Back after the break

 

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On 12 April, 2016, the Guardian ran its last edition of Telly Addict. My weekly fixed-shot, to-camera review of what was on the television the week before had run for 249 episodes, beginning in May 2011, and named after my TV review column in the still-missed Word magazine, which ran between 2004 and 2006 (itself named after the BBC quiz show Telly Addicts, on which my family had appeared in 1990). It had been a good innings, and Telly Addict had survived a number of opaque regime changes in the multimedia department, which seemed to exist as a kind of republic within the vast Guardian kingdom. Reviewing TV for the website certainly didn’t bestow upon me any sort of journalistic legitimacy at the newspaper itself, where I remained largely on the outside of the glass, looking in. I will always be grateful to have had the chance to make a short film about TV every week, pretty much without a break, for five years, and under the banner of a world-class news brand.

TApilot2011grab

Producer Matt Hall (whom I’d known since my earliest days in the media when we worked on the old Radio Five) called me in, in March 2011, and we made a couple of modest pilots. (Quite why I was getting to do this and not one of the paper’s regular TV writers was a mystery.) This is a rare still from one of the first two non-broadcast pilots. As you can see, the chair was visible, and so were my arms. These were cropped out in a tighter shot that, give or take the angle I sat at, remained fixed for the next five years. We went live on 6 May, 2011; I reviewed two BBC dramas, Exile and The Shadow Line, and a brand new fantasy from HBO which I understand is still going. Matt left a couple of years in, leaving me without an executive champion at the department, but the whole operation was so self-contained, with one overworked member of staff thanklessly lighting, shooting, directing, producing and editing (for the larger part of its life, Andy, for the final year, Mona), we just sort of carried on doing it and nobody “upstairs” seemed to mind, or perhaps notice. It was not always easy to find Telly Addict in the maelstrom of a constantly refreshed newspaper website (with a rare 24-hour window of promotion at the very foot of the homepage and then all bets were off) and when they rolled out a major redesign of the site I was among a large constituency who could no longer view Telly Addict comfortably on a Mac (which I suspect lost us a lot of regular viewers). But I did my best to promote it through the usual means. I loved doing it, and I loved the finished product.

TA178grab

The writing was on the wall in the final six months, when budgets everywhere were being cut, and the Guardian Film Show (a much longer programme that involved three Guardian staffers or contracted freelancers a week, which started the same time as Telly Addict) went first. The final Telly Addict went up on 12 April, a sad review of the past five years, and the laments, farewells and tributes poured in below the line – where, over five years, I like to think we’d evolved an uncharacteristically sensible, positive, witty, well-informed and largely troll-free community. This was one of the reasons I launched this blog. It was a way of staying in touch with that community (or the most steadfast of its acolytes).

Titlegrab

The good news is, Telly Addict is reborn. Last week, it was “soft-launched” at its new home, broadcaster UKTV (umbrella over the boutique channels Dave, Gold, W, Yesterday, Really, Alibi, Eden, Good Food and Home), who are expanding their online presence, with previews, clips and self-produced shorts on their YouTube channel. The first edition [above] is effectively the broadcast pilot. I hope you like it. The show will now run every Tuesday. Normal service, you might say, is resumed. There is a tyranny of stats on YouTube, of course. Nobody at the Guardian ever seemed to want to tell me how many people watched Telly Addict. Well, there’s no hiding place any more.

UKTVYouTubeSTATS26Jun16

I’m sure the “likes” and “dislikes” will give me nightmares, but overall, it already feels great to have a new home. After all, UKTV make television programmes. And Telly Addict is a television programme about other people’s television programmes. And the folk who work there are real TV enthusiasts, with a certain spring in their step which is not always a given in television. (I’ve worked with their channels as a moderator at a number of events in the past.)

On the matter of my obligation to review shows that are on UKTV, I will only be reviewing new or returning or “event” shows that I might I have reviewed on Telly Addict anyway, and I have 100% editorial independence. Frankly, if I don’t like a new sitcom on Gold, I won’t cover it (if you know anything about me as a critic, you’ll know that I do not slag programmes off for the sport of it; I prefer to celebrate the best of what’s on the telly). The other upside is that there are no ads on the UKTV YouTube channel, whereas the Guardian tagged each episode with an embedded ad that you couldn’t skip.

For the record, all 249 episode of Telly Addict for the Guardian remained archived here.

You can see why we held back any big announcements or press releases or flypasts on Thursday and Friday this week, so next week it is. It’s great to be back. You will recognise one or two of the shirts.

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27 thoughts on “Back after the break

  1. Yay! Welcome back
    I didn’t comment too much on the Guardian but I always watched, every week. Your enthusiasm, knowledge, and engaging presenting manner have always been a captivating watch.
    Glad to know I can still get my weekly Telly Addict fix. I still don’t have a TV but I can watch YT.

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  2. This is the best news that I’ve had all week.
    Firstly: You’ve sorted out the emails so that your fans are forced to come here to read your articles (Something I suggested a while ago).
    Secondly: It’s like watching the original series on The Guardian and I’ve really missed it since I’d never have heard of Rhod Gilbert’s show if I hadn’t seen this, so many thanks.
    Finally: I’m not sure whether my past posts were under this name, but I did suggest YouTube to you as soon as Telly Addicts was dropped, so well played all round and it’s great to see you back.
    Cheers, Will.

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  3. Since you created this blog as a sort of substitute for the Guardian Telly Addict video series, is this blog going away, or will you make new posts less often? I had noticed that new posts had become less frequent.

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  4. Andrew, I tried to post a comment earlier (a question, really), and it didn’t materialize. Was there a problem with my comment?

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  5. Andrew, welcome back!

    Just curious, was it the popular revolt from devoted fans that helped you get this new gig or had you known about beforehand?

    BTW the pilot link above does not seem to be working…unless my iPad is broken. Or I’m just being a numpty.

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    • It’s working for me. Do you mean the link embedded into the first line (“Look who’s back”)? I just tried it and it went directly to the YouTube page with Telly Addict on it.

      There was no “popular revolt”. The Guardian pulled the plug (although to be fair to them, they gave me six weeks’ grace, thus six further Telly Addicts). “Fans” made their feelings known, as they had with the Film Show, but it wasn’t about that, it was about budgets and cuts. UKTV put in the call, and it progressed from there.

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      • It’s really great that Telly Addict is back, the return of a not-so-long lost friend.

        The link is very subtle – I wouldn’t have found it without your comment to the previous poster so maybe it could be made easier to spot, shame to not maximise the views the vid deserves.

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      • I’ve embedded the YouTube link now. (I wasn’t sure if that might be a strategic own-goal, though, as we need as many hits as we can on YouTube if this venture is to flourish. Perhaps you could go there and support it through subscription, “likes” or hits?)

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  6. Finally! Some good news in this otherwise bleak week. Now I’ll have something to look forward to on Tuesday mornings again. Just about to start the third series of Peaky Blinders, thanks to you.

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  7. Great that you’ve got the video back, Andrew, but won’t the Gogglesprogs be put out that you didn’t choose something from them for the first new-platform ‘moment of zen’? I’m a bit suspicious about that backdrop though, it looks like something out of Eurotrash. I suppose they might have been selling off their sets after the referendum though if they’ve been made to feel as unwelcome as many others by the result. Will you continue to post your blog here or is the video likely to take up most of your time? I hope you keep both going as they provide very different kinds of informed TV discussion, and the more of that the better.

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    • It feels that way at this end too. Brand new Telly Addict should be going live today, and every Tuesday thereafter.

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  8. Andrew

    brilliant that you are back. And with the recommendation of UK’s best part-time band it was brought home to me just how very much I had missed your sage recommendations-I love it as would any lover of music, it’s a love poem to live music and part time strummers. I’ll not wax on, but here’s hoping that you will do this for as long as you want to this time round.

    Cheers

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