The filth and the funny from Rocky Flintstone as My Dad Wrote A Porno goes on the road

My Dad Wrote a Porno, the live show based on the hit podcast. From left: Alice Levine, Jamie Morton and James Cooper.
My Dad Wrote a Porno, the live show based on the hit podcast. From left: Alice Levine, Jamie Morton and James Cooper.
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Many people have got an embarrassing dad story.

But Jamie Morton's dad has managed to top them all by writing a series of spectacularly bad 'erotic' novels.

Under the nom de plume Rocky Flintstone, Jamie's dad has so far written four volumes of his Belinda Blinked saga.

When he shared this with two of his close friends, Radio 1 DJ Alice Levine and James Cooper, they were immediately captivated.

'Jamie’s dad penned this in his retirement,' explains Alice, 'he was a builder, and he thought he would turn his hand to writing for the first time. You know how they say everyone has got a novel in them? Usually people write a little something first, but he went straight in for the novel – like if you’re going to do it, do it.

'Jamie had three chapters he brought to us in the pub one Christmas, and it took us hours and hours to get through them because we couldn’t stop interrupting him. Jamie was getting more and more distressed and I became obsessed with it. I got him to send me more, and whenever I got the chance, at work or in a meeting, I was reading it to people, and I think the boys were the same. They couldn’t stop thinking about it.

'A podcast felt like the right thing to do, it was an exciting time for podcasting – audio was the best way forward.'

And so My Dad Wrote A Porno was born. Each episode sees Jamie reading a new chapter to the others, and recording what follows. The podcast started in September 2015, and its 44 episodes over three series and spin-off show Footnotes have since been downloaded a staggering 100m times, spawning an army of fans.

The trio have in fact recently returned from a US tour.

'When this started, the thought of even doing a live show here was insane, and then to be able to go three weeks, nearly a month, in America is mad. We were a little concerned about whether the humour would travel, or they might be a bit prudish, but definitely not! It was very raucous.'

And they've found the podcast transfers well to a live show.

'With our show it’s kind of the more the merrier, and the atmosphere has been really great. There’s audience participation, I do a kind of Ted talk on female anatomy – it’s so nice to educate so many people at once!' 

Rocky has become infamous for his curious grasp of the female form and the unusual metaphors he frequently deploys to describe it.

The podcast's popularity has left the friends astounded.

'I don’t think we had any idea, or the scope of where podcasts could go. In the three years that we’ve been doing it podcasts have exploded in general. The boys tell me off, because I’ll say I always knew it was good, but by that I mean that I was proud of it, I thought it was funny, even if nobody listened to it, I would stand by it.

'But who knew sex sells?' she laughs.

'I think it captured a few things, it’s based around a friendship and you can tell that we’re close and there’s that familiarity and then there’s the universal truth that all dads are embarrassing. Dads do cringe things, that’s their job, so we can all put ourselves in Jamie’s shoes a little bit. There’s also that thing that we desire that all our parents have any sexual desire or relations, so there’s that thing of being confronted by it – and thank god that’s not me.'

So what does Rocky make of all this attention?

'He loves the podcast. People often say: "Were you worried about offending him or taking the criticism harshly?" But he’s the biggest wind-up merchant there is. He’s from Northern Ireland and he loves the craic, and is all about the practical jokes – he’s impervious to offence. And thank goodness!'

They did play him the first episode before uploading it though. 'We had to test the water, and not everyone would enjoy you tearing their words to shreds. But he was like,' Alice affects a ropy Irish accent, '"Fantastic, love the energy".'

'The podcast is done with love.'

Given the success and his terrible prose, aren't you just encouraging him now?

'We legally can’t stop him writing – we have tried!

'He wrote four books before the podcast started, so our next series will be that fourth book and I cannot wait to see what he does when he thinks he writing to order  when he’s writing to spec, god know what that will be, it will be a hot mess, won’t it?'

'He calls it 50 Colours of Gray. He’d heard of 50 Shades of Gray, and he knew that it had sold millions of copies and had started as fan-fiction and was self-published. It was all about the dollar. He was just like, that looks easy, I’ll do that. I don’t think he’d done a lot of research into the genre.

'Or into anatomy in general.'

The show has acquired some high-profile fans who have appeared on the sister podcast, Footnotes, including Michael Sheen, Daisy Ridley, Elijah Wood and Stephen Mangan.

'Our first guest was Elijah Wood, and that kicked it off, then the perverts could come out of the woodwork. They could say yes I listen to you reading pornography in my headphones. They come over to my flat or James’s, flat, bring some wine and stay until the small hours talking about Rocky Flintstone.

'We had Nicholas Hoult on. We went out for the night in Montreal, where they were filming X-Men and that’s coincidentally where we were. We gave him a mug signed by Rocky, and then for the rest of the night he had every drink in that mug. He insisted.'

It's road to success hasn't been all straightforward though. At first iTunes wouldn't list it because of the title, and advertisers were similarly wary.

'In the early days we kind of liked the straight-to-the-point lack of ambiguity about the title, and it also had that kind of click-baity, "I’ll give that a go" thing. You don’t forget the title.

'There were some, particularly in the early days who thought it was something sordid or sexy rather than a comedy podcast. I think it balanced out though. For all of the people it scared off, it brought a lot more in who were intrigued.'

MY DAD WROTE A PORNO: LIVE

Portsmouth Guildhall

Tuesday, May 8

portsmouthguildhall.org.uk