Tim Lovejoy interview: 'People calling me lad culture upsets me'

Published Mar 23 2012, 15:24 GMT  |  By

Not many TV shows can get axed by one channel and picked up two months later by another. But Tim Lovejoy's laidback weekend magazine show Something For The Weekend had a passionate fanbase that BBC Two hadn't taken account of when they decided to drop the show.

Channel 4 quickly spotted the fan campaigns and celeb support for Lovejoy and chef Simon Rimmer's show and snapped the duo up for rebranded, rebooted series Sunday Brunch.

Digital Spy caught up with Tim to chat about the channel switch, his passion for live TV and why he hates being branded part of lad culture.

Sunday Brunch, Tim Lovejoy, Simon Rimmer

© Channel 4



It must have been a busy couple of months for you behind the scenes?
"Well, it's been more like a couple of weeks rather than months. It's very, very recently, only a couple of weeks ago we announced it and I signed the contract so it was all very last-minute. It's fantastic though."

Are you excited to be starting all over again?
"I'm so excited about it because I'm on Channel 4 and I just think that's a really exciting channel. I started working on Channel 4 years ago [on The Big Breakfast] and I'm back there and I just think it's perfect. Having to work with Simon, well 'having' is not really the right word, working with Simon is like working with your mate, so it's a really good laugh."

How much time do you actually spend with Simon?
"We're like Morecambe and Wise, we go to bed together in our pyjamas and get up the next morning. We spend every Sunday together, we see each other sometimes on a Saturday night, generally we speak to each other most days on the phone. We're genuine friends which makes it so much fun."

When Something for the Weekend was dropped by the BBC, what were your thoughts?
"I was really surprised, but it was nobody's fault so I couldn't get angry so I couldn't blame anyone. The BBC Trust, as an organisation, had to decide to do something. I don't really know what their remit was, but they decided to get rid of all of the BBC Two budget, which meant the BBC couldn't recommission Something for the Weekend. It wasn't that classic case when other shows are dropped, there's someone sitting there going, 'We don't like that anymore, let's get rid of it!'

"It was a case of they couldn't do it because there was no budget for it. There was no-one to blame, so it was quite a strange feeling, you wanted to put your anger at someone, but there was no-one to put your anger at because there was no-one to blame.

"When the Facebook campaign started, that was really lovely. It made me feel really nice because we could see that we had quite a special show and we knew that people were watching. To everyone who got involved, thank you for getting behind it and reporting it. It helped us a lot. I think Channel 4 saw that and saw the support of the celebrities and everybody else on Twitter thinking it was sad that it was coming off air. It was nice when they decided to pick up the pieces and run with it."

Do you think the campaign genuinely made a difference and caught people's attention?
"Yeah I do, because I think if you're sitting there and you're at Channel 4 and you're thinking 'Shall we go with this?', and you look at the support of the campaign, you will get swayed. And I think people power works a bit now. I think they were all looking at the campaign thinking there's a lot of people here. I mean, my Twitter, for a few days, every time I went on there, there was someone going 'What a shame, what a shame', 'It's bad news'.

"The one thing that choked me up a lot was people saying, 'It was the one show we watched together as a family, it was family entertainment'. That was the real big thing for me. It seemed to appeal to all ages and ranges of people. When people make TV and they go away for seven million meetings where they say, 'We really want to aim this show at so and so, this sort of people'. I've never really got that. You just make good TV and hope people watch it. Whether it's kids, adults or your granny and granddad. It doesn't matter which one it is, you just make it for everyone to watch."

'Something For The Weekend': Simon Rimmer, Tim Lovejoy and Louise Redknapp

© BBC



Why do you think people held the show in such affection?
"I think people just grew with it and liked it. I think they just tuned in and saw something quite nice and friendly and I don't think we tried too hard. I think we were just trying to put a nice show out there and I think people enjoy tuning and seeing nice, family-friendly, laid back, a bit of something for everyone, and the guests always seemed to enjoy themselves. I just think it was a nice show to watch. I think that's what people just missed: it was their show and they liked watching it.

What differences will there be on Sunday Brunch?
"We're working through them all at the moment, it's a sort of opportunity to change the show. We've got to make it a new show. It's on a new channel, it's got to be new. The basic elements are there: Simon cooking, interviews with celebrities, Simon and me messing about, having chats - inane chats basically. They're the main elements as always, so it's not a million miles away.

"But there's obviously different features on the show. We're running through those at the moment so we're just deciding what to do. I can't really tell you what we're going to do because I don't really know."

The best bits on Something For The Weekend were often where things went wrong. Do you get a buzz off that on live TV?
"I love live TV, I think it's just the best because everything does go wrong. My favourite part of TV growing up was Saturday morning TV where things were going wrong and everything was live and that was exciting. I'm lucky to have worked in weekend TV now for 15 years. That's the bits I relish where we're doing something and it doesn't work.

"People get frustrated, I don't. I think people quite enjoy watching it when the food starts burning, Simon's overrunning, the gadgets aren't working, things like that. And that's the moment of being a presenter where you either panic or just think, 'Oh, I don't care really'. It's normal life, this is what happens. I think on a Sunday morning people generally like it quite laidback. I don't know whether you're saying I'm laidback as a presenter as a compliment, but I'll take it as one."

Has it been any different dealing with Channel 4 than the BBC?
"Well, I've worked for an independent production company so I just deal with them. It's the same production company, it's Princess, I wasn't working with the BBC directly. So I can't see any difference. The real difference will be that there's ad breaks. I find that quite exciting. Because, when I'm presenting TV shows, I've always quite liked ad breaks. I enjoyed my time at the BBC, it was a great five years, but there's something, I don't know what, something really exciting about going 'See you after the ad break' or 'See you in a few minutes', and wrapping things around ad breaks. I'm a producer as well, and as a producer I always enjoy jiggling with the ad breaks thinking how we are going to drag people back. It's a challenge, I quite like it."

You don't mind the person shouting in your ear that you have to get off in five seconds?
"No, I'm used to that, I just turn it down."

Is that how you would have dealt with Adele at the Brit Awards? When James Corden just cut her off, would you have just ignored the producers?
"Yeah, I think so. I think I would have. It's a tough one, that, because you can't blame James for anything that happened there. He's been told in his ear. It's nobody's fault, it's not the producer's fault either really, because they're being told to fit in ad breaks.

Adele sticks her middle finger up after being cut off at the Brits 2012

© PA Images



"What it needed was someone to go, 'Hold on a second here, we need to hear Adele speak', that's the most important thing. We can suffer the backlash of cutting off half a Blur song later or whatever we have to do, but we can't cut Adele off. It's tough for people in a live situation. As you know, I'm quite laidback, and I do what I want really, but it's tough for people to make those calls and often they get them wrong, and that's one they got wrong but you can't have a witch hunt for anyone like James or the producer. It's just not fair.

"And the reality is, Adele's got a lot more press out of that than she would have had if she'd just done an acceptance speech. It worked out okay."

And did she have anything interesting left to say anyway?
"That's the thing, someone needs to do a TV show: 'What is the missing part of that speech?' What they should do, ITV should just get her and build a whole show around it. What was the missing 30 seconds of the speech? You can have talking heads all before it, you can have everything after it.

"Maybe we'll get her on Sunday Brunch. That's what we want to do, that's my aim, get Adele on Sunday Brunch and find out what the missing part of that speech was. That's all we're going to ask her, nothing else. Don't want to know anything else. Don't want to know about the Grammys, don't want to know about her new boyfriend, all we want to know about is what was the missing part of that speech, what exactly was she going to say?"

What TV do you hate?
"I've got a great new thing called self-censorship, well, it's not new, but it's new to me. I don't watch anything I don't want to watch. So I don't hate anything. What I don't watch is costume dramas, period dramas. I don't watch them because they don't appeal to me at all. I don't really know what's going on in Downton Abbey or Upstairs Downstairs particularly. It just doesn't appeal to me, but I don't hate them because I know people love them and that's fantastic.

"What I like personally, is watching live stuff, I like watching events, it doesn't matter what it is, whether it's X Factor, Dancing on Ice... what was the one I watched on Sunday? That was great. What's the dance one?"

The judges on Got To Dance

© Sky

Downton Abbey Christmas Special 2011

© ITV



Got to Dance?
"Got to Dance, fantastic. I enjoyed watching that, I watched it with the kids. Or I'll be watching sport because that's always on and it's live. I'll watch anything from cross-country skiing through to football, Champions League. I'll watch anything. I've got split screen on my TV which is the most important thing, I have to say, because I'm often watching two things at the same time. I just become, sort of, locked into something.

"So if there's a golf tournament going on, cricket and there's another TV show I want to watch. I have one going on on one side and the other on the other side then just switch the sound around as and when. It drives everyone I watch TV with mad. I just watch split screen, and go, 'What's your problem, just watch the one you want to watch'. I love watching split screen."

Soccer AM was dragged into the Richard Keys and Andy Gray debate last year and was accused of encouraging sexism. As an ex-host, what did you think about that? Is it too laddish?
"It was very camp when I was on it. I don't really want to speak about it now, but when we did it it was very camp. It was very family entertainment. The girls weren't all wannabe Jordan models, they were a laugh.

"I was always the loser in the locker area. It was much more like that. I don't want to speak for the show now, but one thing that slightly upsets me is when people call me lad culture. Because even though we were very laddy on the show, it was all friendly and camp. Often the boys dressed up as women. It was very Carry On in the way we were doing it. The way it has carried on... it's up to them. I have nothing to do with it now. Sadly the lad mag culture thing came straight after that, all the lads' mags and everything. I think it got swept up into that. The stuff we did was very tongue in cheek. I was the biggest loser in the world on that show."

Sunday Brunch starts on Sunday, March 25 at 10am on Channel 4.