John.
This is one of your favourites.
Roger, dear boy, how's your client coming along?
-It's the PG Tips adverts.
-Oh, yeah, yeah!
These cheeky, tea-drinking chimps
first hit our screens in 1956.
Don't worry, madam, I'll take over.
-Can you imagine them trying to film this.
So what did you enjoy about these little monkeys?
I thought it was remark...
Well, first of all, anything that makes you smile is good, isn't it?
You're going to like that.
Using animals, getting them to film that,
-that wouldn't be done in half an hour, would it?
I think the imagination behind it, the skill in doing it...
One of the unique things I think about British advertising,
it tends to have a...it's important for the British humour,
that it has humour in it,
more than, say, when you're in America -
it's always about slickness and everything.
But with animals - you see it with dogs and different things now -
it's part of the British psyche,
if there's an animal involved, you ought to begin with that.
The campaign sent sales soaring,
but it divided opinion and still does today.
Animal welfare advocates branded the ads exploitative,
but they were a huge hit with viewers.
Anything that makes people smile and feel warm,
isn't that what it's really about?
It's family life and also, with all the trials and tribulations,
-it's nice to get these shots to make you smile.
-I'm trying to think who that looks like.
-Well, I don't know.
I think it looks like Tony Blair.
-Not with that hair.
-Or Brian Blessed.
Mmm, this style's growing on me.
-What do you call it?
I didn't like PG, I always thought Yorkshire Tea was better.
-You're just saying that!
-But it's a remarkable...
Catching animals in that way, and those.
The chimps have now retired,
but the campaign still continues with a puppet called Monkey.
I'll take over.
You just warm to them when they come on, don't you?
It's the longest-running adverts in history.
They're still going, PG Tips and the PG monkeys.
-It is incredible how...
-It is incredible.
Now, John, we're going to move on to a charismatic politician
who you named as one of your biggest influences.
This is a challenge we did not seek
and do not want.
All the more so because it comes from men
who have won the undying respect and admiration of the whole nation.
-Harold Wilson, of course, Prime Minister.
But he was a remarkable man and for the first time,
we had a professional economist, cos that's what he was.
He had a background and therefore he was exciting.
There were certain characteristics about him.
He was talking about things that are relevant today.
This was man who told the Americans,
"We're not going to Vietnam,"
to which Johnson made it very difficult for the UK,
but that was a principle, that we shouldn't be involved
in that special relationship and get involved in Vietnam.
And he did a lot more things -
he was a principled man who voted against health charges,
under a Labour government
that wanted to bring in those health charges.
He then resigned and came down with Bevan and others.
As often with politics, though,
what you're trying to do is not necessarily what you want to do
and you have to play
and try and find a way forward to achieving that,
but I admired him because he was professional,
he was an economist - most of the problems of that day
were about the economy and balance of payments.
To have a man who understood it and did it, I welcomed that
and for Labour to be looking forward
and carrying in technology changes to meet with it,
that's good, cos so often, we tend to defend
a lot of our things from the past, rather than getting on.
He captured that, I think.
This strike will settle nothing.
It will neither establish their case
nor settle their grievances.
But at great cost to Britain...
Back in 1966, Harold Wilson's government declared
a state of emergency after the nation's seamen went on strike.
As a prominent trade unionist, John was heavily involved in the dispute.
You've got to remember, that speech is just before the election
and we were threatening to go on strike again.
We'd had a seven-week strike before, which I'd been involved in.
We were working 84 hours a week with no overtime and we were working
under a merchant shipping act that if you disagreed with the captain,
it was mutiny. I only had one charge on that,
but we had to change the act.
He produced the proposals,
I produced a pamphlet called Not Wanted On Voyage,
which rejected most of this argument,
so when he came with the white paper, we wrote on it,
"Not wanted on voyage," and chucked it over to him.
"That's what we think about your white paper."
So we go to see him in Number Ten,
the first time I'm taken into Parliament, I'm not even an MP,
and into the Cabinet Room.
He meets us at the Number Ten door.
We go in there and he shakes hands with us
and he said, "I'll tell you what I'll do..." This was typical Wilson.
He said, "Look, accept this and then, when we come back,
"we'll have a new piece of legislation
"changing it as you want." He wanted to settle it.
So I said to him,
"Harold..." Or "Prime Minister" it was, right?
"..how do you know you'll win this next election?"
He said, on his pipe, "I'm very confident."
Well, he lost it, didn't he?
So I went up to him, I came in as an MP, I went to him and said,
"Now, Harold, what do I do?"
"You have to get on to the Tories, son."
To be fair to Harold,
he did bring about the changes in our legislation, all credit to him.
Though unfortunately he couldn't complete it, he started it,
because the Tories came in.
John, let's now take a look at a very young John Prescott.
-This is Panorama.
'What we essentially seem to be discussing here is the role
'of a trade union in a capitalist society
'and whether collective bargaining is a valuable weapon for trade unions.
'If it is to achieve a redistribution...'
I think you do look like Brian Blessed.
1966 was a busy year for John,
as he took his first steps onto the biggest stage,
even making his first ever national TV appearance
on the biggest political show of the day, Panorama.
For your first television appearance, John,
-I have to say you don't look nervous.
'After all, Mr Wilson told us
'the answers to these problems before he was elected.
'What we're vitally concerned about at the moment is apparently...'
'..the very answers which they told us were wrong
'when the Tories used them and we feel if it was wrong for the Tories,
'then it must be doubly wrong
'for the Labour Party to adopt the same measures.'
We started it and I was on with a reporter from the Guardian.
I did a question, he did a question
and then they said,
"The camera's broken down, we're going to start again."
But what this journalist did was to pinch my question!
I'm trying to think now, I've lost my question,
this bugger's pinched it,
so when I look at that - that was my first television -
I often think, "You've got to watch for the guys around you,"
but that's life and you have to live with television,
-as it's live television.
That's things you have to watch for.
But that was my first one, really, after the seamen's strike.
-How important is television to politics?
It determines your own personality with the public.
I remember a Tory coming up to me - he must have been a Tory,
he had a top hat on -
and was on the train, an umbrella, the old city type,
I'm sitting at the table on the train
and he come up with his umbrella and said,
"Prescott, I don't like your views, but I like the cut of your jib."
-And in a way,
it is important for the politicians to maintain that certain amount of,
"This is what I believe," that's not something to be scared to say.
Of course you've got to be careful with the words
and the public understand that,
but they make a judgment about you as to whether you actually believe
what you're saying, or you're just putting the answer up.
If you're just putting the answer up, I think that's a real problem
and I think the politicians, to a certain extent in the debate now,
in order not to get caught out with what you're saying,
cos then the press want to pick out the one word that's wrong,
politicians then go rather safe
and sometimes it's the same answer to different questions!
People watching it are thinking, "What's this about?"
They can sass it, they can see it,
so if you try to get an image across
that you're trying to control the media
and you don't want to give an answer that they think is just set up
by your press people who've told you to give that answer,
it demeans politics
and I think we have to be much more courageous about that.
I think just straight talking, isn't it?
-That's the case.
-I think that's what people do say.
"Here's my question - give me the answer."
Even if they don't agree with you.
Do you remember the TV coverage of the 1997 victory?
-Well, that was...
That's remarkable. There'll never be another 1997.
Let's have a little look.
MUSIC: Things Can Only Get Better by D:Ream
-It was after five in the morning and dawn was breaking
by the time Tony Blair arrived at the Royal Festival Hall.
Labour has waited 18 years for this
and some of their supporters could barely contain themselves.
Remarkable, wasn't it, John?
Oh, you'll never get another occasion like that in politics,
-in my view.
-Why was it so special?
-It was after 18 years.
They were finishing a period and they wanted something new.
People will get tired of politicians,
whoever they are, after a period of time.
This was a long period for Labour, but for the Tories,
they'd been in 18 years
and it had got identified with some of the excesses of Thatcher,
so people were coming up to you in the street.
I think everybody who was around at that time said they just felt it was
a kind of relief and it was great to be on the other end of it, right.
With all doubts about victory now gone,
this had the mark of a speech to the nation as a whole.
We are now today
the people's party.
The party of all the people,
the many, not the few,
the party that belongs to every part of Britain,
no matter what people's background or their creed
or their colour.
The party that can stand up
for what is a great country.
And Tony Blair.
-He's a remarkable guy, Tony Blair.
I disagreed with a lot of his things and that was my job, really.
I'd run for the job and he got it.
But, you know, he could express things and say things.
The people liked him.
But what every Labour leader's got to do
is to show the electorate they're their own man.
It usually means having a go at the established left of the politics,
which is what he did on the trade unions.
They recognised he was a guy,
fresh-faced, spoke in their language,
wanted the kind of changes he was talking about
-and he achieved much of that.
My argument at the time when we were coming with Blair when he said,
"I want to make a change and call it New Labour,"
I said, "What are you calling it New Labour for? Labour can change."
And I thought about it and then we were about 27% in the polls,
a bit political, really,
but I could see that a lot of our people were not going to come back
because they thought they were wrong about Thatcher,
they'd only come back if they thought you'd changed,
that made them vote, so I think that's what effectively happened
with the results we had there.
-It certainly was a result, wasn't it?
Would you liked to have been leader?
-Oh, that would have scared me, I think.
I only really ran for the deputy.
My argument was you need a person to make sure the party keeps in line,
gets the policies, and then you give the support,
but I HAD to run for the leader. So Tony won,
and I always took the view - people who were saying,
"Don't make Prescott your deputy,"
Brown was one of them -
took the view that I might be resigning and threatening to resign.
No, no, when the party elects a leader, he's the leader,
he has the right and that's a bit of an argument at the moment.
And he was brilliant at putting the things together.
We had some differences, Iraq was a classic,
but the one thing I said to him, and even since,
he wants to bomb everywhere.
I said to him, "Why don't you put a bloody white sheet on,
"put a cross on, start the Crusades again?
"We lost that one, by the way - what are you doing it all again for?"
Brilliant, but I think he got carried away by the Yanks...
-..to a certain extent.
-He fell in love with them?
Uh, well, Tony,
he always used to say, and every Prime Minister says it,
every British Prime Minister's got to make up his mind,
what's the relationship with the Americans?
And "the Americans" mean you're one of their states.
And if you look over Iraq, I always said you have no rights to go in
and remove the leadership.
Well, that's what they believed, that's what they did
and I think his downfall came from some of that.
But I'm a great admirer of his.
He did a lot of good things.
I was proud to serve with him
and that's what leadership's about, you get on with it.
Politicians, John, appear in the most unusual places,
including this next clip. Here it is, John.
Oh, Gavin! I knew nothing about this programme.
The Bafta award-winning Gavin & Stacey is an unlikely tale of love
between a lad from Essex and a girl from Barry.
-Oh, I never saw this!
-In this typical scene from series two,
Nessa, played by co-writer Ruth Jones,
recounts one of her seemingly unbelievable stories
about her past famous conquests to a fascinated Stacey.
This reminds me very much of my time with John...
I had the lot.
A flat in Westminster, full use of one of the Jags,
didn't even have to cook - I had a little Filipino do it for us.
Nessa's past was apparently littered with amorous encounters
with the rich and famous.
But not happy with just dropping his name,
Nessa takes it further,
inserting herself into the story of one of John's best-known moments.
He could be very dry.
I left that night and I never looked back.
Cos I knew I'd only ever be happy in Barry.
How did John take it?
-He took it bad.
He went mad, he did, shouting and fighting.
Next day, he punched a civilian.
When I saw it on the telly, I knew that punch was meant for me.
I was doing a programme for BBC on class.
It was these two series on class in Britain.
-And I wanted to talk to...
-Yeah, James Corden.
So I get in touch with him, "Can I come in?"
He said, "Only if you come on my programme."
I said, "What's your programme?"
He said, "Gavin & Stacey."
My son said to me, "Oh, it's a rave programme."
I said, "I don't know it."
Anyway, "If you'll do this interview with me on class..."
I'll do that one for him.
-So I came in, they said, "Can you walk into the wedding?"
And that's what I did.
-See you in there.
-Yeah, see you in a minute.
-Cheers, John. Nice to see you.
That was so natural, John. LAUGHTER
You're wasted, love, you're wasted.
-Well, all politicians are actors of one kind or another.
-Yes, they are.
Course it is.
But to follow on from that story,
I was down in Bristol, I knocked on a door campaigning
and these students came to the door and they said, "Oh, hello, John."
I said, "Are you going to vote Labour, then, lads?"
They said, "Yeah, yeah!" I said, "Is it our employment policy, health,
"Oh, no, you were in Gavin & Stacey."
-LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
-That became the only reason
I got their vote, was because of Gavin & Stacey!
-I just don't think anyone expected you to be on the show.
Because she would often talk about her romances
to this star and that star
and the fact that you were there,
it just underlined it and emphasised it
and it's just a lovely moment.
And has quite an effect.
The response that comes from people who watch that,
they're surprised, but they're pleased that somehow
you've come into something they watch.
I can't explain it in any other way than that,
except they will come up to you and it got us some votes.
John's appearance on Gavin & Stacey continues a long tradition
of British politicians popping up on the entertainment scene.
After leaving office, Harold Wilson appeared
on The Morecambe And Wise Christmas special,
teasing Eric by deliberately calling him "Morry-camby".
In 1984, then Labour leader Neil Kinnock helped take
Tracey Ullman's cover of the Madness song My Girl
to number 23 in the charts
when he appeared in the music video.
In his final year as PM, Tony Blair appeared
in a hilarious Comic Relief sketch
with Catherine Tate's teenage alter ego Lauren,
to ask her, "Am I bovvered?"
And Boris Johnson stole the show
when he appeared for the first time on Have I Got News For You,
launching him on the road to becoming a TV personality.
So what's life like now?
Are you still very much...do you play a big hand in politics?
Oh, yeah. Well, one of the reasons...
People say to me, "Why did you go into the Lords?"
I started the climate negotiations in 1997
and I've followed it right through to Paris.
The only way I could keep in the negotiations...
And I became the negotiator for Europe at Kyoto in '97,
because Clinton rang Tony
and said, "I want a tough negotiator, have you got one?"
He said, "I've got a trade union guy that can do it."
That's how I became the negotiator,
because we had the presidency and I followed the climate change
right through to Paris, that's 20 years.
The only way I could still keep in the political frame
was being part of a political institution,
from an international... you've got to have come,
and the House of Lords gave me that opportunity.
And the other one - I wanted to continue to fight Murdoch
and all the spying they've been doing on people and the press,
who are so abusive.
I still want to take them on and make that accountability
and I needed a political base to do it,
so there's two things I'm still actively involved in.
I probably work as many hours as I did before.
So what do you think of the view of abolishing the House of Lords?
Oh, I think there's a lot of sense in that,
but what I don't accept,
I don't accept you can have two elected chambers.
It's a lot of trouble if you start doing that.
There can only be one elected chamber and that's the Commons.
Now, if you want to use the House of Lords as a kind of amending body,
as you can do, then get people indirectly elected to them
through the regions, so you have the regions in there
instead of all this appointment
of the people we're getting there at the moment.
I think make it into a proper debating...
But make it reflect.
It sounds like you're very busy.
Do you get to watch much telly these days?
No, I don't, but I'll tell you what I probably watch most -
I do find it very relaxing -
it's either films or the Discovery Channel.
All those things, they're fascinating.
-I watch so many air accidents...
-Oh, dear, plane investigation?
I don't know how they find out how a plane went down.
-It's quite remarkable.
-I love that programme.
I always watch it before I go on holiday and my wife tells me,
"What are you doing watching this for?!"
But I do really enjoy it.
I think the skill in which they find out what caused it
is quite remarkable and it's reassuring.
OK, you might be dead in an air crash,
but they will find out why you died!
We've got cinema one and cinema two in my house.
-You've got two cinemas?
Two Jags, two cinemas...
-I had one Jag, by the way, if you want to bring that up.
So why two cinemas?
-Well, two rooms with televisions in them.
She wants Celebrity, The Voice...
-All that kind, X Factor, all that rubbish.
She drives me barmy, they're always screaming and shouting in it!
I get a cup of tea for her and go in the other room and watch Discovery.
But it still comes through the door, all that screaming and shouting
when somebody's got kicked out of the celebrity thing,
or Tom Jones shouting about The Voice or something.
Cos I just see it on the way through as I'm bringing her a cup of tea.
So, John, we give our guests the opportunity
to pick a theme tune now for us to play out on.
Have you got something in mind?
Yes, very much. Going back many years, cos I went to visit...
-Does anyone remember The Prisoner?
With that big bouncing ball,
you're wondering where the hell it was coming from.
But it had a fearful sense about it
and somehow, the theme music just captured it.
That theme music identified a programme
and a place which was wonderful, something different
and excitement and a little bit of fear on the side.
Well, you've been exciting
and there's been a little bit of fear on the side.
Have you enjoyed your experience?
-Thoroughly. Today, you mean?
Not life, I mean today on the sofa!
Yeah, I have.
The audience were great, the interviewer was a bit going on.
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
John, it's been an absolute pleasure, Lord Prescott.
My thanks to John. Give him a round of applause.
APPLAUSE And my thanks to you lot
for watching The TV That Made Me.
We'll see you next time and bye-bye!
MUSIC: The Prisoner Theme
Former deputy prime minister John Prescott joins Brian Conley on the sofa.
We find out how John's memories of the Queen's coronation were not so fond, how his admiration for a charismatic politician influenced him in those early days, and touch on a cop drama featuring one of his favourite actors, Brian Blessed. We also revisit John's surprise cameo appearance in the sitcom Gavin and Stacey. Brian even surprises John with a special piece of archive - his very first network television appearance on the world's longest-running current affairs programme.
Lord Prescott also gives us the inside track on his life in the public eye and his relationship with the political heavyweights that surrounded him whilst he was in office.