In the long term, that wouldn't be possible; the epilepsy complaint had put us in the crosshairs, and a series of other foul-ups and boundary-pushing on our part had tightened our bosses' fingers on the trigger.
One way or another, we could no longer be ignored.
Fortunately, we had a certain degree of protection. Digitiser was a hit. No other section was generating as much correspondence as us; the ratings were in and we were solid. Better than solid.
In fact, at one point our Features Editor described Digitiser as "the saviour" of Teletext; imagine that! Consequently, we got more than a little cocky, and started to take more chances. Rest assured, in the coming years our bosses would do their level best to knock our cocks off.
I can't speak for other people, but the sense I got was that there was a degree of resentment that Digitiser was popular on its own terms.
We did it ourselves, we promoted it ourselves, there was never any discussion with the higher-ups about the content we should be running.
And worst of all... nobody within Teletext understood why Digitiser was popular. We ran nonsensical features, fake adverts, had ridiculous characters, published absurd jokes, and spoke in a language-me-do of our own. And!
We sat in the far corner of the office cackling, barking, swear-shouting, making stupid models and masks, and throwing things. We'd post dirty plates to people in the internal mail. We'd issue fake memos from the editor telling Dave Hunter, the writer of Planet Sound, that he had to introduce a new feature called "Hunterman's Pop-O-Jokes". We'd leave the office halfway through the day without telling anybody, and not bother coming back.
Our pages were riddled with puerile and obscure innuendo aimed at one another; by this time we'd adopted the nom de plumes Mr Biffo, Mr Hairs and Mr Cheese (more on him soon), in a doomed attempt to remain anonymous. Perhaps if Mr Hairs and Mr Cheese hadn't "nommed" so many "plumes" we'd have succeeded.
Sometimes we'd sit there all day playing Micro Machines, or Championship Manager, having changed the players' names to things like "Stink Penis" (who once scored a goal just as our Features Editor came over to have a word about something: "That's interesting" she said, with the undisguised subtext of "That's pathetic").
But... the proof was in the ratings: something like 1.5 million people a week were reading Digitiser, which made us one of the best-read features sections on the entire service. We knew that whatever we were doing was chiming with the audience; they were the ones who really mattered.
For every handful of people outraged by our nonsense - and while I accept that were the boot on the other foot, and I was our boss, I'd have given us a right kick in the mouth - there were hundreds more who seemed to love us. And it's always nice to be loved.
There was also an attempt to launch some sort of Digitiser fan club, spurred by the marketing department who saw an opportunity to make money. We killed it in the end; we never knew what it could offer that we weren't already doing.
For a time, the buzz around Digitiser was so heady you could chew it.
CONFIDENCE IS THE PREFERENCE
All of it gave us a confidence, and allowed us a certain degree of freedom. Certainly - as far as we were concerned - it gave us a mandate to continue doing what was already working. It also meant that the bosses couldn't just axe us, least of all when the rest of the service was struggling.
Nonetheless, the knives were being sharpened...
And we knew this. It bled out of our higher-ups. The more Digitiser was loved by its readers, the less it was beloved of our managers. When John Holme left - or was pushed out, a sacrifice which had to be made in light of the service's rocky launch - a new regime swept in, and they weren't taking any chances with us.
It got to a point where the sub-editors would knock back content that would have previously gone to air, just because they knew there was something off about it, but couldn't identify what.
Absurdly, the stuff that tended to get knocked back was usually the stuff which wasn't intended to be rude or controversial.
A reference to "The three Rs" was thrown out because "Rs" sounds a bit like "arse", apparently, the words "quivering lips" got changed to "bulging brain", and I had an awkward discussion with someone who later became Teletext's final editorial director, when he took offence to the phrase "Finger the index".
One Friday, a poor, weary sub even came over and asked us to remove a fake ad for a French-English dictionary, because she didn't have the energy to go through it with a fine-tooth comb looking for the filth that she was certain must be in there.
While they were busy focusing on all of that, we ran full page graphic every day for a week of a man with a very obvious erection on top of his head, a fake advertisement for something called a "Bearded Brown", a series of competitions called "Brown Trumpet" (one of which was won by future author and movie auteur - now a good mate - Alex Garland), featured a Wookiee character called "Peelbacca", and never once had Zombie Dave removed from air despite the character regularly spewing out a barely-concealed torrent of filth.
Strrrprrrrrrd frrrrrgnn crrrrndzzz.
If our Features Editor was a sort of good cop, our Deputy Features Editor was every inch the foul cop.
She despised us, and made that very apparent. You'd have to ask her why; whether she was simply acting under the orders of our editor - who clearly had big plans for Teletext and his own career - and wanted to impress him, or whether there was something more personal at stake.
Or whether it was because of everything written above. Put yourself in her shoes, and you'd probably hate us too.
It was also pretty clear that I was being called on more and more for graphics work, and it was mostly to get me away from Tim. Admittedly, I'd been hired as a graphics artist, but in the months since, Teletext had taken on a couple of other graphics artists (one of them was my old schoolfriend Steve Horsley, with whom I later ran the website Bubblegun).
What must've been frustrating to our editor was that I could do any required graphics in mere moments, and then get back to what I wanted to be doing: writing about video games. However tricky or seemingly demanding the assignment, teletext graphics never offered me any degree of challenge.
At one point, the editor went as far as separating Tim and I, and moving my desk into his office. Ostensibly, it was so that I could work closely with him on designs for the new Teletext website, but it was more like a teacher splitting up a couple of badly behaved students. The editor even made me sit with my back to him so that he could see what I was doing.
Those months might've been my lowest point at the company, and the closest I came to resigning - until I actually did resign.
In Spring 1994, a new employee arrived at Teletext.
Leslie Bunder was a technology writer, and our editor's new star signing. Ostensibly, he was there to advise on the Teletext website, but as a stepping stone to that he was made a Digitiser columnist.
And he was made a Digitiser columnist, because he was being groomed to take over the running of Digitiser.
What is it that they say... Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you? And they were out to get us.
GAMES OF MY YEARS: DIGITISER - PART THREE by Mr Biffo
GAMES OF MY YEARS: DIGITISER - Part Two by Mr Biffo
GAMES OF MY YEARS: DIGITISER - Part One by Mr Biffo
GAMES OF MY YEARS: 16-BIT - PART TWO by Mr Biffo
GAMES OF MY YEARS: 16-BIT - PART ONE by Mr Biffo
GAMES OF MY YEARS: THE ARCADES - PART ONE by Mr Biffo
GAMES OF MY YEARS: THE ARCADES - PART TWO by Mr Biffo
GAMES OF MY YEARS: SEGA MASTER SYSTEM - PART ONE by Mr Biffo
GAMES OF MY YEARS: SEGA MASTER SYSTEM - PART TWO by Mr Biffo
GAMES OF MY YEARS: ATARI - PART ONE by Mr Biffo
GAMES OF MY YEARS: ATARI - PART TWO by Mr Biffo
GAMES OF MY YEARS: THE ZX SPECTRUM PART ONE by Mr Biffo
GAMES OF MY YEARS: THE ZX SPECTRUM PART TWO by Mr Biffo