People often ask what my children think of me being on television. By people I mean one bloke, and by often I mean just once, but I wanted an introduction to this piece. The truth is, my children have very little awareness of what I do because they don’t watch television. They’ll watch some of the family stuff, such as Saturday Night Takeaway and Strictly, but beyond that, they are not very interested; they would treat a request for them to watch an episode of The Misadventures Of Romesh Ranganathan in the same manner they would an instruction to finish their broccoli.
What they consume by the bucketload instead is YouTubers, an area of entertainment that my grandpa brain is yet to completely fathom, despite my best efforts to slow my decline into obsolescence. The recent SoccerAid match was blessed by the presence of Chunkz and Yung Filly, two genuinely hilarious British YouTubers. Some people who were watching questioned the fame of the two online megastars because they hadn’t seen them on television before. But they’re out of touch: TV is no longer the default format.
I am a huge fan of both Chunkz and Yung Filly (who also presents on BBC Three), but I am so outside their target demographic that I worry I sound like Matt Hancock pretending to like grime. (I recently found out that Hancock is the same age as me, which sent me on a depressive spiral that is too sad to go into here.) The point is, these YouTube guys are not trying to get me as a fan. Me complaining about YouTube content is a bit like me complaining that the latest Billie Eilish record doesn’t connect with me. (To which you’d rightly say, “Who says ‘record’ any more, you old prick?”)
Nevertheless, I cannot believe how much content there is on YouTube. For a while my children were obsessed with Dan TDM. (I asked my kids what that stood for and was told it was The Diamond Minecraft in a withering tone.) He, like so many of the most successful YouTubers, plays video games and talks you through them. My children will buy a game only after seeing him play it all the way through, which I cannot get my head around. They say things like, “I know how to do this because Dan did it like this”, and I wonder why I’ve spent so much money on a game they already know how to complete.
The other guy my kids love is LazarBeam, a young Aussie who plays Fortnite, but tries experiments on it – like seeing how long he can survive by merely sitting in one spot throughout the game, or organising all his mates so that they die really easily and his young nephew thinks he’s incredible. It’s all funny and interesting, particularly to my children; but what is more remarkable is the rate at which these videos are released. Most of them do one or two every single day, which makes the Twitter requests for “Romesh Ranganathan to stop making so much TV” seem unwarranted.
For a while, I thought it was a fad and the kids would soon move back to consuming TV again. Sometimes I even ask them to join me, like a nan gathering the family round the wireless. But I have now accepted that it’s their chosen entertainment for the long term. For this reason, you can watch my next series, Romesh Is Really Shit At Call Of Duty, exclusively online.