What do you get if you cross a working-class lad from Burnley who likes Guinness and picky teas, and a posh bloke from Bath who loves scatter cushions and table settings? The answer is the most unlikely friendship and a hit podcast Help I S*xted My Boss, which has just been made into a book – perfect timing for Xmas.
Listeners will know that Jordan North and William Hanson discuss embarrassing dilemmas sent in by the public, which are often rude, sometimes baffling and always pant- wettingly hilarious.
heat caught up with them to find out how navigating the modern world means we need these valuable life lessons more than ever…
How did you guys meet?
Jordan: I was working as a runner at BBC Radio 5 Live in 2011 and William was a guest on one of the shows I was working on. Even back then, he was claiming to be the UK’s best etiquette expert. At the time, I didn’t know that we were both the same age – 21. I assumed he was in his forties, very posh, and would go home to his librarian wife and have a sherry.
William: He brought me a tea in a chipped mug – which, to be fair, was all they had – but he just made me laugh. I thought I would never see him again, and then we realised that we had a mutual friend.
Jordan: My mate was having a party and he’d warned me he had a friend coming who was a bit posh and we might not like each other. He’d warned him that I was a bit rough around the edges, but we hit it off straight away.
How did the idea for the podcast come about – were you having these kind of chats anyway?
William: Oh, yeah. We went for dinner in Manchester, and Jordan adventurously ordered the mussels. They started to do the table setting and out comes the finger bowl. Jordan looks at it and looks at the waiter and goes, “I didn’t order the soup.” And that just really made me laugh. In my professional life, there is a certain type of person who I deal with all the time, and Jordan was the antidote to that.
Jordan: We do have different groups of friends. Some of my school mates are brickies and plasterers. William has met most of my friends now, and I just have to remind them that he’s from a very different background, so to go easy on him.
Do you think sharing our most embarrassing moments can bring us closer together?
William: Yes, I think showing vulnerability is key.
Jordan: Sometimes we don’t think some of the problems people send in can get any worse, but they always do.
William: I’m glad that the podcast and the book allow people to share in a safe space. We’re laughing with them, not at them.
Do people on the street try to share dilemmas with you?
Jordan: Yeah, but we’ve labelled ourselves as agony aunts and once you do that, people will always try to share things with you.
William: My day job is running an etiquette-training school and we now get people writing in to my company, The English Manner, with really quite graphic confessions. My poor colleagues have a stock response, which says, “Thank you very much, however…”
Jordan: That’s hilarious, I didn’t know that!
Etiquette has a reputation as being old fashioned, but do we need it more than ever?
William: Etiquette should reflect the society you live in. It’s about how you interact with people – not just the right tablecloths.
Jordan: We get a lot of dilemmas about technology and Zooms these days.
Are all the dilemmas real or are some of them made up?
Jordan: We definitely check. They come from genuine email addresses, and we have a production team who check them.
William: Some of them are so outrageous, you really couldn’t make them up.
Have you ever fallen out?
[Both burst out laughing and look at each other guiltily.]
Jordan: Yes, we fell out last year, actually. It’s usually my fault.
William: No, it’s not!
Jordan: It was my fault that time. Williams hates it when people cancel. If something is in the diary, it’s in the diary. Even if a job came up that was more money, he’d do the one that was in the diary.
William: I can’t remember the ins and outs. All I remember is the lovely bouquet of flowers that arrived at my door afterwards.
Jordan: You say, “You’re only as good as your word”. I say, “Try to make as much money as you can”.
William: But it’s our differences that make this podcast, and our friendship, so special. While it can be a source of friction from time to time, it’s actually our biggest strength.
Help I S*xted My Boss by Jordan North and William Hanson (Century, £20) is on sale 9 November