As I reach The Ivy, I see Little Ted outside stubbing out a cigarette. He smiles and we go in to find Big Ted tucking into an egg and cress sandwich. I start by asking the two how their lives have gone since the show’s end in 1988.
Big Ted: Not good. Not good. That Julia Somerville’s just got back on prime time after moaning her tits off about the BBC’s ageism, but she should thank her lucky stars she’s not a stuffed toy.
Little Ted: We done Butlins for the first three years but even they gave us the heave-ho. I’ve been on Income Support since then.
BT: I get an extra £20 for me mental health stuff.
Me: What about the trend in such circumstances for self-reinvention?
BT: (looking sarcastically at LT) Oh yeah. That’s just being a whore. I ain’t just going where the money is. I may be full of foam but I’ve got principles.
LT: Plus, look at Jemima. She was a drum ‘n’ bass DJ in the clubs for a couple of years but it didn’t make her happy. Got in with the wrong crowd, ended up in a squat. All her money goes on ketomine now, she’s a muppet.
BT: She wishes. I bet Miss Piggy’s never eaten out of bins.
LT: No, she has. She likes it.
BT: What people don’t know is, for a while he got mistaken for me and I got mistaken for him. I lost a ton of weight and he ballooned right up.
LT: It’s like the blokes out of Abba. The one who didn’t have a beard before has got one now and vice versa.
The comparison has thrown Big Ted.
LT: I think the blonde bird’s a brunette now and the brown-haired one’s gone blonde as well. Give it another twenty years and the birds’ll have the beards and Benny and Bjorn will have the… knockers.
Me: So you’ve seen your former colleagues then? Are you in touch with Hamble and Humpty too?
BT: He sees Hamble a bit, I can’t stand her. She’s a Neuro-Linguistic Programming practitioner now, in bloody Islington, she’s doing all right, dosh-wise, even if she’s full of shit.
LT: I don’t condone the school of therapy she chose, it’s just quick-fix garbage I realise, but I feel calm with her. She was always like that, she just radiates calm.
BT: I don’t know if it’s calm, she just seems stolid to me. Stolid. She dresses like Ann Widdecombe as well now – you know, them horrible collarless jackets.
LT: Well I like her. Humpty though, he’s went and got religion. He’s changed his name, the lot. He’s not one of the mental ones though, he’s more like Cat Stevens.
BT: Cat Stevens is mental, you can tell, he’s sort of a smiling cretin, like the Dalai Lama, but he’s harmless.
At this point Tom Baker approaches us. He asks after the pair’s health. Then he’s off to his table.
BT: That cunt owes me a tenner.
LT: Has he still not paid? Is he still saying he don’t remember?
BT: No, he’s changed his story now. He’s saying he paid me back when I was drunk and that I don’t remember. I just don’t know.
LT: I’ll go and have a word.
BT: No leave it…
LT: Two minutes.
BT: No seriously. Oh…
Within a minute the three of us have been ejected from the building. The mood having soured considerably I thank the pair for their time. I begin to head back to Charing Cross, but at the street-corner I hear Little Ted shout across to me.
LT: If you stitch us up I’ll fuckin’ FIND you…