Thumb Bandits (Channel 4, 2001-2002)
One thing that I have enjoyed looking back at on this blog is the history of TV shows about computer games. It could be argued that this subject has never really been that well represented and analysed on TV over the years, but because I have enjoyed playing games that have got the fingers and thumbs pressing those buttons, and I have a read a lot of gaming magazines, I felt that this was a show that would definitely be of interest to me.
From 1999-2001 there was a show rather late at night on Channel 4 about computer games called Bits. I reviewed it a while back and it gained a small following as it was hosted by three rather enthusiastic young women, but it wasn’t that high-profile really. Not long after Bits ended, a similar show was launched called Thumb Bandits (nice pun guys) which was a slightly more straightforward and serious look at gaming.
Indeed, the show could be seen as a sort-of sequel to Bits, as Aleks Krotoski who was one of the hosts of that show was kept on, and she was joined by Iain Lee, who at the time was best-known for hosting the Channel 4 satirical comedy The 11 O’Clock Show, and in more recent years he has become a familiar figure for hosting shows on various radio stations.
I do remember around the time that Thumb Bandits launched, Aleks and Iain did some publicity, including being interviewed in a few gaming magazines where they said that they were really into their games and this would be a show that would reflect that and so on. So I thought that this was worthy of a watch, although I had to set the video as it was usually shown in a post-midnight timeslot.
Thumb Bandits was your usual mix of reviews, along with some interviews and competitions, and Aleks and Iain would also be joined by a few guests to share their views. As this was the early-2000s, it was the era when the PlayStation 2 was in its infancy, Nintendo had hopes for their Gamecube, and there was much speculation about what Microsoft would offer with their imminent Xbox. It really is remarkable to see how gaming has evolved in the years since, isn’t modern technology fancy.
You could also visit the show’s website, social media in those days mostly consisting of arguing with people on forums. Thumb Bandits only had a short run on Channel 4, and their commitment to computer game shows (or indeed any late-night programming) since has been rather disappointing. However, nowadays of course anyone can put their critique on any aspect of gaming on YouTube in five minutes for all to see, so maybe these shows aren’t needed so much on TV now anyway, but least they had a go.