We’re a diverse bunch at Thinkbox, but one of the things we definitely all have in common is that we rather like watching TV. If someone in an interview for Thinkbox said ‘I don’t watch TV, just not a big fan; I just like looking at Facebook and watching traffic’ then alarm bells would ring. Eyebrows would rise. It’s likely they’re lying, but even more likely they aren’t really us. We love Facebook and traffic too – and obviously we would follow employment law scrupulously – but no likey TV, probably no fitty inny at, er, Thinkboxy (will stop that now).
This week saw the first day of autumn. We spend all year excited about TV, but there are few times in the year when we are more excited about what is beaming from our screens than autumn, because autumn means telly, lashings and lashings of wonderful new telly. We’re autumn-atons.
Of course there’s new telly throughout the year, but autumn is special. It is Upfronts season, which means truckloads of high quality, must-watch shows are just around the corner. Advertisers should be as excited as us too because the incredibly effective, high quality content environment they are investing in gets a massive shot in the arm.
So, here are some of the things we’re particularly excited about – some new, some ongoing. We’ve asked the team to name one or two shows that will be gluing them to the couch. Feel free to add yours in the comments. I know you probably won’t but it would be rude not to ask.
Akeel Mungul, Web Manager… ‘For me it’s The Newsroom on Sky Atlantic. I love the way the writers use real life stories and recent global events (like the hacking scandal or the Arab Spring) and then show the struggle this news organisation has when they try and report the news with no political agenda. Also the awesomely entertaining Crackanory on Dave and the mind-blowing Dynamo Magician Impossible on Watch – the guy’s a freak of nature and I love the way he has fused magic with music.’
Neil Mortensen, Research and Planning Director…’I have a lorra lorra love for Cilla on ITV, obvs the show is quality and Sheridan Smith is amazeballs but I have also enjoyed spotting buildings and scenes in Liverpool – reminds me of my mum and dad and home (they went to the cavern when they were young to see her). And my son Harry and I love 50 ways to kill your mammy on Sky 1. Baz the presenter is a long time Irish TV star but not known over here. He has a real twinkle in his eye. His 701 year old Irish mum is amazing as she gets into more and more daredevil activities like skydiving and snake charming etc. Importantly the relationship between the two of them is unfolding before our eyes and that emotion and chemistry makes for TV gold.’
Visha Naul, Marketing Manager…’I’m over the moon that Boardwalk Empire on Sky Atlantic is back for series five… great fashion, great drama and the production blows me away – much like what happens to lots of the characters. And I’m glad to see Channel 4’s Gogglebox is returning to our screens. Is it sad that I’ve genuinely missed the families and their telly chat? Yes, probably.’
Simon Tunstill, Head of Communications…’I have an increasingly unhealthy addiction to Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on Food Network. I love it when peroxide-spiked, professional sunglasses wearer Guy Fieri takes me to ‘flavour town’. I don’t want to leave. When he eats a burger or taco he especially likes he often says ‘and that’s all she wrote’. I have no idea what he means but I want to start using it. The Strictly line-up has potential for cringe, class and comedy this year and I missed Veep so will be heading to Sky Go to catch up – everything Armando Iannucci has done thus far in his life has been a masterclass. And Channel 4 News –doesn’t excite me especially but I watch it every day.’
Tess Alps, Chair… ‘I watch pretty much everything on Sky Arts 2 – you should watch its recent excellent Rameau documentary on catch-up – but I am especially looking forward to the Benjamin Britten season in November. Then there’s the second series of Channel 4’s wonderfully weird and fruity Toast of London – ‘I hear you, Clem Fandango’. Also, like millions of others, Broadchurch on ITV. If it is even a fraction as brilliant as the first series then it will be fantastic. Olivia Colman is possibly my favourite thing in the world. David Tennant is ok too I suppose.’
Amanda Sweeney, Directors’ PA… ‘It has to be Bad Bridesmaid on ITV2. It is beyond hilarious watching the reactions of the other bridesmaids when the ‘imposter’ tries her best to stir the waters and create drama!’
Leila Travis, Head of Planning… ‘Autumn is my favourite season and the show which signals it is here for me is Bake Off. I love that the show is so quintessentially British, I love Mel and Sue with their infectious chemistry, and I also love the fact it gives me an excuse to eat ridiculous amounts of cake every Wednesday evening.’
Sam Holtmon, Web & Multimedia Executive… ‘I’ve been looking forward to The Leftovers on Sky Atlantic. It’s an intriguing show about the state of the world three years after a global “Rapture”, which caused the disappearance of 2% of the world’s population. The co-creator of Lost is behind it, so I expect to be thrilled, baffled, and questioning the very fabric of existence. My normal way of unwinding. And Homeland on Channel 4: I’m drawn to the relationship between the unstable but brilliant Carrie Mathison and her calm, unreadable boss Saul. Season 4 sees Carrie venturing into Islamabad and Kabul and I expect explosive action, fiendish backstabbing, and plenty of contemplative beard-stroking from Saul.’
Lucy Vandi, Directors’ PA…’Fake tans, weaves and love triangles make ITV2’s – soon to be ITVbe’s –The Only Way is Essex my Sunday and Wednesday evening must watch. It’s highly addictive and completely outrageous leaving me gasping for air on a roller coaster ride of tantrums, tears and pure unadulterated DRAMA!’
Tomek Lasocki, Planning Executive… ‘ITV’s Downton Abbey: it is like a countdown towards Christmas, which I love, and the Christmas special – a show that I can sit down and enjoy with my mother who watches it religiously and probably thinks of herself as Lady Grantham at home. Downton means we can spend time together and enjoy a programme together. I am also a snob and this fulfils the desire to surround myself with fellow snobs.’
Zoe Harkness (until very recently, Zoe Fuller), Head of Industry Programmes… ‘Grantchester on ITV looked really good when I saw a clip at the ITV Upfronts. I thought James Norton was great in Happy Valley earlier this year but think he is better suited to playing a vicar than the disgusting character he was in that. And the Champions League football on ITV and Sky Sports is a must watch in our house (even though my team isn’t in it!)’
And, finally, me…obviously I agree with all that, plus I must mention Adventure Time on Cartoon Network: a fairly innocuous title for a weirdy dungeons and dragons cartoon series that my daughter is obsessed by and seems to fill up my planner quicker than you can say “Marceline the Vampire Queen”. Educating the East End on Channel 4 is just fantastic, fantastic telly. My family has a cast iron agreement that we HAVE to watch it together so I’m in big trouble if I have an industry function on a Thursday night. And, finally, The Keith Lemon Sketch Show for ITV2: “Big fat Gypsy Kardashians” is funny before you’ve seen anything.