HE is a small, dapper man with the kind of smile you normally associate with toothpaste ads.
And from lunchtime to midnight Saturday and Sunday, brief flashes of that whiter-than-white grin belonging to David Hamilton punctuate the breaks between television programmes in the North.
On the surface the job holds not much limelight.
But over the four and a half years he has been doing it, 27-year-old Hamilton has made the scant few minutes between the commercials and big features make as much impact as anything on the programme forecast.
“When you were on, I laughed more than I did at Harry Secombe,” wrote one viewer.
He gets 150 letters like that every week. Because with his “special” goodnights and sly bits of business with any prop that immediately comes to hand he has become, in his own words, “more than just a filler-in — an anonymous face sprouting words not meant to be heard or understood.”
To David Hamilton this is important. Not for the fan mail, or for the fact that at Ken Dodd’s personal request he is acting as feed man on his new TV series, but simply for his own satisfaction.
“I started this ad-libbing as a sort of challenge,” he says.
“Anybody can learn a script and recite it. A lot of announcers say “goodnight everyone” as if they were talking to a Bank Holiday crowd over a public address system.
“But there’s more to it than that. Looking at it coldly you’re there to sell the programme. The way I see it, if I can sell myself, then that takes care of the programmes as well.”
After leaving his home in Marple, Cheshire, Diddy David, as Ken Dodd referred to him on TV last night, spends most of his working life in a Manchester TV studio the size of a small broom cupboard.
“To a lot of people I suppose it sounds a bit boring sitting for hours and hours on end watching a monitor screen.
“I suppose it would be if you weren’t on edge all the time wondering if the show will run early and someone will shove a mike under your nose and say ‘Talk.'”
His feelings about his present position are mixed.
“I love this job. But at the same time it gives me satisfaction and security (he gets £60 [£1065 in 2018 allowing for inflation] for two days work) it is a millstone round my neck.
“You see, under the terms of my contract I cannot appear on any other national TV network. In the past I’ve turned down good offers to keep this job.
“And that’s why I’m a bit nervous of this Ken Dodd spot. You see, if it leads to other things, I’m going to have to make a decision.
“To drop the security and take a chance. Or to go on the same way as I have been doing for the past four years — and risk being typed as just another announcer.”
If he goes on doing as he has been doing, I should say that risk is negligible.