HOW I GOT STARTED AND SOME OF WHAT I’VE DONE
MY BRILLIANT CAREER…
Hello. Adam Buxton here. I was born on the Goldhawk Road in London, England on June 7th 1969. Not in the middle of the road you understand, but in a hospital. I am white and short and I live near Norwich with my wife and three children, all legally mine. I refer to myself on official documents as a ‘writer/performer’, but if it’s TV I’ll often stick ‘actor’ in there too to remind casting agents of my awesome pretending skillz. My career thusfar is divided between things I’ve done with Joe Cornish, my friend since we were 14, and things I’ve done on my own or with other people. Here’s an anecdotal CV for you. It’s by no means everything that I have been involved with (I’ve glossed over various unnecessary and upsetting appearances on some very bad TV shows for example), but it’s most of the decent or semi decent stuff.
ADAM & JOE STUFF
TAKEOVER TV (CHANNEL 4 & E4, 1996-2002)
In 1994, when I was in my final year of a sculpture degree in Cheltenham College Of Higher Education I sent in some of the videos I’d been making to a London based production company called World Of Wonder who had placed an ad in the NME asking for ‘weird, funny and original’ clips made by members of the public for a new show called Box Pops. The show ended up being called TakeoverTV and ran in various forms for 3 series and one sci-fi special on Channel 4.
I hosted the first and the last show of series 1 in 1995 providing some very, very arch links for a format that mixed earnest video diary pieces with demented stunts and sketches, all made by non professionals on home equipment. It was YouTube on TV basically. The 2nd series in 1996 was hosted entirely by myself with occasional help from my old school friend Joe Cornish and the 3rd series in 2002 (which went out on E4 only I think) was hosted by us both.
THE ADAM & JOE SHOW (CHANNEL 4, 1997 -- 2001)
This was a programme I made with Joe and for a certain generation it’s probably the thing I’m best known for in the UK (although in Denmark I’m best known as a profound thinker and gay heart surgeon). Once again it was produced by World Of Wonder and used to be on Channel 4 here in Britain on Friday or Saturday nights between about 10:30pm and midnight depending on whether they had any minor sporting events to televise, and it ran for 4 series between 1997 and 2001 with 2 specials: Adam & Joe’s Fourmative Years (a review of Channel 4′s first 15 years) and Adam & Joe’s Toymovie Special (lots of toymovies and some ropey links). We also produced a book that you can’t get any more, a video compilation of series 1&2, also no longer available and The Adam & Joe DVD, which is. For fans of air dates, here’s a list of air dates (thanks to John Lavalie for this).
I used to describe The Adam & Joe Show as Wayne’s World crossed with The Late Review, in that it was a kind of pop culture comedy review that was almost entirely home made. We shot it ourselves on mini DV cameras, built sets and props, did the lighting, sound and any writing that we needed. We also edited much of the show ourselves although that was one of the places we also had to concede to using a talented professional to help us.
For a while we were ‘cult’, ie. not that many people watched but the ones that did seemed to take it to their hearts and stay fairly loyal to it, which was exactly what we always hoped might happen. I guess it would have been nice if it had been a ratings smash and we were showered with BAFTAs and money and cake but we were amazed that we’d got on TV at all, let alone found anyone who enjoyed what we were doing.
One of the most successful parts of the show were the spoof versions of films and TV shows we would perform using old stuffed toys and Star Wars figures. They were fantastic fun to make although because it was just Joe and myself doing all the work on them, they’d take ages and by the time we’d finished the ones we needed for a series, we’d only have about a month left to fill the rest of the 6 shows. That’s why sometimes our live action material could be a little slight but on the whole the programmes were never less than interesting and every one had at least one great thing in it, I reckon!
GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL COVERAGE (BBC3, 2000 & 2002)
Back in Summer 2000, Joe and I were asked by BBC3 (or BBC Choice as it was then known) to present their Glastonbury coverage. We had a wonderful time with a great crew basically getting progressively drunk and talking to whichever pop loons happened to be drifting past our little backstage enclosure and didn’t mind talking to us. Our mission for the weekend was to talk to David Bowie who was headlining the Sunday night on the Pyramid Stage that year. We failed. Apparently he was considering doing an interview either with us or with Jo Whiley, but in the end decided to do neither and buggered off in his Bowiebus. Very zenzible.
There was no Glastonbury in 2001 (we covered the Fuji Rock Festival instead) but we were back in 2002 for an even more shambolic Glasto stint. That was the fateful year we interviewed Rolf Harris. I don’t think Rolf liked us much and after a slightly crabby and odd interview Joe commented (on air and in Rolf’s absence) that some of his behaviour was ‘verging on the slightly autistic‘. It turned out Rolf heard about the comment and flew into a rage as he quite rightly doesn’t think casual references to a condition as serious as autism are in any way acceptable, even if they are clearly not meant to be taken literally. He complained in the bitterest terms to Stuart Murphy (then controller of BBC Choice) and even threatened to stop making programmes for the Beeb! Well obviously that couldn’t be allowed to happen so Murphy sent Rolf flowers and luxury hampers and probably made vast donations to various charities and I’m glad to say Joe was forced to sit down, think about what he’d done and write Mr Harris a letter saying he was very sorry. In light of recent allegations I think Joe should ask for a letter in return.
Also whenever I tell this story Joe says “Yeah but you implied that one of the bands at Glastonbury were on cocaine while we were on air”. Perhaps I may have done that. I’d need to check.
Either way, we were never asked to go anywhere near Glastonbury with a TV crew ever again though had some fun times with 6 Music a few years later.
ADAM & JOE’S WONKY WORLD OF ANIMATION (CHANNEL 4, 2000)
Produced by Johnny Vaughan’s production company World’s End, this was a one off for Channel 4 that was shot in September 2000, and spawned a series (Adam & Joe’s American Animation Adventure) the following year.
ADAM & JOE’S AMERICAN ANIMATION ADVENTURE (CHANNEL 4, 2001)
This was series of six 10 minute shows for Channel 4′s Hot Reels Animation Season about the animation scene in Los Angeles which we shot out there in May 2001. To see the shows and find out more about them see the Adam & Joe’s American Animation Adventure section of this site but here’s one to get you going. It features an embryonic version of my character Pavel and when it was shot we and the rest of the world knew nothing of Borat. Now everyone’s got an East European in their locker! Mine is the only depressive animator though.
SHOCK VIDEO SERIES 1 & 2 (E4, BRAVO 2000-2002)
In late 2000 our friend and co-exec producer of the Adam & Joe Show, Fenton Bailey asked us if we would like to provide a new voice over for a series of self consciously trashy programmes about sex on TV around the world called Shock Video. Fenton and partner Randy Barbato‘s production company World Of Wonder had originally made the series for the US where it had aired with a straightforward Eurotrash type voice over but E4 in the UK who had just bought the series, wanted a new VO. We said we’d do it if we could re-write bits of the VO script to allow us to say what we really thought about some of the more unedifying clips. Fenton agreed and we got re-writing. We recorded the VO for the first series over a couple of days in January 2000 and it aired on E4 later that year.
In my opinion, the first series of our Shock Video was not great. Our new VO was a queasy mix of scripted and unscripted comments about the clips, which often failed to be either informative or particularly funny. On the plus side, we got a lot of money for not much work and the series did well enough (presumably because of the constant nudity) for E4 to commission another! Why can’t that happen all the time?
The second series of Shock Video (recorded in January 2002 and broadcast in February-March that year) is altogether better. Joe and I improvised a lot more, had more fun in the recording booth came up with a few moments that still make me chuckle if my day has gone sufficiently wrong for me to be up late watching a repeat (see below). Unfortunately when they repeated the shows on Bravo (for a good 5 years after they first aired) they ran both series so it was a crapshoot quality wise, with the odds in favour the crap. Purely in terms of ratings and repeats however, Shock Video was probably the most successful thing Joe and I did together on TV. We often get asked if we get repeat fees and the answer is no. I’m sorry to say it was a buyout.
YouTube saw fit to remove my ‘Vineyard Rufty’ video in which lesbians attempt to spoil the season’s finest grape crop by causing rufty, presumably following a complaint from some easily offended soul, despite my careful censoring of anything approaching a female nipple or bottom crack. I got quite angry about it in fact but I’ve calmed down now. On the whole I think it’s nice that there’s no porn on YouTube (even though graphic violence and horror is freely available, albeit tokenistically flagged) but I think they missed the point here. Weird how even the tamest consensual sex is invariably deemed far more problematic than anything else the world has to offer.
DERMOT’S SPORTING BUDDIES (BBC3, 2002)
In May of 2002 Joe and I agreed to appear in this series which featured Dermot O’Leary exploring the sporting passions of a weird bag of celebrity types (Johnny Vegas, Sean Hughes and I think Baby Spice also appeared). Because Joe and I have no sporting passions to speak of, Dermot took us to Skegness for some hardcore Go Karting. We had a blast and they did a great job of editing a couple of days of pretty rambly nonsense from Joe and myself (and the long suffering Dermot) into a highly entertaining half hour and easily our best appearance on someone else’s show.
ADAM & JOE GO TOKYO (BBC3, 2003)
In April 2003 Joe and I went out to Tokyo where we spent 10 weeks shooting a series of 8 programmes about Japanese popular culture for BBC3. The show was produced by Jonathan Ross’s company Hot Sauce and was not entirely dissimilar to Jonathan’s show Japanorama. It was intense. Tokyo is a wonderful place and the Japanese are by and large, some of the most generous and creative people you could meet. You can see pretty much the whole series (albeit in little chunks) on You Tube. Despite being a hit with a hard core of Japanophiles (although there are a few furious comments on the You Tube clips from Manganauts getting upset with our insufficiently respectful presenting style) , the show rated poorly and we were not asked to Go Tokyo again. Maybe one day we’ll get the call. I always fancied Adam & Joe Go Hawaii. Top 10 cocktails, Hula school, Getting Lei-d that kind of thing of thing! No? Fuck you then.
ADAM & JOE ON XFM RADIO (2003-2006)
In August 2003 Joe and I stepped in to cover for Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant when they went off to shoot the second series of ‘The Office’. We occupied their 1-3pm slot on Saturday afternoons on Xfm on a sporadic basis for the next couple of years. When Ricky and Stephen left Xfm permanently we carried on going and after 3 years we ended up being quite good. In fact for two men talking about nothing very much at all, we were hard to beat (well, it is my blog). After a hiatus of about a year we returned to the radio on BBC 6 Music in October 2007.
THE ADAM & JOE XFM PODCAST (2006)
In summer 2006 we began a series of 20 audio podcasts made up of highlights from the show and original material. Some good bits in these I think. See what you reckon, they’re free! You can’t lose! You can find them on I-tunes or the Xfm website here.
THE COKE NEW MUSIC PODCAST WITH ADAM & JOE (2006-2007)
We started doing these in September 2006 and after a shaky start, they’re got a lot better but after a year and 13 shows we decided to move on. Essentially it was me and Joe playing a selection of some of the best music from unsigned bands who had uploaded their songs to the Coke Music website. You should still be able to download them from I-tunes (they’re free) or listen on the Coke website here.
ADAM & JOE ON BBC 6 MUSIC (2007-PRESENT)
In August 2007 we were asked to fill in on Shaun Keaveny’s breakfast show while he was on holiday for a week. A few months later 6 Music offered us our own Saturday morning slot from 9-12. Apart from the odd pre-recorded show and a couple of extended breaks we were there every Saturday until December 2009 when the slot moved an hour later to 10-1pm for the last few shows before Joe went into production with his film ‘Attack The Block’ and I went to live with Will Smith in his hovering gold house.
Subscribe to the 6 Music podcast here
THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN DOCUMENTARY (BBC3, 2002)
This was a half hour behind the scenes doc that I shot while the wonderful, oft copied League were working on their 3rd series. It originally went out on BBC3 in November 2002. You can find it on the League Of Gentlemen 3rd series DVD extras.
THE LAST CHANCERS (CHANNEL 4, E4, 2004)
In 2003 I acted in and co wrote (along with Tony MacMurray, whose idea the show was) a sitcom for Cannel 4 called The Last Chancers about a 30 something loser (my character, Johnny) trying to make it with his indie band in Brighton. It was produced by Angel Eye and as a first attempt at writing and acting I’m very proud of it although I think the lack of teen lesbian sex and a Desperate Housewives style voice-over mystified Channel 4 somewhat. They asked Angel Eye to edit 6 shows worth of material into 5, which they showed over the course of a week in December 2004 on E4. At the request of the channel Angel Eye also further edited the 5 shows into 2 one hour programmes that went out on consecutive nights on Channel 4 a week later. It felt like a bit of a vote of no confidence and sure enough, despite some great reviews (honestly, I’ve got them all framed!) the show was not re-commissioned.
There were plans for a posthumous DVD of the series and I even made a half hour behind the scenes film made up of footage I shot during the production that would have been a good extra but alas, the wind went out of that dinghy too.
I PAVEL (EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL, 2005)
In August 2005 I went to perform at The Edinburgh Festival for the first time with a show featuring my passionate and pretentious East European animator character Pavel, parts of which I wrote with Graham Linehan who had been encouraging me to do something with the character for a while. I, Pavel featured several videos (including the Davina McCall/Boobies thing, the Pope’s funeral, and Tiny TV Boss, all viewable on my You Tube channel) that I crowbarred into the evening to give the audience a rest from Pavel’s indignant fury. It all went down well and I didn’t lose any money, which in Edinburgh terms is a total success! You can find out more about it by clicking on the Edinburgh 2005 section of this site.
In late 2005 Graham and I completed a pilot script for a sitcom featuring Pavel and the BBC were all ready to produce it when Graham’s sitcom The IT Crowd got green lit by Channel 4 and he had to plug himself into it 100 percent. It was disappointing but probably for the best as there were still a lot of questions we hadn’t resolved about making a Pavel based TV show work and it would have been a shame if we’d just gone ahead and made a total turkey. I’m fairly certain Pavel will not be kept down though!
2004 THE STUPID VERSION (BBC3, 2004)
This was a one hour review of the year using manipulated footage and specially filmed sketches that Armando Iannucci put together with contributions from most of the people who would go to work on Time Trumpet a year or so later. This was a thing I did for The Stupid Version.
KEN KORDA ON THE LAST WORD (MORE 4, 2005)
I did these short Korda based film reviews in October-December 2005 for a topical talk show called the Last Word made by Objective productions for More 4. There are 11 in total for Lord Of War, Elizabethtown, Flightplan, March Of the Penguins, In Her Shoes, Battle In Heaven, Stoned, Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire, Broken Flowers, Chronicles of Narnia and a Christmas TV roundup. Here’s one of my favourites: In Her Shoes.
TIME TRUMPET (BBC2, 2006)
My contribution to Time Trumpet was attending a few brainstorming sessions at the BBC, filming a couple of sketches and some talking heads stuff then just submitting my own videos for Armando to pick the ones he liked. Some were made specially for the show and some (like Tiny TV Boss, below) existed before.
TV AND FILM ROLES
THE IT CROWD: THE HAUNTING OF BILL CROUSE (CHANNEL 4, 2006)
The best way to see my contribution to Episode 4 of the first series of of the award winning Graham Linehan penned sitcom is to go out and buy the excellent DVD which features many amazing extras including a behind the scenes featurette with my character Ken Korda interviewing the cast!
RUSH HOUR (BBC3, 2007)
This was a sketch show for BBC3 produced by Zeppotron, which was shot in and around Ealing Studios in October/ November 2006. It aired on BBC3 in March/April 2007. My main role was as a performer but I also wrote sketches for my character Rock Dad (see below). The show was designed to be a pre-watershed family programme so it was fairly broad and good-natured and it was great fun to do.
HOT FUZZ (FEATURE, 2007)
I was on holiday when Edgar Wright was making Sean Of The Dead so, unlike Joe, I never got to be a zombie. For Hot Fuzz I came back from holiday early so I wouldn’t miss out on playing the part of Tim Messenger, an annoying local reporter who meets one of the grisliest ends in cinema history! You can find out more about my time on the film in the February 2007 section of the archives on this blog. I pop up briefly in this blog too! I’m a bloghopper!
SON OF RAMBOW (FEATURE, 2007)
I play a chemistry teacher who sustains a bad nose injury in this, the second film directed by my friend Garth Jennings about 2 young boys making their own video version of Rambo in the early 80′s. It’s a sweet, totally unassuming film that has been an unexpected hit with American critics. I only did a couple of days shooting on it and pop up very briefly in the finished thing, but I’m very proud to be part of it. It was released in British cinemas in April 2008 and shot to number 2 in the box office chart on it’s opening weekend! Of course, it’s not the first time I’ve worked with Garth. We made this video for the Wannadies back in 2003.
STARDUST (FEATURE, 2007)
Directed by Matthew Vaughn and adapted from the book by Neil Gaiman by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn. I play a ghost called Quintus who died after getting an axe in the head. In case you hadn’t noticed yet, I’m the king of screen head trauma. If you want to bash someone’s head in and film it, give me a shout. No student films though, unless you can provide a giant trailer, superb catering and medical grade marijuana.
And here’s a pic of me with a few of the other ghosts, most barely recognisable under grisly makeup. From right to left Rupert Everett, Julian Rhind-Tutt, A Buxton, David Walliams and the excellent Mark Heap, of Spaced, Big Train, Green Wing etc.