Tuesday, 2 July 2013
Gettin' fresh with Gaz Top - An interview Gareth Jones
Hey, yeah, wow! Crazy… Like yeah! We’re here talking to the one and only Gareth ‘Gaz Top’ Jones about the greatest, most rad programme eva! Yeah! Cool! Get Fresh was a fantazimo show, yeah, coolio, each week they would take their spaceship ‘The Millennium Dustbin’ – I know, crazy right! – to a new place and blow their minds!
And yeah, don’t forget Gilbert – ew, he was totally gross! An alien with a snotty nose! Oh ya! He was, like totally cool though!
So why did 'Gaz Top' have to go? And the hair with it! They were, like, so totally hiptastic!
"I had set my mind on presenting Tomorrow's World and figured I would never be given the opportunity with my nickname Gaz Top, Gareth Jones sounded a little more reasonable and I wanted people to realise I was a Welshman too. The hair went so I could have a lie-in in the morning because it took a full 45 minutes of crimping and back-combing and spraying whilst hanging upside down in order to perfect "The Top/The Kingfisher or The Anvil" as variations of my hairstyle was known as by my gang."
The show was a total trip, how did you get the job?"I took a phone call at Music Box in early 1986 (where I was a VJ at the time) saying that Janet Street-Porter wanted to meet me, and would I be interested in doing a Saturday morning live children's programme for ITV. I'd never set out to be a kids' presenter, but this show sounded cool, dark, a bit edgy - and had a theme tune by Mick Jones of Big Audio Dynamite. Sounded like my kind of thing."
So, like that Gilbert dude was a total crazefest, What happened to him? did he crumble in a dusty pile of old rubber?
"The Gilbert puppet (made for us by Spitting Image creators Fluck & Law) is still just-about serviceable although the latex is splitting in a number of places. Phil Cornwell has him in his living room, in a flight case, he uses it as a coffee table."
Ew… Did he get much snot on you?
"All my jackets and shirts from 1987-1988 were massively stained on one shoulder or the other - if not both. Gilbert's snot was KY Jelly, that stuff leaves its mark."
I heard that the brilliant Phil Cornwall did the voice of Gilbert... Did he hide under the desk?
"He lay down on his back under the sofa we sat on in the Millennium Dustbin with a TV monitor on his chest, wearing sunglasses, and smoking a fag. Proper rock 'n roll. He is a close mate even today some 27 years later."
Ha Ha Gnarly! So, What was it like working for Janet Street Porter?
"Tremendously easy, she was a great boss - she makes clear decisions and gives great guidance, she either loved something, or utterly hated it, no in-between. You can work with that kind of thinking. Also she's a big softy. I am very fond of her."
I hear you speak fluent Welsh? Has this helped your career in anyway? Is it, like, your mother tongue or something?
"I am a fluent Welsh speaker, although you probably can't tell because my north-eastern Wales accent sounds quite Scouse or Lancastrian to most ears. Yes speaking Welsh has got me work, I appeared a few times made in a drama series made in the Welsh language called Mwy 'Na Phapur Newydd (More Than A Newspaper). Acted in 30 episodes of Clwb Clebran (Chatter Club) teaching Welsh as a second language, and made countless radio episodes of the show too."
OMG I totally heard you, like roadied for U2, is that the truth?
"Yep, for 3 months on the War tour in the USA in 1983. The band I roadied for (for 5 years) The Alarm were supporting U2, and part-way through the tour Larry Mullen asked me if would also work for them too, I was Bono's cable basher during their set. I would catch him when he jumped off the PA during "The Electric Co". I was strong in those days, arms like a roadie."
So, who was your favourite guest on Get Fresh then? and why?
"Easy, having Slade on one of the shows we did in Carlisle was a MASSIVE personal treat. I've been a Slade fan since I was 10, and still am today. Getting to know that band because of television is still one of the best things that could ever happen to one of their fans."
Get Fresh was genuinely a bizarre and anarchic show! Do you think the kids TV format has changed much over the years? Which shows to you rate?
"It's been a while since I've watched any Saturday morning TV - I did enjoy the BBC's Live 'N Deadly a few years ago - a lot of what that show did was in Get Fresh, glad to see it again, thought they did a great job"
I had like a total crush on you as a kid... Does that freak you out? Did you get much fan mail from teenage girls?
"We used to get loads and loads of mail, six and a half million people watched Get Fresh every Saturday and a lot of them wrote in - everybody got a reply..........I hope. I am always flattered when I hear people were fans of mine, that is both wonderful and a great privilege to have been given the opportunity to be put in that position. I have a real fan boy mentality myself (Slade/ Manics/Star Trek/any real space farers. so I get it completely."
You must have some fun stories… Any thing you can share?
"I whispered something verrrrry rude in Kylie Minogue's ear just as we went live on air once - I did it to get a smile from her, she looked tired, she'd just landed from Australia. We got a smile..... but I got a slap."
I was hoping we would see the rise of the Millennium Dustbin in the year 2000, It should come back and land on my local beach... If it did, who would you cast as the presenters?
"I'd have the delicious Jena-Louise Coleman, the mighty smart Fran Scott, the ageless Gilbert The Alien ...and a young up-and coming Welsh lad called Gareth Jones.
Thank you Gaz - Yes, however much you cut your hair or call yourself Gareth, you will always be Gaz Top to me!!!
I accept: Gar, from Welsh people,
Gal, from Londoners,
Ga from Violet
and Gaz or Toppy from anyone who knew me as that,
but Gareth to those who know me."
Yeah Fanks Gaz, wow, that was totally, like blow your mind radonculously rad! Yeah! Wow! Righteous!
Now turn to page 26 for a wowza recipe for green Gibert Muffins and a how to achieve the perfect Gaz Top mullet.