Look! Bother’s Bar isn’t JUST a webpage. It isn’t JUST a blog. It is, in fact, an INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE. Yes, really. Not only can you comment on things, but you can also view our Twitter thing, join our barely updated Facegroup group, or even e-mail us.
E-mail: You can mail me at email@example.com.
Twitter: We’re also on Twitter!
Steam: Add me on Steam if you want.
XBox: We can be chums on XBox for high score fun if you’re that way inclined, where I am Brig Bother.
Playstation Network: I’m not currently on PSN, but if I come back BrigBother ought to do it, but this handy link should do it as well.
Switch: Code SW-2805-5403-1808
Q: What HTML-y bits can I use in the comments?
XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>
So there you are.
Q: I wrote a comment and it’s not appearing. Why is that?
A: Bother’s Bar is so popular we have to use an automated spam filter to block out the links to nudey women – all for your own protection. We used to comb through it daily, but now we get several hundred spam messages a day we don’t bother. Try to avoid putting too many links in your comment is my advice.
First time commenters need to be approved but shouldn’t have trouble posting in future. However if you change your name, e-mail or IP the system may register you as a new commenter and will need approval again.
Commenting is a privilege not a right.
Q: Who are you and why?
A: My name is Nick Gates, I’ve been writing about the competitive unscripted genre since the mid-90s. Don’t worry, I don’t go around calling myself Brig Bother in real life (and I certainly don’t want people to call me it in real life) but as an online handle I’ve used it since about 2000 so it has stuck now. This is a pretty open secret. The writing style was inspired mainly by Future Publishing magazines of the 80s and 90s, but not as good.
Q: Do you work in television?
A: No, and really I don’t want to, everyone in television is completely awful even the people I like. Besides I’m in a full time job with colleagues I like that pays overtime properly anyway, so you know. I do have an additional material credit for a kid’s show called Sub Zero, and I was a contestant on The Weakest Link when I was 18 (I won’t spoil how well I did).
Q: You’re coming to my show? You should come and say hello!
A: That’s very sweet but I prefer to see shows incognito, to be honest. The experience will almost certainly be mutually disappointing anyway.
Q: What are you interested in?
A: I’m interested in the production process and the reasons decisions have been taken and why things end up the way they are. I am interested in formats and shows – I know my stuff – I’m afraid I could not tell you which episode and date a contestant did something completely standard on whatever quiz du jour, sorry.
Q: Are you any good at quizzes?
A: I’ve picked up a reasonable general knowledge but I’m not really a quiz nerd. Similarly I love and play games of all kinds, but I’m hysterically useless at most of them.
Q: What makes a successful show?
A: The truth is if there was a magic recipe everyone would be doing it already, but clearly there are people in production whose gut feelings are way out of kilter with reality. In truth the biggest factor is probably luck which is probably not what you want to hear, however I suspect there are certainly things that can work in your favour. There are shows we like, inventive and critically interesting, and there are shows that are successful which occasionally are completely different and it’s important to learn lessons from those. Crucially it’s important to remember that people watch shows not formats, you can have the cleverest most innovative format on Earth and then flop because it isn’t actually entertaining on screen, similarly great production absolutely can lift a so-so format. Know your show and know your audiences.
Q: What’s your hit rate in predicting how well a new show will do?
A: 96, 97% something like that. It comes from years of experience. I’ve got a big gut, and the big gut feeling that comes with it.
Q: You just like slagging shows off!
A: That’s just not true, I prefer to pick out likely successes. When I go and see a show being filmed, be it a pilot or series recording, it costs me both time and money (the ticket might be free but the train and the food and leave from work certainly isn’t) and I hope to be impressed – I want to back the winners early. I don’t think anyone’s ever accused my criticism of being unfair although I’m happy to discuss issues you have.
Q: Anyone can do what you do!
A: This is literally true, and whatsmore these days it’s trivially easy to watch shows from around the world to form opinions on. So you go do that.
Q: Any tips?
A: Don’t trust a percentage without a raw figure, it’s almost certainly hiding something. Don’t assume because it’s trending on Twitter it has actual volume to back it up. Remember that certainly for commercial channels a poor raw figure might be hiding a demographic worth a lot of money. Don’t feel you have to watch everything – in truth I only really watch the daily quizzes when I’m at home and even then I’ve got to be in the mood – I just don’t have the time or inclination, but DO keep abreast of what’s going on. Do not fear shows not in your native language, great shows can still be entertaining even if you can’t understand what’s being said. Half the fun is working out what’s going on which you can normally work out with deduction and experience with the genre helps with your logic, after that you can judge on the style and presentation. Don’t just look, see. You will never understand a show’s success without a wider understanding of the current culture. Watch things that aren’t game shows! Leave the house and have experiences! And most of all HAVE FUN.
Q: You tweet a lot!
A: My brain and fingers work faster than my mouth, sorry.