Monday, June already
There has been so much to do, and so little time to do it, I can hardly remember the peace of the wheatgrass farm.
I made notes so that I wouldn't forget anything but I always doodle backwards, mirror writing they call it, so I can't understand a word I've written. I'm sure a psychologist would have something to say about that.
Well, I have been a bit blue, if I'm honest. It's all to do with the inner workings of television and its moguls.
Jay Hunt, the head of BBC 1 daytime - I think that was her title - had a meeting with me last July and told me I could be a possible choice to bring an audience back to the channel, having had it poached by Mr. Noel Edmonds and his 'Deal no Deal'. I got very excited and went off to enjoy a hot summer with the old man in Italy.
We went to Pietrasanta, where all the Carrera marble comes from. It's very lovely but we stayed in a flat which had no air conditioning, next to a family that had no volume control, by private beaches that left no change out of 45,000 euros.
When I got back my old agent hadn't hustled and negotiated enough, which is what I'm learning Rob does, so I lost the job. Then Prospect Pictures, who put out GFL and own the very studio we used to broadcast from, upset Ms Hunt by taking an existing BBC format and flogging it to the opposition.
Fast forward to January this year when we all discovered that we were being thrown onto the scrap heap along with some leftover meals cooked by The Queen-to-Be's son. I hope you are following this.
By this stage ITV wouldn't touch me because I had complained about all sorts when I was doing their much critiqued foodie game show called 'Too Many Cocks'. I was taken to the Ivy restaurant, where I told them some home truths and before you could say 'Book Carole Sweeney', I was persona non grata.
By the end of our five year run, UKTV Food believed that I was going to the BBC, the BBC believed I was staying with Optomen, who had got the contract for MK, but nobody believed me when I said, 'Honest Guv, I ain't got a job'. But it became quite clear that the BBC had no intention of taking me because I'm not funky, controllable or Alan Titchmarsh.
Now, what you have to understand about TV is that it is no longer a game for the faint hearted. It's full of lots of little independent companies with a combined age of two, all vying for a few slots on the box which are held on to with the tenacity of a capuchin Monkey who has super glued it's darling little finger pads to a lonely mahogany tree in the Brazilian rain forest.
Phew! A bit long winded, that one!
So Rob has been working like a meerkat on speed. Meetings here, meetings there, phone calls to them, emails to those and a lot of texts about the other. Thus the end of last week saw me not getting an awful lot of jobs.
Now, I know you are optimistic on my behalf, and after $13 million spent on detoxing my body, mind and soul in San Diego, I should be optimistic too. But I hit a little dip.
Well, it was more than a dip. It was a bloody great big chasm with hot coals and an alligator at the bottom waiting to bite my bum. The only consolation is that my bum is not quite as cumbersome post San Diego.
The one show I wanted was given to a geezer with a wholesome reputation, the other show went to somebody who really doesn't need the money, and now I am doing what you've all read about - playing the waiting game.
Actors call it resting but in my side of the industry, when you are out of work people say 'There are loads of things in development' or 'There are hundreds of projects with your name attached'. What it really means is that it's in the lap of the gods or the casting couch, and trust me, I may have lost weight but me and a TV exec squashed together on a chaise lounge in Shepherds Bush doth not a pretty sight make.
It all coincided with half term holidays when all the telly execs were doing their expense-paid holidays in Corsica whilst planning their next boardroom coup. Which is precisely what happened last week. Jay Hunt was appointed head of Channel Five. She doesn't like Prospect so the chances of her taking GFL are slim. Nothing is being commissioned until September (hang in there with me), the BBC won't touch me because I was born the other side of the watershed, ITV won't touch me because I complained about their outfits which made me look like a janitor in drag, and James Martin has taken over the airwaves.
Actually, I love good old James. Especially his genuine Yorkshire puddings.
So, last week was a bit of an anti climax.
That said, there were some highlights like:
1. The voice over for Heat magazine. I do it in a lovely studio called Scamble, right in the middle of Soho, where I can get freshly squeezed wheatgrass and nick their brilliant pointy pencils from the sound booth.
2. My Irish girl friend and family stayed for one night in the flat. Two adults, three young people, Jim, me and a lot of excellent funeral food. One of their family had died and they brought back some wake food. I must admit to having had a little nibble of hot fajitas. The deceased wouldn't have minded. He was wonderful.
3. Rob took me to the Cystic Fibrosis Awards at the Hilton Hotel, Edgware Road. True to form I turned up at the wrong door. Another taxi was sent for so I could arrive on the red carpet. In the event they needn't have bothered. The paparazzi snapped but I swear there was no film in their cameras. They all called 'over here', 'In the middle' and 'Hey Joan, look at me down here'. I think they thought I was Miss Crawford without her coat hanger.
Please don't imagine I am hurt by that red carpet stuff, it was a funny shade of tomato and made me look a tad sallow.
The evening was touching. Adults and children battling with a genetic condition and winning. Awards were given for courage, determination, creativity and sporting aplomb. One particular little chap called Oliver was filmed. His life was dominated by learning how to breath and acting. The little lad had been picked to a do a voice over for a cartoon Disney elephant. When asked how he dealt with the strain of having CF he said 'I just go into the studio and think about being Dumpy'. I knew just what he meant.
I drove home on Friday night, leaving Jim in the flat with lots of clean washing and a fridge full of fabulous funeral fodder.
BB and I drove home to the strains of some intense Ghetto drum and Bass. My music of preference is slightly less boom banga bang. But it certainly kept the adrenalin level high.
Saturday was shopping and the mowing of the lawn. I listened to LBC on my headphones as I walked up and down. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the two programmes I listened too. Ian Fenn, my website guru, advised me on how to approach radio, since he's an award winning radio producer. So, I am doing exactly what he says. Ta, Ian.
The lawn took ages, since I hadn't done it for so long, and good old Jackson had only gone and dumped a few presents that lurked in the daisies.
Sunday was ALL the papers, in prep for LBC.
This morning it was up and out even though I had only had three hours kip. Jackson and I walked in the Ashdown Forest. The views were well lit this morning - the light was crisp and pink.
This afternoon saw my daughter and me finding a little organic farm and, wonder of wonders, trays of wheat grass. I bought two.
I also made seed cheese over the weekend, which is an OHI staple. Soaked sesame and sunflower seeds. After 6-8 hours they are then blended for at least three minutes, hung up in a muslin bag in the fridge overnight and voila! - a seedy cheese with the consistency of Humous and the taste of, well, wallpaper paste, but I'm learning to love it.
It's now 6.00pm and I am going to do my OHI exercise tape. It makes me laugh - the American instructress giving me orders in my living room doesn't quite strike the same note as stretching to the cicadas in San Diego but when she says bend over and sway your arms like an elephant, I do.
I may watch Corrie, but I have started a silly romantic novel (reading that is, not writing) and I can't put it down. It's well written and by that I mean it's, well, you know written as opposed to painted, and since I have only had three hours sleep, I intend getting into the bath with it before lights out and some homemade guacamole, which is as tasty as a Mexican morsel eaten on the road side of Gudalahara high street.
I think I'm tired, don't you?
Thank you for all your comments, It does make me feel loved. Yes, it does, in answer to one of your comments.
It reminds me that the last five years were not in vain. And take no notice of my darkness before. Actually, I am having a wonderful time. I know the Angels will whack something my way, even if it's Mr. Titchmarsh.
Love to you all and CU2morrer.
Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes
Sorry you have fallen into a bit of a trough Jeni, but please keep the faith. The world of TV sounds like a tough, smelly business, but I just know something wonderful is coming your way. Love and a big hug.
Eh! JEni as they say in LALA land keep your pecker up....up can explain that to your readers, no it doesn't mean chin either..
By the way mirror writing is auotmatic writing think Leonardo Da Vinci for one...
ps read it in the mirror
pps direct from the management!!
Oh Jeni, I'm feeling quite down now - cheer up chuck. I'm sure something great is waiting just round the corner for you. We're still all writing about you on the UKTVF website and all looking forward to seeing you back on TV where you belong. You are NOT forgotten and still much loved!
Love, Sally x
Nice to read your today's blog, esp re Mr Titchmarsh. Don't know if you saw his new prog on Sunday with James Martin, it was dire. They played that silly Titchmarsh music all the way through as well. Why on earth did James get involved in something quite so bad I'll never know and its on prime time this Sunday. When are you coming back luv MISSING YOU MUCHLY.
dearest Jeni,dont be sad, dont be blue, please remember we love you!! corny i know but we hate to see you on a downer. you have lbc to look forward to at least and we do too. i am sure that someone out there will recognise your wonderful abilities. chill, enjoy your 'rest' and dont let the buggers grind you down. keep up the good work with your wheatgrass etc, tho we love you babe no matter what you look like, you are fantabulous!!
Jeni, Jeni, Jeni, don't let the buggers grind you down. I've been watching a repeat of GFL on UKTV Bright Ideas and I had to come and send you this email during the ad break, it is so refreshing to see your smiling face and do what you do best, make everybody laugh and also give us fantastic recipes and information on food. AWT has tried to emulate you on Daily Cooks but it doesn't work. Why don't they let chefs cook and presenters present. Keep your chin up and I'm sure somebody will snap you up soon.
With the comment I'm about to make you'll probably want to slap me ...but I do believe there is a positive from every negative, no matter how dark it appears at the beginning...as you know I LOVED GFL (by the way have replaced the MK hour with an aerobic dvd, proud?) Something WILL happen, too many people want you back in the saddle, no matter who owns the saddle...chins up and read ya in the morrow luv!
What a great post as usual.
Had been a little concerned... no post for a few days and when you said you'd hit a bit of a dip, i was worried you were going to tell us that you had tried to end it all by trying to drown yourself in a big tub of houmus!!! Not that you would.
Still very good with all the healthy eating etc.. (wish I was...do try, but get bored with it very quickly) You will soon need to insert a pic of the new you. We would all luv to see how you are doing :-)
As usual, sitting staring out of the office window, gorgeously sunny, warm and quiet (except for the odd Hurricane jet, flying four foot of the ground!!!) I'm sure the boss arranges them, just to keep us awake!
Dave & Andy
This is unfortunately the curse of the freelancer. I'm a childrens book illustrator, one day they can't get enough of your fluffy cats and bunnies and life is great. Next, oh god the phone doesn't ring and the cat is not going to be fed. Hang in there and make your agent earn their 35% the pendulum will swing your way again. Must go and catch my agent if she is in between one of her many trips to New York at my expense. I think the anti cynical pill is wearing off.
Hi Lovely Jeni! I have been reading your blog for several months now and never quite had the "courage" to post a little note back but now I have. I'm so sorry to hear you down in the dumps. Just remember for every trough there's a peak (or something like that). I know its been said many times here and on UKTV Food site but why oh why did GFL have to go. MK is a rubbish and don't even start me on the presenters. I used to watch GFL mainly at the 10pm showing snuggled up in bed (I think of Andy Peters who said he watched it at 10pm and wonder if he feels as empty as me at that time now)! I am writing to every channel to get them to take up GFL. I don't know if they'll listen but its worth a shot. Remember Jeni don't get down and blue just smile and shout Woo-hoo! Bec x
UKTVF certainly hasn't been the same since 6th April. I have watched MK several times but it doesn't keep me glued to the box like GFL did. Can't you set up your own TV company and make your own shows ?
I am positively positive something big is on its way!
Just hang on in there, enjoy your freedom for a bit and take it easy.
Lots of hugs x
What with all the mayhem on the UKTV Food website with all of us constantly blogging about how we hate MK and want you back, I don't see how the terrestrial stations can ignore the massive ratings boost they would get if they took on GFL. Direct them gently to the site and let them work it out for themselves.
Hope you are feeling better, hate to see you on a bit of a downer. I find if I write down all the stuff that's bothering me and read it back it never seems so bad. Be glad you're not working trust me, I went back to work today after 4 months off sick and it's AWFUL!!!
Just know you are loved by us all, we look forward to your blogging and miss you on TV, someone will snap you up before long until then enjoy the break
Lots of love
Marmite Girl xx
I agree with Shelley, remember the Secret and all that Oprah type stuff, every positive action has a positive reaction, don't forget what you learned in California littl'un!.
On another note I wonder if you live near where my Gran used to live in Battersea, now knocked down but near the river. She was born in 1880 (how old does that make me for gawds sake). They were very poor and she used to say she remembered tea and coffee being unloaded from a ship and it spilled into the gutter and they were all out scooping it up. Yum....So next time you're beside the river just think of little Alice gathering her tea n coffee!
Hello! It's such a relief to be able to see the GFL repeats on UKTV Bright Ideas. At the same time, it is sad that you're not in front of the camera again yet.
Thank you for keeping us all posted like this.
From your biggest fan in Cornwall.
It's so good to be getting the real story straight from you, rather than being fed a lot of hogwash thru the media. Stay true,
because we're right here waiting for your next move. It must be so hard, the politics sound awful.You'll be powerfullike Oprah one day, all of them will be crawling to you for a job(and all of us will be cheering from the sidelines.) Cheer up and enjoy the Spring, We're getting into
the soup weather down here.
Fascinating view behind the scenes of the politics of progamming and jobs etc. I've been spell-bound reading it but are you sure you should be putting that out in the public domain just yet?
You seem like a very nice person (a VNP! [I just made that up]) and I'm sure too that fabulous things will come your way. You've certainly brightened up quite a few of my days in your time on GFL.
On the bright side, at least you don't have CF to contend with!! ;-)
Hi Jen, do you need a personal mental health professional?? I'm free over the weekend! No, sorry to hear you had a blip, comes to us all at some time or other. Would love to see some piccies too - you could always do a Brigit Jones fireman's pole section??
Enjoy the weekend - it's got to be better that driving down to Heathrow :-(
Hey, i know you dont know me, just gorra say i loved GFL everything stopped for me while it was on - brought a smile to my face each day, try not to be too down, miss ya im sure something will happen soon, a personality like yours should not be kept hidden!
Dear Jeni, I must echo the previous posts, we are all thinking of you and sending our positive thoughts to you as you have shared so much with us. Very best wishes Alison x
I live in southern spain. I loved gfl and your clothes! as I said on the gfl discussion a few weeks ago - you can't offer an invitation to Buck House and a free meal at a Ramsey restaurant!
Did you get to keep the clothes by the way?