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A Life Lived Through TV – Clangers to Conchords

photo by BinaryApe

Photo by BinaryApe

Who am I?

The early years – pre-school

I was born above the shop across the road from the municipal cemetery, where my parents took me to play.

I spent my early years watching Andy Pandy, The Clangers, Pogle’s Wood, The Herbs and dark Czechoslovakian cartoons. I was emotionally scarred for life when a member of Barbar’s family was burnt in a fire.

I watched Antiques Roadshow and Coronation Street on an old black and white TV with my parents before bedtime.

Primary school

I rushed home from school to watch Jackanory and Blue Peter and tuned in on Saturday to Why Don’t You Turn Off the TV and Go and Do Something More Interesting Instead? and Fingerbobs on a Saturday morning.

Around this time I found Carrie’s War deeply disturbing, but found light relief in Mr Ben, Crystal Tips and Alistair, Top Cat, Scooby Doo and Whacky Races and Crackerjack.

I learned about the natural world by watching The Undersea Adventures of Jacques Cousteau, Champion the Wonder Horse, Tarzan and Skippy.

One Saturday in 1976 life changed forever with the launch of Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, the first interactive phone-in programme, which fast became required viewing for children of a certain age.

Grange Hill started just after I went to big school, and I enjoyed telling the kids still at junior school that everything they saw on television was true. And it was. I fancied Tucker Jenkins and styled my hair like Suzanne Ross.

The teenage years

I listened to pirate radio in the bath and BBC Radio 1 in my bedroom, but emerged to take part in the losing team  on Cheggers Plays Pop. Later that same week I was part of the winning team in a We Are the Champions heat, and we went on to win the semi-finals. Unfortunately, exhaustion and over-excitement took its toll and my team finished third in the national finals.

I hung out on building sites with boys who wore sneers and bondage pants.

As well as the obligatory family viewing of Tomorrow’s World and Coronation Street, I watched Angels religiously. Life would later imitate soap.

I’d never been abroad, but learned about other countries by watching the Eurovision Song Contest, Jeux Sans Frontiers and Fame.

Leaving home

Just after I left home, I became acquainted with Australia via Neighbours, a relationship that lasted many years.

For ten years, I worked shifts and my viewing habits were erratic, but when I could, I watched Blind Date with the rest of my housemates.

For several years, my memories of television are entwined with my working life: I watched the first episode of Eastenders whilst working on a psychiatric ward; I was doing an eye drop round on an ophthalmic ward at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital as Prince Andrew married Sarah Ferguson (who I later met to discuss TV ideas).


When I went to university, I was introduced to the delights of Jerry Springer (and would later attend the opera) and developed a taste for independent cinema.

I became a fan of ER (and a bigger fan of George Clooney) and was never able to watch Casualty again.

For intellectual edification, I watched Horizon and QED. I enjoyed Arena and Cutting Edge. I wanted to like Modern Times but was often intensely irritated by its sneering tone.

Into TV

After university, I inadvertently got a job in TV, moving videotapes from one building to another. I reluctantly rose through the ranks – co-ordinating shoots, holding the boom, wrestling actors into costumes and researching Iron Age burial practices, whilst secretly hankering after a job in publishing or advertising.

I fell into a job no one else wanted and discovered my niche: developing new TV shows. Over the next few years, I resisted repeated offers of a move into production and learned the black art of development.

The development years

My first commission was the award-winning The Guinea Pig Club, and I went on to originate, research, write and/or pitch hundreds of ideas, including: Desperate Midwives, Death Detective, Voyages of Discovery, Take One Museum, African ER, Fight for Life, and Earth: Power of the Planet and Oceans.

Over this period, I could be found watching – to the horror of my more erudite colleagues – Big Brother, Joe Millionaire, and I’m a Celebrity Get Met Out of Here.

I took vicarious exercise during The Games.

I spent two years in New York City where I enjoyed exploring the city’s attractions, but set my TiVo to record American Idol, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Man vs. Wild, Laguna Beach, Beauty and the Geek, Miami Ink, Iron Chef America, Project Runway and Ace of Cakes.

Whilst sitting in the basement waiting for my laundry to dry I wrote a romantic comedy that was later likened to A Clockwork Orange.

I continued to develop new television ideas, this time for the US market, such as: Moms on the Road in Africa, Real Estate Road Test, Fashionably Late with Stacy London, Pageant Rewind and How Not to Be Shark Bait.

Today, back in London, I enjoy Strictly Come Dancing, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, Relocation, Relocation, Relocation, Grand Designs and Gordon Ramsay: Cookalong Live.

I get an emotional workout during Secret Millionaire. Don Draper in Mad Men and the boys in Flight of the Conchords stir my passions (but George is not forgotten).

So that’s me. Who are you?


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