Footballers not in Shackleton's league
AS a writer and comedian, Simon Evans is aware that he leads a very different life to that of his father. But with growing children himself, his thoughts about how he's perceived by his offspring has spurned Evans on to pen new one-man show, Friendly Fire.
"I suppose one of the things I was thinking about was my son who looks to me to set a good example, the right way to behave, and the feelings I have about being a bit inadequate in presenting a fully rounded character," he confesses.
"Much of what I do is abstract – I sit around on a computer all day, I look at the internet, and then I go out. My father and his generation were different; he had a tool shed, he could grow vegetables, and I can't do any of that."
So if Evans fails to present his son with someone to look up to in the same way he looked up to his own father, who can Evans junior learn from?
"I've been looking at good role models for my son, father figures, from modern and past times and I was looking at professional footballers and asking if they make discerning models."
Evans believes today's footballers are probably not, on the whole, good role models for a growing five-year-old.
"The only thing true about football is the fans – the players, the managers, the finance, it all seems so ephemeral. If you don't support a side, it seems so arbitrary from the outside, there's nothing there. I grew up without a side and I'm quite baffled by it all... there's nothing to do with locality."
In his search for suitable heroes, Evans recalls several historical greats.
"One I iconise in the show is Ernest Shackleton," he says of the early 20th century adventurer whose Antarctic exploits gripped a nation.
"He and the explorers in that era endured extraordinary hardship. That old fashioned stiff-upper-lip is a nice counterpoint to the attention-grabbing, over dramatised journeys people make onto X Factor. There's too much melodrama! These men, like Shackleton, used to knuckle down and get on with it.
"They're men who tried to extend the limits, like Neil Armstrong, they pushed humankind, they extended the limits, and they tested their own physical capabilities to the limit. They're more exciting than many of today's footballers.
"The Olympics are a good example of good sportsmanship – that's been tremendous and gripping. They train hard and push themselves to the limit, which doesn't contrast well with professional footballers, who seem to be pushing what you can get away with.
"If you just run around a track in circles, you are pushing your capabilities... but just yanking someone's shirt?"
Surprisingly, his negative view of today's multi-million pound strikers has so far gone unchallenged.
He chuckles playfully: "No-one has had a go at me just yet but I am quite looking forward to it."
Cutting his teeth on the mid-90s comedy circuit, Simon moved into writing, collaborating with such acts as Jimmy Carr, Sean Lock and Dara O'Briain. His long-standing professional relationship with Lee Mack, who spotted him starting out, led to TV sports quiz They Think It's All Over and gag-heavy sitcom Not Going Out – which is about to enter its sixth season.
"We've written all the scripts, done the read throughs, seen what has worked, then made some changes and cut everything down to size," he says, adding that he expects it to hit the small screen next spring.
Though he's remaining tight-lipped about any storylines, when pushed he does say: "They have announced already that Tim Vine is not appearing, so his character has been quietly removed without an inescapable fate, so it's more about Lee and Lucy's relationship. Daisy remains a prominent character, but there are new characters who will be appearing in different episodes. Other than that, I can't say much more."
Having already followed the familiar route from live comedy to radio and then TV over the last 15 years, Evans is discovering there are far more opportunities for today's comics – hence his present UK tour, only his second – and he's hoping to grab a few quiz and panel show slots to add to his already considerable CV.
Simon Evans comes to the Glee Club on Thursday, November 29. Doors at 7pm. Tickets are £10 and £12, call 0871 472 0400 or go to the website at www.glee.co.uk/nottingham.