The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - RADIO WEEK -

The other night, I was din­ing with my three teenage sons in Madeo, my favourite Bev­erly Hills restau­rant, when I spied the mu­sic le­gend Paul Anka sit­ting in the cor­ner. ‘That guy wrote My Way for Frank Si­na­tra,’ I said. The boys ex­hib­ited luke­warm in­ter­est. ‘ That song gets played on the ra­dio ev­ery sec­ond of the day, 365 days a year,’ I con­tin­ued. Now they were in­trigued all right.

‘Does he get paid ev­ery time?’ came the in­stant re­sponse. ‘Oh yes. Ev­ery sin­gle time.’ ‘Wow!’

To­day, I in­ter­viewed him for my CNN show, and he re­vealed the full amaz­ing story be­hind how he came to pen the smash hit for Ol’ Blue Eyes. ‘Frank called me The Kid, and kept ask­ing me to write him a song,’ he ex­plained. ‘But I couldn’t — I was scared to death! I was writ­ing all this teenage stuff, and if I’d given him Puppy Love he would have thrown me out of the steam room.

‘Then I heard this melody while I was away in France, and I brought it back with me to Amer­ica. Frank asked me for din­ner in Mi­ami one night, and sud­denly an­nounced dur­ing the meal, “I’m get­ting out of the busi­ness, I’m re­tir­ing; the Rat Pack’s wan­ing and I’ve had enough. But I’m do­ing one more al­bum — and you still haven’t writ­ten me a song!”

‘I went back to New York, sat in my apart­ment at 1am and just couldn’t get my head around the fact that Frank Si­na­tra was quit­ting. I started typ­ing, cre­at­ing this song as if Frank were writ­ing it… “And now… the end is near… the fi­nal cur­tain.” I wrote un­til 5am, and flew straight to Las Vegas, where he was per­form­ing at Cae­sars Palace, and played it to him. I knew he liked it. Two months later, my phone rings and Si­na­tra says, “Kid, have a lis­ten to this.” He took the phone, put it up to the speaker, and I heard him singing My Way for the first time. And I started crying.’

I asked Anka, now 71, how much money he’d made from My Way since then. ‘I’ve never counted it all up,’ he smiled. ‘But it’s a big ka- ching?’ I said. ‘It’s a big ka-ching!’ he laughed. The West Wing, star­ring Martin Sheen as the Pres­i­dent most Amer­i­cans wish they’d had — Jed Bart­let — is my all­time No. 1 tele­vi­sion show. I fi­nally got to meet Sheen, and ad­mit my fan­dom. ‘Great char­ac­ters, and it taught me so much about Amer­ica,’ I gushed. ‘You know what I’m ob­sessed with right now?’ he replied. ‘ Down­ton Abbey. Great char­ac­ters, and it teaches me so much about Bri­tain!’ When Robin van Per­sie de­fected from Arse­nal to Manch­ester United last sum­mer, it felt like dis­cov­er­ing my wife was hav­ing an af­fair with Ian His­lop — in­ex­pli­ca­bly hor­rific. Tonight, as United cel­e­brated an­other vic­tory on their way to in­evitable Pre­mier League glory, Rio Fer­di­nand tweeted me a photo of him and a beam­ing Van Per­sie in a restau­rant, sport­ing bibs and fork­ing two huge T-bones. He wrote, ‘ Piersy, we or­dered two mas­sive steaks and thought of you, my man! Ev­ery­thing okay, fella?’ Short of the His­lop video emerg­ing, it just doesn’t get any worse. Woke to a cheery email from Kather­ine Jenk­ins pol itely ask­ing me to tweet about her Lon­don Marathon char­ity run. ‘It’s in mem­ory of my fa­ther, and in aid of Macmil­lan,’ she wrote, be­fore ad­mit­ting, ‘I need your mas­sive Twit­ter power.’ It’s quite dis­tress­ing to re­alise this is now my most at­trac­tive as­set to mem­bers of the op­po­site sex. But I al­ways do what I can to help marathon run­ners. It’s an amaz­ing or­deal

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