Casper‘I pms at these,’ is not perhaps a statement that will be forever enshrined in the annals of great quotes. The person who said it went by the name of shazza, whoever shazza may be. But shazza is nevertheless a notable figure to me, for his/her comment was the last to ever grace a video on my YouTube channel, the final person provoked into saying something after enjoying one of my offerings on a platform that had twelve long years of providing satirical and/or bawdy entertainment for the masses who were incapable of raising even a moderate titter at the woeful excuse for comedy that television serves-up these days. Unfortunately, the history that shazza made with this brief comment on the most recent instalment of ‘Buggernation Street’ is a history that has been erased from the books, for Sillycunt Valley’s very own Ministry of Truth has excised yours truly from the platform as of late Wednesday evening. I’m not playing the victim here, btw; I just figured you might find this story interesting.

Long-term readers of the Winegum or viewers of my channel might recall I walked away from YT in 2019 after a dispiriting couple of years in which all my videos were demonetised as several others were blocked and banned; I stopped uploading new material, but left what was still on there for those that routinely watched the same favourite videos over and over again. As far back as 2016 I was noticing pernicious changes creeping into YT as the corporate world belatedly became aware of the platform’s potential to sell ‘product’ and began issuing copyright strikes left right and centre at the independent creators who’d made YT what it was in the first place; I even wrote an early post about it, one that still attracts views, and this was penned when I used to receive an admittedly small income from YT – not much more than around £150 a year. Then, overnight, all the videos I received that income from were demonetised. The new regime was making its insidious presence felt.

Rick Beato, an American record producer with an informative and engaging YT channel, recently issued a video in which he berated Don Henley from The Eagles for whining over ‘loss of earnings’ due to fans sharing snippets of Eagles tracks on YT. Beato correctly pointed out the absolute pittance of royalties Henley could claim should anyone dare insert fifteen seconds of ‘Hotel California’ into a video would be something to put Spotify to shame – a handful of cents at the most. He went on to underline the ludicrousness of this farcical copyright circus by playing a few bars of the piano intro to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ in the wrong key ala Les Dawson simply because he couldn’t even play the proper bloody melody himself without being slapped by a strike, let alone using the actual Queen recording on the video. This has been one of the moves that have reduced YT to merely another corporate tool, yet so dominant is the platform when it comes to its specific market that it continues to put other video platforms in the permanent shade. It remains the go-to medium, just as the BBC used to be whenever a major news story broke.

In a way, this is the double-edged sword of YT – as a creator, one is hampered and restricted by the rules and regulations that require expert navigation in order to avoid a copyright strike; yet, at the same time, one is guaranteed a huge audience that no other online video platform can compete with. Despite my reservations, this was the main reason I returned to YT after a two-year absence in 2021; I simply couldn’t ignore the massive upsurge of views and tsunami of new subscribers that appeared to have been a side-effect of lockdown. It would’ve been foolish to spurn this unexpected and enthusiastic fan-base eager for new videos, so I gave them what they wanted by reviving what became my signature series, ‘Buggernation Street’. No new episodes of this Derek & Clive-like take on the early 70s incarnation of a rather well-known TV soap opera had been produced for six years, but once I was back on the grubby cobbles it was as though I’d never been away.

Of course, the filth for which ‘Buggernation’ is infamous is all in the mind – it’s down to the often-horrific imagery that materialises in the viewer’s head as a consequence of the dialogue I insert into the characters’ mouths. There’s no on-screen nudity or sex of any kind in a single episode of the 42 that ended up being produced; it’s merely suggested in the most explicit manner possible – and it makes people laugh at the same time; indeed, how could they not laugh at the thought of Maggie Clegg treating Alf Roberts to a spot of water-sports or poor old Stan Ogden being forced to bend over as Hilda shoves a police truncheon where the sun don’t shine? It’s patently ridiculous and that’s what makes it work as comedy. The simple suggestion of something depraved going on behind the net curtains is enough to provoke the viewer’s imagination, and the viewer doesn’t need to see on screen what’s being described. Putting any of that on screen would lead to an instant ban and it would be rightly labelled pornography – especially as the YT of today has clambered up on top of the moral high-horse and laughably appears to regard itself as a barometer of family-friendly decency.

When YT took it upon itself to remove my entire channel without warning – rather than ban a handful of videos I could have easily uploaded to another outlet like Vimeo – their reasons for doing so suggested the images placed in their heads by ‘Buggernation Street’ were too much for their fragile sensibilities; they then, like some satanic abuse fantasist, appeared to believe they had actually seen these images in my videos. ‘This account has been terminated due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy on nudity or sexual content.’ There was no nudity, and any sexual content was of a purely verbal nature – end of. I pointed this out when I appealed, but their response was ‘YouTube is not the place for nudity, pornography or other sexually provocative content’. Yeah, that’s why I didn’t upload any. Just in case I mistook YT for CBeebies, I always ticked the box stating my videos were for adults only, YT’s equivalent of the old-fashioned X certificate. But, of course, their decision had f**k-all to do with nudity or pornography.

Ever since my channel began attracting viewing figures that elevated it above the best-kept-secret cult it had been for a decade, it was undeniably brought to the attention of the Identity Politics Gestapo that run all media today. And what probably signed my YT death warrant was a video that mocked all they hold dear, a spoof BBC1 trailer for ‘Wokeday Evening’. The glaring difference between YT and other video platforms was never better highlighted by the viral success of this particular video. It had originally been published on Vimeo a couple of years ago and attracted virtually no attention at all; remixed and expanded, I decided to temporarily shelve my ‘Buggernation’-only principles when it came to YT uploads and enabled ‘Wokeday Evening’ to be seen by the widest possible audience. Views shot through the roof as it was tweeted by numerous media personalities not exactly beloved by the Woke mafia, and I would imagine a sizeable number of complaints were registered with the YT upholders of online standards, double and otherwise.

Not only can I not start another channel on YT, but I’m also prevented from subscribing to anyone else now; I can’t even comment on or ‘like’ the efforts of others. In YT terms, I am officially a non-person, of whom all traces have been wiped. The thought of adopting a new identity and sneaking back on there is not one I relish, for nothing will have changed; I’d only be confronted by the same bullshit that provoked my two-year exodus in 2019. YT must have missed the money they made from cramming ads into my videos during my absence, but they’ve made a hell of a lot more from me over the last twelve months. Well, f**k ’em. They ain’t making any more. And, if nothing else, I now know from personal experience that cancel culture is not some right-wing fantasy; it’s for real, alright.

© The Editor




Rob SquadIn a year or so of what has been an exceptional era of doom ‘n’ gloom – indeed, one that appears to be getting even doomier and gloomier by the day – people have naturally devoted a great deal of their spare time to seeking escapism and entertainment, just as they always do at such times. Hollywood provided it during the Great Depression of the 1930s and television did much the same in the economically chaotic 1970s. Beyond subscriptions to (or illegal accessing of) Netflix, YouTube has served this function for many of late. I myself have been a beneficiary of this desperate desire to be entertained, with my own YT channel experiencing a phenomenal upsurge of views. In some cases videos produced almost a decade ago have been discovered and applauded as though they were brand new. I’ve lost count of the number of kind words that have flowed my way from grateful online explorers who seem to regard my back catalogue of silly, satirical and near-the-knuckle videos as some sort of welcome oasis in a very dark desert. It caught me by surprise, to say the least, but it is gratifying to have the work I’ve put in over several years belatedly appreciated by a bigger audience than I’ve ever enjoyed before.

I’ve made my own discoveries during this period as well, many of which I’ve written about on here before – YT channels such as Triggernometry, Joolz Guides, Jago Hazzard, John Heaton, Reuben the Bulldog, Oliver the Beagle and numerous others I subscribe to and find much more informative and entertaining than the majority of the drivel served up by mainstream broadcasters these days. I also once mentioned the ‘reaction’ videos, a subgenre on YT that seems to have undergone a massive expansion over the past twelve months. There appear to be hundreds of these channels now, whereby the hosts listen to a piece of music most of them have never heard before and we receive their instant reaction followed by them trying to put into words what they’ve just heard. On paper, it doesn’t sound too engaging, but a lot depends on the personality of the host and how well they’re able to engage the viewer. Some are better than others and some are fantastic.

I’ve recently fallen in love with an American couple who present a channel called ‘Rob Squad Reactions’. Jordan and Amber are married twenty-somethings who are unapologetic about their ignorance of music most of us have heard forever. What makes them so likeable, however, is their ravenous appetite to be educated; they receive recommendations from subscribers and give these recommendations an eager listen, without prejudice and with a completely open mind. Songs and artists we tend to assume everyone knows inside out are often utterly unknown to them, yet they don’t dismiss what they don’t know; instead, they embrace the unknown and want to learn. It’s a refreshingly joyous experience watching them listen to a standard and seeing the first-time impact on them; often, it enables the viewer to hear the song in a new light too, sharing the sensation with the pair as they’re knocked out by what they’re hearing. They also have a habit of nailing what makes a song magical in a way that relentless exposure to it gradually erodes; I often find myself remembering my own emotions when hearing the song for the first time, emotions that repetition had removed.

Watching several of their videos in a row, one sees the rapid development of a genuine appreciation of music and musicians made before their own time; they routinely comment on how musically diverse and adventurous artists were forty or fifty years ago, with their versatility and ability shaming the uninspired push-button nature of so much mainstream music produced today; and it’s only through listening to these 20th century sounds that this has really dawned on Jordan and Amber. It makes one wish that this kind of musical education was rated as highly as some prioritised subjects on the school syllabus, though I suppose that might result in the decline and fall of the profitable industry which produces the fast-food junk that passes for pop in 2021 as its consumers become aware they’re being force fed pap.

Most of all, though, what makes this channel such a gem is that Jordan and Amber themselves radiate such positive, unpretentious joy. They really do sparkle as a couple and come across as genuinely lovely people. It’s interesting that Amber wasn’t present in the earlier videos; Jordan on his own is likeable enough, but the channel really springs to life and stands out from the competition once his relentlessly upbeat other half joins him. I was compelled to pay tribute to them as, whilst I’ve told some tales from the Taliban this week, I couldn’t bring myself to write about last week’s massacre down Plymouth way simply because sometimes even I can only take so much. It’s probably no wonder I find Rob Squad Reactions so addictive at the moment, just as some can’t get enough of ‘Buggernation Street’. Both, it seems, are needed for the same reason.

Richard & AustenOn the day Brian Clough’s brief and tempestuous stint as Leeds United manager came to an abrupt end in September 1974, Cloughie took part in a memorable television confrontation with his nemesis and the man he’d replaced at Elland Road, Don Revie. What followed remains an electrifying clash between two men whose antipathy towards each other is evident, yet both are able to articulate their point of view without interruption from the programme’s presenter in a way that simply wouldn’t happen today. The presenter was Austin Mitchell, then one of the co-hosts (alongside Richard Whiteley) of Yorkshire TV’s nightly regional magazine show, ‘Calendar’.

Mitchell’s skills as an interviewer are underlined when, after asking Clough and Revie several questions, he’s smart enough to realise the guests are more than capable of grilling each other; they do so in such a compelling fashion that Mitchell slowly pulls back and lets them get on with it for the best part of ten minutes without him interjecting. Can you imagine any presenter of, say, ‘Newsnight’ in 2021 showing similar journalistic expertise or lacking the ego to keep schtum for such a long time? No, me neither.

In the first half of the 1970s, Austin Mitchell experienced the curious fame unique to the regional TV star at a time when ITV’s individual regional identities were extremely strong. He was a household name throughout Yorkshire, yet beyond its borders was pretty much unknown. It was a shame, looking back, that Mitchell wasn’t a national TV presenter because he was an intelligent, charismatic and witty host of ‘Calendar’, capable of covering serious news events – such as reporting from the scene of 1973’s Lofthouse Colliery Disaster – and simultaneously engaging in the kind of silly stories about odd local customs or generic eccentrics that became a hallmark and cliché of regional television in the 70s. But rather than make that leap from regional to national telly, Austin Mitchell instead abandoned a career in broadcasting for politics.

Whereas Brian Walden made the opposite journey – moving from the Labour backbenches to present the Sunday lunchtime political show, ‘Weekend World’ – Austin Mitchell quit TV and was elected MP for Great Grimsby at a 1977 by-election following the death of Foreign Secretary Anthony Crosland. Mitchell described himself as a Gaitskellite, and as a politician he certainly seemed to belong to that old-school intellectual socialist tradition; along with his journalistic background he was also an academic, having being a university lecturer in New Zealand in the 60s, and was a prolific author. He was a solid constituency MP for 38 years, retaining the humour often evident during his ‘Calendar’ days by once briefly changing his surname to Haddock in order to highlight the plight of the fish that was part of the staple diet of his seafaring constituents. They really don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

© The Editor




YTAs BBC1 litters its post-‘10 O’Clock News’ weekday schedule with cheap, tacky BBC3 drivel and wonders why niche, minority interests are attracting niche, minority audiences, the abject failure of the senior visual broadcast medium to entertain the nation during lockdown is evident in spades; and blowing the seizure of the day has perhaps fatally weakened its already-diminishing clout. BBC1 during the hours I would be most likely to switch-on now reminds me of that old 90s Channel 4 show, ‘Eurotrash’, a programme that was a kitsch giggle during its day, but not one I imagined would serve as a blueprint for the national broadcaster 20-odd years down the line. At least ‘Eurotrash’ never pretended to be anything other than a frivolous celebration of the absurdly camp, though; it didn’t come with a fatuous political ‘message’, AKA a lecture in BBC Diversity to demonstrate just how on trend the Guardianistas running the Corporation really are. And they can’t understand why millions of licence fee-payers are turning away quicker than you can say ‘Normal service is being suspended because the Duke of Edinburgh has conked-out’.

Where are they going? Well, a sizeable chunk of the audience has found on YouTube what it once used to find on television – innovative, original, educational, informative and entertaining output. Not everything on YT is worth watching, of course; but there’s a hell of a lot more worth watching on there than can currently be found on terrestrial television. I must spend at least 85% of my viewing time on YT as opposed to TV and there are ‘favourite programmes’, as it were – channels to which I subscribe and look forward to their new videos appearing every few days. Some are remarkably professional, whilst others are endearing in their amateurishness, where an absence of media-training slickness comes as a welcome breather because it allows the heart, soul and personality of the presenter to shine through (not to mention the fact they actually possess such attributes), just like TV used to do back when it could attract the likes of John Noakes or Fred Dibnah.

Some YT channels have viewing figures that jaded TV execs still living off the back of ratings achieved in the 80s and 90s can only dream about today, which is further proof of how people are rejecting television and finding their entertainment elsewhere. I’ve seen with my own YT channel just how this works. Having quit YT a couple of years ago in the wake of all my videos being demonetised and constantly blocked and banned, I’ve recently returned with two new instalments of my most popular ongoing series simply due to the unprecedented and overwhelming demand for more in the last few months, a clamour I eventually realised I’d be foolish to ignore when so many have told me my old output has brightened-up dreary lockdown days. With the innovative ‘premiere’ system now a feature that didn’t exist during my uploading heyday, I’ve been able to set a fixed time at which a new video will appear and a window relaying live comments as it plays enables me to gauge an instant, real-time reaction from viewers. The latest video premiered at 6.00 last Sunday evening; within less than 24 hours, it had accumulated over 24,000 views. Four days later, it’s now on 48K.

But fear not – this isn’t merely a solo trumpet recital, for I spend far more time watching other people’s videos than making my own. There’s Joolz and his eccentric excursions into fascinating corners of the capital; Jago Hazzard and his arch, knowingly-nerdish tales from the Tube; John Heaton and his laidback dissections of Classic Rock back catalogues; light relief canine capers with Reuben the Bulldog and Oliver the Beagle; and (of course) the ‘controversial’ chat on ‘Triggernometry’. And those are just some of the ones I subscribe to and view each new video from. There are dozens of others I regularly come across and routinely dip in and out of, just as there used to be TV shows I’d watch intermittently without tuning in religiously every week. I can’t remember the last time television provided me with this abundance of viewing. At the moment it seems like every few weeks I stumble upon yet another YT channel that engages me and makes me search through the channel’s individual archive.

A few months back, I got into a genre of video that seemed the ideal tonic for anyone itching to venture farther afield than their own neighbourhood at a time when doing so was verboten. These ones are little travelogues without an on-screen presence; instead, the host has a camera attached somewhere on their person – hard to say where; possibly hidden in a hat, for no pedestrian they pass reacts in the way they would to a visible camera – and they walk on a set route for between half-an-hour to an hour. We see what they see; in fact, the picture is so seamlessly steady, it feels like we’re a drone gliding through the streets of London – and the ones I watch tend to be in the capital. Last summer there was a wonderful one strolling around Hampstead Heath (albeit not the route George Michael used to take); this was during the day at the height of a mini-heat-wave; another from the same time glided around Soho in the evening as the heavens opened. Hearing only the sound of the public, traffic, and the rain made the experience one of near-virtual reality – and reminded me of an updated interlude; this was ‘Slow TV’ that moved.

One character I discovered recently goes by the name of John Rogers. He has the quiet charm – and appearance – of Richard Thompson; but rather than treating us to an obscure English folk tune, he embarks upon intriguing walks in various uncelebrated areas around the outskirts of London. I watched one yesterday in which he visited the medieval village of Harmondsworth, which sits on the Western periphery of the capital. Harmondsworth comes across as something of a forgotten oasis surrounded by the environmentally-toxic M25 and M4, not to mention Heathrow itself on the doorstep. A sizeable chunk – over 700 homes – of Harmondsworth stands in the way of plans to build Heathrow’s third runway and opposition there is understandable. It’s ironic at a time when ‘Green’ is the favourite colour to spew forth from the scripted lips of politicians that such a carve-up of characteristically picturesque semi-rural England could be countenanced, and for a notoriously polluting industry that many have been happy to see put on ice due to you-know-what.

The building of Heathrow Airport back in the late 40s necessitated the obliteration of at least one centuries-old hamlet, and if the third runway eventually goes ahead, the entire village of Longford will also fall beneath the wrecking-ball. The area already had a history that the airport wiped from the map, including one of the myths of Middlesex, concerning ‘the last wolf in England’, which legend had it was killed in a wooded labyrinth on Hounslow Heath called Perry Oaks – a location that now lays buried beneath Terminal Five at Heathrow. I learnt all this just from watching the video, but the one-man band nature of these outings, whereby a solitary unskilled presenter with a naturally intimate, chummy style draws the viewer in and tells a fascinating story, is what makes them such a sedate and seductive format. BBC4 is still capable of producing similar programmes, but it’s been noticeable of late how much of that vital channel’s budget has been siphoned off to fund the trashy produce of BBC3, leaving many an evening schedule on BBC4 a veritable ‘greatest hits’ of its laudable music documentaries.

Then again, who needs TV? The old catchphrase of an annoyingly memorable theme tune once declared ‘Why don’t you just switch off your television set and go and do something less boring instead?’ – and it seems plenty of us are doing just that. Television only has itself to blame.

© The Editor


It’s access all areas when you’re the guv’nor – stats galore behind the scenes here at Winegum Towers; a recent glance at the viewing figures for one random day included not just the UK and Ireland, but the US, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland, Russia, Iceland, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Nigeria. A league of nations indeed! Sifting through stats is actually a good way of measuring how far one’s meanderings are journeying and gives the author a real sense of having a global reach; the daily graph of how many views one receives is another handy yardstick. Some days without a new post have higher viewing figures than those with one, but it’s understandable that it can take a day or two for a post to attract attention beyond hardcore regulars. Example: The last post appeared on the 24th – 58 views on the day, 64 the following day, and 68 the day after that. Moreover, the amount of ‘likes’ a post receives can often be disproportionate both to the views it amasses and the number of comments accompanying it. I’ve long since given up trying to second-guess what kind of story will generate the most feedback, which is why I usually just put out whatever I feel like writing about and see how it goes. You can hardly ever predict these things.

Sometimes, an old post can accrue a remarkable – and, to me, inexplicable – amount of views. This week there’s been an upsurge of interest in a quite early (2015) post called ‘Video Killed the Video Star’ – 24 views in total. Mind you, I took a look at it and I thought the theme was quite relevant to the here and now; it was an embryonic critique of big tech policy on YouTube and seemed highly prescient in its predictions. The closing statement – published on 17.12.15 – reads: ‘The way things are going, YT could end up as bland and predictable as MTV within five years, completely negating its initial intent. It wasn’t supposed to be one more promotional juggernaut for record companies or movie studios, but that’s what it’s on the road to becoming.’ Interesting that I was able to foresee at least one technological and cultural development before it became the norm, probably because YT was the platform I had the most online experience with at the time and therefore could sense which way the wind was blowing. Wish I’d been wrong, mind.

Perhaps that particular post attracted unexpected attention due to something that happened this week to my YT channel that has caught me genuinely by surprise. Don’t ask me why, but for some reason over the past seven days, a platform I walked away from almost two years ago has suddenly ‘gone viral’, and I’m not being liberal with hyperbole there either – the stats speak for themselves. On one day last week, one specific video received a staggering 49,568 views in the space of 48 hours; in just one sixty minute period the day after, my channel received 6,060 views – in just a single hour! Believe me, these kinds of figures are unprecedented for me, and they’re the last thing one expects when the most recent video posted on there appeared in July 2019 – and even then, that had been the first one I’d uploaded to YT since the previous October. Therefore, it’s pretty accurate to say this isn’t a medium I’ve devoted much time to of late, and it’s somewhat disarming to be showered in euphoric praise for something I can barely relate to anymore.

At the moment, I feel like someone who was in a band that never made it, a band that split after releasing a couple of universally ignored albums, with its individual members moving on and putting the past behind them. And then one of their old numbers is used on an ad or in a movie and it suddenly starts to sell, ending up a massive hit. From getting no more than a dozen comments on videos a week, this past few days has seen me receiving upwards of 40-50 comments a day, so many that I haven’t actually got time to reply to them all and thank people for their kind words. And, it has to be said, 99% of them are kind. Sure, there are one or two compelled to express their distaste/disgust with either too-close-for-comfort satire or bawdy ‘Derek & Clive’-style humour, and these tend to divide into two camps: the ‘analytical critic’ who spends several paragraphs emphasising how much more cleverer he is than you, and the blunt grunter who keeps his opinion to a minimum of words, one of which is usually ‘shit’. I’ve been called a lefty communist and a Daily Mail reader, which is quite an impressive combination. But these are very much the exception to the rule, however.

‘OMG. This has made my stomach hurt. Absolutely brilliant’; ‘My face is hurting’; ‘Funniest things I’ve watched in a long time, possibly ever’; ‘This is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen’; ‘This is quality material the likes of which we have not seen in a very, very long time. Absolutely magic’; ‘Did want to comment, but can’t stop laughing; ‘What a find’; ‘I think you may well be a comic genius’; ‘First time I’ve ever watched these. Never laughed so much’– yes, I know that sounds reminiscent of Eric Idle’s door-to-door salesman with his range of joke-shop goods – ‘Denmark never laughed so much’ etc. – but these are merely a tiny snippet of the kinds of comments I’ve been getting and am still getting. Several have put their appreciation in the context of the zeitgeist. The majority of these videos may be old, but it would appear they’re serving as some sort of contemporary panacea when people are approaching lockdown breaking point, desperately searching online for something to take their mind off 2021 and cheer them up in a way the sterile excuse for TV comedy is incapable of in this oversensitive age. Why so many have stumbled upon my channel simultaneously is a mystery to me, but I can only put it down to communal cabin fever.

The video that seems to have become the introduction to the oeuvre for most is one called ‘Dumpton’, a pastiche of the Gordon Murray trilogy that I put together and posted three years ago, placing the characters and setting in present-day Britain. Judging by the comments of those who’ve just discovered it, my take on the series appears to be more relevant in 2021 than it was in 2018. Hot on the heels of ‘Dumpton’ is our old friend ‘Buggernation Street’. The durability of this 28-part saga never fails to stagger me, considering it ended six years ago. These days, I can often watch an isolated episode simply as a viewer, completely detached from wherever I was when I produced it in the early 2010s – and whatever I was on (WTF was I on, I often ask myself). I can laugh along with everyone else who finds it funny and I also find it amusing that many new viewers are so thrown by the multitude of potty mouths on these instalments that they assume a team of experienced comedy writers and voice artists put them together; it almost feels like too much of an ego trip to let them in on the secret that I’ve always been a one-man band.

It’s fair to say I’ve been more than a bit taken aback by this overnight interest and enthusiasm for creative projects I was most productive in between, roughly, 2012 and 2017. I may have migrated from mainstream YT to the obscure wilderness that is Vimeo, but I still produce videos of this nature every few months, generally if a funny idea comes to me – only if a funny idea comes to me, however; trying to be funny on demand would result in below-par entries in the series – besides, there aren’t enough hours in the day, lockdown or no. There’s the Telegram to attend to, I’m currently writing my first novel in two years, the odd poem is coming to me every few days that will eventually form part of a fresh collection, and it’s nice to have a little leisure time as well. I’m stuck as to how I can capitalise on this unanticipated flurry of interest when I’m not really operating in that specific creative field much these days, but it’s still gratifying to be drenched in gushing appreciation, I can’t deny it. Yet again, the consequence of shutting down society and isolating the population behind closed doors has prompted some strange and surprising developments. As Albert Tatlock might have said, ye can shove yer sea shanties up yer arse.

© The Editor


Does anyone still buy magazines? I used to buy plenty at one time – well, more than one time; I bought plenty for decades and then more or less stopped without realising it. Regular purchases in the 90s and into the 2000s included the likes of ‘Uncut’ and ‘Mojo’, with occasional forays into the likes of ‘Arena’, ‘Empire’ and fashion rags like ‘Vogue’ plus a few others of that nature – pretty girls catching the eye etc. Yes, magazines became increasingly expensive and there were times when I had to opt out of purchasing one or two because I simply couldn’t afford them every time, but I still splashed out whenever I could, perhaps due to the fact the habit was such a deeply engrained aspect of the shopping experience. Well, not anymore. There was no ‘moment’, no defining incident that provoked a decision to never bother again; it just sort-of happened. I stopped drifting towards the newsstands upon entering the supermarket and instead glanced for a second or two and moved on to edible goods.

For a while, I used to derive dubious pleasure from the hysteria of headlines, predicting the reaction of each individual paper to whatever news story was on the tip of the press tongue before I got to it and accurately anticipating the angle taken by every title; but even that grew boring, probably around the time of Brexit overkill. I don’t even bother now. I became weary of the repetition, I guess; just as the old mags I’d often shell-out for started telling the same stories over and over again, the newspapers never seemed to progress beyond their entrenched agendas and they ceased to even inspire detached hilarity. Okay, so I still order both ‘Private Eye’ and the ‘Radio Times’ from the last remaining independent newsagent in the neighbourhood, but that’s it; I don’t seek out anything else anymore. Those two suffice, and even then I often barely read anything other than the bare minimum, usually realising I haven’t managed that simple task come the day before the next issue is due.

For me, the decline and fall of the distinctive voice in print journalism perhaps went hand-in-hand with the rise of the distinctive voice online. Some of the opinion pieces on ‘Spiked’ piss on anything newspapers or magazines have to offer in their dying days, and the more erudite meanderings available at Maria Popova’s endlessly enlightening ‘Brain Pickings’ site have educated, informed and entertained me in ways that the clickbait interns of Fleet Street could never comprehend in their exhaustive search for jaded sensationalism and tiresome titillation. Granted, such elements were always ingredients of the traditional newspaper recipe, but they were balanced out by hard-hitting, investigative journalism and the intelligent, urbane columnists of old; ever since all that was dispensed with in print courtesy of cost-cutting and fear of post-Leveson litigation, the internet has offered an alternative. Newspapers, much like television news & current affairs, have narrowed their horizons and opted for catering to specific niche audiences for whom they can reinforce prejudices in the hope of securing continued subscriptions.

Talk of television brings me back to ground covered previously. A recent survey revealed comedy ranked low on the list of genres viewed during the various lockdowns of the last twelve months, which is no great surprise when one considers the woeful comedic output of our mainstream broadcasters. Anyone looking for a laugh would do well to steer clear of TV and – to be fair – radio, both of which are produced by a conservative clique of lame, middle-class university graduates in thrall to a groupthink mindset that has a rigid roll-call of easy targets they chuckle over as they labour under the misapprehension they’re being satirical. The public aren’t fooled and it’s no wonder; YouTube can boast the kind of viewing figures for comedy that the pitiful box-ticking elite laughing amongst themselves at the BBC can only dream of. The likes of Jonathan Pie and Andrew Lawrence have established careers as cutting-edge characters online without any TV exposure whatsoever whilst television continues to employ an irrelevant, hypocritical charlatan like Frankie Boyle and thinks it’s being ‘edgy’ by doing so.

Events beyond the control of everyone outside of government have served to curtail the live comedy circuit, forcing comedians already under-fire from the Woke orthodoxy to improvise; those for whom television was suddenly blocked as a route to stardom had begun investigating alternatives even before the pandemic brought the curtain down, and the endlessly impressive ‘Triggernometry’ on YT, hosted by Konstantin Kisin and Francis Foster, continues to divide its podcasts between fascinating interviews with people who have something interesting to say (and are given breathing space to say it) and live streams in which the pair interact with their audience. Sit this next to Graham Norton’s tired old celebrity chinwag on BBC1 and it’s like comparing ‘The Little and Large Show’ to ‘Not the Nine O’Clock News’ in the early 80s – and I’m not just saying this because each edition of the ‘Triggernometry’ live stream begins with an opening title sequence put together by yours truly either; I did that because I was a fan and was honoured they were impressed enough to use it.

Television and the print medium stagger on, but they have dug their own grave; that said, big tech are increasingly attempting to apply the same principles that have strangled older mediums. In recent years, Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have gradually embraced the Star Chamber tactics that were once the province of the IBA and the Hays Code in efforts to clamp down on anyone daring to challenge the consensus, forcing all ‘dissidents’ using their platforms to be on constant alert as to what they say. This is a worrying, if predictable, move to those of us who have migrated from TV, radio and the press, though as a one-time YT ‘creator’ I long ago sensed which way the wind was blowing and got out, losing an audience as well as an income in the process; but the latest wave of censorship has also denied me pleasure as a viewer, removing an outlet that the established vintage mediums no longer provide.

Over the weekend, two YT channels I subscribed to and was devouring the content of have abruptly vanished. Both uploaded archive material for which the audience is too small to profit from in the shape of DVDs or streaming; both were sharing obscure or once-popular (and long-forgotten) programmes that would otherwise never see the light of day again and were doing so for purely benevolent reasons – which is precisely what YouTube was set up for in the first place. I can imagine the uploaders were confronted by constant copyright infringement excuses, but the non-profit nature of the uploads would’ve been evident to anyone coming across the channels; credit due was given and YT automatically muted any musical tracks used in the uploads the second they appeared, so all potential bases were covered from day one. Yet this still wasn’t good enough.

In one fell swoop, Silicon Valley did its Ministry of Truth act and erased all evidence of two channels that made these dark winter evenings more tolerable. I was halfway through the 1972 series of ‘Softly Softly: Task Force’ and thoroughly enjoying the old-school police procedurals of Barlow & Watt, just like thousands of other viewers seeking their own harmless entertainment away from a mainstream offering nothing but more of the same tired formulas; and now all gone. Just like that. Small mercies are something we’ve become accustomed to being thankful for this past year, so whenever another avenue of pleasure is blocked off, everything just seems that little bit greyer and duller and dismal and drab – that little bit more February-ish. Roll on springtime, eh?

© The Editor


The temporary removal of Talk Radio’s YouTube channel yesterday could be viewed as something of a storm in a teacup in that it was unsurprisingly reinstated within a matter of hours. Mind you, a station with Rupert Murdoch and the best legal brains money can buy behind it was hardly going to be a permanent absentee online. I’ve never been a listener myself, but I have watched many of the ten-fifteen minute Talk Radio chats on YT in recent months, especially the ones in which TV historian Neil Oliver has revealed himself to be a rare beacon of sound common sense and reasoned, enlightened argument in a sea of fearful conformity and blind acquiescence to the consensus. I definitely would have missed him being given the kind of sensible platform he’d never receive from his principal media employer of the past decade or so had the suspension become permanent. Anyway, Talk Radio has been slapped on the wrist by Silicon Valley and now it’s back, just as though nothing ever happened. But it did.

A radio station that passed all the stringent tests of Ofcom and one that is hardly the home of today’s Lord Haw-Haw’s, Talk Radio has nevertheless insisted on transmitting dissenting voices actually questioning the unimpeachable wisdom of our elected representatives and their pandemic panaceas; and this didn’t find favour with the big tech overlords who are pulling the strings of all western world leaders. Any conspiracy theory involving clandestine organisations plotting a ‘great reset’ should always remember that the men and women fronting the governments of the globe are, on the whole, not exceptionally bright individuals; as with the Hollywood A-listers whose intellectual shortcomings are exposed when they mouth their own lines rather than those written for them by a scriptwriter, our Presidents and Prime Ministers are consummate salespeople for the brand and little more. If there are nefarious figures currently conspiring to reshape the planet so that it runs along lines more conducive to their worldview by inventing a virus that will finally give them the absolute power even Kim Jong-un can only dream of, they ain’t heading any democratically-elected administrations at the moment.

What the abrupt albeit brief absence of Talk Radio from a visual medium that has long-since abandoned its outlaw origins really demonstrates about where we are now is just how intolerant the true powers-that-be are of free speech, free thought and free opinions. Using a company with such financial strength-in-depth to make a token example of was an interesting development that sent out a message to all bedroom ‘influencers’ that nobody is beyond censure in this climate of fear; those who stood up to applaud when renowned rentagob fruitcake Alex Jones was excised from the history books did so in the belief Silicon Valley would only ever single out the most hysterical and intentionally outrageous online critics whilst respecting the rights of the rest to express their concerns without fear of cancellation. Think again. Whilst Talk Radio receives the maximum publicity due to its high-profile status, what of others on the hit-list who can’t command the same viewing figures, those motivated into setting up their own little online operation because there appears to be no other outlet if one has something to say? Who would even know if they vanished overnight, never to be seen again? State your case at your peril if that case doesn’t fall neatly into line with the orthodoxy.

Yes, it could be paranoia and it could even be simple hubris, but I have to admit the practice of ‘shadow banning’ – whereby one’s online output is still there yet is mysteriously no longer visible to the casual browser and non-subscriber – has increased in the past few months to the point whereby I wonder if I myself have been victim to it. Whenever I publish a post on here it automatically appears on my Twitter account, a process that has traditionally resulted in a modest albeit steady supply of likes and re-tweets. However, recent events prompted me into taking a look at the response of my 124 Twitter followers to the Winegum posts on there of late and I realised I hadn’t received a single like or re-tweet since the back end of November – the post titled ‘The Emerald Aisle’. There have been 17 posts since that one (not including this) and none have received any recognition from my Twitter followers whatsoever. Okay, so I have no divine right to receive such endorsements, and one might reasonably assume nothing I’ve written since November has been to the taste of 124 people who had previously been appreciative of my oeuvre; but I can’t honestly believe there’s been any dip in quality or a sudden drop in the variety of subjects that fall under my radar; I genuinely think I’ve continued to do what I do – that is, what regular readers expect and enjoy – and that doesn’t really warrant this overnight absence of interest. Makes you wonder, though, dunnit. If they could suppress an important story regarding the President-elect’s son, they’re hardly going to lose sleep over shadow banning me.

Anyway, I think the timing of the Talk Radio disappearance was particularly relevant, coming as it did on the first day of Lockdown 3, the latest sequel/reboot in a shitty franchise that nobody with half-a-brain wanted. 100 years on from the Prohibition of alcohol, the Prohibition of social interaction goes from strength to strength. As Boris addressed the sufficiently terrified masses, we were encouraged to believe any increase in infections was all our fault and were once again told to stay at home, save lives and protect the NHS – lest the latter found overflowing wards an impediment to TikTok dance routines, naturally. Mind you, it was refreshing to learn one more lockdown zealot had been caught out; this time round it was our favourite human oil-slick Piers Moron, exceeding Kay Burley’s birthday shindig by jetting away from the capital’s Tier 4 Hell to the more relaxed climes of Antigua during the festive season. You may well ask how a hypocrite sleeps at night, but normal rules don’t apply; after all, if they were in possession of a conscience that would immediately disqualify them from being a hypocrite.

Of course, I’m largely focusing on events in England here, for Soviet Scotland and the People’s Republic of Wales are already lost causes behind their own little Iron Curtains. And let us not neglect the fact that another national lockdown south and east of our respective borders is good news for that beleaguered public service which is especially gifted at shooting itself in the foot as it takes the knee. As was pointed out by Triggernometry co-host Konstantin Kisin on Twitter today, we’ve gone from flattening the curve to police demanding the right to smash your door down in less than a year; this was in response to an article in the Grauniad whereby David Jamieson, the West Midlands Police Commissioner, called for power of entry into the homes of suspected lockdown-breakers; the good old Met, never slow to gleefully leap on any passing bandwagon that earns them a few chattering-classes points, has simultaneously claimed it will be ‘more inquisitive’ with people out and about in the capital. You vill show me your papers! All well and good for a constabulary with such an impressive record of always getting the right man and never making a mistake when invading anyone’s personal space in their size nines.

So, school’s out for winter once more – and probably spring and summer as well – and it’s back to online learning for all those middle-class parents with the time and space to enforce it; as for those in the wrong catchment areas, good luck and tough shit. How fortunate we are to live in the age of the goldfish; Boris tells us the tunnel will be illuminated by a glimmer of light sometime around the back end of February and we’re supposed to believe him – just like we were supposed to last year. I have no doubt whatsoever that what six days of 2021 have shown us is essentially a condensed compilation of the entire twelve months ahead of us. I can’t bloody wait, though I must be careful what I say on the subject…

© The Editor


There’s an illuminating interview with Frank Zappa from the 80s on YouTube in which the late lamented musical polymath explains how the 60s counter-culture was able to flourish on major record labels because the guys running them were happily detached from ‘the scene’. They were honest in admitting that they didn’t understand what was happening, but as long as it sold records they didn’t care; therefore, they shrugged their shoulders, took a chance and signed-up every long-haired freak they could find. Zappa claims the rot set in when the old cigar-chomping suits retired and were superseded by hip young ‘experts’ who regarded themselves as the voice of The Kids; this presumed expertise was based on an arrogant cocksure confidence in their own ability to judge what would and wouldn’t sell because their ‘finger-on-the-pulse’ credentials meant they knew what was best for the record-buying public. But, as Zappa wryly observed, ‘the person in the executive chair may not be the final arbiter of taste of the entire population’.

This came to mind again after I viewed the latest ‘Newsnight’ opinion piece masquerading as balanced impartiality, leaving me to conclude that Emily Maitlis genuinely believes she’s Ed Murrow denouncing McCarthy now. To simply say the BBC’s TV news output has descended into a left-wing version of Fox News is too lightweight an observation; no, it’s clear these people think they’re on an ideological mission of a kind that not only exposes an insular London-centric outlook that presumes the rest of the country shares their enclosed worldview, but contradicts a founding principle that was crucial to – and justified – the contract between the BBC and its audience. The viewing public have no choice in subscribing to something they’ve always been told will present both sides of the argument, for the sweetener in the bitter licence fee pill was always that the dominant political groupthink within the BBC wasn’t supposed to contaminate content. For all Paxman’s pioneering of the bullish prosecuting barrister interviewing technique, I never got the impression he was nailing his colours to a particular political mast; he was as brutally unforgiving with Alistair Campbell as he was with Michael Howard.

Forty or fifty years ago, the BBC was run by its own equivalent of the old record industry ‘men-in-suits’; surviving programme-makers, producers and writers regularly recount the battles they engaged in with these characters, yet they are simultaneously generous in their praise of how, once a point had been made, they were largely left alone to pursue their artistic visions uninterrupted – and they knew the end result would be broadcast to an audience of millions. The retrospective spotlight tends to fall on the drama auteurs of this era whenever it’s up for discussion, but it wasn’t merely the likes of Ken Loach or Dennis Potter who benefitted; even groundbreaking comedy was allowed to flourish free from editorial interference. The individual Pythons have often recalled how the vague proposal for their first series was rewarded with 13 shows, basically ‘go off and do what you want’. No focus groups, no adherence to any box-ticking ‘diversity’ agenda, and no ‘offence monitors’ checking their thinking before transmission.

The men-in-suits are long gone now, of course; and in their place are the same kinds of conservative ‘hipsters’ Frank Zappa watched taking over the music business. The drying-up of new output that has characterised mainstream television since the lockdown suspended production has highlighted how desperately out-of-touch the regimes at our principal broadcasters really are – and not just in their blatantly biased approach to the news. Things almost appear to have reverted to that drab period at the turn-of-the 80s when the radical potential of what became ‘Alternative Comedy’ had yet to be grasped; the prime-time line up today seems as tired and irrelevant as then. For Graham Norton, read Larry Grayson; for Ant & Dec, read Little & Large; for all those allegedly ‘cutting edge’ panel shows supplied with a production line of identikit comics cracking the same formulaic gags, read ‘The Comedians’. Trump and Brexit have simply supplanted Irishmen and mothers-in-law. Even Charlie Brooker has undoubtedly lost it now; his recent and ill-advised return to the ‘Screenwipe’ platform that established his reputation ten-fifteen years ago sadly showed how his sharp satirical precision has been terminally blunted by success and domestic bliss.

For all its faults, YouTube has provided a genuine alternative to mainstream TV for me during the lockdown, but the channels I regularly follow on there are channels I was already following before anyone had heard the word Covid-19. It’s testament to how the balance of power has shifted that a genius creation such as spoof news reporter Jonathan Pie can sell out a theatre with a live show without having first made his name on television, as was the traditional route; in fact, I can’t ever recall having seen him on the one-eyed monster in the corner of the living room once; he’s done it all online. 30 years ago, he would have been given his own show on BBC2 – not today. And there are other characters on YT who would no doubt have had similar TV fame in the past – characters such as ‘Joolz’, an engaging eccentric in a bowler hat who takes the viewer on tours of numerous London locations and does so with wit, panache and endearing style. I look forward to his latest video outing in the same way I used to look forward to favourite TV shows when the BBC or Channel 4 made TV shows that could actually become favourites.

Another channel I follow on a daily basis is one called ‘Triggernometry’. Hosted by gleefully anti-Woke outcast comedians Francis Foster and Konstantin Kisin – the latter achieving a modicum of mainstream fame a year or two ago when he refused to sign a pre-gig document informing him what subjects he wasn’t allowed to make fun of – this channel consists of interviews with fascinating figures that the MSM increasingly avoids. Alongside more recognisable ‘outspoken’ characters such as David Starkey, Peter Hitchens, Melanie Philips and Douglas Murray, the pair have also interviewed everyone from ostracised anti-Corbyn Labour union man Paul Embery to level-headed trans critic of trans activism, Rose of Dawn; the subject matter tends to cover every burning issue of the day and the pair not only ask intelligent, insightful questions, but they give their guests the breathing space to answer them – and in the process, the ensuing discussion can actually make the viewer think. It’s the nearest thing I’ve seen in recent years to the old ‘Face to Face’ programme and is the kind of concept that would’ve been instantly snapped up by BBC2 or Channel 4 at one time – not today.

I guess my disillusionment with mainstream TV is reflective of the age in which I was raised and what it then provided. I have a similar attitude towards contemporary pop music; I still expect it to regularly reinvent itself and challenge me anew every two or three years because that’s what it did when I was growing up, yet everything I hear that’s ‘new’ sounds like something I’ve heard before. But it says more about the people running the institutions that once acted as facilitators for the groundbreaking and the fresh that the audience in search of such stimulation turns away from them in order to find it today. Mind you, if the nightly Two Minutes Hate from ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ has now become a reality as people are encouraged to stand on their doorsteps to boo Boris for 120 seconds, I suspect I can second-guess what will fill the ‘Clap for Our Carers’ slot once it finishes its current run. They’re welcome to each other.

© The Editor


If you’ve nothing to say, say nothing. The image to the left of this paragraph says nothing other than I like it. Even though the last post on here wasn’t bad, it didn’t attract much attention and I have admittedly written about the subject matter several times before; dejá vu and all that. As of December 2017, the pace has also slowed considerably, so I suppose my missives have ceased to be key to the daily routine of many; followers don’t know when to expect them anymore, but then again, neither do I. And, as I’m not an end-of-the-pier comic going through the motions before an audience of comatose pensioners whose dementia means every old gag is a new gag every time they hear it, I am not obliged to repeat myself to make a living. I used a photo of Archie Rice on a recent post, so I can’t recycle it as a visual accompaniment to enhance my point, but you should get where I’m coming from without it.

Sure, I’ve got my favourite recurring jokes – ‘Have you heard the one about complainants making unproven sexual assault allegations being described as rape victims by the mainstream media?’; ‘A man walks into a polling booth and is faced with a choice between staying in the EU or staying in the EU’; ‘How many Guardian journalists does it take to rewrite British history to vindicate their white guilt complex?’; ‘A mentally-ill Englishman, a disabled Irishman and a Scotsman with cancer all manage to walk unaided into a DWP assessment centre and are deemed fit for work’; and not forgetting the funniest joke ever, ‘Chris Grayling’. It’s the way I tell ‘em.

Back before YouTube blocked, banned and censored anyone expressing an opinion at odds with the imposed consensus, I used to upload little videos of a humorous and occasionally satirical bent on a regular basis, a practice from which all the fun was gradually extracted as navigating the increasing obstacles placed before the individual voice became more trouble than it was worth. I still receive comments on said videos, however, many of which implore more of the same. Even if I hadn’t been demonetised and demoralised by the new order controlling the old forum, they probably did me a backhanded favour by making me an undesirable; it gave me a reason to quit whilst ahead, thus just about avoiding excessive repetition in the process.

As with re-watching the YT videos that have survived the cull, I sometimes return to old posts on here and re-read them in as much of a non-narcissistic manner as I can manage; the passage of time thankfully provides sufficient detachment that negates accusations of masturbation. As with other blogs out there, there are numerous posts grouped under the same subject matter, often an ongoing saga in which updates are necessary if said subject can be mined for multiple articles. Yet, I find there’s a limit to how much can be written about one topic – not all, as my persistent probing of Brexit demonstrates; but when it comes to some, yes, I really don’t feel like I can add anything else to what I feel I’ve said rather well in the past.

As a novelist who has recently returned to the habit after more than a year away from it, I’ve never been drawn to ‘the series’ – that is, a sequence of books featuring recurring characters inhabiting worlds visited in previous books. Writing a novel takes months and a ‘difficult’ one can be a bit of a grind. When I reach the end, I’m done. I want to get as far away from the world I’ve just spent every day of the last half-year inhabiting, and I never want to meet any of the characters again; the thought of creating a Holmes or a Bond or a Potter is anathema to me. When it comes to the next book, I want to create somewhere I’ve never been before and go there with someone I’ve never met before.

I guess it’s a bit like when a band gets home from a long, gruelling tour and vows never to set foot on the road again; virtually all eventually relent because that’s how they make most of their money. It’s different for me, as there aren’t the same financial pressures associated with my ‘art’. I make around 50p from every book of mine that someone buys. An author’s royalties are akin to what one of the be-quiffed thoroughbreds in Larry Parnes’ early 60s stable could hope to earn; and those signed-up to big publishing houses (whose surnames aren’t Rowling or Brown) don’t fare much better, hence their endless sidelines as newspaper columnists or ‘Question Time’ regulars.

Despite what the opening statement of this post says, I do have plenty to say right now – only, it’s not the kind of stuff that should be shared, closer to what ought to be reserved for a diary; if I still kept a diary, it’d probably end up in there. Nobody else would want to read it, trust me. And it’s, like, boring, innit. So, in the meantime, I shall wait for another notable name to die or for the European Elections to take place, if there is indeed British participation; the potential annihilation of the Conservative Party at the polls is too joyous an event not to be inspired by, after all. And that’s it, I suppose – inspiration. I need it to do it. If there ain’t any, a visit to this blog will result in the visitor being greeted by the last post, whichever post that may be. Time for a chuckle while we wait…

© The Editor


As with the two Peters, Hitchens and Oborne, Paul Joseph Watson is not a media figure whose every pronouncement provokes a nod of the head, yet as with those aforementioned grumpy grandees of Fleet Street, he often nails the ludicrousness of the world we live in simply by daring to challenge it. An unapologetic ambassador of the so-called ‘Alt Right’, Watson is the face of the UK branch of ‘Info Wars’, the US conspiracy theorist site fronted by the ranting human foghorn Alex Jones. Watson doesn’t adopt the breathless bluster of his American sponsor; adopting that approach for a British audience would reduce him to the level of Jeremy Clarkson. Instead, he sometimes comes across as Owen Jones through the looking-glass, the flipside mirror image of the pocket Northern Socialist.

Watson has posted a series of regular videos on YouTube over the past couple of years, both highlighting and ridiculing the increasingly fatuous fanaticism of the extreme left’s PC storm-troopers, especially on the other side of the Atlantic; as a result, he’s made as many enemies as fans, and while one may not always concur with his conclusions, there’s no doubt he’s highlighted a lot of things that needed highlighting. Until now, that is.

Watson has temporarily drawn the blinds on his YouTube window due to the fact that he can no longer make a living from it thanks to a new Star Chamber of YouTube judges, installed by parent company Google to police the medium and crack down on any questioning of the consensus. Many may be unaware that ‘monetising’ one’s uploads to YT can bring in a little revenue depending on the number of views the videos receive; Watson’s videos received astronomical views and no doubt brought in a nice little profit on a monthly basis. However, the crackdown on anyone saying anything that could be perceived as ‘offensive’ means all of Watson’s videos have now been deemed ‘not advertiser-friendly’, thus meaning he can’t make a penny from them anymore.

I’ve written on more than one occasion in the past of the transformation of YouTube in recent years. What was initially an invaluable platform for, amongst others, lovers of archive footage unavailable on DVD and rarely screened on TV – often uploaded from decrepit off-air VHS recordings or sourced from actual television vaults by insiders – has slowly seen passionate promoters of the rare and obscure edged to one side by The Man and his corporate bullyboys. Copyright laws have been tightened to the point whereby every piece of film not actually shot on one’s own camera is subjected to a ‘third party infringement’ order, regardless of how minimal its use may be. I once had a video stamped with copyright claims simply because I used the BBC4 ident for a handful of seconds as the intro to it.

This OTT enforcement of copyright has made navigating such rules something of an art-form for veteran uploaders, but perhaps responding to criticisms of alleged lax attitudes to ‘hate’ videos, YouTube has now embarked upon a censorious crusade in which any video that doesn’t promote the Coca-Cola ideal of a harmonious multicultural/LGBT/Islam-with-a-smiley-face society is penalised; anyone who takes the piss out of or merely questions this bland make-believe Utopia is denied an income as a consequence. People regularly air their grievances with the BBC as pandering to a left-leaning notion of ‘Right-On’ politics – often justified, viz. the hardly unbiased four-person panel of prominent Muslims discussing the latest Pakistani grooming network on ‘Newsnight’ this week; but YouTube has suddenly usurped Auntie Beeb as an intolerant home for one view and one view only.

Infuriatingly vacuous American airheads who call themselves ‘vloggers’ – usually squeaky-voiced teenage Disney Princess types who exude the air of hyperactive six-year-olds albeit bereft of infantile charm – make millions from their vapid videos that appeal to a generation whose heads have already been ground to slurry by being force-fed media sedatives; and these are the future of YouTube, not anybody with anything to say. My own personal speciality area tends to be satire, but satire is now as welcome on YouTube as a copy of Charlie Hebdo would be in a Parisian mosque.

A couple of days ago, the new YouTube constabulary provided me with a long list of my videos their panel has decided I can no longer make any money from. To be honest, I don’t make much, anyway – around £120 a year; I have a loyal following who will view my output whatever I upload and I also pick up casual viewers en route, but I’m a cult presence and probably always will be. I accept that some of my output is coarse in the Derek & Clive tradition, but YT already had an age-restriction system in place where rude words were concerned, so anybody stumbling upon them knew what to expect beforehand.

None of the previous rules in place to protect a ‘family audience’ were apparently sufficient, however, for the strict new boundaries have narrowed the range of opinions on offer even further. Many of my own videos parody the politically-incorrect 1970s and therefore need to be viewed with that in mind, yet the humourless martinets Google has recruited to clean-up YouTube’s lingering vestiges of its original freewheeling spirit can’t even tolerate that. One particular video of mine was a spoof 70s BBC trailer previewing a night of programmes marking ‘National Smoking Day’; it’s so obviously a piss-take, yet it’s been labelled ‘not advertiser friendly’. Despite infringing no copyright, I can’t earn anything from it anymore.

I attach another innocuous video in this style to the post and ask you to watch it in order that you can decide whether or not it’s remotely ‘offensive’. The video in question being ‘banned’ as a source of income was something I challenged; when I did so, I was informed the team won’t review the status of a video subjected to this treatment unless it receives over a thousand views in 28 days; some of my videos can take months to reach that amount of views, so I haven’t got a cat in hell’s chance of reversing the judgement. It’s a rip-off and it’s an outrage. But it’s 2017. Sign up to the consensus or be cast out into the online free-speech wilderness.

© The Editor


Anyone ancient enough may find the title of this post evokes misty memories of a half-remembered comedy series from a good 35 years ago; the truth is I nicked the title from the programme, though the title sticks in the head more than the content. From what I can remember, the satirical sketch show in question starred Robbie Coltrane before he became a ‘serious actor’, and followed a similar path to a predecessor called ‘A Kick up The 80s’, which had given an early break to Tracey Ullman. These BBC2 shows from the first half of the 80s essentially revamped the format of mid-60s TW3 sequels like ‘Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life’ and ‘BBC-3’, produced at a time when Alternative Comedy had gatecrashed the Light Entertainment fortress. TV welcomed it with open arms and an open mind.

If you perused yesterday’s post, you may have also viewed the video tagged onto it, which was my ‘satirical take’ on the upcoming General Election, using the well-oiled vehicle of the party political broadcast. Some of the comments that accompanied the video on YouTube repeated a complimentary phrase I’ve received on previous occasions, one I mention not to boost my ego, but because it has a relevance to this particular post – ‘You should be on the telly.’

The telly’s comedy schedule the day I posted this video on YT consisted of Keith Lemon and Paddy McGuinness on ITV, whereas BBC1 offered Michael McIntyre and Mrs Brown. Of course, comedy is subjective; what causes one person to soil their Y-fronts causes another to reach for the remote, but the view I personally have of these comedic offerings from the mainstream is that they are today’s equivalent of the Bernard Manning/Jim Davidson/Frank Carson working-men’s club school that Alternative Comedy reacted against at the turn of the 80s. If ‘comedy on the telly’ is what ITV and the BBC were serving up on Saturday evening, and that’s the company I’m supposed to crave, I’d rather not bother.

It’s hard enough trying to get a book published, so I’m certainly not prepared to promote what I consider to be a sideline by bombarding TV producers and then having to be funnelled through focus groups and committees; neither am I prepared to go to the Edinburgh Festival and spend a fortune playing to three or four people in a tiny theatre. The comedy circuit in terms of live performance remains a provider of new faces for television, but those who make up the numbers on endless panel shows are the Ed Sheeran’s of comedy; their ultimate aim is to play arenas, and it’s evident in their routines. For Irishmen and mothers-in-law as subject matters, substitute ‘My girlfriend/boyfriend said to me the other day…’ It’s what Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer referred to as comedy for parties of office workers – comedy intended to make the audience echo George Osborne’s belief that we’re all in it together.

This is the kind of comedy TV commissioners want. Nobody in their position today would commission something as alien to the ‘communal comedy’ mindset as ‘Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out’, let alone Spike Milligan’s ‘Q’, ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ or even later ventures into the surreal such as ‘The League of Gentlemen’. Every generation once had its comedy series, though just as the music scene seems to have abandoned its old practice of ripping it up and starting again, the expectation that each decade would produce one defining comedy series no longer applies. And the reason appears to be that television has lost its bottle. Even when it tries to do something moderately daring, such as the ‘Real Wives of ISIS’ sketch that appeared on the BBC’s ‘Revolting’ earlier this year, the conservatism of an audience raised on the lame comedy of the last ten years produces a hostile reaction that causes commissioners to stick to playing it safe. The fact that an established home for unconventional comedy such as BBC3 is now solely online speaks volumes.

Yet this situation has only really arisen in the past decade or so. As recent as 2002 and 2005, BBC2 produced ‘Look Around You’, the brilliant parody of firstly 70s schools programmes and then early 80s ‘Tomorrow’s World’ from Peter Serafinowicz and Robert Popper. I can’t remember the last time I saw either on mainstream TV; but they’re active online. Another occasional compliment I’ve received in the comments section on YT has been ‘Are you Peter Serafinowicz?’ – which is incredibly flattering, but perhaps reflects the fact he and I are operating in a similar area, the area being not merely making videos cut from the same cloth of humour, but the fact we’re online and not on TV.

Yes, there are undoubtedly many amateurish and pretty unfunny attempts at comedy on YT as there probably are on the telly, if not more; but at the same time, there are some very talented comic performers whose work is only available online; you rarely, if ever, see them on the goggle box.

Steve Riks is an impressionist who specialises in impersonating rock stars and putting them in unlikely situations; one of the most recent videos of his I watched was a short sketch in which Jeff Lynne rings up both Roy Wood and Noddy Holder, neither of whom want to speak to him. It was funny and simultaneously supremely silly, and Riks played all three parts. He’s also a dab hand at John, Paul, George and Ringo; but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him on TV and I don’t really expect to. How would he even pitch a premise like that to a TV commissioner looking for the next Michael McIntyre? The days when Galton & Simpson would be offered 13 weeks in a prime-time slot to write whatever they wanted are long gone.

Opinionated news reporter Jonathan Pie, who launches into a rant on politics when he imagines the camera has been switched-off, is another comedian whose work is only known to me via YouTube. The Russia Today/RT logo always appears on his videos, so his shorts may well be broadcast on the channel; but it’s not exactly the mainstream, is it? As with music, I no longer believe television is the definitive showcase for comedy today; by relying on the tired modern-day music hall-in-its-death throes vacuum of the comedy club, TV commissioners are looking in the wrong place.

© The Editor