I first met Gyles Brandreth around twenty years ago. He used to come to booklaunches at Politico’s and was always the life and soul of the party. He then invited me on to his Sunday afternoon arts show on LBC, when it used to be based at ITN in Grays Inn Road. I loved it. He’d invite three or four people to take part and it was always great fun and I met loads of people from the arts world who I’d never have encountered without Gyles. One of those people was Joanna Lumley, who I remember sitting next to at the opening night of Gyles’s musical ‘Zip-a-dee-doo-dah’, which later became Zipp. I was a bit starstruck. Mind you, she was also lost for words when Gyles appeared in fishnet stockings and a thong…

Gyles Brandreth

One of the features of the LBC show was a half hour slot called STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN. It was a bit like Desert Island Discs, where famous people had to talk about things they would miss if they left this mortal coil. One day I had the bright idea of turning the tables on Gyles, so I hosted it and he was the guest. It was the first time I had ever hosted anything on radio. Anyway, I found the audio the other day, so settle back and listen to 40 minutes of THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN with me and Gyles…

The thing about Gyles is that he is a master of reinvention. He went from the man who helped Roland Rat rescue TVam with his woolly jumpers, to MP, to musical theatre impresario, to best selling author, to Edinburgh Festival sensation, to political diarist, to One Show reporter … and even then there’s a huge amount I’ve missed out.

breaking the code

His diaries of his years as an MP during the Major years, BREAKING THE CODE, remains in my view the best political diary of the last thirty years - yes, better than Alan Clark and Alastair Campbell. I was proud to bring the diaries back into print when I was at Biteback. If you haven’t read the book, trust me, you’ll love it. It’s still in print HERE.

Gyles Brandreth

Gyles has helped me a lot over the years. He is one of the kindest people I know, and is a great source of encouragement. He’s one of those rare people who make you feel good whenever you meet them. Whenever I leave an encounter with Gyles I feel better about the world. I feel better about myself. He gives me confidence and I’ll always be grateful that it was him who gave me my first chance in radio, and made me believe I could be quite good at it.

Have You Eaten Grandma, Gyles Brandreth

All this is a roundabout way to tell you about a new Iain Dale Book Club podcast I’ve done with Gyles, which has just gone live on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts from. Gyles has a new book out about the use and abuse of the English Language called HAVE YOU EATEN GRANDMA. It’s informative, educational and also very funny, as you would expect. The podcast is an hour long and at times descends into farce. Where else would you get two oral sex jokes in the first two minutes of a podcast? Well, to be fair, probably with me and Jacqui Smith on ‘For the Many’.

I hope you’ll download the podcast and subscribe as there are some brilliant episodes for you to listen to, and many more planned! Click HERE for the full details…