BBC BLOGS - Jake Humphrey
« Previous | Main | Next »

How Cat Deeley got me a Lotus Elise

Post categories:

Jake Humphrey | 11:29 UK time, Monday, 9 March 2009


Hope you all had good weekends. We spent yesterday hanging out with our good friends in Tunbridge Wells. While the wives discussed weddings and looked back at their respective albums, my mate Grant and I gloomily discussed relegation.

He's a Brighton fan and I support Norwich City... Thank goodness two weeks from today I can forget football a little as I'll be on the other side of the world having arrived in Melbourne with the BBC production team for the Australian Grand Prix.

So, a few people wanted to know how I landed a "free" Lotus Elise at just 20 years of age having only ever driven my Mum's gorgeous "pistachio green" VW Polo 1.3 until that point.

Lotus Elise

Well, at the time I worked for Rapture TV. I'd just finished my A-levels and, after a stint of work experience, I was offered a job as researcher and presenter on some princely sum of about six grand a year.

The show I presented, filmed for, wrote the script for, booked the guests for, and helped edit was called "Gamers". This was very, very early cable days in the UK - multi-channel wasn't the norm, and this was seriously niche TV. Sometimes my job was to man the phone room. Six hours, one call - outgoing to my Mum!

Anyway, out of the blue one day we were told ITV wanted to show Gamers every Saturday after the brilliant SM:TV. What!?!?

After the shock had died away, we started planning for the show, and the producer, Dan, decided it would look cool if I arrived at shoots and in the studio in a car that was pretty special.

Lotus was nearby so he put in a call to their PR department and proceeded to charm them with some long-winded "primetime Saturday afternoon/great PR opportunity" chat.

After a steady to and fro of emails etc, it was agreed that for the mighty price of one English pound we'd have media access to a range of variously coloured Lotus Elise 111S. The only downside was sorting my own insurance!! Ha!!

Can you imagine the phone call? "Hi there, yes, I'm 20 and work as a TV presenter. Yes, I've got three points already. Oh, it's a Lotus Elise, but I can keep it in a garage if that lowers the premium."

I ended up having to part with £1,200 for six months' insurance. I had no savings, no way of getting the money and earned about £450 per month. There was only one option - time to go into debt to secure the car of my dreams. Boy, it was worth it!

What a car. The Polo hadn't given me much of an idea of how special driving along the A11 can feel! I've yet to have a driving experience quite like it. No other car has ever made me feel as emotional or as good a driver. It was sheer disbelief for a guy like me to be driving that car. I still lived at home and used to go down to the garage and just look at it, polish it, turn the key and listen to the 1.8 VVC purring away.

I realise how lucky I was to experience that car for a few short months - which incidentally turned me into quite a catch on Norwich's infamous Prince of Wales clubland. I also got to know the local bobbies pretty well - they always wanted to speak to a late-developing lanky lad just out of his teens who drove a Lotus. The debt was just something it took me a few years to pay off!

So, there you go, a little story to kick off the week... I'm sure you all have a car or two from the past that just captured a period in your life. I think that car is the reason I'm obsessed with the new Lotus Evora. I do, however, need to realise that I'm not suddenly going to be 20 again if I manage to buy one!

Anyway, have a great day, look forward to your responses, speak later.


  • Comment number 1.

    well my first car was a peugeot 106 "kid" diesel. £5 of fuel would keep me going for a week in 1998..i now drive a mazda rx-8 and boy, have things changed! ha
    you dont happen to have cat deeleys phone number do you jake??

  • Comment number 2.

    Haha, fantastic story Jake.. I'm sure you'll move onto a nice car soon! :)

    Any chance of getting you inside an F1 car now you're "in the business"?

  • Comment number 3.

    I agree with Freddy, maybe all the F1 team could do a lap in a F1 car and we can see who'd be fastest (It's obvious who'd be quickest, Ted! :P)

  • Comment number 4.

    Im going for a test drive in the Lotus Evora. I don't understand how im going to do it as i haven't passed my test!!!
    Im sorry to say Jake but im a Ipswich supporter.
    At least the fans at Norwich still like the team.
    Get Jim out!! lol

  • Comment number 5.

    I love your blog Jake! Being a Norwich fan I know your pain, and my husband also has an unnatural love for Lotuses (Loti?) We lived in Norwich for a little while and drove his Series 1 Elise down the A11 - so much fun! I can't wait til the start of the F1 season and am really excited to see what the BBC has to offer!

  • Comment number 6.

    Fab story Jake. Look forward to more of your stories towards the start of the season. ;)

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Jake. I'm enjoying your blogs, it's good your posting quite alot...F1 off-season can be tedious :) I just wondered have you ever seen and heard an F1 car live? if you haven't your in for a treat at Melbourne!

  • Comment number 8.

    Finally an F1 television team who we can all relate to. Thank god they moved it to BBC.

    Well in Jake! Keep them comin'. Sorry for you being a Norwich fan of course ;-)

  • Comment number 9.

    Incidentally Jake, now if your not the man to ask then i dont know who is but see if you can give us all an insite into the "opening titles" of the Beebs coverage of F1.
    I for one am over the moon, like you wouldnt believe, that the bbc are using "the chain"..i also hear it will be in its original format like it was back in the day, so no extra modern drumbeats or jingly jangly bits thrown in to ruin it.
    so can you tell us a bit more info on the opening titles as i believe the bbc will have never received such high ratings on a sunday morning before! i guarantee no one that is planning to get up early to watch the australian GP in a couple of weeks time will miss the opening means a lot to all of us who have watched F1 all our lives that its back on the bbc and that one of the most famous tunes so synonymous with F1 is back with it.

  • Comment number 10.


    i used to have a Titanium R reg Elise, very nice, but very rattly! :-)
    Can you tell us if there are is any BBC HD coverage planned for the races?
    So far, the plans seem excellent!

  • Comment number 11.

    Correct me if I'm wrong (it might be that I grew up far too quick!) but after SM:TV finished, saturday morning TV just wasn't the same. It's like it was the last of the studio format kids shows where you had kids lining the studio on both sides.

    A Lotus Elise? You lucky thing! I be the insurance company were really pleased to have a 20 year old lad on their books eith a lotus elise in the garage! (Only joking, I'm sure you're a great driver!)

    Seeing as we all now know you love fast cars, how much would you love to take an F1 car round Silverstone? Do you think you'll get a chance of being driven round in the double seater, or even maybe get to drive one yourself?

  • Comment number 12.

    Hello Jake,

    I'd like to echo the thoughts of others who are really enjoying your blogs and the fact that they are building excitement to the new season. I'm with your mate Grant. You'll never hear the words Brighton, managers and continuity in the same sentence I fear.

    I've not looked forward to a new F1 season as much before. I really enjoyed the features I saw via the red button on Saturday. I also love the reference on the pen pics of the new BBC team to Clive James's description of Murray Walker's commentating style. Well worth a look.

    I'll continue reading with interest and hope that the start of the new F1 season takes our minds off the dreaded 'r' word.


  • Comment number 13.

    My first car was a 1990 Metro. Got a puncture once so got the jack out, stuck it under the car, starting winding and went straight through the floor. Needless to say it was scrapped soon after.

    With that in mind an Elise certainly isn't a bad first car...!

  • Comment number 14.

    Boy oh boy, The Chain returns! Absolutely fantastic, if you'll forgive the Murray-ism. My first car? Nothing so exotic as a Lotus: a Reliant three wheeler, 750 sidevalve engine, a home made body and a chassis that was more rust than steel. £20 to you mate .... Mind you, I've been motoring for nearly 40 years and I've never paid more than two and a half grand for a motor - various Renaults, a Golf, a couple of Fords (the latest a Mondeo Zetec 1.8 I picked up for £450), some of the best (???) of Longbridge (Maestros and an Ambassador), and my all time faves, though very thirsty indeed, a couple of P4 Auntie Rovers - unfortunately, as soon as petrol reached £1 a gallon, they had to go ... Good to see that Jenson and the Brawn GP team are getting it all together at last, good to see that Rubinho is back for another season, although I wouldn't bet against Bruno following in his uncle's wheeltracks before very long. He'd be an attractive proposition long term, if only for the cash he'd bring. Roll on March 29 ....

  • Comment number 15.

    You lucky thing! I started with a Ford Fiesta when I was learning, but my mum got me a 2003 Vauxhall Corsa in February (I passed in December) and I'm very proud of it, even if it's already got a battle scratch from a bit of an incident on a one way system. Fancy going head to head on the track...? I pick Brands Hatch...

  • Comment number 16.

    Wow.. A Lotus Elise is kind of the car I'd dream to own.. although I don't think the streets of Stoke would be the best place to keep it!

    As for my car, I'm still driving my mum's, which is "pistachio green" as well! It's a Peugeot 106, though, and certainly gives me an upper body workout as it hasn't got power steering!

    I'm seriously looking forward to the new season on the Beeb, and to be honest I was just a little bit disappointed I didn't get your job. I'll just blame my CV getting lost in the post ;)

  • Comment number 17.

    So Jake's first F1 blog kicks off by talking football. Not a great start. As they say, 'Things Can Only Get Better'.

  • Comment number 18.

    All this talk of extras on the red button sounds great.... if only I hadn't moved to Ireland at the beginning of the year (due to work commitments). Is there any way to get access to these another way? We get the Beeb in Ireland so can stil watch coverage that way, but not red button! Desperately want to watch practice on the Friday before the race, help anyone!!!


  • Comment number 19. this jake's first F1 blog?? i dont think it is..i think you'll find its his 3rd F1 blog.
    it tells you that on the bottom left of this page.

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm sure some of you have seen this vid... but I was amused by it this evening. Worth a watch... all 3 minutes 20 seconds of it all...

  • Comment number 21.

    Another top blog - Great result for City tonight!!

    I remember Rapture TV fondly as a blurry haze of snowboarding and surfing.

    @Justbubba - Great video!

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    A Lotus Elise as your first car eh Jake? All sounds impressive, though I feel not a patch on my 1987 Nissan Sunny... (I used to joke that it doubled in value every time I filled it up!)

  • Comment number 24.

    Jake, I've just signed up and would like to say very good luck to all of the team, both in front of the cameras and behind.
    One observation about this new website is that it is a bit lightweight. I understand that you are only just at the beginning but where is the BBC journalism ethic? There's the final test week before the season starts and we've got a new hot privateer team with a British driver and you're going on about you're Lotus........ Very nice, by the way :o)
    Anyway, this is the BBC, there should be a constant stream of information about what is going on over there....... Certainly not a rant, more of a "Guys, you're missing a golden opportunity to really get under the skin of Formula 1".
    Good Luck all of you! I'm with you all the way! So glad about 'The Chain' too. Right choice.

  • Comment number 25.

    Jake, Great blogs so far and as most i am really happy F1 is back on its home and also The chain is back!! The only down side is i find myself going back to the itv web site for all the latest news, Like jenson topping the time sheets today. I understand that you dont have the times on the web site but the fact jenson topped them and lewis was the slowest is news in its self. It is a shame that the beeb has not caught up on this as i write this. Is this going to improve as the season starts?

    Oh and like the story about the lotus hope we get some more storys like this!!

    Good luck to you and the team in what looks like another great season of racing.

  • Comment number 26.

    Well Jake, I bet it was thrilling to have the car.
    Anyway, lets see you in an F1 Car, Richard Hammond has been in one and Muzza has been in two, lets have you and Brundle have a ride around at Silverstone.
    It would be brilliant to see that, an opportunity that was missed by ITV in its years when they only got Muzza and Brundle together and not Rosenthal or Rider.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.