Mavis Nicholson is not your average TV personality. She's 58, below average height and blessed/blighted with an above average chest span. Why should these things matter and why are we even mentioning them? Well, the funny thing about Mavis is that she's just so ordinary that it makes her extraordinary.
Into the bouffant-haired, shoulder-padded world of TV presenting marches Mavis, so inconspicuous in her sensible beige that perhaps no one notices her until she's in the hot seat and the cameras start to roll. After 20 years in the interviewing business, Mavis has delved into the lives of hundreds of celebrities.
Now, thanks to a stroke of brilliant programming by Thames, she's invited 12 of those celebrities (including Stewart Granger, Glenda Jackson, Edward Heath, Quentin
Crisp, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore) back to the microphone to talk about what's happened since they last met.
The first programme of her new series finds Mavis perched on a stool beside a mixing desk, cutting a rug with musician Elvis Costello, who has come a long way since they first met.
There is something wonderful about this couple — perhaps it's because they represent an interaction between TV's most unlikely star and pop's most surprising icon.
Mavis first interviewed Elvis Costello (at the suggestion of one of her sons), back in 1977. His first three singles had been unqualified flops and this was his first appearance on TV: "I had no idea when I did that interview whether I was still going to be a professional musician by the end of the year," says Costello, who compares his launch into the giddy world of pop to "joining the army."
Mavis cuts in with the question we're all dying to hear — did his bank balance add up as quickly as his record sales? Yes, he admits; "A lot of money passed through my hands. But I could have been much richer."
And he continues talking about money in the abstract until you expect Mavis to scream, "But what did you spend it all on, boy?"
But instead, Mavis crosses her legs, consults her clipboard and moves on to the next item. Apart from this lapse, she is as nosy as your next-door neighbour and, as everyone also happens to love Mavis, it adds up to great interviews.
Excerpts from the original interviews are shown at choice moments in the dialogue. But don't tune in to compare the old and new footage of Mavis as a gauge of changing fashion over the past decade. She now dresses like a middle-class mother with an organised pantry, and she dressed in exactly the same very nice middle-class way then.