First TV writing credits
This year I've been given my first television writing credits on a show called Idiot TV. Yes, write about what you know, har har. Going for the obvious like that didn't get me the gig, so you'll need to work harder if you want to beat me to series 2...
Idiot TV: How Not to Live is a clip show made by Endemol Shine North for the Channel 5 group of networks (it premiered on what has recently been renamed '5Spike'), and features the biggest fools on this planet in their absolute prime. It's gold medal buffoonery collected and curated like never before, with rewinds, slo-mo’s and close ups to highlight the very best falls, faults and fails which are so easily captured today now every dunce out there has a camera in their pocket. Chris Barrie (Red Dwarf) provides the overarching voiceover, showing off his aptitude for impressions as he reads our attempts to make the clips even funnier than they already are.
I am credited as writing episodes 2-10 (or 3-20 internationally, as we split each episode in half for non-UK audiences - they can't cope with a full hour of nonsense like we can). When episode 1 failed to live up to expectations, they called me in to show them the light. That was an outright lie but I enjoyed typing it. The exec producer (ergo, my boss) on Idiot TV was Pete Jump, who is a (only slightly) better looking version of David Brent. He's taught me a lot and was not averse to us hiding (often in plain sight) some obscure pop-culture references in the show, so I've definitely worked under worse people in my time. (Much, much worse, but these are stories for another day...)
If you didn't catch the broadcast, first of all, why not? After you're done beating yourself up, you can actually watch all 10 eps over on My5 - they'll be streamable for nish for the rest of the year. If you do fancy diving in, one might suggest to start somewhere around the episode 7 mark. Believe it or not, there is not much to be lost by watching the series out of order, and we'd really gotten into our stride by that point. Or we thought we had; feel free to disagree and tweet me your offence - as long as we can add one more click to the viewing figures, nothing else matters.
While lots of my writing is done from WHEREVER I DAMN WELL PLEASE (usually my kitchen because the 'real world' charges far too much to pour water on a tea bag), Idiot TV involved me working in the Endemol Shine offices in MediaCity day to day. In that sense, I think it was the first time that my 'writing' something has actually felt like a proper job; one where you can't get away with wearing pyjamas all day long. And it was nice to have people to bounce lols off, particularly when at the other end of the office they were working on hard-hitting, life-or-death documentaries.
And so this gig was not just writing jokes, but everything else which comes with working on a full production: 'eyeballing' episodes to check they've come together fully before sending them to the channel, working out silly section ideas for the show depending on what clips we had left, and, perhaps my favourite, many a surreal email request to the clip suppliers: 'Is this poo authentic?' / 'did the man in this clip sustain any serious injuries, or worse, die?' (I am happy to confirm, for both queries, that the answer was no).
I'm very grateful to Shine North for having me on Idiot TV and allowing me to broadcast jokes to whoever was stupid enough to stay tuned. It's also quite fitting that my first TV script work would be for Channel 5, who I worked for for a year after university - I'd never have guessed my first 9 writing creds would be for them. And it's soon to hit double-figures too with another related project which I shall post as an update in the next few days...
For now though, here is a grab from the show of a man tasering his own nipple. To find out how I could possibly manage to make that any funnier than it already is, check out Idiot TV episode 7.