Working Week 03.02.06

Jim Shelley
The Daily Mirror’s weekly TV columnist


I email the editor of the Mirror, Richard Wallace, asking if it’s OK to write a diary of my working week.

“That will be interesting reading for us all,” he replies.

what I’ve done and start trying to figure out how to make my job look
more labour intensive. Quickly see that saying I watch even more telly
than I already do is only going to achieve the opposite effect.

filed my column, Monday is my day off. I’ve become fed up of people
assuming I do nothing except sit around watching television all day –
even though it’s true.

Such is the stigma of being a TV critic.

been trying to go to the movies more – the afternoon screenings for
social outcasts and perverts. Unlike a gallery or (God forbid) the
theatre, a film has the added advantage of being like a really big TV
screen. Go and see the Georgian thriller, 13, which is fantastically

Around 7pm, I check the galley, trying not to irritate the chief sub by putting in too many italics. (Or brackets.)

the column done, I can watch Corrie, The Thick of It, and the Scottish
Cup third round replay between Ayr Utd and Inverness Caledonian Thistle
on Sky without thinking “I’d better write that down.” Nirvana.


I interviewed Anthony Burgess once and have tried to follow his
regime ever since. This means rising at 6am, going for a swim, writing
precisely 1,000 words of my novel, before spending the afternoon
working on various projects I’m developing – namely a film script, two
sitcoms and plans to turn my old column Tapehead into a podcast or,
failing that, a musical.

At least, that is what I should be doing. Instead, I am one of the
few people in the country who races to the newsagent to greet the
arrival of the new Radio Times.

I email in requests for the week’s programmes plus anything I want for my Call The Cops column in The Guide.

Sky+ anything not available and spend the afternoon watching a
documentary about the fact that elephants are, apparently, bastards,
then fight the urge to watch Richard & Judy (too much material).

the evening, I watch Corrie, House, and Shameless. Then when Mrs
Shelleyvision has gone to bed I watch cop shows (The Wire, Life on
Mars, the 16 variants of Law & Order and CSI) until two, when I go
to bed.

Like Mrs Thatcher, I have trained myself to exist on only
four hours sleep a night. Then again, it has to be said, I am
ab-sol-ut-ely knackered.


Richard Pryor said “I never met anybody who said when they were a kid, I wanna grow up and be a critic”, but I did.

I’ve been a music critic, film critic and I love writing about
television. The only downside is watching Dancing On Ice or anything
featuring Claire Sweeney.

On Wednesdays, I write my column, Remote TV, for www.thefirstpost.co.uk, an online newspaper edited by Mark Law.

an over-opinionated smartarse that used to write 5,000-word profiles,
this is the most arduous part of my week as I have only 750 words to
preview the week’s highlights on such erudite channels as BBC4, More4
and UKTV Bright Ideas.

After I’ve filed it, I spend the evening
watching three Coronation Streets, two Emmerdales and a Hollyoaks, and
collapse from exhaustion.


On Thursdays, I start to get Shelleyvision into shape.

When Piers Morgan gave me the job, his only instruction was: “You
can watch whatever the fuck you want, say whatever the fuck you want,
and do whatever the fuck you want”

– which sounded like the dream brief until I realised I had a page of the Daily Mirror to fill from scratch.

by panic, a five-minute brainstorming session with Richard Wallace
produced the idea of a sort of Lucky Bag of the week’s TV.

nicked ideas like the barometer from The Face, Separated at Birth from
Private Eye and “On That Bombshell” from Alan Partridge. I have total
freedom to put a picture of Caroline Quentin on the page with just the
word EVIL underneath it, if I want to (which I do – often).

to what people assume, I don’t watch that much TV – 10 or 12 hours a
day at most. Pretty much what I watched before I became a TV critic in

Unlike Madonna and some of my contemporaries, I do not
believe TV is trash. There are loads of great shows on at the moment:
Child In Our Time, Horizon, Newsnight, My Name Is Earl… Over the two
days, I watch all the soaps and ‘serial dramas’

like The Bill, which improves enormously first thing in the morning.

check out the week’s new shows: Eleventh Hour, Tony Blair Rock Star,
The Virgin Queen – but they’re all too boring to write about. Desperate
Housewives makes my teeth grate so I decide to do it as my lead. Either
that or end up at Speaker’s Corner.

Maintain my discipline,
ruthlessly confining my viewing of the snooker and E4’s coverage of
Celebrity Big Brother to three and four hours respectively. As TS Eliot
said, mankind cannot bear too much reality TV.


Friday is a big day in that I have to do some work, namely stop watching TV and write my lead.

I answer emails from readers, download old Buzzcocks songs and watch
my favourite shows – The Wire, The West Wing, Pingu – instead.

People don’t realise how many distractions are out there.

21.01.06 and 22.01.06 At the weekend, I watch as much sport as possible on the glorious pretext “it’s work”.

now have enough material for 18 pages, so spend the weekend cutting and
re-jigging the column, tinkering maniacally like Alex Ferguson on

Around 11pm on Sunday, I file the column – done for another week. Then I relax and turn on the TV.

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