The UK telecoms industry have put out a desperate recruitment call after one of their longest serving and important worker decided to hang up his boots.
'Please seek the permission of Bill Payer' has become a standard part of terms and conditions of phone entries to competitions and charity pledges, but little thought is given to the man at the end of the line. But today, Bill Payer signed off his last permission after 40 years on the job, saying that the role has just got too big for one person.
'Back in the 1980s, there was Comic Relief every couple of years and the occasional chance for the public to ring up to exchange some toys on Swap Shop, but the numbers were manageable and it was enjoyable work', said Mr Payer, 65, talking today from his Dunstable home. 'You were there in the studios, and on things like the Telethons you had a good chance of actually being on TV in one of those cutaway sequences on where Bob Warman gave a shout out to all the people manning the phone lines'.
'We had a laugh too back in the day', remembered Bill. 'I remember some lad ringing up in 1989 asking for permission to go on Going Live to talk to the pop group Five Star, and I said to him...it would be really funny if you asked them why they were so f@#king crap. The rest is history'.
'But now it's just billions of texts - I can't keep up. I live in fear of Andi Peters or Jordan North coming cheerily on the ITV screen with a £200k prize package, as I know my work is about to shoot through the roof. There's no skill, no romance anymore. Get me out of here.'
Mr Payer has no major plans for the future, but wants to spend more time with one of his good friends, Bill Posters, who is retiring after being repeatedly threatened with prosecution for illegally sticking up flyers around town and city centres.