As you are probably aware, I never became The Next Big Thing in British comedy. One of my pilots simply wasn't good enough, and one of them was just too weird. And one of them - the one I think of as The One That Got Away, which had been precision-tooled to be a long-running replacement for My Family - got verbally greenlit for a series by BBC One controller Peter Fincham.... only for him to resign literally the next day over the BBC's misrepresentation of the Queen, before he had time to sign the paperwork.
Yes, that's right: like something out of Alan Partridge.
The show was then thrown into limbo for a year while a new controller was sought. They eventually commissioned a sitcom with an almost identical premise. The creator of that show once told me that she'd been shown my pilot by someone high up in BBC Comedy, and been asked "Can you make something like this?".
So instead of becoming incredibly rich and successful, I wrote Pudsey The Dog: The Movie, and ploughed a furrow in the lower-paid realm of kids TV. Where, frankly, I feel more at home than I ever had in the world of grown-up telly anyway.
I don't know what happens in the brains of other people when they suddenly go from being anonymous to being in some sort of spotlight.
Most successful, publicly-known, people I've met seem so suited to it, as if they were genetically predisposed to being famous, and at the top of their game.
When it almost happened to me, I never felt any different. If anything I always felt out of place, an odd fit. Many people in that world seem to only want to hang out with other successful people in the industry, whereas I just wanted to be with my real friends and family, and do normal things.
I didn't want to go for lunch at The Ivy, or stumble out of the Groucho Club at 4am. On the rare occasions I've been dragged into places like that, everyone else seemed like they belonged there. Like they knew how to behave, what to talk about, what was acceptable.
At one party thrown by a production company, which I felt obliged to attend, there was a room set aside - complete with security guard at the door to keep out any sober ne'er-do-wells who might "harsh" someone's "buzz" - for guests to take cocaine. Such partying-while-Rome-burns decadence was so far from the touchstones of my otherwise ordinary life that it gave me anxiety, and I left.
Unfortunately, this mentality of not being one of Them might be behind one of the most unprofessional transgressions I ever made.
I was spending days auditioning people for one of my hundred or so potential sitcoms - this particular one was for a show that never even made it to pilot (though we did a reading with the cast in front of the TV bignobs).
Auditions are weird things when you're me: I, an anonymous nonentity, was sat there with the producer and a camera, effectively interviewing - and, indeed, acting opposite for the purposes of the audition - scores of actors, most of whom I recognised off the telly, many of whom I admired. People like Adam Buxton, Suranne Jones, Michelle Gomez... and people lower down the ladder, trying to blow smoke up my backside in the hope I'd give them their big break.
The biggest name I ever auditioned was probably Russell Brand. Back then he wasn't the international celebrity he is now: he was fresh off the drugs, and trying to rebuild his reputation. He was incredibly polite, and a bit shy.
Anyhow. One of the actors we had through the door told us he was going to be appearing in the new series of Doctor Who. This was shortly before it returned with Christopher Ecclestone as the Doctor.
As someone who was eagerly awaiting the relaunch of the show, I wasted no opportunity to subtly interrogate him about his role. What he told me was beyond exciting. So exciting that I failed to be professional, and as soon as I got home I went onto a Doctor Who forum - where I had previously only lurked - to post my thrilling news in the spoiler section.
There was no power trip in it for me, no arrogance. I simply wanted to share my excitement with likeminded others. My mistake.
As soon as I'd posted my spoiler, the massed ranks of Whodom descended upon me, calling me out as a liar.
Admittedly, the spoiler I'd offered did sound like a lie - at that point, we had no idea quite how shamelessly populist and OTT Russell T Davies' version of the show would be. Nevertheless, I wasn't a liar,and I was being called out as such. I'd posted it in good faith - in a section of the forum dedicated to spoilers - and received abuse for it, and calls for me to be banned.
Back then I was a bit touchier than I am now. I reached a point where I'd had enough of trying to convince them. I offered to prove my credentials to one particularly vociferous truther, by sending him a polite private message explaining exactly how I'd come about the information.
"I'm going to destroy your career, you fucking prick. You'll never work in TV again."
Now, I mention all this, because something just reminded me of it.
I don't know if you've been aware of this week's games industry drama, but Kotaku published an article by one Jason Schreir, reporting that sources had suggested that the release of No Man's Sky was going to be delayed. Again.
It was a short piece, utterly innocuous. Nothing in there that you would think could possibly be controversial.
The response? Well... this is one of the messages Schreir received:
There was more, particularly on the No Man's Sky subreddit and - inevitably - Twitter, suggesting that Schreir was making it all up.
- I refuse to believe that @NoMansSky has been delayed. None of the "evidence" I've found is convincing, and all of the articles quote kotaku.
- The news originally came from @Kotaku, who along with gawker, have lost credibility in my eyes..#NoMansSky
- @IGN @Kotaku stop trying to spread some bs article that No mans sky is delayed just because a "gamestop employee" claims something
Of course, hilariously, it has now been proven that Kotaku were right: No Man's Sky is being delayed slightly - to the 10th August in Europe - as confirmed by its director Sean Murray on the PlayStation blog:
"As we approached our final deadlines, we realized that some key moments needed extra polish to bring them up to our standards. I have had to make the tough choice to delay the game for a few weeks to allow us to deliver something special."
Inevitably, that led to comments like this, trying desperately to save face, and hang onto their predetermined reality:
- Regarding the #NoMansSky delay, I'm shocked that Kotaku WASN'T lying for once. Still doesn't excuse the other shit they've posted.
So, there are a few things going on here that I just don't understand.
Firstly, why are people so excited about No Man's Sky? I mean, it looks as if it'll be great, potentially - but to be whipped into such a frenzy about a game that has yet to be released, yet to be reviewed, is inexplicable to me.
I could understand if it was a sequel to a much-loved hit, but it's a new IP. Baffling.
Secondly... Schreir did nothing wrong. As has been demonstrated by his report being proven right. What else are games websites and journalists for if not to report a story like that? What... you just want them to parrot carefully-controlled press releases?
Thirdly... some people really hate Kotaku, and will use any opportunity to beat them around the head.
Fourthly... it's just a video game. Why do you care so much? Did you really plan the rest of your year around No Man's Sky?
Fifthly... some people are just dicks aren't they?
TOO MANY DICKS SPOILS THE BROTH
I try, so very hard, to give people the benefit of the doubt. I've flirted with being a dick in the past. I know how easy it is to slip into dickishness as a way of lashing out at the world. I tell myself that everyone has feelings, everyone deserves to be valued...
But the more I see of the games industry since coming back to it 18 months ago... the more I become convinced that some people are just utter arseholes.
There's no reasoning with these people, so locked are they into their worldview and dickishness, that it has become a way of life for them. It's so all-pervasive that it corrupts any effort to reach out to them, to reason with them, to make them see the benefit of entertaining other opinions, or trying to get some sort of perspective. They just want to hate, they just want to hurt, they just want to dig their heels in and never admit they're wrong, or that there might be any validity in viewpoints other than their own.
I mean, even at my lowest ebb, I never sent death threats to anyone - and believe me, I had good cause to do so - least of all over something so unimportant as a website reporting that a game was going to be delayed, possibly.
I mean... it beggars belief. That sort of behaviour is just off the charts isn't it? Surely you've got to be slightly mentally ill, or have the emotional maturity of a 14 year-old, to do something like that?
Or maybe you're just a dick, always have been a dick, and always will be a dick, and no amount of empathy, no amount of trying to see things from your perspective, and give you the benefit of the doubt is going to change that.
I don't want to see the world that way... I don't want to see anyone like that... but, unfortunately, looking at things as they stand, gaming seems to attract more than its fair share of these people. All evidence suggests that the modern games scene is nothing less than Dick Central.