The World According to GoggleboxText

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Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris

Foreword by

Craig Cash and Caroline Aherne

Illustrations by

Quinton Winter

Published in Great Britain in 2014 by Canongate Books Ltd, 14 High Street,

Edinburgh EH1 1TE

This digital edition first published in 2014 by Canongate Books

Text and photography © Studio Lambert

Programme and format © Studio Lambert

Foreword © Craig Cash and Caroline Aherne, 2014

The moral right of the author has been asserted

Design © Unreal Ltd, 2014

Illustrations © Quinton Winter

Additional photography

Page 208 © Shutterstock

Page 231 © Jason Hazeley

Page 232 © BBC Photo Library

Page 234 © Tony Larkin/Rex

Endpaper artwork © @goggleblox (Fiona Evans)

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available on request from the British Library.

ISBN 978 1 78211 489 5

Export ISBN 978 1 78211 598 4

eISBN 978 1 78211 491 8




Leon & June

Stephen & Chris

Steph & Dom

The Moffatts

The Michaels

The Siddiquis

Rev. Kate & Graham

The Woerdenwebers

Sandy & Sandra

Bill & Josef

The Tappers

Linda, Pete & George



Caroline Aherne and Craig Cash

Imagine watching Jim Royle watching Gogglebox.

‘Barbara, have you seen this shite? They’re expecting us to watch people we’ve never even heard of, sat around watching TV and carping on about it. Who in their right mind would do that, Barb? Gogglebox, my arse!’

The following Friday at 9 p.m. you’re watching Gogglebox, where the wonderful regulars are watching The Royle Family watching them and saying something much funnier than we could ever write. It could happen. It probably will one day, once we get over the fact that the child we have spawned is much funnier than we are. We could never have written Leon and June sat watching as the titles to When Corden Met Barlow rolled.

LEON: Who’s Barlow?

JUNE: Gary Barlow!

LEON: Oh no. TWO dickheads!

Gogglebox is not only properly funny, it’s also brave, true, heartwarming and heartbreaking. Each episode is assembled with a remarkable deftness of touch and a clear fondness for each of the participants.

When so much TV would have us believe that Britain is broken, you only have to watch Gogglebox to realise that it isn’t broken at all. It’s alive and well, with the biggest and warmest of hearts.

A work of sheer genius.

Caroline Aherne and Craig Cash (Sat on a sofa, pissed up with Steph and Dom)


Tania Alexander

Jim Royle’s likely dismissive scoffing at an episode of Gogglebox is pretty much the reaction a lot of people had when we presented them with the idea of a TV show where we watch people watching television. To them, it seemed like the moment when TV was about to eat itself whole and regurgitate the contents of its own stomach across the screen.

But that was, of course, before they’d seen a single frame of it.

Gogglebox required us to believe in one simple notion: that the great British public knows best when it comes to what the television makers serve up. The moment when it became clear that this very simple idea would work was when we filmed our very first audition with one particular Liverpudlian family. The family consisted of Mum, Dad and two grown-up twentysomething children still living at home. Talking to them in their living room, while they watched telly, a producer asked them what they thought the BBC stood for – as in its values. The following conversation unfolded, unprompted …

DAUGHTER (25): Er, B … B … C … Well, it stands for British Broadcasting … er … Company. Doesn’t it?

SON (29): No … British … Broad … casting … Corporation.

DAUGHTER: NO! That’s not right, ’cause then it would be BBCC!

The son rolled his eyes.

DAUGHTER: So what does ITV stand for then? Inter … national Television?

DAD (employing a slightly weary tone): No, you div, Independent Television.

The daughter looked down, and paused momentarily. Then, as if a light bulb had just been switched on in her head, she looked up and with a huge smile gleefully announced …

‘Oh, that’s brilliant, that is … so those mings at Channel 4 … they couldn’t even be arsed coming up with a mammogram!’

Cue further rolling of eyes and groaning from parents and brother alike.

It was this moment when we knew that Gogglebox would work. Not just because of the unintentional humour involved, but because of the remarkable interaction that occurs when we sit down with the people we love to watch television.

Sadly, the family mentioned elected not to take part in the series, and I often wonder what they make of it. Then again, the current cast of Gogglebox have delighted us week in, week out with far more priceless gems of genuine wit, wisdom and heartfelt humanity, so much more than I could ever have imagined.

For me, Gogglebox belongs to each and every one of them, and so does this book.

Tania AlexanderExecutive Producer of Channel 4’s Gogglebox

JOSH: Do you think Japanese people will become extinct?
BILL: Snakes have two penises, don’t they?
LEON: They’re all strange, people who do allotments.
STEPHEN: If they’re going to make mannequins more realistic, give them bingo wings.
SANDRA: What’s inside a penis? Meat?
JUNE: You shouldn’t split things with a swear word, Leon.
DOM: I very nearly got my nipple pierced in Ireland on my stag weekend. Thank God it was shut.
STEPHEN: Well, that’s bored the shit out of me arse.
SCARLETT: He is beautiful, isn’t he? His face looks like it’s been carved by angels.

BAASIT: Do you know that a beaver can kill a man? It chomps down on you and can cut the femoral artery.
JUNE: Do you remember the time when we were invited out and you threw up on somebody’s carpet?
LEON: Yes. He’s dead now, isn’t he?
LINDA: How do they know what’s going to be the weather? Do they measure something?
DOM: ‘What did you do in the office today, darling?’ ‘I wanked a walrus.’
UMAR: What’s a micropenis?
STEPHEN: Where do they find these people from? She looks like fucking Ken Dodd.
LINDA: I know a man named Hitler. You’d think he’d change his name, wouldn’t you?
BAASIT: I’ve like rushed home to go to the toilet, but never to watch a programme about toilets.
STEPH: I thought the world was going to explode when we ran out of gin.
BILL: You know Alfred Hitchcock didn’t have a belly button, don’t you?
LEON: I want a Smartphone.
JUNE: Leon, you’re not smart enough to have a Smartphone.
SANDRA: The last time I saw a tub of Vaseline I wasn’t very happy when I saw it.
STEPHEN: I love Dave. We named our dildo after him.
BAASIT: The further north you go, the more bear-like women look. I’m sure there’s been studies done in that.
LEON: Didn’t I go out with a girl who was in for Miss Shell Oil Refinery?
UMAR: One of Hull’s problems is that it’s called Hull.
VIV: I wanted to be on Jim’ll Fix It. I’m very glad Jim didn’t fix it for me, I’m telling you. Ugh.
STEPHEN: She’s gone out looking for a meteorite, but she’s fucking minge-deep in snow.
LINDA: What’s the best birthday you’ve ever had?
PETE: You had laryngitis once.
SANDRA: I love Antique Roadshow. Posh car boot sale.
LOUIS: Baldrick, time has not been good to you, my friend.
UMAR: What do you call a Pakistani guy standing in between two houses?
SID: I don’t know.
UMAR: Ali.
DOM: I’ll end up negative equity, you’ll take the house back, I’ll probably end up in prison playing hide the sausage with Mad Axeman Mallard.
STEPHEN: I ain’t going to fucking Harvester for Christmas dinner.
LOUIS: The bigger the mug, the more important the family member.
STEPH: Thank God that’s over. Phew. Can we watch some porn now?
LEON: Well, if we had to evacuate the house, there’s not really much I’d take, I couldn’t get my television out. So the only thing I’d save would be you, darling. I’d put you on my back and carry you out.

Leon & June



Leon, 79, and June, 77, have been married for

54 years. They are both retired teachers.

Leon taught History (to Wayne Rooney’s

aunts and uncles, among others) and June

taught English (to Willy Russell’s children,

among others). Leon is a keen bridge player,

and June enjoys swimming. They have two

daughters and three grandchildren.


LEON: Teacher training college, 1955. I’d just done National Service in the army and you came from South Wales. And there was this beautiful girl… and that was it.

JUNE: We had to be in at 10.30 at night. And nobody broke the rules, or you were sent down for three days. We liked the big bands in those days, and they used to come to the town halls, and we used to go. But you had to ask permission. You had to be on the last bus back: it dropped you in the village at quarter to twelve, and you were in before midnight. And you had to have a signed pass.

LEON: It was very hard with my parents, though, because I’m Jewish and June isn’t. So we had murders before we could get married.

JUNE: Leon’s an only child, so it was very difficult for his parents to come to terms with.

LEON: But in the end we won through, didn’t we?

JUNE: Once they realised that we were determined to get married with or without their blessing, they came to terms with it.

LEON: We used to watch Coronation Street with my parents.

JUNE: That’s right. Your mother started watching it and said, ‘Oh, you’ve got to come over and watch it.’ We’d been married about six months.

LEON: And we finally got a television.

JUNE: Rented, in those days. Leon did nights at play centres after school to pay the television rental. And then, when we had the children there were always good programmes on Sunday teatime – Anne of Green Gables, Little Women…

LEON: Wind in the Willows.

JUNE: And we’d sit with the children and have a picnic tea. We had a travel rug, and we used to pretend we were outside. They used to do their homework and we used to do our marking all at the same time in various parts of the house. And then it was, right, it’s tea, everybody’s finished, everything’s away, we’re all going to do this together. I’ve always made a point where we eat together and we watch some TV together.


LEON: I’m a member of Liverpool Bridge Club and last year two girls came in looking for people. And I got talking to them, and they said, ‘This programme’s coming out – are you interested?’

JUNE: He always comes home with a story. He said, ‘Guess what? Somebody from TV was there today.’ I said, right. (I thought he meant playing bridge.) He said, ‘We could be on TV.’ I said, don’t be ridiculous. And he goes on and on and on about it. I thought, it’s such a simple idea, it’s not going to catch on.


LEON: We were getting hugged in John Lewis yesterday.

JUNE: We went down to London to see the tennis last November. And this woman came up and said, ‘Hi, June. How are you?’ I said, ‘Hello.’ And she said, ‘Where’s Leon?’

I just couldn’t believe it. After that, we were stopped probably a dozen times that day. I mean, I’m not surprised in Liverpool, because Liverpool love their own, but London? We were just staggered.

LEON: We saw Anna Ivanovich play Venus Williams. Ivanovich was wearing red knickers.

JANE: I love you Leon, but please keep your clothes on. @LeonAndJune #Gogglebox



LEON: I think, ‘My wife’s still beautiful.’ For your sixtieth I took you to Vienna and Salzburg. Wonderful, absolutely wonderful, Salzburg. We waltzed onto the balcony in Vienna, didn’t we?

JUNE: Yes.

LEON: To Strauss…

JUNE: I wasn’t happy about the ‘Show Us Your Knicks’ thing.

LEON: You’ve always looked gorgeous in your knicks. And your bottom’s nice as well. I mentioned that.

JUNE: What you see on TV is what we really are.

LEON: I say what I like.

JUNE: And we’re used to performing, I suppose. And as a teacher, you perform in every lesson. You’ve got to sell your subject. If you don’t, those young people are going to have a bleak future.

LEON: I always thought I was brilliant anyway.

JUNE: If you tell Leon to say something, he’ll immediately say the opposite, just to be perverse. And Leon has the most grotesque clothes. You know, sometimes I stand in the hall and say, we’re not going out with you dressed like that. You can wear it to bridge. With all your lovely ladies.

Leon and June with 'our Helen' (left) and 'our Julie' (right), taken on Julie’s first birthday, January 1966.


LEON: I like watching stuff that makes me laugh. I’ll go in the other room and watch Gold. Victor Meldrew (who I’m compared to), Hyacinth Bucket, The Likely Lads, Last of the Summer Wine… I love all those. Have I Got News For You. We love that.

JUNE: And Would I Lie To You?

LEON: Rob Brydon.

JUNE: I like Rageh Omaar. I like Hazel Irvine, who does the snooker. And Julie Walters. She’s great at whatever she does.

LEON: Brilliant. And Miranda Hart. Love her. I don’t fancy her, but she’s very funny. Her expressions. And the way she throws herself on the floor. And Jeeves and Wooster.

JUNE: Hugh Laurie’s very talented, isn’t he?

LEON: Frasier. I love him. I watch him every morning and I’ve seen them all.

JUNE: He’s got the box set.

LEON: Martin, the father, he’s got a chair like me.

JUNE: I can’t decide who he is: Victor Meldrew or Martin.

LEON: I used to like Bill Turnbull on Breakfast. Then I found out he was at public school. So he’s off the list.


LEON: Sharpe is my favourite.

JUNE: Now, I won’t watch that.

LEON: Sean Bean is brilliant.

JUNE: I don’t like anything with war. Particularly if it’s battle scenes and things – I don’t like anything like that. That’s why I never liked history at school: because we always did wars and it’s quite graphic on TV. I feel physically sick when I watch it.

LEON: Diners, Drive-Ins And Dives.

JUNE: That’s awful.

LEON: Because I’m a big eater, and they’re throwing onions in, and steaks and chickens – incredible.

JUNE: Heart attack on a plate.

The sign that greets you in Leon and June’s front porch.



LEON: I’m in charge of the remote. She takes it off me occasionally.

JUNE: As a fellow at work once said, ‘Leave us with the remote, it’s the only power we males have these days.’


LEON: Television can involve you. You become part of it. It’s entertainment. And it’s company for old people, who love a lot of the programmes. I hate people who say, ‘Oh, I never watch television.’ I mean, what’s wrong with you, pal? I hate people who say they don’t drink. That annoys me as well.

JUNE: At our age we have a lot of friends who are on their own – they’ve lost their wives or husbands. And they say, particularly in the winter when it’s dark, they draw the curtains and the only person they have a relationship with is the television in the corner.

STEPH: Basil Brush made me laugh. And Frank Spencer.
DOM: The Goodies. The Banana Splits. ‘One banana, two banana, three banana, four …’
STEPH: ‘La la la …’ I’m there now.
DOM: And On the Buses.
STEPH: On the Buses? Are you mad?
DOM: No. Not On the Buses. The kids’ programme, The Double Deckers.
STEPH: I liked The Herbs.
DOM: The Magic Roundabout. Dylan was always …
STEPH: Off his tits. But Sooty and all that lot? No. Oh, and Rainbow? Forget it. Zippy. Christ. Zip it up and throw it away.
DOM: Batman. Pow and kazam! And Hartley Hare from Pipkins was OK when I was ill.
STEPH: When you put your thermometer on the radiator. Do you remember that? ‘A temperature of 120?’ ‘I’m really ill! I really am!’ ‘Yep, you’re dead.’
CHRIS: Blind Date. Surprise Surprise.
STEPHEN: We were allowed to stay up late to watch Dallas. But back then, we didn’t have a pot to piss in and we had a TV that had a pay box on it. And you used to put 50p in it and wind it on, and that would give you four hours’ worth of viewing. And you’d get a collection of 50ps in the box. The man would come and empty it once a month, take out the rental (because we rented the TV), take a bit out for the licence fee, and what was left you got back.
Dallas went out on a Wednesday night at eight. So, we were allowed to stay up for that. But sometimes we didn’t have another 50p, so we’d miss the end of Dallas. And if Mum had no more money, to entertain us she used to take her teeth out and gurn. And we would all roll about laughing and then go to bed.
When I was very young, I watched Magic Roundabout, Rainbow, the man that used to go in the cupboard in the fancy dress shop … Mr Benn. Loved that.
CHRIS: Because I’m five years younger than you it was all Phillip Schofield, you know, in the broom cupboard.
STEPHEN: See, I was out joyriding by then.
ANDREW: Watch with Mother – that I did actually used to watch with my mother.
ANDREW: My favourite one was The Flowerpot Men. And my second favourite was Andy Pandy. And as a five-year-old, I actually used to look forward to the bit where he gets in the basket at the end with Looby Loo, because I knew there was something going on.
CAROLYNE: In the basket.
ANDREW: I didn’t know what it was at five, but I was bloody sure there was something going on.
CAROLYNE: When we first met, that was our frame of reference, wasn’t it? You were Andy Pandy and I was Looby Loo.
ANDREW: Do you remember the Jaguar XJS? I used to get the Looby Loo that was you and hang it up in the XJS. But in addition to the two that I’ve just mentioned, Stingray, Joe 90, Captain Scarlet, Thunderbirds, Lost in Space and Star Trek.
CAROLYNE: I used to look forward to watching Top of the Pops, because that was the only time we’d ever get to see any groups, wasn’t it?
ANDREW: Don’t think I ever watched one episode of Top of the Pops.
CAROLYNE: Oh! Blue Peter! I got a Blue Peter badge. For complaining.
ANDREW: Did you?
CAROLYNE: They gave it to me as a consolation prize because I came down to Brighton to see Valerie Singleton, Peter Purves and John Noakes. I was a massive fan of Blue Peter. Every week, when they used to get the Fairy Liquid bottles out, I used to make everything. I was there with all my cereal boxes and polystyrene and that sticky back plastic.
Well, I came down to see them on the London to Brighton – I must have been about nine or ten – and I was so excited to meet them, to go and say hello and get their autographs. And I went up to the car where they were and I think they had minders or something. And they just pushed me away and said, ‘Oh no, no, go away, you can’t meet the presenters,’ and I was so, so upset. I wrote a letter to the BBC and so, as a consolation prize, I got a letter signed by all the Blue Peter cast, and a Blue Peter badge. I really liked Peter Purves, I have to say. John Noakes I wasn’t so keen on, perhaps because he wasn’t so good-looking.
LOUIS: I remember a time when we were watching a film and there was a sex scene or something like that. And I was nine or ten, quite young, and Mum was trying to put her hands over my eyes. And I was thinking, get back, woman. I have to grow up some time.
ANDREW: When’s that time going to come?
CAROLYNE: Yeah. We’re still waiting.
LOUIS: I sometimes put my hands over my own eyes. Still can’t deal with it.
SANDY: Joe 90. Magic Roundabout. Button Moon.
SANDRA: The Osmonds. Hawaii Five-0. Kojak.
SANDY: CHiPs. Stingray!
SANDRA: ‘Mariiiii-naaaa … Aquamariiiii-naaaaa …’
SANDY: Bionic Woman.
SANDRA: All them hardcore things made us as we are today. We didn’t do Bill and Ben and Humpty Dumpty.
MARK: My favourite cartoon when I was a kid was Marine Boy.
BETTY: I used to like things like The Famous Five, and Worzel Gummidge and Doctor Who, even though I was scared of it then.
SCARLETT: Noddy. Johnny Bravo. CatDog. Goosebumps. Robot Wars.
MARK: We used to love Robot Wars.
SCARLETT: Oh, me and my dad were seriously going to do it, weren’t we? We were going to get stuff from work so that we could make one. But we ended up just buying the crappy ones that you made.
BETTY: They used to love Robot Wars.
MARK: With Craig Charles off Red Dwarf. Used to love Red Dwarf.
SCARLETT: Ah, Red Dwarf. Well, actually, as a kid, I am a bit weird, like, I really liked The Young Ones, Red Dwarf, Bottom, The Thin Blue Line, stuff like that. Stuff that my friends didn’t really get, and were, like, ‘What is this?’ Because, when I was little, I used to go to my nan’s and I used to watch things like Norman Wisdom and stuff. So I’m a bit weird like that.
JONATHAN: I used to like Tiswas. With Spit the Dog. And Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World. And The Littlest Hobo. I loved dogs.
NIKKI: ‘Down the road, that’s where I want to beeee …’ And I loved Jim’ll Fix It. Shhh. And Jonathan loved Star Wars when he was a kid. I just do not get Star Wars. It’s the most boring thing.
JONATHAN: No. Star Wars is brilliant.
NIKKI: When the kids saw it, Josh just wanted to know where it was set.
JOSH: I didn’t know it was meant to be set on another planet like Avatar is or … I don’t know, like a fantasy planet. Or two separate planets and they fought in space.
JONATHAN: Star Wars. It’s set in the stars.
GRAHAM: Well, obviously, my parents were so middle-class we didn’t even have a telly.
KATE: Grew up without a telly.
GRAHAM: No cultural references.
KATE: So, a lot of the time I’ll say things like, oh, Chorlton and the Wheelies – and Graham will go, ‘What?’ So, when I’m introducing my kids to stuff, I sometimes have to introduce Graham too. I’ll go, ‘Do you not remember this?’ And he’ll go, ‘I didn’t watch telly in the 70s.’ But what about the TV that you sneaked into the vicarage?
GRAHAM: Oh yeah. I mended a telly and just put it in my room.
KATE: And your mum used to come in and watch tennis on it when your dad wasn’t looking.
GRAHAM: One day, Dad said, ‘You shouldn’t have that – you haven’t got a licence.’ I went, ‘I’ve just bought one.’
KATE: He bought his own TV licence.
GRAHAM: Mum said, ‘I think you should get rid of it.’ I said, but you’ve just been watching tennis for the past two hours, so are you sure about that? The next week they went out and bought a colour telly.
LINDA: Lassie. I used to just cry my eyes out at Lassie.
PETE: Grandstand.
LINDA: See, we’re so different.

ANDREW: It’s like a Victorian freak show.
BAASIT: Jesus Christ, man. One million people haven’t got anything better to do on a Sunday night.
AMY: What does the ‘X’ stand for? Xylophone?
BAASIT: You know it’s a shit performance when the first thing Dermot pays compliment to is the stage.
STEPHEN: Nicole’s put too much bloody baby oil on, hasn’t she? She looks like someone’s just come over her. Look, she’s all jizzy.

SCARLETT: I bet George Michael’s turning in his bloody grave.
STEPHEN: It’s enough to give your arsehole a headache.
RALF: It’s like karaoke after twenty pints.
SCARLETT: The first thing that I do whenever they come on Britain’s Got Talent is Google the name. And 90 per cent of the time they’ve worked on cruise ships, they’ve done big gigs, they’ve won talent contests before. And I’m just like, this is not fair. And you should never know the sob stories.
MARK: Everybody’s got a sob story.
SCARLETT: I feel like TV lies to us. I do. That’s why I like doing Gogglebox – because people have an opinion of everybody. And then, when they get to watch you a little bit more, they get to see the real you.
STEPH: Can you imagine the interviews? ‘Have you had any shit in your life? Have you lost any parents? Give us your worst shit and then you might be worth putting out.’

BAASIT: I hate Dictionary Corner. They’re a right bunch of know-it-alls. They’ve got a flipping dictionary in front of them; of course they’re going to get it.
JUNE: Passion: P-A-S-S-I-O-N.
LEON: Piss is on as well: P-I-S-S.
UMAR: Noel Edmonds is a game show host of things that aren’t game shows. They all say they’ve got a strategy. What’s the strategy? Just pick a box. It’s ridiculous. And there’s no banker there on the other line.
VIV: I’d go on Deal or No Deal. Yeah, I have a strategy actually. I know what boxes I’d pick. ’Cause I play it on the phone.
SANDY: I can’t do it. I only learnt it the other day. I think it’s boring. I can’t be arsed waiting for the banker to tell me this and tell me that. And don’t get it twisted. The banker’s always going to be right. They always say it’s like gambling, isn’t it? Casinos always end up winning in the end.