Out of the Ashes with Jonathan Agnew

Jonathan Agnew speaks about cricket, Test Match Special and his tour with Geoff Boycott.

Is it more nerve wracking being on stage with someone or by yourself?

“It’s easier being on your own as you don’t have to worry about anyone else and you can just get on with what you have to do and just really enjoy talking to a lovely audience.”

Who’s your favourite person to work alongside?

“Oh that’s impossible! It really depends on the situation of the game and who you’re with. I love working with Phil Tufnell who’s very quick, Michael Vaughan’s a great analyst as is Geoffrey and of course Jeremy Coney has got lovely language. Everybody I work with is a professional and they’ve all got their own special qualities including Vic Marks.”

How does Sir Geoffrey Boycott respond to your wind-ups?

“Very well, in fact he got me back this year, which he enjoyed but he always does take them extremely well. He’s actually got more of a sense of humour than people think. I have always got on with Geoffrey. We’re twenty years apart in age and our relationship’s built on mutual respect from when we used to play cricket against each other. I’ve always admired him and of course I enjoy his company on the radio as well as on stage.”

What makes Test Match Special so special?

“I think it’s the way it communicates with people. We bring people to where we are and it’s a nice place, it’s gentle company and we have really interesting guests on to talk about cricket and their lives. It’s the company that people enjoy all day.”

What can people expect from the show?

“The show is not just about cricket, people can expect to have a fun, enjoyable and enlightening evening.”

Is it just for people who know a lot about cricket?

“Absolutely not! There’s a bit of everything in it.”

What part does Tino your dog play?

“On my solo tour Tino plays his very own role, which is largely unscripted but he’s sort of become part of the show really. He doesn’t appear everywhere he selects the theatres that he prefers which are really those where he can have a wander around the audience. He’ll be making an appearance near you soon.”

What’s Tino’s party trick?

“He howls to the theme tune of Test Match Special, which he does whenever it’s played, including in the theatre wings, so if you listen carefully you’ll hear him.”

Who else have you enjoyed working on stage with and how are they different?

“Well Phil Tufnell, of course, is great fun, I’ve been working with him for many years now, he lights up as soon as he walks on the stage and he’s very quick and a wonderful story teller. Bumble again is a wonderful raconteur singing his karaoke at the end of the show is always a highlight. Geoffrey surprises me every time we go on stage, he’s always got something new to impart and that’s why I enjoy working with him.”

Who’s been your favourite guest on View From The Boundary?

“Sir Elton John I would say because I’ve always been a huge fan of his music. Sitting on his piano stool and interviewing him was a really special moment. We’ve had so many extraordinary guests on there from actors and actresses to politicians, it’s been many and varied but I think if I had to point at one it would be definitely Elton John.”

Do you have a pre-show ritual and do you get nervous before you go on stage?

“No, not really. I like to have my own space at least half an hour before the show you need to get in the zone, really get it in your mind what you’re gong to say.”

Is it like being a cricket player?

“It’s a bit like being a player more like going up to bat perhaps when you just need to get yourself into the right frame of mind.”

Who would be your favourite cricket dinner guest and why?

“W.G. Grace! I would have loved to have the opportunity to meet and interview him and watch him play. He sounds like an incredible character although I suspect that a lot of the stories about him are apocryphal, such as bails being blown off and that sort of thing. He does sound like one of the great characters of the game.”

What have been the main professional influences and inspirations on your life?

“Brian Johnston was the main broadcasting influence whose example I try and follow. He would have loved the modern radio and emails and proper contact with people, he would have loved all of that. As far as trying to get the balance of entertainment and the actual commentary of what’s going on right for the audience he and I are probably actually very similar, he has been a great example for me to follow.”

Out of the Ashes, a brand-new evening with Boycott and Aggers, will be at Symphony Hall on 20th October. Tickets