Stuart Heritage writes about television and film for The Guardian (along with other publications) and also co-writes an argumentative little blog called LUV AND HAT with Robyn Wilder. He hasn’t willingly been outside since about 2008 and only gets his haircut when people tell him he looks like Shirley off EastEnders.
Check out Stuart’s Shopcade, and his favourite picks.
You’re the go-to journalist for (not so) classy TV – how did you get into journalism?
Not really in any conventional way. I studied scriptwriting at university – which I’ve realised is just about as pointless as it sounds – and then, after bumbling around for a while, started a blog. That was my job for a few years, and it won a few awards. Then The Guardian named it as one of the 50 most powerful blogs in the world, so I basically used that as an excuse to beg them for work. So the answer to your question is a combination of blind luck and shrill pleading.
What’s your favourite retro TV?
Because I happened to be a student when Channel Four showed them in the mornings, I’ll have to say old sitcoms like The Phil Silvers Show and Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. The first one because the writing is so fast and snappy, the last two because I developed quite an unhealthy fascination for Elizabeth Montgomery and Barbara Eden between the ages of 17 and 23, and that’s the age when those things stick.
What’s the best and worst thing about your job? Is it as idyllic as it appears?
Getting paid to watch the telly is so ridiculously cushy that I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t. Large parts of my day are spent sitting around in my pants watching episodes of The Apprentice that haven’t been broadcast yet, which I’m pretty sure is everybody’s dream. I tend to liveblog quite a lot of big Saturday night entertainment shows, so a downside would be the effect it has on my social life. But I’m an embittered hermit, so I welcome the excuse not to go out. It’s a win-win!
What’s your dream TV, and what is your dream show to watch on it?
My current TV is one of those cheapo, generic-brand, Polish-made jobs, so it definitely wouldn’t be that. I might go for something like the Panasonic TX-P55VT30B FVHD 55 Inch HD Plasma Internet 3D TV, simply because it’s massive. Also, it’s a 3D internet TV, so it’s bound to be packed to the gills with features that I’d only ever use once. I’d like to say that I’d watch lots of BBC Four documentaries about the arts on it, but it’d still probably just be Total Wipeout and The One Show. Who am I kidding? I hate my life.
What’s it like when people get snarky on your blog comments?
I don’t mind it that much, to be honest. I think the tone of my writing probably invites angry rebuttals so, as long as they don’t get too personal, I’m usually quite OK with readers having their say. Plus, it’s nothing compared to some of the comments I got when I had my blog. No Guardian readers have told me to die of AIDS yet, for example, so at least I’ve still got that to look forward to.
What are the best accessories to have around you when watching the box?
Right, because we live in the future, I usually watch TV with my iPhone and my Macbook Pro on my lap, usually because I’m either making notes (because it’s my job) or tweeting about it (because I’m terrifically needy). So those. Then you need something comfortable to sit on, like a Debenhams Black Lana reclining armchair. And, if it’s cold and your sense of self-worth has evaporated entirely, a slanket. And finally, a Cotswold Honey Roasted Ham. Just because you’re watching the telly, it doesn’t mean that you can’t eat like a ridiculous medieval king.