In 2008 a wedding DJ played Duran Duran’s ‘Hungry Like a Wolf’. That DJ had no idea his choice of song would lead to the birth of a pop culture phenomenon…
On hearing the chorus of the lupine themed eighties hit, septuagenarian Wilf Turnbull turned to his friend Derek Philpott and asked “why are they only interested in wolves’ appetite pangs? Don’t they know that penguins can get peckish?” Derek agreed, declaring that “ravens get ravenous and ferrets famished!” The next choice of song from the DJ was even more troubling to the pair. As ‘Living in a Box’ filled the room, and between visits to the buffet, Wilf and Derek wondered why a pop star would possibly choose to ‘live in a box’ rather than a house or a flat, given they were probably quite well paid. The friends decided there was only one course of action available to them; they would take these pop stars to task, by letter.
As the Bournemouth based gentlemen’s journey through decades of pop and rock began, they discovered more and more dubious lyrical claims and declarations they felt needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Polite yet firm letters were written to The Eurythmics, Paul Heaton, The Christians, Marillion, Billy Bragg, The Stranglers, Howard Jones and Nik Kershaw. And then something quite unexpected happened. The pop stars began to reply. With the help of younger family members, a website was built and links to the hilarious letters and their sporting replies were shared on social networks. As a consequence, Wilf and Derek have become very popular on Facebook where they enjoy making friends of all ages, all over the world. Their army of fans have been instrumental in putting them in touch with an ever-growing number of musicians, and their letter writing is nothing short of prolific with over one hundred and fifty written so far.
With coverage in NME and a range of websites, together with an increasing number of invitations from pop stars asking Wilf and Derek to hang out backstage at gigs, their bemused wives Olive and Jean could be forgiven for feeling less than keen on their husbands’ adventures, but both are fully supportive; Jean has recently launched Philpottery – an enterprise that sees her creating clay character fridge magnets based on some of the pop stars her husband has written to. Her elongated molluscs ‘Nine Inch Snails’ are proving to be particularly popular.
Wilf and Derek’s story has touched people all over the world, with their letters providing much needed laughter. One fan was so inspired by the pair he has turned their adventures into a short animated series, which can be found below.
Should you wish to feature Bournemouth’s most celebrated OAP pop crusaders, Wilf and Derek are available for interviews, but unfortunately they are unable to travel as one gentleman has some mobility issues.