From Mr and Mrs in radio commercials to accidental podcasters

There’s a new interesting and very funny podcast on the block hosted by two long-time friends who have played husband and wife in many radio ads and now describe themselves as accidental podcasters.

On the Sofa (with my pussy) is the brainchild of well-known radio, TV and voiceover circuit “voices” Mitch Johnson and Trish Bertram. They’re not quite sure how their podcast came about, but it has been well received after being launched a couple of week ago.

Mitch is best known for his work on Virgin Radio, Capital Radio and BBC TV. He’s been the voice behind TV programmes including Friends Like These, Children in Need, The National Lottery, Record Breakers and Comic Relief as well as featuring on many commercials and radio jingles.

Trish, like Mitch, has appeared on a lot of radio imaging and commercials, and has a list as long as your arm of TV work too! She was one of the longest serving female TV continuity announcers in the UK, having announced live for LWT, ITV, Channel 5, BBC World, BSB Galaxy, Superchannel, TVS, Westcountry TV and The Family Channel. Narration of TV documentaries, corporate and web narration are other strings to her bow, plus she played “Voice Over Lady” on Capital Radio Yorkshire’s award-winning Breakfast Show “Hirsty’s Daily Dose”.

Two people who are successful in what they do, so why a podcast? “There isn’t a reason, that’s the funny thing,” says Mitch, “You know, sitting on the sofa a bit bored watching Netflix and thinking, let’s do something, let’s have some fun because I’ve got a studio at home and Trish has her own studio.”

The pair were chatting on the phone, making each other laugh telling stories and one of them said they should record their conversations for a podcast because it might turn out quite funny. They tend to have a rant on the phone with each other when one of them has had a horrible recording session or stupid producer and so thought it might be interesting to share their stories.

Trish explains: “Mitch has been making me laugh on the phone for decades and last Saturday he said to me, ‘what are you doing at the moment?’ and I said, ‘I’m sitting on my sofa with my pussy,’ I am a bit Mrs Slocombe about my cat – and the catch phrase came out of my response to him.

“So, I was sitting on my sofa with my cat, and I was testing a USB microphone, thinking should I put it on ebay because I never use it, when Mitch rang for a chat, as he does.

“I was telling him about this microphone, and he said, ‘I tell you what, let’s connect up on clean feed to see what it sounds like while you’re sitting on the sofa, let’s have a muck about’.

“I plugged it in, he sent me a clean feed and we just started messing around – it was that easy, and Mitch said, ‘I think we’ve got something here’. We did the first ten minutes and then thought, ‘that was fun, let’s have another go,’ so we gave birth to this thing with no knowledge about podcasting, with no idea what we were doing, and it seems to have got a response, so now we’re taking ourselves more seriously. Now we’re terrified we’ll lose our USP by taking ourselves seriously!”

“It’s just like two people having a natter,” Mitch explains, “And as Trish said, in episode three, basically it’s like you’re going down the pub with your mates, you don’t feel like talking very much, just listening to people having a laugh.”

pussy on the sofa
The pussy sitting on the sofa – it really does exist!

The original idea was to make the podcast about voiceover tales, but after listening back to the pilot episode, Mitch was a little concerned it might be too “in”. In following episodes, it’s broadening out a little – still with showbiz stories, but more about life, to appeal to a wider audience. “It’s ostensibly about two voiceovers, but actually we go off on any bloody tangent and cover about eight topics in a minute. It makes me laugh, it’s so random.” Mitch jokes.

By taking this broader approach, he says it opens them up to tell more stories like Trish’s experiences when working at the Olympics, hanging out with famous actors – she even tried to chat up Dustin Hoffman, and not just showbiz stories but observations of life.

The pair got to know each other because the voiceover, radio and TV world is quite small, where everyone knows each other and tend to hang out with the same crowd. Mitch recalls the times they have worked together: “We’re often the husband and wife of the radio voiceover teams, so a lot of stations get her to do the girly voice and me to do the manly voice – we’re often the radio husband and wife – that’s a good thing for another episode, I must write that down!”

trish and mitch
Trish and Mitch AKA the Mr and Mrs of radio commercials

Response to the podcast has been fantastic, Mitch says they had 700 downloads in just three days. “I put it on Buzzsprout and link it to Apple, Spotify and the others – I didn’t know any of this until a few days ago, so I’m learning,” he admits.

The whole idea is to not sound incestuous and self-indulgent but to make people laugh – there are some funny stories about encounters with famous people to come in future episodes and guests too, either from within the industry or with a funny story to tell.

Now they have a few episodes under their belt, there’s always the danger they’re making a rod for their own backs, Trish agrees: “I keep saying to Mitch, ‘slow down slow down’, because the more we do, the more we have to keep on it – it’s like a runaway train. He says, ‘I’ve got a spare afternoon, let’s do another one,’ so yes, we probably are making a rod for our own back, and we hope we’ve got enough stories to keep it going and wonder if us messing about is enough.

“We’re mindful that we don’t want to offend or be unkind. We are censoring ourselves a little bit because we’re mindful about areas that we’re not going to tread in. We’re not here to upset anyone, we just want to have a bit of fun and if people laugh along with us, we’re more than happy. We call it anti-podcasting, it’s an accidental podcast!”

Monetising the podcast isn’t on the agenda at the moment – Mitch jokes: “I don’t think I’ve sent out any invoices for the last three years!! Do what you like doing and the money will follow.” Trish adds: “We’ve got nothing to sell, we’re in the business of wanting to make our friends laugh and if anyone else laughs, we’re terribly happy!”

If you listen to the podcast, you will laugh, you’ll hear stories about famous people you know of, told in a refreshingly non-showbiz way. With Mitch and Trish’s tales about their own lives, they too, are naturally real and very funny.

As for the pussy, it’s like Little Weed in Bill and Ben, watching over them (or in this case, listening to them) wondering how this all happened!

Mitch and Trish On the Sofa (with my pussy) can be found here.

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