The Art of Deliberately Misleading Comedy TV Listings: Part Three

In which we spend a third day uncovering entertaining Radio Times listings from yesteryear, because just taking things from the BBC’s Genome website is every bit as good as actually creating something ourselves. Still, three updates in three days!

Deliberately Misleading BBC Comedy Episode Descriptions Of The Past, Part Three: There’s a Lot of It About


Following on from Qs five through nine, There’s a Lot of It About marked the last ‘proper’ series for the arch Goon, with Spike thereafter restricted to sporadic guest appearances and one-offs (like C4’s The Last Laugh Before TV-am). Luckily, with it having roped in prolific mirth-merchants Marshall and Renwick (see also: yesterday’s blog) that meant another great example of wonderfully inventive Radio Times listings. And here they are.

In this programme (which is not suitable for those of a sensitive or nervous disposition) SPIKE MILLIGAN , the famous author and philosopher, takes an in-depth look at all kinds of wild and exotic life abounding in this anniversary year, and poses many interesting and intellectual questions he doesn't understand.
- 20 September 1982

Former stuntman and free-fall parachutist SPIKE MILLIGAN comes out of hospital for tonight's special thrill-a-minute show which is dedicated to all those unseen people who encouraged him in his dare-devil career yet were happy to stand firmly in the background. But for them he might have remained an unknown writer-comedian.
- 27 September 1982

Tonight SPIKE MILLIGAN will be talking frankly to four ravishingly beautiful women - a nude model, a stripper, a rugby supporter and a bus conductress - about their attitudes to the opposite sex in this permissive society, and asking the question ' Does age matter? ' He will definitely not be watching this programme which is not half as interesting.
- 4 October 1982

In a heavily censored programme, SPIKE milligan takes a restrained and patronising look at Unemployment, the GLC Marital Harmony Squad, Japanese Ritual Suicide, the British Space Programme and Hitler's well-meaning attempts to break into the pop-music business and become a household name. The censored bits will be released on a BBC video cassette in 1985. Pirate copies are available now from ' 24 hr Grocers' (24 hr Grossers Ltd), Tooting Broadway, SW1Z
- 11 October 1982

[There’s every chance the original RT listing had ‘SW12’ there, but SW1Z is a better joke so we hope it didn’t. Of course, any of the seemingly mis-transcribed misspellings of ‘Milligan’ that are on Genome could be deliberate.]

Spike Milligan , recently voted light entertainment's Smiley, in an excerpt from his one-man show.
- 18 October 1982

In a programme celebrating his 63 years with BBC Television, spike MILLIGAN will be looking back on his long career at Television Centre; serving his apprenticeship as canteen manager before graduating to comedian. He will be remembering all those interesting people he worked with during that time who had a profound effect on his life and getting his own back.
- 25 October 1982


Disappointingly, the 30 July-27 August 1985 repeat run largely re-uses those same descriptions, truncating several of them to fit a less prestigious amount of column inches. That's save for the repeat broadcast on 20 August 1985, which has the following listing. Presumably originally intended for episode 5 of the original run (the one with the phoned-in "excerpt from his one-man show" listing up there), it's nice to see this somehow survived whatever filing system the Radio Times used in 1982.

In a lively programme dedicated to his bank manager, Spike looks at the toupee epidemic, army boots and the perils of smoking.
- 20 August 1985

Unfortunately, the revised repeat showings of ...About in 1989 didn't go as far as including new descriptions, so we're not going to include them.  Instead, here's all of episode one.

The Art of Deliberately Misleading Comedy TV Listings: Part Two

Our scamper through the metaphorical blizzard of entertainingly unhelpful TV episode captions continues. Today, a programme that fits the remit we outlined then ignored yesterday.

Deliberately Misleading BBC Comedy Episode Descriptions Of The Past, Part Two: Alexei Sayle’s Stuff is that rotund roustabout?

Co-written with unstoppable sketch comedy pensmiths David Renwick and Andrew Marshall, Sayle’s Stuff was unfairly maligned in some quarters when first hitting our screens, variously maligned as being too rude or too reliant on channelling Flying Circus, but happily it was a winningly inventive series packed with barbed satire, sumptuous surreality and an always welcome willingness to play with the conventions of television. Jokes delivered via the medium of Ceefax, messing around with the BBC Two ident and even faking out the viewers by placing fake programme trailers after the end of an episode.

That invention even went as far as the Radio Times listings, which took the form of outraged letters to the RT itself. Here are a few examples:

Leibnitz - Man or Biscuit?
Dear Radio Times,
What a delight Alexei Sayle 's Stuff was this week! My family and I were enraptured by the two young puffins and their hilarious attempts to build a nest using old newspapers. Please, please repeat this soon as it was such a tonic for the eyes in these days of fat b*****ds and shaved heads whining on about Mrs Thatcher.
(Mrs) Josie Pencil
ALEXEI SAYLE replies: Who gives a damn what you think! 
- 10 November 1988 21.00

How to Point at Chickens
Dear Radio Times,
I switched on my TV set at 9.00pm on Thursday expecting to see another edition of Alexei Sayle 's Stuff as advertised. What a disappointment! Due to the whim of those mandarins in programme planning, the series was not cancelled to make way for last-minute coverage of the Embassy Pro-Am Snooker final from the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield.
Spare a thought for the poor sporting viewer, please!
(Mrs) Daisy Hatch
ALEXEI SAYLE replies: Who gives a damn what you think!
- 17 November 1988 21.00

2: From Avogadro to Ava Gardner
Dear Radio Times,
Why oh why do TV producers insist on subjecting us to the inane cackle of audience laughter, completely drowning programmes with an endless cacophony of mindless braying at the slightest provocation?
Fortunately this is not the case on Alexei Sayle 's Stuff where, joy of joys, the studio audience always remains in stunning silence throughout! More of this please!
(Mrs) Sandra Robespierre ,
Chislehurst ALEXEI SAYLE replies: Who gives a damn what you think!
Featuring Alexei Sayle with Leslie Crowther 
- 20 October 1988 21.00

2: Westward H2O
Dear Radio Times,
Being right-wing crypto fascists with fixed ideas and loud screeching voices, my husband Pip and I sat down to watch this week's
Alexei Sayle 's Stuff on BBC1 with Great Trepidation (our 14-year-old labrador). Imagine our delight when we realised that Mr Sayle had lost several stones and spent the entire show sitting behind a news desk reading hilarious government 'plans' for education and health services - keeping us in stitches for the entire half-hour. More of this please!
Mrs Wilhemina ReesMogg ,
Dungeness, Kent
ALEXEI SAYLE replies: Who gives a damn what you think! 
- 26 October 1989 21.00

4: Six Body Builders of the Italian Renaissance
Dear Radio Times,
When, oh when, will the BBC stop concocting these appalling fake Radio Times letters from obviously bogus people called 'Mrs Noreen Gripper -Rod' and the like to publicise Alexei Sayle 's Stuff. Even I am completely dummy and do not exist in any rational sense - so stop printing this at once!
Dame Judi Dench , The Bafta Awards,
Attenboro'tfgh-on-Hankies, Surrey.
Alexei Sayle replies: Who gives a damn what you think?
- 9 November 1989 21.00

The Art of Deliberately Misleading Comedy TV Listings: Part One

As anyone likely to be reading this blog (the new bits of it, not just bits we wrote five years ago that are still ranked bafflingly highly in Google searches) will be aware, the BBC Genome Project is probably one of the finest achievements of humanity. Probably nestled between ‘free healthcare’ and ‘the invention of the Jaffa Cake’ at number seven in that particular list.

For the uninitiated, the BBC Genome Project compiles all listings – both radio and television – from the Radio Times between 1923 and 2009, including all text as it was printed at the time. Save for the occasional misjudged correction by the Beeb’s OCR software, of course.


Since corrected, luckily/sadly

If nothing else though, this does give us good cause to flip through some of the wonderful times the creative teams behind the more inventive comedy shows of decades past were given free rein to pen their own programme descriptions. Normally of course, these would be a brief summation of the plot suffixed with the trad “hilarious consequences” rejoinder, or (for sketch comedies) something along the lines of “more madcap mayhem from Duncan Whimsy and company”.

Some programmes – Not The Nine O’Clock News or The Young Ones to name but two – went in completely the opposite direction, treated their Radio Times listings as an opportunity to squeeze a bonus bit of fun from the programme, submitting increasingly outlandish episode descriptions. Why? Well, why not. If your comedy series is to become the cult hit it sorely deserves to be, your battleground for viewers isn’t the listing in the RT, it’s the school playground, the factory canteen, the whatever-they-had-instead-of-water-coolers-in-offices-in-1981. That episode description can happily alienate casual viewers more attuned to Terry & June, because it’s not for them. It’s for the cool kids who already love the programme, and will lap up this extra bonus bit of content. A wonderful little secret treat, like reaching for the last After Eight envelope in the box and finding it contains a crisp fiver.

For the next few blog updates, we’re going to celebrate that golden age of Deliberately Misleading BBC Comedy Episode Descriptions Of The Past by collating some prime examples. Starting here. Now.

Deliberately Misleading BBC Comedy Episode Descriptions Of The Past, Part One: Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell

What was that about being deliberately misleading? Yeah, we’re actually going to kick things off with the programme that brought this very practice to mind. That despite the fact it’s a current programme, not even British and not even by the BBC (though it is produced by ITV’s Australian offshoot), it fits the remit perfectly with the episode descriptions that start from the perfectly sensible:

Shaun Micallef presents a round-up, branding, inoculation and crutching of all the important news stories of the week in a brand new show that's guaranteed to blow the lid off an entirely different kettle of fish. - Series 1, episode 1

but move very quickly to the slightly silly:

Shaun gets more than he bargained for when a car he was buying turns out to be an ocean liner. Meanwhile, Roz and Francis are up to their old necks too when a horse they were impersonating has to be put down. - Series 1, episode 2

to some of the marvellously unhelpful EPG descriptions ever:

Mongoose. Winter is closing in. It is not safe. Go into hibernation. Further instructions to follow. Cobra.  - Series 2, episode 5

Here are a few more of our favourites:

Voula, if you are watching this, I am so sorry babe. Please do not let the trust we have built up over the last two weeks go to waste just because I screwed another chick. Call me? Stav.  - Series 2, episode 7

Yo! Join Kook and the Bambino tomorrow morning at 7am on 103.6 Smash FM for your chance to win $10 playing Puzzling Noise. - Series 2, episode 6

Fill-in host Lee Lin Chin gets laughs with an over-sized torsion wrench. Also stars Emilio Tahoeny, Veruca Millstone and [TROUBLE CODE E01. THE DOOR OF YOUR MACHINE IS OPEN.]- Series 3, episode 3

Voula, I reckon I'm dead or something. Do you think it's from that pact we made because our love is too much for this world? Where are you? Shouldn't you be here in the White Void too? Stav. - Series 3, episode 9

Dave, it’s me. Sorry I didn’t get back to you, been flat out writing this EPG. I guess you want to know about the rocket? Well, good news – Derek Jacobi’s on board! Call me. - Series 4, episode 7

Just a few examples of why Mad As Hell is a lovely programme that deserves to be seen by more people outside Australia than just the 17 Shaun Micallef fans befitted with a hefty sense of tenacity and a list of likely torrent sites. Or, we suppose, access to YouTube. Here’s a full episode of it. Yes, we know it isn’t as good as Newstopia, but still. Australia gets this, we get The Revolution Will Be Televised doing jokes about Bill Clinton.


A more British-based example next time, listeners.

ChartBeat Day Two: Mock The Week’s Totally Non-Sexist Booking Policy

It’s good now that Mock The Week has vowed to give equal opportunities to female comedians, isn’t it? We’re sure that their protestations that they have plenty of female comics on the programme even before the BBC Trust dropped their diktat on them were absolutely based on fact.

Hey, here’s a pie chart.




Surely though, things are much better now. Here, with data taken from the MoW Episode Guide on Wikipedia, is an episode by episode breakdown of just how many women are allowed to take part in, y’know, having a go at Eric Pickles for being portly and Jordan for being dim. All that kind of modern satire that probably made Peter Cook especially glad he’s long dead.




So, in summary:



Chart Beat Day One: World Cup Winning Nations and Population

NEW THING: Regular chart-based updates. Not that we’re trying to steal Ampp3d’s idea or anything. Heck, no.


You know when you’ve got an idea for a brilliant pub quiz question, only you’ve no idea what the answer actually is? Well, what with the World Cup being on at the moment, we got to thinking: what IS the smallest nation ever to win the World Cup (after Uruguay)?

Not a bad one, assuming your local pub quiz isn’t one of those where any reference to football will have half the teams rolling their eyes in irritation. It’s one that sets the mind racing to think just which teams have won the World Cup, and what would their respective populations have been at the time of winning the Coupe De Monde? Yes, populations at the time of winning each final. You’ve got to do these things properly.

Well, because we’re blessed with the kind of brain that will make us forget where our keys are because all runtime has become irreversibly devoted to some stat-related miscellany, we’ve worked it out. No need to thank us NOT THAT YOU EVER DO.

Historical census data has been taken from the splendid Geohive (with the caveat in place that Uruguay didn’t collect census data until 1963, so we’ve have to use the 1963 figure for 1930 and 1950), and – as Geohive only list historical census information for the UK as a whole, A Vision Of Britain for the English historical census data.

Anyway. Numbers!




So: it’s Argentina 1978, with the piffling population figure of 23,978,532. And knowing is half the battle!

What does this mean for the last eight of this year’s tournament? Could any of those take the, erm, much sought-after crown if you discount Uruguay? Another chart.




So, there it is. Three-fifths of the quarter finalists could become the brand new second-smallest-nation-to-win-a-World-Cup. And who is most likely to win the 2014 World Cup? Well, the average population of a World Cup winning nation is 58,557,534. The nation still in the competition with the closest population to that is FRANCE.

And there you go. France will definitely win the World Cup. That’s the lesson from today’s Chart Beat.


World Cup 2014 Stat-o-thon 2: Top Scorers (Slight Return)



Okay, last time in BrokenTV Looks At How To Game The Bookmakers Out Of All Their Hardearned Money, we looked at World Cup Golden Boot odds offset against international goalscoring records.  That gave us the following top five bets:


1) Neymar (Brazil) – 10/1, 0.64 goals per game

2) Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast) – 80/1, 0.64 goals per game

3) David Villa (Spain) – 40/1, 0.60 goals per game

4) Gonzalo Higuain (Argentina) – 20/1, 0.58 goals per game

5) Klaas Jan Huntelaar (Holland) – 66/1, 0.57 goals per game

6) Edin Dzeko (Bosnia) – 80/1, 0.57 goals per game


All promising enough – putting a month’s salary on Drogba would mean you can definitely just take the rest of the year off. Clearly. Except! For that goals-per-game ratio to mean anything, each player’s respective team kind of needs to be around play as many world cup matches as possible. And trading on Betfair at around 149/1 to win the tournament, Ivory Coast aren’t especially likely to be knocking around at the latter stages in Brazil.


So, we need to add in another measure of likely success – number of games to be played. The later the matches are in the tournament, the less likely each player is to score a goal (after all, a cagey semi-final against Spain isn’t likely to generate as many goals as a group match against Honduras, at least in theory. So, we’ve added in some multipliers to come up with a ‘final score’ for each contender, based on the current team betting. So, the four tournament favourites are most likely to take part in the maximum number of matches (three group stage, round of 16, quarter-final, semi-final and final/3rd place play-off) – they get an accumulator score of 10. The next four teams are statistically likely to go out at the quarter final stage, meaning they get two fewer matches than the ‘big four’ – meaning we’re giving them an accumulator score of just eight.


This carries on through the rounds, leading to the following accumulator scores (based on Betfair odds):

BRAZIL – 10pts


GERMANY – 10pts

SPAIN – 10pts

BELGIUM – 8pts

FRANCE – 8pts

ENGLAND – 8pts

ITALY – 8pts


URUGUAY - 6pts

HOLLAND - 6pts


CHILE - 6pts


RUSSIA - 6pts

BOSNIA - 6pts

CROATIA – 4pts

GHANA – 4pts



This makes things feel a bit weightier. Note that we’ve only included nations who have a named player priced at 100/1 or lower for top goalscorer. After all, no-one is expecting an Australian striker to get anywhere near that list. This brings us the following top-table of likely bets.




So, erm, it’s still Neymar who is the most likely bet. Away from that though, and avoiding the temptation to go for a surely-won’t-make-the-starting-XI-this-time Klose, the likes of Fred, Higuain and, er, Andre Schurrle could be a more tempting offer.




[Trots off to Honest Harry’s Betting Parlour and puts a £1.50 each-way bet on Messi.]


HEY! Our World Cup 2014 Prediction League is now free, FREE we tells ya. Go join in the fun NOW.

The BrokenTV 2014 World Cup Prediction League: Now at the low, low price of free



That’s right, due to… let’s say ‘disappointing’ levels of uptake for our World Cup Prediction League at £2-to-charity a go, we’re going to make it free to enter. Though, of course, it would be utterly lovely if you choose to donate a couple of quid anyway.


Anyway, if you’d like to enter simply take a ‘form’ and fill in your predictions for match results along with our special bonus categories of ‘competition winner’, ‘top goalscorer’ and ‘First letter of the first word Adrian Chiles says at the start of the opening match coverage’ and send it off to us at We’ll feed your predictions into our specially adapted punchcard mainframe, and update the league table regularly at our specially-fashioned Tumblr page


Your list of fixtures can be nabbed from here: or alternatively here:


Copy-paste them into an email or text file, fill in the results of your choosing, and fire them at Easy as pretending to fall off a log because there was definitely contact there and you can’t expect to get away with that at this level, Clive.

World Cup 2014 Stat-o-thon: Top Scorers

Hey, let’s try updating the blog for two days in a row!

When it comes to Big Football Tournament betting, the top scorer market is where the proper princely sums are sitting. Anyone who’d backed Milan Baros (shoddy form for Liverpool, the more prolific half of a goal-happy strike duo alongside Jan Koller for the Czech Republic) in Euro 2004 probably still remembers the warm glow of collecting that 45/1 windfall.

When it comes to the 2014 World Cup In Association With Several Soulless Megacorporations, the short odds belong to the usual suspects: Messi, Neymar, Ronaldo et al.

But, what about the value bets? The ones you could easily back on a sports exchange like Betfair, and then happily lay off following a productive group stage for a quick profit? Clinical form at club level is no real indicator of international quality – Lionel Messi’s strike rate for Argentina is barely in the same postcode as his goals-per-game figures at Barcelona.

What someone needs to do is take a list of all potential tournament goalscorers – say, ones priced at 100/1 or less – and knock up a table of goals-per-game ratios for the lot. That way, the value bets are a bit clearer. Surely. Oh, if only some clever, patient and probably quite sexy amateur statisticians had done just that?

Well, they haven’t. But we have:





So, easy. Plonk a pony on Drogba, sit back and await your definite haul of eighty times whatever a pony is. We never paid attention during repeats of Minder. As we said, easy.



Erk. The BrokenTV Brazil 2014 World Cup Prediction League is a handy thing to while away that wait for the baliffs. Predict the outcomes of each match, along with a few important other categories (Who will win the tournament? Who will be top goalscorer? What will be the first letter of the first word Adrian Chiles says at the very beginning of the opening match coverage?). All against other people from around the country. Or the three people on Twitter who kind of take pity on the amount of time it took to put this all together.
The entry fee is just £2, with all collected moneys going to the Flintshire Deaf Childrens Society. At the end of the tournament, the winner will receive a super-secret football-related goody bag (the contents of which are yet to be disclosed, but the value of which will far exceed that £2 stipend). Simply pledge your £2 and either include your email address on the JustGiving comment page (or if you prefer, email me at, and I’ll send out a prediction form to be filled in. Once returned, points will start being totted up right from the first match, and information updated at daily.
The rules: simple. Predict the score of each match. Five points for a correct score, two points for a correct outcome. Predict all of the group matches from the start, and lists of the knockout matches to be sent when the line-up is decided.
So: let’s go:

It’s the BrokenTV World Cup Prediction League! (For charity!)

(Hello! Remember us? We’re back!)


May football prediction accuracy be your goooooooooooooooooooooal!

The quadrennial festival of footballing fortitude known as the World Cup brings together all kinds of people. People doing a World Cup winner sweepstake at work. People putting a few quid at the bookmakers on top goalscorer. And people putting an incredibly ill-judged accumulator on England to win and Dirk Kuyt as top goalscorer. So, all kinds of people.

Best of all are football prediction leagues. These allow individuals to meticulously plan out the likely outcome of each match, and then to subsequently lord it over their friends and colleagues once they sit atop the prediction league table. Or in reality, grumble about how they were cheated and that fifth Costa Rican goal was definitely offside.

The BrokenTV Brazil 2014 World Cup Prediction League is one such league. Predict the outcomes of each match, along with a few important other categories (Who will win the tournament? Who will be top goalscorer? What will be the first letter of the first word Adrian Chiles says at the very beginning of the opening match coverage?). All against other people from around the country. Or the three people on Twitter who kind of take pity on the amount of time it took to put this all together.

The entry fee is just £2, with all collected moneys going to the Flintshire Deaf Childrens Society. At the end of the tournament, the winner will receive a super-secret football-related goody bag (the contents of which are yet to be disclosed, but the value of which will far exceed that £2 stipend). Simply pledge your £2 and either include your email address on the JustGiving comment page (or if you prefer, email me at, and I’ll send out a prediction form to be filled in. Once returned, points will start being totted up right from the first match, and information updated at daily.

The rules: simple. Predict the score of each match. Five points for a correct score, two points for a correct outcome. Predict all of the group matches from the start, and lists of the knockout matches to be sent when the line-up is decided.

So: let’s go:


Happy Birthday Twitter: How UK Newspapers Stumbled Into The Digital Future

So, it’s the 7th birthday of the most important development in human communication since a young Alexander Graham Bell used a piece of string to connect two plastic cups  and pondered “this gives me an idea” [citation needed]. Twitter has come from nowhere, via everyone not on Twitter thinking that everyone on Twitter just uses it so say things like “might go upstairs later”, to its current position as Most Important Thing On The Planet. And that’s just our Twitter account we’re talking about.

As one might expect from what is now the print media’s most ubiquitous online reference point, the anniversary is being covered in just about every newspaper outside of the Anglesey Examiner, but the press wasn’t always so keen to cover Twitter. Join us now, as we delve through the websites of the UK’s national press (apart from the ones with uselessly hateful search functions) so see when each first covered Twitter, and in which context.

In ascending date order, then:

[UPDATE 22 March 2013: A few of the gaps filled in below, with thanks to a couple knowledgeable readers willing to engage in the dark arts of “knowing things” and “doing research”. An extravagantly angled tip of our titfer to both James and Mike Landers for the assistance.]

The Guardian: 27 November 2006

A Comment is free piece on the acceptability of letting the internet know you’re a real-life person, dammit.


Twitter is: “the ultimate in solipsism”.


[UPDATE: Reader, gentleman and walking infohub known only to us as ‘James’ writes in to inform us that The Times belong next on the list. Having deftly avoided the Great Paywall of Murdoch by using proper research database Newsbank, James reports that The Times first covered Twitter just a few weeks after the Guardian. Here’s the skinny:

“The honour for the second reference and indeed the first direct article about it goes to The Times, a two line piece in their "The Click" column in Times2... dated Tuesday 12 December 2006:

The site twitter .com, started in March 2006 as a side project of Odeo, an audio website, is based on the concept of friends and strangers answering the question, "What are you doing?" Subscribers areinvited to tell everyone that they are getting ready for work, they have "just bit into a hot chilli"...or whatever.”

Visit our lavishly furnished comments deck for the full comment from James.]


Financial Times: 23 March 2007

Not too much to report, given that you need to subscribe in order to read articles, but the FT are pretty quick out of the blocks, with the Tech Hub section running an article on the fledgling service.


Twitter is: “Microblogging for the lazy.”


[UPDATE: It’s possible The Telegraph could be amongst the early adopters, though we’re still not sure exactly when. Reader and gentleman Mike Landers informs us (via the comments of this article, we don’t have a network of spies or anything):

“The Telegraph jumped on the bandwagon early. When I spoke to Orlowski (yeah yeah I know) in Spring 2009 he said it was an open competition between a couple of hacks at the Guardian and their Telegraph counterparts to get as many pieces about it as possible.”

Which does makes sense, with the Telegraph being one of the first – if not the very first – UK newspapers to have a renowned online operation. Though the search function on their website is still wincingly awful.]


The Independent: 4 April 2007

An article about Twitter, funnily enough.


Twitter is: According to Tom Wetheredge, a ‘net user asked about the microblogging site for the article, “a perfect example of how the internet can keep us too connected."


The Sun: 7 September 2007

In what you could describe as either a sober report on those affected by a tragedy, or an early example into snooping into the social network accounts of victims (which would be perhaps a little unfair, no matter how much we dislike The Sun), a reference to students present at the Virginia Tech shootings using the service to express their panic as the attack was taking place.


Twitter is: a website which “which asks contributors to tell it what they are doing”.


Daily Mail: 30 April 2008

A piece about how Steve Jobs is evil.



Twitter is: A “one-line blog website”.

Later, the first article about Twitter itself appeared on 24 July 2008 (“New SMS site Twitter grows 600% in a year”), and the first time it tried to crowbar it into a manufactured ‘scandal’ was on 19 December 2008 (when Jonathan Ross – on his post-Sachsgate hiatus – used it to ‘brag’ about daring to enjoy himself).



Daily Mirror: 19 December 2008

Another slice of faux-outrage about that evil, wicked Jonathan Ross boasting about enjoying himself.


Twitter is: a “new messaging website”, despite actually being almost three years old by that point.



Daily Star: 9 January 2009

Jonathan Ross again. Note the helpful and newsworthy revelation that Ross posts “up to 23 updates a day”. How DID he get time to literally spit in the face of every innocent man, woman and child in the UK with all that going on, eh?


Twitter is: “currently the hottest networking site on the web.”


Daily Express: 14 January 2009

The newspaper, who possibly needed to explain what the internet was to its readers as late as 2008, waited until tabloid bĂȘte noir SHAMED JONATHAN WOSSY WOSS does a thing on it before mentioning Twitter.


Twitter is: An “online […] blog”. As opposed to all those offline blogs you get. On parchment.


Sadly, no results from the Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard or Metro, due to aforesaid search rubbishness, though you’re all welcome to delve through their archives in search of early Twitter mentions. Google site searches by date don’t work for them, by the way, as that includes results for modern-day Twitter mentions embedded in each site’s CSS.

Meanwhile, for the four newspapers who provide useful search functions allowing for a breakdown by year, here are some charts. Everyone likes charts. Wholly non-scientific, what with each of the following including uses of the word ‘Twitter’ in the context of both the website and the noise birds makes, but interesting. Well, slightly interesting. Possibly only if you’re us.







NEXT UPDATE: The last ever instances of ‘Google Plus’ in UK newspapers. Or not.