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Are you an Office Evangelist?

10:57 UK time, Friday, 13 March 2009

wirecrop_203.jpgThe cultish American cop show The Wire is finally coming to terrestrial TV.

It's one of a long line of TV shows that have made the journey from relative obscurity to mainstream recognition. One of the key "vectors", as a medical type might say, is the word-of-mouth spread that is possible in larger workplaces.

Here we have the Office Evangelist, the figure in the office, factory, shop, building site, or other workplace, whose job it is to persuade their workmates to watch a new show and so lift it from obscurity. They may have chanced upon the first episode or bought a boxed set on a whim.

Their espousal of the new show spreads through their friendship, commendatory conversations happen by the watercooler, and DVDs are circulated.

The Wire started out on Fx, a channel unavailable except to those with satellite and cable. But in other cases programmes have started out on unvaunted late-night slots on mainstream channels, like Peep Show, before eventually leaping into the national televisual consciousness.

Either way it's time for the Office Evangelist to have their say.

Send us examples of the ways you persuaded your workmates to watch and what once obscure goggle-box classics you led them to.

Perhaps you could tell us about how annoyed you get by people going on about programmes you can't actually watch, or how it feels to be unable to talk about a show because no-one you know has actually watched it yet.


  • Comment number 1.

    Despite the recent media interest, I'm still trying to get my friends to watch Mad Men..

  • Comment number 2.

    I modestly take full responsibilty for moving Heroes from the Sci Fi channel onto BBC2 through not shutting up about it. I am now trying the same tactic to get Firefly recognised as the best programme ever made, with the ultimate ambition that producers will just have to find the cash so that Joss Whedon can make the rest of them and finally tell me why Book knows so much about the Alliance, gangsters and well, pretty much everything.

  • Comment number 3.

    For me what is more frustrating is not being able to see BBC Scotland TV programmes down here in middle England. There are lots of excellent music programmes that I would love to see, Celtic Connections during this past January for example, and they aren't available even via iPlayer. The anomaly is that BBC Alba the Gaelic speaking Scotland TV channel is on iPlayer!

    BBC Wales has some excellent output too, especially nature stuff, but again it is difficult to find and usually only viewable via the programme website.

    As far as I am concerned my license fee goes towards the BBC in it's entirety so why not utilise the excellent 'National' programming and show it across the four channels and iPlayer. Would end so many repeats plus fill the empty daytime on Three and Four.

    With the way we, the consumer, are wanting our media to be accessible 'on demand' 24/7 having artificial National borders to BBC TV programme output is a nonsense.

    My reception is via Freeview & broadband, cable is not available here and can't afford satellite on my pension.

    I can listen to all of the excellent BBC Radio output across the UK online and do that in order to hear the best Folk programmes from local stations and Scotland. For UK news I can check the whole of the UK BBC News online. TV needs to catch up with this accessibility.

  • Comment number 4.

    I told anyone who would listen to watch Being Human a few weeks back. They were sceptical about it, assuming it would be just another family-friendly fantasy show. It took some convincing but I got quite a few to give it a try, and they universally loved it.

    Thanks to the whole series being on the iplayer, it didn't matter that it was 2 or 3 weeks in as they could catch up from the start. By the end we were all gossiping about the big finale over coffee. About a dozen people I know are now celebrating it getting a second series!

  • Comment number 5.

    We have a gal at work from Northern New Jersey who is an avid Sopranos fan. She even has an Uncle Jun of her own. When she asked us for status that was needed by a certain deadline, I quietly asked if Uncle Jun would be paying us a visit if we did not comply. She answered back that he had taught her all she needed to know in that regard. Come to think of it, she did have a certain command of that Louisville slugger at the annual softball game.

  • Comment number 6.

    I loved Being Human too. But no-one else watched. Sooooo frustrating!

  • Comment number 7.

    Dark Place

    For months I thought I was the only one who had seen this.

    I always beg people to watch these things but then I'm slightly sad when everyone else is raving about it.

    One of the most quotable shows there is.

  • Comment number 8.

    I am constantly seeking out new tv shows and if they interest me you can be sure I wont be able to shut up to friends, family and co-workers.

    Recent favourites include: Fringe, Dirty Sexy Money (both are unsure of continuing production but I hope building support for them here may help the cause - go seek them out!), 30 Rock, Dexter, Heroes, Lost, and the BBC 3 drama Being Human which I think is brilliant. I'm quite impressed by the first episode of Life Spam, which gave me quite a giggle.

    I am also an avid twitterer and really impressed by the Peep Show tweeting experiment, which takes the tv show to whole new platform and surprisingly pulls it off fantastically.

  • Comment number 9.

    My favourite show no one else I know in person watches is on another channel, so I probably shouldn't mention it! Fortunately, thanks to the power of social networking, I have friends and fellow fans around the world who do watch it, that I can share the enjoyment with, which helps ease the pain of blank looks when people ask about the picture of the lead actor on my desk!

  • Comment number 10.

    I don't watch tv and am always trying to persuade people not to watch. Just don't tell the boss. (I work for a tv station.)

  • Comment number 11.

    As the new Battlestar Galactica draws to a close, I still cannot persuade anyone I know to think of it as anything other than 'just another boring sci-fi show'. This is immensely frustrating, as it is easily one of the best TV programmes ever made. It mixes the human drama of The Sopranos with the political intrigue of The West Wing, set in a future world that puts Star Trek to shame.


  • Comment number 12.

    I have successfully created a number of Dexter addicts. A brilliant show that has started popping up on digital terrestrial now. Well behind the US. Again, it first appeared on FX. It's a brilliant show about a serial killer working as a blood spatter expert for the police. Genius!

  • Comment number 13.

    Although its a bit late, I take credit for getting an awful lot of people into West Wing in the past year or so.
    My parents had loved it when it was on, but I hadn't been intersted. Whilst staying with them last Christmas I watched the first episode on DVD and was hooked, and finishe the entire series in about 3 weeks. I then preached about it to anyone who would listen, and now have none of my DVDs as they are doing the rounds amongst various friends!

  • Comment number 14.

    Think how many people would have missed "Monty Python's Flying Circus" but for serious peer pressure to watch it!

    At 15 ish, I was hardly interested in a Circus programme!

    More recently - "Being Human"; "Malcolm in the Middle".

    But most certainly "Coupling". Perhaps the best, cleverest and funniest programme ever.

  • Comment number 15.

    Ha ha ha. It's me!! I've spent the past two years indoctrinating everyone about the Wire.

    I think four seasons of it are doing the rounds of my office at the moment. I liken myself to a Christian missionary in the Pacific Islands spreading the gospel.

    Enter the church of David Simon my son....they don't know what's coming next - Generation Kill.

    Shame on the BBC though, they usually work close with HBO, slow on the uptake on this one.

    NOTE to beeb's bosses: snap Gen. Kill up NOW!

  • Comment number 16.

    Although I have not evangalised for any obscure TV shows, in my life I certainly have done so for a lot of bands. I put my friends onto Queen, Talking Heads, Stranglers, and Blondie before they broke. But I also told everybody that this band I saw in 1977 I think called Ultravox were rubbish.

    Though now not quite so in touch with the latest music scene I put the younger generation in touch with some of the music of the old bands you never hear of these days.

    The most successful is my evangalisation of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. All my recordings are on vinyl, but the fact they are on Napster really helps. Biggest disappointment is my failure to push Nick Drake. Maybe I just don't meet the right kind of people?

  • Comment number 17.

    A vast majority of the most respected shows in modern television have come from relative obscurity. Family Guy was on Sky One in the middle of the day when I started watching it years ago before it got cancelled. It was only brought back due to popular demand for the DVDs and now it's one of the most dominant animated series on tv alongside The Simpsons and South Park.
    At the moment my favourite shows are coming from a whole new place. No longer are the sleeper hits of the future coming from obscure Sky channels or midnight Channel 4, now the Internet is playing a massive role in tomorrows entertainment and TV companies are starting to take notice. Whitest Kids U Know currently airing on US channel IFC and gaining significant following both sides of the Atlantic came from a sketch series posted on the internet by a bunch of friends who are now making some of the funniest freshest sketches out there and are slowly working their way into the mainstream. I wouldn't be surprised if one of the progressive UK channels like Channel 4 or BBC3 pick it up soon enough and then it'll become common knowledge. You heard it here first haha.

    Today because of the way we communicate and talk about shows even if a show is on public access in Tibet if it's good people will see it and with sites like YouTube (whether legal or not) friends are going to pass copies of episodes to eachother and spread the word . . . but still companies like the BBC restrict their on demand services to 7 days or current shows which just isn't how people watch TV anymore. Today you sit down and watch a few episodes of Prison Break on the internet then take a week off and then think 'Oh I wonder what happened next'. TV companies in the UK are losing so much interest and money by not adapting to this model. Luckily Channel 4 and Virgin are really pushing archive based on demand TV which has already proven to be the way forward with companies such as Fox in the US already offering 70%+ of all show's its aired in the past 30 years availible in full through a variety of online sites either hosted by them or a third party company . . . yet still I have to pirate copies of Life On Mars or wait a year or two for the BBC to run it again on obscure Freeview channels which I'll probably complete miss for the first few weeks just to not knowing it's on or have to work one night and miss a big chunk of the story and have to wait till next time around or carry on blind for the rest of the series.

    This blog in a way is covering this as if it's innovative and new . . . It isn't. This is last generations TV. This is old news. Today we've taken it one step further and shows get big off the back of their circulation on YouTube, TV forums and sites like imdb and TVRage. There is a whole community these days based on the internet devoted to routing out these hidden shows and making them public. Maybe 5-10 years ago you'd catch something and tell your friends and it'd spread but today it's an active process. People have easy access to entertainment so actually watch TV for its programming value as opposed to generations past where it was on so you'd watch it.

    Old news yet again being propagated by the BBC blog as breaking news haha.
    Keep up lads.

  • Comment number 18.

    Different people get recommendations in different ways. I certainly look around on the internet to see what is well-regarded and think about giving it a try, although such is my self-motivation that I've been thinking about watching The Wire for at least a year now and maybe will eventually do so when it shows up on the BBC. Maybe.

    But having had another tv evangelist convince me to watch several of what are now my favourite shows of all time, I do try to spread the word whenever possible. I try to pick my targets, and my work doesn't have many people who would love the things I do, but I do feel a moderate sense of achievement at having convinced one co-worker to watch the modern Battlestar Galactica. Okay, I think he likes it for the explosions and sexy robots more than the deeper themes, but I'll take my successes where I can get them.

  • Comment number 19.

    I have to admit to passing on my enthusiasm for "Firefly" to quite a few people, as it was passed to me by my son and daughter, but, unfortunately, much too late to save the series. A real pity!

  • Comment number 20.

    I helped make Jon LaJoie fameus, check him out on You Tube, stay at home dad, sunday afternoon, normal guy, he's too cool for tv, internet superstar.

  • Comment number 21.

    Most of my recommendations come from freinds or on message boards, you can generally find one other person in your office who is a secret tv geek as well.

    One show I would recommend which I got my dad hooked on as well was Supernatural which is just as much of a cult show in america as it is here. But you should watch it for it is scary and funny. Plus the brothers winchester are easy on the eye as well.

    good on the bbc for getting the wire means I can watch it with out ad breaks which is also nice.

  • Comment number 22.

    I banged on about "The Wrong Door" (pun intended) to all to would listen.

    And while I discovered "Fifteen Storeys High" too late to evangelise it properly, I still loan my DVD to friends and describe it as "the funniest show you've never seen". Can we have it back on our screens please?

  • Comment number 23.

    I tell everyone I've ever met about Flight of the Conchords (although it was introduced to me by a Kiwi) It is fabulous - dry humour and witty songs, what more could you want? Please show Season 2 on our screens soon!

  • Comment number 24.

    I always watch the most obscure programmes and try to evangelise to my co-workers and friends, howvere, it doesn't always catch on, especially if the show itself vanishes into obscurity because of low ratings in America.

    I've loved Dexter, Firefly, Being Human, The IT Crowd and other more obscure programmes for a long time, but the one that irritatres me at the moment is that I absolutely adore 'Pushing Daisies' but have just found out it's going to be axed at the end of the second series. It was a wonderful series and I highly recommend everyone watch it while they still can.

    As for Firefly, it was a fantastic programme, but was wrapped up well with the 'Serenity' movie. It's another example of a great sci-fi/fantasy series that was well made with brilliant story lines but was doomed to an early death...

  • Comment number 25.

    Sorry ShoTown, but the vast majority of people wouldn't go near sites like that - and certainly wouldn't take advice on what to watch from strangers with whom they have next to nothing in common. It's hard enough getting someone you know well, and with the same taste as you, to agree to give something a go.

    It may be nice for a small online community to interact that way but most word-of-mouth takes place face to face, not someone on the other side of the world imploring you to illegally download a show to watch it. The friends you see every day need to be watching something at the same pace as you or you can no longer talk about it, which is half the fun.

    You say you have to pirate copies of Life on Mars in order to watch it, as if it wasn't possible to buy the box sets for £11, which it is. Or watch it on Virgin On Demand in its entirity. Or watch it repeated on Bravo. Haha.

  • Comment number 26.

    I've persuaded people into watching (and enjoying) Green Wing, Life on Mars, Heroes and Foyle's War.

    Disappointingly I never got anyone into watching Being Human which I thought was entirely fantastic and signed the petition for the series to be commissioned after watching the pilot. I know the petition probably had very little effect on the producers (they claim it didn't anyway) but I still feel like part of the story.

    Oh and I used to watch old Doctor Who episodes on UKGold before RTD was thinking about Billie Piper as a companion.

  • Comment number 27.

    Might I add to the praise heaped on Generation Kill? I avoided Band of Brothers like the plague much to my husband's disgust, but am blown away by Gen Kill. Also, Life (another gem hidden away on FX) and which Virgin Media tried to hide even deeper by initially scheduling it as NCIS! Damien Lewis is compelling and wonderfully Zen. Finally, sorry to be obvious, but there's nothing out there to beat Mad Men even though trying to explain it to people who watch not much more than Eastenders is difficult - I've now come down to "stylish ennui", but they just don't understand the sheer joy of it.

  • Comment number 28.

    the best C4 Black Books, A friend loved it and I hunted teh DVD box set, FAB every time

  • Comment number 29.

    Breaking Bad is the next big thing. Season 2 has just started in the USA, it stars Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle) as a chemistry teacher who turns his hand to producing illegal drugs.
    Go check it out!

  • Comment number 30.

    Boston Legal. This absolute gem was enormous in America, won award after award and was the most watched show among people in the highest earning bracket, which I feel is testament to its intelligent dialogue and scathing humour. Hidden away on one of the living channels over here though. Look it up.

    I agree that the new Battlestar is great but it's one of Sky1's flagship shows along with 24 and Lost so I find it tough to consider it unknown...

    On the strength of the posts here I'm definitely going to look up Generation Kill and Breaking Bad, but I also have to VERY strongly recommend Californication with David 'Mulder' Duchovny. Absolutely brilliant telly!

  • Comment number 31.

    Always found the blank stares after mentioning Oz frustrating.

    Oh and Billybowman, what is this Darkplace you mention? *Ahem* Anyway back to work otherwise Wonton will be all over me like knockers in a wind tunnel!

  • Comment number 32.

    Despite the arguments of its enthusiasts, telling me it gets better as it goes on, I can't work up much excitement regarding The Wire. It seems not much of a development from other US cop shows such as Homicide and The Street. Against, say, Hill Street Blues or the more recent The Shield, its characters seem two-dimensional and stereotypical. Take the police protagonist: a white, middleaged cop fighting cynicism and alcoholism and trying to get back with his wife - oh please. I suspect that the reason so many people claim that it's their favourite programme is the same reason so many people claim to have read 1984 - they're terrified to admit they don't really like such stuff. Let's face it, just because a TV show is "cult viewing" doesn't mean it's any good.

  • Comment number 33.

    Can I recommend Still Game, written and performed by Greg Hemphill and Ford Kiernan? This delightful BBC Scots comedy is everything you would wish in a sitcom - it's funny and angry and poignant, and makes some wonderful points about the world, principally about the reality of getting old. You'd think it would have replaced Last of the Summer Wine years ago as standard Sunday evening fare, especially as it's BAFTA winning. Instead, it's unknown south of the border, having been shown in ridiculous graveyard slots.


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