TVGoHome (E4, 2001)
Charlie Brooker has been around for many years. In the late-80s he contributed to the anarchic comic Oink!, and in the 90s he also wrote computer games reviews for the magazine PC Zone. In the late-90s he set up a website called TVGoHome which every fortnight featured a rather savage foul-mouthed parody of TV listings magazines, featuring some outrageous and bizarre ideas for fictional TV programmes.
Around this time he also co-hosted a show about technology called The Kit on the little-remembered BBC Knowledge. By the early-2000s his site had increased in popularity and there were a couple of spin-offs produced. Firstly, a great book was released featuring the best bits from the site plus some new material which I got for Christmas in 2001, and the design of the TV pages was practically identical to that of Radio Times in the late-90s/early-00s. Also around this time, there was a TV version.
In its earliest days the digital channel E4 had a go at making some original British comedy shows, and TVGoHome was one of them. It was an attempt to try to bring some of the ideas from the website and book to life, with Charlie Brooker among the writers. There were six episodes made that were shown at stupid o’clock and although I recorded a couple at the time I didn’t keep them, so finding a few clips on YouTube recently has helped bring back memories.
Among the sketches were parodies of panel games such as A Question Of Sp – Ow!, where the contestants tried to answer the questions while they were repeatedly being poked with a stick, Nowbiter, which was a culture-type show, Scorch, a celebrity gossip-type show, Daily Mail Island, where young Sarah Galoshes was about to meet an awful fate, and Plebdazzle Party, which mocked general mainstream entertainment shows. How did they think of these things.
In among all of this there were also spoof continuity announcements and adverts. Among the cast were James Holmes, Alex Lowe, Samantha Spiro, and Catherine Tate, who would go on to get her own sketch show. The show was clearly made on a small budget and must have been watched by next to nobody, and there has been no DVD release, but it was a bold attempt at creating something different from such an odd idea.
It didn’t end there though. In 2005 there was another TVGoHome spin-off on Channel 4 featuring Nathan Barley, the useless hipster idiot who desperately tried to prove to everyone how cool he was. It was co-written by Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris, and again although it was an ambitious idea it wasn’t a big success, there was only one series, and the idea hasn’t been returned to since, although this show has been released on DVD.
However, in more recent years Charlie Brooker has gone on to be a big name, bringing his hard-hitting presenting style to various shows on BBC2 and Channel 4 including Screenwipe, and going to write further TV shows. Over 15 years later I still think the TVGoHome site and book are great and I do recommend them. You’ll never think of Mick Hucknall in the same way again.