COMMENT: The Channel 4 Winter Press Launch 2000
First published December 2000
The Channel 4 Winter Press Launch 2000
Hi everyone. A few weeks ago, SOTCAA was invited to the Channel 4 press launch.

Due to an administrative error, surely?

No - they love us, the media.

What, even though we're inevitably going to destroy them and all they stand for?

Absolutely. They knew they couldn't have a big corporate event and not ask SOTCAA along. It'd be like King Stupid without William Vandyck.

They're a bunch of idiots, the media.

Well, fair play to them - they'd put on a good spread. Monkfish spears, sun-dried tomatoes...those ridiculous breadsticks that defied gravity. You wouldn't think they'd have time, would you, what with all the quality television they bring us.

Channel 4 buffets - where you'll be glad you had a bag of chips beforehand.

What were those strange cheese and strawberry things?

I don't know, but it's not something I can see catching on in the North.

Anyway, we thought we'd write something for SOTCAA about the day and what we got up to. Y'know, all the stars we schmoozed with, all the insider gossip, the sights, the sounds...

Well it all started with us getting hopelessly lost looking for Horseferry Road.

Er yeah. See, that's something we'll have to get sorted out before we start destroying the media - you know, actually finding out where it is.

You had the A-Z.

Well you told me you'd been there before.

Only for a piss.

Etc. Comedy. Well, anyway, we got there eventually.

Yeah. And there was no mistaking Channel 4 on this occasion. To tie in with it being their Winter press launch, they'd created a fake snowstorm in the entrance hall.

Mmm. I assumed that was some kind of rubbish cocaine reference.


Well, I'd heard this rumour that if you go into a toilet cubicle at any big media event of that kind and run your hand along the cistern, you get traces of cocaine on your fingertips.

And you tried this out?

I did. Alas, my fingertips only picked up dust.

Well, I think that's a bigger scandal, personally. I mean they could at least have given the place a wipe. What with SOTCAA coming and everything.

Yeah. Actually, that's a point - we did seem to be the most famous people there, as far as I could make out.

Yeah. We were also the only people there who knew it was The Goodies' 30th anniversary the day before.

Bastards. It's just a job to them.

Yeah. A job with lots of free food. A lot of people had the word 'Freelance' on their lapels, like they were fooling anyone.

There was somebody there from Look-In magazine, I'm sure of it...

And the bloke from the Radio Times seemed to have brought his entire family.

Which was foolish of him, because the buffet contained both swearing and nudity.

Anyway, we sat around on these ridiculous blue chairs, drinking champagne out of these space-age glasses with flashing C4 logos sellotaped to the sides...leafing through the bumf they'd thrust into our hands.

And getting increasingly dismayed.

Yeah, it just me, or is today's television targeted exclusively at drunks?

Targeted at and made by drunks, yes. The fact that they kept plying TV reviewers with champagne was a perfect metaphor for the decline of the modern critic.

It was nice, though.

Yeah, really bubbly.


Most of the programme information in the bumf was embargoed until 9 November, I noticed...

Embarged, for fuck's sake. It's Channel 4, not Diana's handbag. Anyway, we went downstairs into this viewing room...

Where they showed us this...fucking appalling promotional film.

No, fair play - it had Sgt Peppers on it.

Oh yeah, you couldn't fault the choice of soundtrack - or indeed the sound system. They played 'A Day In The Life' and it was in proper stereo with nice wide-panned 60s mixing. Even though it had Dom Joly's face in the middle.

Channel 4's winter programme didn't bode well though...

No. What was the most depressing thing on offer, to your mind?

Gotta be Teachers. An Ally McBeal-style comedy drama about a school, all shot on field-removed, and starring Egg from This Life.

My money's on Metrosexuality - a sort of gay, multicultural, crazy, late-night baroque comedy' according to Channel 4.

Only 'sort of' though. Proves their hearts aren't really in it.

Mm. 'Look, we're homosexual - isn't it hilarious?'.

The nadir will be that Boy Meets Girl thing about people swapping genders, though.

Christ, yeah. You can smell Time Out's droopy fucking typeface a mile off.

And God how everyone in the room cackled.

Yeah - and they still call us arrogant for saying television plays up to the pleb mentality?

What else? An adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour, set in - and I quote - 'the chaos of the Second World War'.

It really was chaos!

What about The Greatest No.1 Singles Of All Time?

Yeah - a brief clip of Holly Johnson saying 'Gay sex couldn't have been further from my mind when I wrote Relax...'

I bet his handwriting was a bit shaky though.

And Lionel Richie saying that, whenever he walks into a room, people say 'Hello' to him.

Yeah, actually - on that occasion, the plebs' laughter was justified.

In contrast to the hysterics they reserved for Dom Joly crawling across a zebra crossing dressed as a snail.

Yeah, that was unforgivable. These people should be locked in a cell with first-series Absolutely and be forced to educate themselves.

Fucking right. 'The greatest success of Channel 4 in the past two years has been the explosion in its comedy output', he said...

He's sick.

All he means is 'Armstrong & Miller are back'.

So is Spaced. We saw far too many clips from that.

Couldn't see Dan L anywhere though.

No. Shame. Dan was great - he really took it to the edge.

There's The Real Cracker...

Who have we been watching all these years then?

And Shockers - dark films for the Blair Witch generation.

...which will consist of bleach-blonde blokey-bloke "film" "makers" throwing blood everywhere, presumably.

Small Potatoes has a second series... 'a new, non-audience format', it says here. Playing it safe, eh?

And there's more tedious sex stuff - Better Sex, Silicone Teens, a documentary about the Kama Sutra starring Sanjeev Bhasker...

Called Position Impossible, for fuck's sake.

And the whole thing ended with footage of Channel 4 programme director Tim Gardam leaving his office looking all serious and getting into a taxi while Big Ben struck five.

Hmm. See, if I was Channel 4 programme director, I wouldn't do that.

No. I'd just stand there and apologise.

Yeah. Or do a little dance or something. Actually, some bloke came on afterwards and made a joke about the film not being very realistic because he'd 'never seen Tim leave the building at 5 o'clock'.

Yeah. I didn't get it, did you?

I think it's office humour. Maybe he never buys a round or something.

Hmm. He was a twat, Tim Gardam. Promoting all that shit in his bloody Prince Charles voice, being completely blind to its obvious awfulness.

And what was the line he used, about the BBC?

Oh yeah - 'Television doesn't have to be two episodes of EastEnders sandwiching The Weakest Link'. That was his fucking soundbite.

Didn't get a single laugh.


And that other thing he said - 'You can only put your cards on the table if you've got cards in your hand in the first place'.

Alan Partridge is alive and well.

They were filming it too, weren't they? Tim Gardam's speech.

Yeah - who for?

Tim Gardam's mum, obviously.

Oh yeah.

Anyway, then we went back upstairs to 'meet the celebs'.

Oh yeah - who was there?

Rory Bremner.

Who else?

That's the one. B-boom - tsssshhh.

Graham Norton was there, surrounded by women.

Always had my suspicions about him.

Yeah. Leslie Phillips...

He was surrounded by blokes. Some sort of scheduling problem I imagine.

Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson...

And Dom Joly.

Was he there?

I'm sure he was. I saw him in the corner turning the humble practical joke into an artform.

Must have missed that.

The nibbles were more exciting than the programmes.

They were certainly more innovative.

See, I reckon you could successfully survive in London, simply by ligging onto these sort of parties. You'd never have to buy any food again, or find a place to sleep - you just find the nearest wrap party, scoff everything down, and kip on the vol au vant trolley next to Pete Baynham.

And why not? We're paying for Channel 4, after all.

Erm, well, we're not are we?

In tears, I mean.

Oh right.

True though. On the same day, there was a Dead Ringers writers' meeting at Broadcasting House. They must have had sandwiches at least.

Well, you'd hope so. Anyway, we pretty much ignored all the celebs. Although we did confront Simon Pegg. Yay. Direct action. I broke his fucking legs good and proper.

No we didn't. Stop trying to stir things up.

Alright, well I sort of fondled his leg.

You did. You also tried to touch his beard but he wouldn't let you.

He loved us.

Course he did. He's Simon Pegg. He always returns a smile.

Even though I told him to his face that I didn't care for Spaced.


See, this is what people like Dan L and those Comedy Lounge idiots don't understand. They think comedians respect constant toadying. But that's bollocks, because these people are surrounded by sycophants all day long...

Well, Pegg admitted as much didn't he? He said that comedians need to listen to people with actual arguments. He had a mouthful of breadsticks, but I think that's what he was saying.

So after all this time we've finally discovered the point of Simon Pegg?

No, but at least its further proof that comedians log onto SOTCAA, not despite the criticism but because of it. A breath of fresh air amidst the stale air of media crawling.

Exactly. See, I reckon if we ever met Charlie Brooker he'd probably try and shag us.

I think that's why we vetoed the proposed meeting actually.

What happened then?

Well, that woman gave us a row for not taking Channel 4 seriously. Then you fell over.

Don't remember that.

In the midst of your ridiculous drunkeness, you leaned on one of their displays and went arse over tit.

What? I broke Channel 4?

Twice. And it was much funnier than when Del Boy did it.

I don't remember this at all.

It's all on the tape. I'm sure Rob could stick it on the site as Real Audio download or something.

Er, no, better not. The bandwidth might, erm, be affected or something. I imagine we left shortly after that then?

Uh-huh. They didn't give us a piece of cake in a napkin or anything either.

Only because Tim Gardam had eaten it all.


He'd had his cake and ate it.

In what sense?

Well exactly...

Oh, right. I hope he choked on it.


NEXT MONTH: SOTCAA goes to the OscarsTM and eats all the fucking profiteroles.