Brushes with fame

I am fascinated by celebrities. Not celebrities themselves (with a few exceptions, of course – a girl’s got to have some interests!). And not the lifestyles – I find reality shows really dull. But the idea of celebrity or recognition intrigues me.

I’ve been fortunate to experience a few very fleeting moments of fame (taking a very generous interpretation of this term – they felt significant at the time, so don’t laugh!), and I thought I’d share them with you.

Brush with Fame #1 – Young Talent Time


No, I wasn’t part of the Young Talent Time team. Nor was I a contestant. My brush with fame was less glamorous than that. I was in THE AUDIENCE, with a few friends as a birthday treat, for one of the shows (see, I said it was a bit of a stretch to call it ‘fame’) – but it was still very exciting!

We knew, from watching the show weekly, that there was a chance that my friends and I might be on TV as a result. As the show was live, we couldn’t actually see ourselves on the TV – but Dad had recently bought this thing called a Video Cassette Recorder (VCR) which meant you could RECORD TV LIVE!!! How exciting! However, Dad was confused by the 24 hour clock, and didn’t actually record our episode. Crushed.

Lessons learned

  • Don’t put too much hope on newfangled technology, but just relish the fact that everyone at school the following week said they saw us and we all looked great.
  • Sometimes things balance out – our school team beat Dannii Minogue’s school team at rounders a few weeks’  later, which offset the disappointment of not seeing myself on TV a bit (weirdly, as it wasn’t her fault about the VCR. Still …it did help).

Brush with Fame #2 – SBS Insight 

In 1994 (yes, a big gap), I had my second opportunity on TV, this time for a little longer. After getting a bit worked up over the 1994 federal election results (remember, this was the time of the Tampa refugee boat issue), I wrote a letter to The Age, which was selected as the main letter for the next day. As a result, I was contacted by The Age, who advised in turn that the producer of Insight had contacted them for my details, as they might be interested for me to be part of the audience. I subsequently found out the audience gets to ask questions or may be asked a question. It was filmed interstate, and, as I was getting close to that stage of pregnancy when my flights would be restricted, they would put me up overnight. So what did I say? Well, yes, of course!

And it was exciting – being picked up in a cab from work (with a return trip the next day), taken to the airport, picked up from Sydney airport and driven to the studio (with the street directory in my lap, as I had to direct the driver – pre-GPS days. A bit of a worry). And the lights were bright. And I did get asked a question.

This is from another episode, but the set up was very much like this
This is from another episode, but the set up was very much like this


The topic was about housing affordability. As my letter to The Age included my frustration with self interest rather than a focus on the community as a whole (including the handouts such as first home owner schemes and baby bonus – which I know, I was about to receive), I was expecting any question I would be asked would relate to this perspective. I was not ready for a question about why people of my age didn’t know / choose how to save (what?? – we Gen Y’s did know how to – I didn’t quite know how to address this). So I muttered something fairly unclear in response and went very red, and that was the end of that.

Lessons learned –

  • Be prepared for any questions (even better, be really clear on the program topic and angle before arriving).
  • Enjoy the good (the opportunity for a lovely sleep and great buffet breakfast, as well as being transported by taxi miles from the airport) and don’t focus too much on the bizarre (although I still think it was strange that I was the one flicking through the street directory). 

Brush with Fame #3 – Meeting Prince Charles

It was in late 2012 at an industry symposium, where a group of planners, architects, developers, financiers and others in the design and development sector were invited to  discuss different approaches to improving housing affordability within Victoria (see, I COULD have expanded on that SBS topic – although I had a few more years of experience under my belt!).

Prince Charles was touring Australia with Camilla, and presented at the forum to announce a partnership between the Victorian Government and the Princes’ Foundation for Building Communities (based around Sustainable Developments – Prince Charles has a real interest in planned communities). He provided an overview of his foundation, and how they intended to work with the government (interestingly, I haven’t heard any more of this – must find out what happened …). He then left us as he had a flight to catch to Adelaide (and we continued on with the rest of the symposium). But before leaving, he made his way around to various attendees for a brief chat and handshake.


Lessons learned:

  • Always sit on a table with someone ready to take a photo.
  • And a future King, with a sense of humour (from the little I saw of him, he was actually quite funny and not high and mighty), is happy to bow and shake hands with a current King (even if by surname only).
  • To have a photo taken with British royalty made my grandmother’s day – no, year! And that is very worthwhile!

Brush with Fame #4 – Reading with Raf

This was very recent – a couple of weeks ago – and I still feel very excited about it!

Rafael Epstein hosts Melbourne’s 774 ABC radio afternoon shift. Once a month, there is a segment called ‘Read with Raf’, described on the website as ‘Melbourne’s biggest book club’ … and readers / listeners are invited ‘send in your review and you could be invited into the studio to share your thoughts’.


Last month’s book was David Nicholl’s Us, which I loved. As I had already written a brief review on Goodreads, I thought I’d copy it across and send it in. And I was subsequently called by Rafael’s producer, and asked if I would be available to take a call, and answer a couple of questions – to which I said yes (I’ve learned). I was then told they’d be in touch if I was chosen.

Then, on the day, I was called and asked if I could come in! It happened to be my day off, and I was having lunch with a group of friends. After seeking their opinions, I said yes, quickly organised for others to collect the children from school, and then drove in to the studios. Most exciting, on a number of levels!

One was the opportunity to find out what it is like to be in a radio studio, and actually, I quite liked it (less intimidating that a TV studio). The second was how I really enjoyed the chance to talk on another of my favourite topics – novels – with people who were genuinely interested in dissecting them. And this second point was great to find out, as I’ve been considering including a book review as part of my blog. Plus – I received the July month’s book to read and review (which is a great gift for a bookworm).


(Above is an extract from twitter – see the reference to Helen? That’s me! Woo hoo!)

Read with raf

And, for a little while longer, you can listen to the discussion here – Read With Raf June: Us, David Nicholls – yes, that’s actually me talking, if you click on the audio link! On the radio! Wow!

Lessons learned

  • I can hold my own, when I’d given myself a chance to prepare a bit (having learned from my Insight experience). 
  • It’s worth putting your hat in the ring – you never know if you will be chosen (and if you are interested in reading, certainly provide a comment to this show. I’d be interested to know what you think of this month’s selection – I am struggling with it)
  • Although my experience is very, very limited, I’ve realised I’d been fortunate in that both Jennie Brockie and Rafael Epstein are Walkley winning journalists. Quality! Which is something not everyone could say, I’d bet.

These were fairly brief experiences, but so worthwhile. As they were out of the ordinary for me, they have stayed in my mind, and I love remembering them. I think this is about the level of fame I am comfortable with – a bit of fun.

How about you? Have you had any brushes with fame? Please share – they are fun to hear about!


11 thoughts on “Brushes with fame

  1. Too many to count these days, because I do alterations for fashion parades & events that celebrities attend. Like the Logies, Melbourne Cup Carnival, Myer Events, Project Runway etc.
    I usually have to Google the person as I have no clue who they are & I’ve put my foot in my mouth more than once.

    In my previous life I had a couple of ‘big’ moments.
    I met Brad Pitt who was working at the bar at a comedy club in LA 1986, just before he started on his first TV show, Dallas or something. We got chatting because I was underage & wasn’t allowed to order drinks at the table & the comedian had a go at me about being Australian. It wasn’t until years later I was reading a magazine that had a story about his life & I realised who he was.
    Same year I was living in Toronto & read for a bit part in the movie Cocktail. I didn’t get the part, but ended up an extra in the final scene & met Tom Cruise.
    And the only time I have been completely starstruck was at a Buffy Con & I met James Marsters who played Spike. I had a bought a some of the character dolls I had created to show my friends & one of them insisted I show him the Spike doll in the photo signing session. he gushed about how amazing it was & I gave it to him. Which was not the plan. I’m still a bit gutted, it was one of my best dolls, full leather jacket. But he showed it at the Q&A later in the day & a year later I met him again & he remembered me & said it was on display in his living room & his kids were not allowed to play with it.


  2. It is a goal of mine to be on Insight one day, Helen!!! My favourite show and I am a huge fan of Jenny Brockie’s. I would actually love her job I’ll settle for being in the audience. I was asked to go on it once to talk about something relating to pregnancy but I declined as it was a controversial topic and I felt it wasn’t quite right for me. And I LOVE Raf Epstein so very envious of your brushes with fame. My celeb encounters include: Pat Rafter, Lionel Ritchie, Guy Pearce.


    1. Nice encounters, Michaela! Jennie Brockie does a great job, doesn’t she? I’m sure you’ll get to be on it soon – with a topic that suits you, too (plus – really worth the Read with Raf approach (or approaching the producers directly, I think, given your experience and exposure in writing)


  3. Hi Helen! Neels said he thought he’d heard you in Raf Ebstein’s programme!! Wow how exciting. Must also congratulate you on ever increasing technological skill in writing these blogs. Looking very professional.
    I myself have not had many brushes with fame, apart from indirect contact with footy players due to Neels’ work. Did appear in a women’s magazine once when modelling year 12 formal dresses…? Bit sad.


    1. Modelling, Ilse? That’s something I would claim very proudly (certainly way above being in the audience for young talent time!) Thanks for the comments on the blog too – I have lots of things I need to introduce from the course I have been doing online (reading a lot, yet to apply, so hopefully it will continue to improve) x


  4. Love this post! My recent brushes with fame have been brushes with bloggers I consider “celebrities” but in real life have turned out to be very down to earth, nice, normal people happy to have a chat. I don’t think they consider themselves celebrities at all. I guess at the end of the day, it’s nice to remember that we are all just people.


    1. Thank you Robyna – I feel very much the same with well known blogger (and I would count you as one, too!) so I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who feels this way. It’s great to find out that most people are very nice and down to earth, aren’t they? (I don’t know why I find that a surprise, but I do!)


      1. See, that just floors me, because I don’t see myself like that at all! I think, in general, people are pretty lovely and bloggers are even more lovely than the average 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I have had two appearances on TV, both when I was a child, and both when I lived in South Africa. The first was when a TV station came to film our school doing a massive Litter Bug drive. There was me, in my lime green top, frantically running around picking up rubbish (so glamorous!!). Second time, I was chosen to appear as an extra for a television program that was being filmed at our school (I think the entire school auditioned). I even got paid! And then on the day, during the classroom scene, I was seated in front of the lead actress, and they gave me a line! We had a number of takes, some with the line and some without, so I was thrilled when the version that was put in was the one with my line! And that is pretty much it. Your brushes with fame are pretty cool, I have to say. Thank you for sharing xx


    1. I think they sound great, Sarah (having lines on TV would be fantastic!) – and who knows who else might have seen it too (Ilse, my friend who has commented, is also from South Africa, and may well have memories of your roles. You could be famous to other South Africans). Loving the stories I’m hearing, thanks! x


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s