Tag Archives: guardian

Stuart Heritage – a profile

23 Jan

Stuart Heritage – A profile

If you haven’t got anything nice to say, then don’t say it. Stuart Heritage doesn’t live by this rule, but neither do his readers.

As a writer for the Guardian, Stuart has succeeded in the new media world, encapsulating the idea of non-linear reporting. Stuarts commenters are vital to each piece, the way they respond to his continuous nit-picking complete the article; a sure way of getting your readers to return, even if they don’t like what you have to say.

‘Why is it that newspapers try to employ the best journalists they can find except when it’s for articles about music and life and style where they only employ nonentities who have no idea about music, life and style.’ (Comment ‘When celebrities offer drugs to other celebrities’ 23rd Jan 2011)

Following studies at Bournemouth University in Scriptwriting for film and TV, it is surprising to find someone who has the balls to jump into a journalistic world without hesitation.  Strengthened by his time working as Editor for Hecklerspray, Stuart says, ‘..writing for the internet has definitely given me a tougher skin. Hecklerspray commenter’s used to wish death on me on an almost daily basis, and most of the stuff I write for the Guardian tends to inspire “This is the worst thing I’ve ever read on The Guardian! I am appalled” ‘.

Work Experience

But how does someone jump from scriptwriting to journalism? Stuart speaks about his time trying to gain work experience, ‘I had emailed everybody – everybody – for a placement in 2001 and either got rejections or no response back whatsoever.’ Fortunately, he received a positive response from Zeppotron, Charlie Brooker’s production company. Having just been bought by Endemol, the company moved offices the same day Stuart started his work experience. To his advantage, not all the boxes that he was to haul around had arrived, and one of the writers suggested he try his hand at writing some questions for a topical quiz on behalf of E4.com. ‘I did OK, and from there I ended up writing regularly for the quiz and the TV adaptation of Unnovations. The quiz thing is quite funny because E4 wanted Charlie Brooker to write it every week, and I think they could pass my stuff off as his. And now I get to write his Guardian column under my own name sometimes. Weird, huh?’

Time Out

You could call Stuarts timing lucky, but this was just an introduction to the world of media. Shortly afterwards, Stuart spotted an advert for working abroad. At the time he was selling sunglasses and decided this was a better route to take. A couple of months later, Stuart headed to Seoul South Korea, where he spent his time teaching English.  ‘Luckily I was in a position to put my life on hold for a while, and it worked out brilliantly. I came back after 18 months because it was never part of my plan to stay there forever.’

Fulfilling Ambitions

This return to the UK coincided with Stuart securing his place at Hecklerspray where he remained until 2010. Whilst working for the blog, Stuart involved himself in some TV work, including writing for the ‘Tonightly’ show, and ‘Celebrity Juice’. A year’s spot as a reviewer for NME was also a worthwhile addition to his CV.

It was after his work on Hecklerspray recieved a mention in the Guardian that Stuart decided to approach them. Richard Vine, acting TV editor at the time, allowed Stuart to write a piece and shortly afterwards he was writing for Film. Always looking for more, Stuart decided he wanted to write for The Guide, ‘it was five percent reputation, 20 percent annoying persistence and 75 percent luck that got me there. But however it happened, I’m over the bloody moon about it.’

Work Life

Stuart gets to work from home, and very rarely ventures into the Guardian offices, but when he does he says, ‘it’s difficult not to turn into a giggling fan girl when I meet writers whose stuff I’ve liked for a while,’ something anybody with a burning ambition can identify with. As Stuarts profile has risen, he has appeared on TV, something that takes him further out of his comfort zone, ‘So long as you’re prepared and you look confident, people won’t realise that you’re a sweaty mess underneath it.’

When you read Stuarts work, it is easy to believe that he is an ego that can’t be tamed. Opinionated, angry, and self-righteous, it would be easy to dismiss him, and quite frankly hope he would disappear forever. But get to know Stuart, and you will see he is not any of these things.

World Contraception Day

World Contraception Day is an initiative that aims through its campaign to see every pregnancy be a wanted pregnancy. They hope to do this through education of sexual awareness, enabling young people to make informed decisions. Following on from the MTV safe sex campaign Stuart had blogged, he became involved with World Contraception Day, which in turn led to him being a member of the Youth Task Force (YTF).

The purpose of the YTF is to help raise awareness, and act as a constant source of feedback throughout the year with the use of resources such as blogs and videos. With only seven members in the group, Stuart speaks highly of each of them, ‘Google them all, because they’re ace. God knows why I’m one of them. I honestly have no idea.’ The idea that Stuart feels humble in this group may come as a surprise to some of the readers of the Guardian but when speaking to him, it is clear he is in awe of the position he is in, ‘I never for a second thought that I’d be involved with anything as brilliant or important as the YTF, but I’m thrilled that I am.’ Stuarts commitment to the cause is apparent. He is now working in partnership with non-government organisations to help spread the message.

In reflection..

It is clear that there is more to Stuart than the abuse hurling hacker that we have come to know. Yes anything of little importance in the grand scheme of things is open to ridicule, but when it comes to the big issues, the ones that really affect our lives, he is of a caring and nurturing nature. 

Stuart left me with one last thought, ‘I’m a writer. I’m a needy bastard. I just want to be loved!’

Stuart Heritage writes for The Guardian, covering film blogs, TV reviews, and work for The Guide and G2. In 2010 Stuart live blogged the X Factor. On occasions he is stand-in columnist for Charlie Brooker.

Latest search by TV controllers

29 Aug

If you are like me, and hoping to break into the world of writers, this article will be of interest to you. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/aug/23/tv-controllers-plans Providing details of what the major television channel controllers are sourcing for this coming year, it is an invaluable source of information.

I for one will be considering their requirements before staring my next major script.