A fake riot, a Twitter-based agony aunt column and a naked Page 3 ‘girl’ were among just some of the wacky antics when a regional daily was taken over by top TV comic Ross Noble.
The Geordie comedian arrived at the offices of the Swindon Advertiser to film part of his upcoming new series on Dave, called Ross Noble Freewheeling.
He asked fans to Tweet him to suggest activities for him to do – and when Adver editor Gary Lawrence (pictured, with Ross) offered him the editor’s seat for the day, he jumped at the chance.
His first ruling was to insist that the paper carry a naked Page 3 girl – but, saying he didn’t want to offend anyone, he decided the ‘girl’ should be a pig.
Said Gary: “I Tweeted on a whim and expected to hear nothing back. Then I had a phone call a few days before, but still didn’t really expect anything to come of it,” he said.
“It seemed a bit surreal when Ross arrived on a motorbike, followed by three vans bursting with crew and equipment.”
Ross also introduced an agony aunt column, and asked Twitter followers to send in problems for him to answer.
After morning conference was done, he decided he needed to concoct some news stories so appealed for Swindonians to meet him in the town centre.
There, he mocked up images of a town centre riot, a dog poo epidemic and concocted a tale about a mad rush for a phone box due to an alien landing cutting off the town’s mobile phone signal.
Back in the office, he oversaw the design of his news pages and wrote the leader column.
Added Gary: “He was a lovely bloke and genuinely interested in how the paper was put together. The staff here were brilliant and everyone worked hard to accommodate him.
“He had some surreal ideas and I had to draw the line when he wanted to have a splash headline on an alien landing – the sexy pig on page three was enough.”
Ross said he enjoyed his experience at the helm – but said it was “too much responsibility” for him to want to do it full time.
“I like Swindon – all human life is here. It also seems to be the home of the neck tattoo. But I really enjoyed it and we met some characters, which is what is so great about this show because we don’t have a plan,” he said.
“The idea is we ask Twitter for suggestions of what to do, which is something I did a couple of years ago before someone suggested it would be a good show.
“We get a lot of joke ones and when we saw one saying ‘come and edit a newspaper’ I did a double take and saw it was from an actual newspaper.
“It was brilliant being an editor but I’m glad I don’t have to do it every day – it’s way too much responsibility for me. I’ve never had a job as I’ve always done stand up.”
Ross Noble Freewheeling will be shown on Dave between September and December.