A DIDCOT computer expert has become a local celebrity, thanks to a comedian’s bid to win him coverage in the Didcot Herald.

Australian comic Adam Hills’ routine at Didcot’s Cornerstone Arts Centre involved leaving messages on the Herald office phones commenting on its news coverage, and claiming Abingdon was mentioned more times than Didcot in last week’s Herald.

He hauled IT consultant Martin Hingley, 50, of Bourne Street, Didcot, in front of the 200-strong audience to read from his latest blog on how computer companies should help tackle climate change.

The comedian then urged audience members to email The Herald, urging us to write about Mr Hingley’s thoughts in order that Didcot stories outnumbered those from neighbouring towns in this week’s edition.

By Monday morning, up to 20 emails had been received at The Herald offices.

Mr Hills said: “It was a great night and I’m pleased the audience have emailed The Herald trying to get Martin in the paper. Each gig, I try to do something different and, thankfully, the audience took to this and played along.

“I just have to be careful if I ever play Abingdon.”

Mr Hingley said: “I’ve never been to a comedy show before. When I realised my wife Sally had bought us tickets in the middle of the front row, I immediately started thinking: ‘Oh dear, what’s going to happen here’.

“He started counting up the number of references to Didcot, Wallingford and Abingdon in the paper. I’d made the mistake in the first half of giving him my business card with my blog details on, and he got me to stand up and read out some of my latest articles.

“Luckily, it was about climate change, which may have some relevance; otherwise I would have been talking about some aspect of an IBM server model.”

He added: “I was really scared. I do presentations for a living, but I’ve never been so scared standing up in front of these people.”

Mr Hingley, who runs consultancy ITCandor from his home, argued in his blog that the computer industry was extremely inefficient, and suggested ways of cutting their carbon emissions.

“Adam Hills mentioning my blog has doubled my readership, so I’m not looking a gift horse in the mouth,” he said.

The Australian comedian, who has appeared on BBC shows Mock The Week and Never Mind The Buzzcocks, has been three times nominated for the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Festival.

His message at The Herald offices said: “All I’m doing is calling to see if we can possibly get Didcot mentioned a few more times in the newspaper. From my count, Abingdon was mentioned the most. The crowd are livid — there is a man down the front who will literally spray mineral water everywhere.

“Apart from that, the paper is absolutely fantastic. I love what you’ve done with it.”