Some might say Valentine’s Day is only for the young, the newly in love and those with a lot of time on their hands. It’s not for new parents who struggle to find time to go to the toilet, let alone engage in overblown romantic gestures for each other. But I say no! There is always time for romance: kids or no kids, it’s just a case of tweaking those classic Valentine gestures to suit your new lifestyle needs.


Before children, you might kick off Valentine’s Day with a lovingly prepared breakfast in bed. Nothing says ‘I love you’ like heart-shaped food and a morning spent lounging around nibbling croissants and each other. Unfortunately there is no time for this when you have children (unless you set your alarm for 4am, and not many people fancy a heart-shaped pancake at that time of the day.) For parents, the more practical alternative to a romantic breakfast in bed is a romantic breakfast on the run.  What a lovely surprise for your loved one when she goes to start the never-ending-pile-of-laundry, only to find a romantic breakfast awaits her.








Before having children it was easy to find time to tell your partner that you love them. You wrote a simple heartfelt card or something more elaborate like a mirror full of love notes.  Don’t worry,  now you are parents very little needs to change. You’ll just need to find more creative ways of peppering your partner’s day with words of affection. For example, your loved one won’t have time to read a heart made from a hundred post-it notes, but they might have time to read some motivational words written on the inside a nappy or hidden inside the dishwasher. This way your partner can feel loved and appreciated as they go about the daily drudgery of parenting.









Before children choosing a gift was easy; a dozen over-priced roses, some impractical mesh based lingerie, or perhaps a box of luxurious chocolates. I’ve got good news for you – now you are parents, gift giving gets a hell of a lot easier. As parents you are no longer concerned with material possessions. You don’t have time to wear nice underwear (it’s manky grey feeding-bras all the way). And though flowers would be lovely, they’d probably die before you had a chance to enjoy them. No, as parents there is no physical object that could be appreciated as much as three little heartfelt words.  Three words that make everything better, three words that make you remember, “this is why I married you,” three words that sum up what Valentine’s Day is all about: “I’ll do bedtime.”








Ah, the classic Valentine’s day meal. Before you had children perhaps you went out to a fancy restaurant or you and your partner took turns to cook. Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a lovingly prepared smorgasbord of your partner’s favourite food. Now you are parents none of that needs to change, it’s only your definition of a romantic meal that needs adjustment. Before kids you would have relished the chance to sit down for a three course meal and enjoy some quality conversation. Now you’re so tired, tearful and mentally defeated by the process of getting your kids fed, bathed and to bed, that when you finally get back downstairs all thoughts of producing a proper meal will go out the window. You will just want to sink into the sofa with a packet of hula hoops and some form of alcohol.

Remember, the most romantic words you can say to your partner this Valentine’s Day; “You choose what we watch on Netflix tonight.” Netflix and Chill…dren.







After a long day of being romantic, what better way to conclude the day’s celebrations than with a luxurious bubble bath. Before you had children, perhaps you and your partner took baths together, soaking in rose petals then sharing a bottle of bubbly before retiring to bed for some Valentine’s Day action. As parents this romantic bathing ritual hardly need change at all.  However, baths are time consuming and now you are parents you will be too tired to even run one, therefore a shower is the way to go. Wet rose petals are tricky to clear up and champagne is too slow to drink (what with all the bubbles) so it’s best to limit the decorative flourishes and just stick with hard liquor. This can be conveniently glugged straight from the bottle as you take it in turns to have a quick hose-down before passing out in bed after an alcohol-fuelled argument about which of you is the most tired.






So there you have it. With just a few adjustments to expectations, even exhausted parents can experience a Valentine’s Day packed full of romance just like the good old days. However, if the above still feels like a bit too much effort, don’t worry –  in just a couple of decades you’ll have the house to yourselves again and your romantic child-free life can resume. You might be too old and life-wearied to think about romance by that point, in which case you can just wait for death to deliver you from the terrible social pressure to be romantic on Valentine’s Day.

Sophie Cousens is author of ‘How to Get Ahead in Television’, a romantic comedy, currently being promoted on Apple (iBooks) for Valentine’s Day. 


Melania Trump’s Guide to being a great First Lady



‘How to Get Ahead in Television’ was totally chuffed to get one of the only interviews with Mrs T in the run up to the inauguration. See below her tips on how to be a great first lady and an even better American.** 


The most important thing about being a great First Lady (or President) is having a name that doesn’t sound too foreign. If you have got any ‘j’s, ‘k’s or ‘v’s in your name, you might want to take them out. For example I was born Melanija, but I took out the J and look where I am now. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

For example:

Jennifer  becomes Ennifer

Beverley becomes Beerley

Флорентина, I’d just go straight for Barb.



Obviously to be a great First Lady you need to be media friendly and that means being beautiful (and thin). Just look at Claire Underwood, she is one of the greatest First Ladies this country has ever seen and she was by far the most stylish and beautiful. I hear you say, ‘Ah but Melania you are a model, you are lucky to be so naturally full of beauty’ but to that I say – everyone can improve their looks. I am naturally an A, but with a good blow-dry and the use of a good bronzer I have made myself an A+. Even if you are only a C+ with a little work you can probably make it to a B-, that’s what the American dream is all about. Life is a catwalk, and we all have to walk it.


As my mother always used to say ‘You can’t buy pretty, but you can buy thin!’ I know you’re probably thinking ‘Hey, look Melania is so thin, I could never be like that, but trust me even I’ve had days I couldn’t do my jeans up. (see above! what a fatso!!) On these occasions where I don’t’ feel catwalk ready I just recite an old Slovenian mantra in my head ‘Tudi pitati gos prašič je tanka na dan, da je mrtev’ which roughly translates as ‘Even the fattened goose pig is thin on the day that it is dead.’ If that matra doesn’t work, I usually just do a couple of days on the Silver diet*. It really cleans out your bowels. The only downside is that it’s quite expensive so Donnie doesn’t like me doing it too often.


Me on the Silver Diet*

(*Trade Mark pending)



Another important think about being a great First Lady and an even better American is to be young. When I first arrived in this country I was 26 and everyone told me that was too old to be a model! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. In Slovenia you would have to be at least 28 before you were considered old and disgusting. Anyway, I found myself being labeled this way and you know what I did? I got any older boyfriend. There is nothing that makes you look younger than going out with a man thirty years older than you. Just look how smooth and youthful my skin looks next to Donnie’s!


( Another beauty tip for y’all –  three words; Bronzer, Bronzer, Bronzer. You can not wear too much, ever. I use actual  ground down purified bronze, it’s not the cheapest option but you get that authentic metallic finish.) 


Play Hard to Get


(Me playing it cool and casual on one of my first dates with Donnie.) 

When I first met Donnie , he gave me his number and I didn’t call him for a week. THAT is how you get a ring on it ladies. People love people who are unavailable – FACT. So when diplomats call the White House or invite me to help their country with some economic problem or environmental natural disaster, I will be saying ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’. That is how we’ll get the world to fall in love with us again.




Being a great first lady isn’t all about looks and youth (though a lot of it is). A major part of this job is to raise awareness for charity. People say I have a lot to live up to after Michelle, well to that I say my heart is as large has hers and my check book even larger (ha!) We have a saying in Slovenia “Dobrodelnost se začne, ko je krave krmijo in vsi čevlji pospravi” which roughly translates as “Charity begins when the cow has been fed and the shoes have been put away.” I said this to Donnie when we were discussing politicals and he said ‘the cow is America and illegal immigrants are the shoes” how we laughed!  Now I don’t want to say my charities are better than Michelle’s charities but I did have a dream where God told me he was a Republican and then he said ‘Melania – you are so good at the charities, I trust you to chose then best ones.’ One charity that is particularly close to my heart is the Police Athletics League. Who doesn’t want athletic and attractive policemen on the streets? There would be a lot less crime if the Police force were more attractive – FACT.


(This is me taking some of last seasons jewels to a great charity I support called ‘Jewels for the Homeless’ …)

Setting a good example

The First Lady is first and foremost a role model. I am already a model but am I a good role model? I’d say yes. I am a great mother (never had a nanny) and a great wife (just ask Donnie) but I’m also a great citizen of the world. I buy the right products and economise on a personal level, which sets a good example to everyone else who has to live on a budget. So for example when we redecorated Barron’s nursery in New York, Donald was all -“do everything in gold! Gold door, gold cot, gold pram,” and I was the one who said “let’s do gold-plated, let’s save pure gold doors for when he’s old enough to appreciate them.” See, economising, you watch the pennies and the dollars take care of themselves.


So that’s it, my guide to being an amazing First Lady. Wish me luck y’all and remember you voted for me! (well you voted for my husband, but he voted for me in the election of life so basically you voted for me.)


**NB Thoughts and opinions in this interview may not be shared by the real Mrs T…

Be it the Oscars, the Baftas or the Most Amusing Marrow competition at your local allotment, there are a few universal rules when it comes to surviving awards season. Follow my handy guide to make sure you gracefully glide through the process and avoid making a complete fool of yourself.


Perfect your ‘Who me?’ Face

If you are lucky enough to be nominated for an award you need to perfect your ‘who me?” face. This is a face designed to convey total bemusement at anyone even knowing who you are, let alone nominating you for an award. Here are a few examples of excellent ‘who me?’ faces.

Unknown  han-solo-who-me images


 Learn the Art of Self-Deprecation

Once you’ve perfected the face, you’ll then need to choose a self-deprecating line to use when people ask you about your nomination. Here are a few suggestions:

“Oh I won’t win. It’s an honour just to be nominated.”

“I’m just proud to be considered alongside so many talented individuals.”

“My nomination was probably a clerical error.”

“How do you spell ‘chalk’ again? Is it with a V?” (This really throws people off the scent and the quickest way to make people forget all about your nomination.)

Alternatively, just be bold and say “Yeah, my book/performance/giant aubergine is frickin’ awesome, damn right I’m nominated for an award!” This is harder to pull off as a strategy but highly admirable when delivered with enough gusto.


Let your outfit do the talking

Once you’ve dealt with the initial nomination you’re going to have to put together ‘a look’ for the ceremony itself and as everyone knows, an outfit can speak a thousand million words. To illustrate, here’s what a few award hopefuls were trying to tell you through the medium of their clothing.


I call this look ‘Bridal Bonkers’. She’s trying to say – yes I’m marriage material and yes I’ll do the washing up, BUT I might murder you if you say ‘you missed a bit’ when I hand you the saucepan flecked with crusted on spag bol to dry up. The purpose of an outfit like this is to so entirely distract you from what’s really going on that you soon forget you’re even at an award ceremony. Pretty soon, all you can think about it how the hell she’s going to wash up that spag bol encrusted saucepan without getting it all over her dress. WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE BUY THE WOMAN AN APRON GOD DAMN IT!!


This is another classic. This is the look that says, ‘win or lose I have a fantastic body – so ha!’ It’s a great outfit to go for if you think you are going to lose, mainly because no one is going to feel sorry for someone who has a bottom that toned and legs so silky smooth. Incidentally, this look also works when you’ve got the ‘It’s-Monday-morning-and-I’m-in-Asda-with-a-screaming-two-year-old-what-has-happened-to-my-life-and-career?’ blues. Pull this bad boy out the wardrobe and Asda/motherhood suddenly becomes A LOT more interesting.


Here’s an outfit that simply says, “Don’t look at me, look at my work. Take me seriously.” It’s also an outfit that stops you being able to sit down or go to the loo so a great choice if you’re not a good sitter and have excellent bladder control. Word to the wise, if you do opt for something like this; make sure you wear something sturdy and/or waterproof underneath. You don’t want to be in a situation where you lose, it’s raining outside and your papier-mâché costume starts dissolving around you. You’ll be stuck hailing a cab with nothing to protect your modesty except the award you didn’t win. Suddenly you’re a loser AND you’re naked and no one likes a naked loser – especially cab drivers.


Hone your ‘gracious loser’ face

Make sure you’ve honed your ‘gracious loser’ face for when you don’t win. This is probably the most important preparation you can do. This face is all about conveying the fact that you never actually thought you would win and are just there to enjoy the ambience and the cheap wine. Here are a few excellent ‘loser’ faces to inspire you.


This look is called the ‘Magnanimous Jaw Clench’ – best used when you can’t even muster a fake smile. If you are planning on using the MJC you might find jabbing a compass into your leg to stop yourself from screaming really helps the look along. If no compasses are available make sure you stock up on cocktail sticks when the canapés come around.


I call this one the ‘I’m So Happy For You!’ face. Only attempt this one if you’ve had formal training as it can come across quite sarcastic if you’re not a seasoned pro. If you have no formal training I’d recommend dosing up on some prescription strength mood enhancers or a twelve ounce bag of Jelly Babies before attempting it.


This one I love – it’s called ‘Brutal Honesty’ and involves going bat-shit crazy, screaming uncontrollably and throwing faeces at the winning candidate who stole YOUR award. It’s a real crowd pleaser but can have some undesirable consequences; Firstly you will never be invited to an award ceremony ever again and secondly you will be escorted from the building by hefty security guards who have little regard for your personal space or how difficult it is for you to walk in a new pair of heels. You do not need formal training to attempt this look just a thick skin and an industrial strength deodorant.


The Acceptance Speech


Finally, if by some miracle you do win and you find yourself on stage doing an acceptance speech, here are a few tips to help you get the tone right.

  1.  Don’t pull out a pre-written speech from your pocket, it looks presumptuous. If you need a few crib notes get them tattooed onto your hand pre-ceremony, it will look far more subtle.
  2. Remember to thank your mum, your dog, your agent, nail artist blah blah blah – basically attribute all your success to anyone and everyone other than yourself. I’ve seen the “yeah go me!” approach in acceptance speeches before and it never goes down well. If you do want to try it, make sure you team it with a little celebratory dance or a swift call for ‘world peace’ to make it more palatable to the crowd.
  3. Cry. Everyone loves tears, so if you can cry on command go for it. With enough tears, it doesn’t even matter that what you’re saying is really boring. Ideally you want to aim for the breathy ‘oh my god I’m so overwhelmed’ tears, rather than a full on snot-fest, so take your cry-style into account on this one.


So, a huge good luck to everyone who’s nominated this awards season, and remember it’s the taking part that counts. (Well, just keep telling yourself that…)


Sophie Cousens’ debut novel How to Get Ahead in Television has been nominated for a RoNA in the Romantic Comedy category. On the 7th March she will be attempting the ‘Magnanimous Jaw Clench’.

A Guide to Surviving Awards Season


Firstly, it must be acknowledged that not all Office Christmas Parties are created equal. A major factor in how enjoyable/hellish your OCP is going to be is how enjoyable/hellish your normal working environment is.


Have a look at some typical office scenes below. Try to work out which picture best resembles your working environment.









If you selected A, B or C… well I feel sorry for you. You obviously work with a bunch of chumps who think ‘work place productivity’ comes about via Jazzercise or novelty office slides. (Just because you’re sitting with your legs in a ball pit doesn’t make your presentation any less tedious Graham!)

If you work in A, B or C I would advise you take drastic action to avoid the party entirely.  Tee up the ‘Oh I think I’m coming down with something’ early, then on the day itself go for a really specific ailment as an excuse for not being able to make it. Something like “I’ve got jaundiced fissures on my adenoids,” or “I think I’ve got an undiagnosed case of Alliumphobia (fear of garlic).” A wishy washy “I don’t feel well” or “the beginnings of flu” just won’t cut it in this instance I’m afraid.

If you identified with D, your office might actually be bearable/ normal, so follow the rest of my simple steps to get the most out of your OCP.


Take a look at the pictures below – All sure to get you noticed, all festively fun and guaranteed to be appreciated by your colleagues.


No. That was a test, if you are nodding in agreement –  you failed. You should not be wearing anything resembling the above. How do you expect to be taken seriously in January if you dressed your boob as Rudolph in December? Sure you’ll be known as ‘Fun Barbara’ or ‘Dickhead Pete’ but that’s not going to get you a promotion/pay rise now is it? When dressing for the OCP there is only one way to go – as Baby Jesus.

This hardly needs explaining but I will. If fancy dress were Top Trumps, Baby Jesus would always win. No one can take the piss out of you for dressing as the birthday boy. Plus, no one will think you’re being tarty or letchy – it is literally IMPOSSIBLE to do a tarty or letchy baby Jesus – so you are saving yourself from a lot of potential embarrassment.*

*Word to the wise, if a lot of other people have the same great costume idea, you might have a problem. Pack a spare ‘Herod’ costume just in case  – you’ll know what to do. 



This might sound like trite advice and it is. We all know ‘pacing yourself’ is a good idea and we’ve been told so on numerous occasions ever since we woke up with our head in a microwave at uni. Does that ever stop us having that fourth cocktail/beer/white wine spritzer and thinking, “screw it! Bring on the Jagerbombs!”? Well does it? No it does not. We all know alcohol is just too delicious to be drunk slowly, and the ‘but what about the consequences?’ button in your brain gets switched off after drink four. No, ‘pace yourself’ isn’t going to cut it, nor is ‘not drinking’ – you just look like a losers who hates Christmas. What you need is a sure fire way to ensure you stay JUST sober enough not to do anything too cringingly stupid. The best method for this is to create in the back of your mind a constant nagging sensation that there’s something you must remember to do.

Here are a couple of ideas for how to easily create that sensation.

  • Build a bomb which you leave in your flat timed to go off at 4am. If you stumble home drunk, you’ll probably forget about it and end up killing yourself, but if you’re JUST sober enough, you’ll remember to disarm it before you go to sleep.* *Word to the wise, just be careful about your browsing history when googling ‘how to build a bomb’.
  • Write a letter to your local police station confessing to a dreadful crime (the more gruesome the better). Give this to your flatmate/ Granny/ neighbour and ask them to post it for you first thing the next morning. Well done, you’ve just given yourself a great incentive to stay sober enough to get up early and intercept that letter.


Another way to counteract the effects of binge drinking is to keep well topped up with the old H2O. The problem is it’s usually a pain to get to the bar so you don’t want to waste precious hands on boring old water, plus you don’t want to look like the looseberry ordering aqua all night. Solution: Bring your own. I suggest wearing several camel packs (one on your front, one on your back), or copy this lady’s method –


which gives you the additional advantage of having something to do with your hands on the dance floor.


It is never acceptable to kiss anyone at the office party – even if it’s your husband/wife. No one likes a PDA, especially at Christmas. The best way to ensure kissing doesn’t happen is to have some botched lip surgery the week before the party.


Or, if you are on a budget (botched lip surgery can be expensive) invest in some Haddock Flavoured Lip balm, available at all good Fishmongers for £2.99. [10% off if you mention this website Discount Code: FISHYKISSY01]


One major danger at the OCP is that you go up to you boss and slur “and an…another thing… no one likes yooouuu, you smell of ham, and I never even do half the work you gimme anyway- I hide it in my sandwiches, ha ha ha! (dribble/stumble/head loll)” Depending on your specific gripe with your boss it could be A LOT worse than this. A LOT worse.

So how do you stop yourself from having an alcohol fuelled rant like this?  Well I’m afraid you can’t. If you have unresolved Anti -Boss Feelings, they will come out at the OCP. The best way to avert catastrophe is to invest in a short course of hypnotherapy just before the party. Take along a picture of the most junior person in your office (the tea boy/intern/ stapler filler) and ask your hypnotist to convince you that they are your boss.


This way said rant will happen, you will get things off your chest, but the consequences won’t be quite so dire.*

*Word to the wise, it’s safe practice to then get this junior person fired so they can’t tell anyone how weird you are. Filling their bag with straws from the venue, then shouting ‘STRAW THIEF!” at the end of the night is usually a sure fire winner. (It probably wouldn’t be enough to get you fired, but let’s be honest no one likes an intern who steals straws.) 

All that remains to be said is good luck and enjoy yourself! Oh and if all else fails and you do accidentally embarrass yourself at the OCP,  just pull Sandra from accounts’ skirt down on the dance floor – it will provide an excellent distraction and take the heat off you.*

*or you’ll be fired for sexual misconduct, but it’s pretty much 50/50 – odds I’d be willing to take.   




It’s November – the month loved by pyromaniacs, despised by open toed shoe salesmen. But what’s November really all about? Here at HTGAIT we’ve secured an exclusive interview with the most autumnal of months to find out what she’s got coming up,  plus the truth behind those rumours!


HTGAIT: Hi, Thanks so much for doing this interview! I’ve never interviewed a month before – I’m very excited.


NOV: That’s alright.


HTGAIT: So let me kick off by saying how great you look. Have you done something different with your… er?


NOV: No.


HTGAIT: Ah okay, well you look lovely in any case. (awkward pause). So November! Can you let our readers in on any tid-bids of what we can expect from this month? Er *spoiler alert* for those who don’t want to know the future – ha ha!


NOV: (sounding bored) Well there’s obviously your standard events – Bonfire Night, leaves falling off the trees, Christmas lights being turned on….


HTGAIT: (interrupting) Don’t forget Halloween! I love Halloween.


NOV: That’s October.


HTGAIT: Oh right…. Yeah, but you get the post midnight bit right? That’s always the best bit of the party anyway – everyone’s scary makeup is smudged and people are just starting to get pissed and interesting. (attempts conspiratorial wink and elbow nudge)


NOV: All Hallows Eve is by definition ‘the eve’ – the 31st of October. The 1st of November is All Hallows Day.


HTGAIT: Oh right, so what happens on All Hallows Day then? Is there more dressing up, trick or treating and pumpkin carving? I love pumpkin carving! 


NOV: No. It’s a solemn occasion to honour the saints.


HTGAIT: Right…. So what happens exactly?


NOV: (Pauses to think)  Well, in some churches they sing the hymn ‘For all the Saints’.


HTGAIT: (Waits to hear if there’s more. There’s not.) Sounds great.


NOV: Look I wouldn’t call it a November highlight. You brought it up.


HTGAIT: No, no, of course not. (consults notes) So um… tell us something about yourself we might not know?


NOV: Well we’ve got Prince Charles’ Birthday coming up on the 14th.


HTGAIT: (punching the air) Woohoo, the birthday of a minor royal! Who needs pumpkins when you’ve got that?


NOV: I would hardly deem the first in line to the throne a ‘minor royal’.


HTGAIT: No, no of course not. I love Prince Charles. He makes great jam and he’s got very respectable hair. So what happens on his birthday then?


NOV: He’s going to be 67 this year.


HTGAIT: And what’s the form, does Camilla bake him a cake? What’s little Prince George giving him this year? Do they all sing Happy Birthday at the palace? Is the Queen a really bad singer?


NOV: I’m um… I’m not privy to that kind of information.




(Awkward pause. HIGAIT consults notes for another question)


HTGAIT: Okay, so… ah here’s one – How would you respond to your critics who say you’re nothing but rain and dark evenings and yet you’re still a really long way from Christmas. Basically you’re depressing. 


NOV: (looking upset) People really say that about me?


HTGAIT: Well, yes… surely you knew?


NOV: (Sniffing) Well I’ve never heard it put so… so meanly before.


HTGAIT: Sorry.


(NOV starts silently sobbing)  


HTGAIT: BUT they also say, you know, toffee apples and leaves going red, and jumping in puddles and… and er… you get to buy your advent calendar! Yeay!


NOV: Oh great, you get to BUY your advent calendars.


HTGAIT: Well it’s something isn’t it?


NOV: Can I go now.


HTGAIT: Um sure, I guess … oh wait, don’t you need to plug that thing?


NOV: Oh (pulling card out of pocket and reading) ‘November is really good for fishing.’


HTGAIT: Amazing! So there you have it people – Good for fishing, who knew. Thanks so much to my guest November, and join me next month when I’ll be meeting everyone’s favourite winter month – December! (reads a note handed in by a colleague) Oh, apparently I won’t. (mouthing to colleague ‘why not?’) Never mind, we’ll talk about it later.



It’s a question many of us ask ourselves on a daily basis. The world of employment is a fickle, nerve-wracking place and jobs come and go like pigeons. You might be especially worried if you work in a creative industry where your contract has a clause in it saying something like “If you annoy us, or generally don’t fit in, we can fire you without any notice, so ha!”

It’s a sad feature of 21st century living that good jobs are harder to come by than single men in their mid-thirties without baggage, mother issues or poor dental hygiene, therefore it’s vital you spot the signs you are failing at work and take immediate preemptive action. To help you, I have put together a handy quiz to assess your likelihood of being dismissed this week.

  1. It’s Friday. On your way into work you run into your boss in reception. She/He attempts to make small talk with you, asking “Are you looking forward to the weekend? Have you got much planned?” How do you respond?


a) “Yes I am thanks, I’m just hanging out with friends. How about you?”

b) “I guess so. The only thing is I’ve got this doctor’s appointment about this dodgy rash I’ve got on my bottom and I’m a bit worried about it. Plus I’ve got drinks with my ex tomorrow, and you know, it didn’t end well. I cheated on him. Well I say cheated but technically we hadn’t had ‘the chat’ before I went and hooked up with Martin. You know Martin? In accounts? Man has he got one hell of a body under than IT geek veneer!”

c) “That’s none of your business you nosey cow! You may think you own me at work, but weekends are my own. Now shut the hell up. I’m on me time ‘til I’m sat at my desk.”

  1. Your colleague Jim is chatting to you about a work matter, he rolls his chair over to your desk and unconsciously puts his feet up on your desk. How do you react?

feet on desk

a) You ignore it. It’s not the kind of thing you would do, but you don’t want to embarrass Jim by drawing attention to his lack of office etiquette.

b) You say “Wow, Jim! Face not feet, yes? Your toes are giving me woes, your shoes are making my news feed, your feet aren’t being discrete. Translation, get your feet off my goddamn desk.”

c) You pick up your keyboard and slam it into Jim’s face. That will teach him the lazy pig.

  1. It’s lunchtime and you notice that someone has eaten the sandwich you put in the communal fridge. You had specifically labeled it with a post-it note which now lies forlorn on the floor. How do you react?

Businessman taking food from office refrigerator

a) You calmly ask the office whether anyone has moved your sandwich. If they haven’t, well its annoying but worse things happen in Syria, right?

b) You burst into tears. You’ve been working really hard and were really looking forward to that bloody sandwich. When Elaine from HR tries to comfort you, you break down in hysterics, “it’s not just about the sandwich! I think I might be vegan/transgender/lactose intolerant/depressed!” You ask to take a ‘Personal Day’ so you can get your head together.

c) Steal your sandwich will they? STEAL YOUR SANDWICH!? Rage bubbles up inside you. That afternoon, while you boss hosts a team meeting, you douse the office with petrol and throw in a match. Now none of them will have any sandwiches… or desks…. or eyebrows… Ha ha ha!

  1. Sandra (a really annoying girl in your office) announces she’s just been promoted – a promotion who were hoping would go to you. How do you react?

laughing co-workers

a) You congratulate Sandra while being quietly disappointed. You make a note to talk to your boss about how you could improve, and hope to be considered for promotion next time.

b) You rush into your boss’s office in tears, screaming “is it because she’s prettier than me? IS IT!!” Then you lock the door and start stapling your hair to your boss’s desk while singing ‘Mary had a Little Lamb’ in an eerie, tearful tone. You’re like a suffragette running in front of a horse… only instead of a horse, it’s a stapler, and instead of women’s rights, this is your right – to be promoted!

c) Slagface Sandra got a promotion over you? WTF? You source some ricin/cyanide over the dark web and start offering to make Sandra tea… laced with poison. HA! – That will teach her to be so bloody keen at work. Once Sandra’s ‘off sick’/dying you position yourself to take over her desk/workload/ favoured spot on the team. Genius.


Mainly As

You’re a normal rational person, as long as you continue to work hard, and your company avoids any major balls up (like forging emission records, or tapping into celebrity voicemails) you probably won’t be fired … this week.

Mainly Bs

Some people might consider you ‘overly emotional’, with a propensity for over-sharing. These are great quality in a 1920s Hollywood starlet but not so good in a lowly *insert job role here*. I’m sorry to tell you this, but you might well be fired this week. Your only course of action is to consider tear duct surgery (get those puppies hermetically sealed) and also to stop talking out loud.

Mainly Cs

Some people might deem you to have ‘psychotic and violent tendencies’. Unfortunately, though these qualities make you great fun at a community BBQ, they are not the qualities people look for in a co-worker. You probably will get fired this week, perhaps even arrested. My advice to you – take up a calming hobby outside of the workplace; Yachting, sea volley ball and paddle boarding are all viable options. If you don’t live near the sea, well I’m sorry but I’ afraid I can’t help you.



So you got the job – woohoo! You managed to blag your way through the interview, make them think you’re a grown up who’s not going to burn the building down, and now someone has agreed to pay you to be somewhere – what a result!*

After the euphoria of success wears off, you realise you now actually have to DO the job you were hired to do, and you’re worried because, well, you’re not really a grown up, and you might actually burn the building down. Fear not. Follow my top tips on how to nail your first day, and you will be absolutely fine.


*Perhaps payment is taking the form of brownie points /marbles/ kind looks, rather than cold hard cash, but hey, never mind, the important thing is you got the job.



This might sound like an obvious piece of advice, but you’d be surprised how many people get it wrong. Do not set out to make an impression via your wardrobe. Take a look in the mirror and if your first day ensemble resembles any of the below, go back and change.

fur mariah carey Collage-of-Colors

 (NB The middle picture is Mariah Carey. If you actually ARE Mariah Carey you can probably get away with wearing this on your first day, if not, don’t even think about it).

Boring, yet profession should be the look you are going for – no statement T-shirts, no tie-dye and absolutely NO clogs.



Again, sounds ridiculously simply, BUT you would be surprised by the amount of people who on their first day, mis-time their route, get stuck in traffic and generally screw up the whole process of getting to work on time. Work out how long you think it will take you to get to work, double it, then add a fudge factor of about 30 minutes. You can remember this by using the simple formula:

T=2(Dx7)*{14+X-10} + 30

If however you are an idiot and you fail in this second point, here are some great ‘sorry I’m late excuses’ to get you out of a jam. These don’t just work for first days, these are good at any stage of your career.

“Sorry I’m late, my mum is scared of horses”


Great because: People don’t like to pry when it comes to family matters.

“Sorry I’m late, the tube wasn’t striking and it took me by surprise.”


Great because: Everyone hates the tube drivers, if you can throw in something about them striking, it will instantly win you friends and sympathy.

“Sorry I’m late, I thought it was Sunday because Saturday Kitchen was on TV.”

 saturday kitchen 

Great because: It makes no sense and it’s good to bamboozle people into forgetting you were late and start wondering what the hell is wrong with you.



The quickest way to impress your new colleagues is to remember everyone’s names after only being told them once. That way, hours later when you go up to a co-worker and say “Oh hey Kevin, here’s that document you needed help with,” or “hey Valerie, I love what you’re doing with your swivelly chair!” they will think, “Wow, new guy is great with names! What an excellent new addition to our team.”

The problem is that having a quick succession of people say, “Hi I’m Elaine” “Kevin” “James” “Valerie” “Aldegonda” etc, is the hardest way to try and commit names to memory. To help you imprint names onto your brain, here are some examples of the kind of handy tricks I like to use.*

ELAINE – Rhymes with brain – she’s got a big brain. Big Brain Elaine. Focus on Elaine’s massive head every time you speak to her and you will soon have her name nailed.

KEVIN – Rhymes with… oh, doesn’t rhyme with anything. That’s fine, just think to yourself ‘hey that guy’s name doesn’t rhyme with anything’ – see him as a failure in the rhyming arena. Just look at him, think failure, and you’ll soon have his name nailed.

JAMES – Rhyming won’t always work for you. Sometimes thinking of a celebrity or film could help. In this case, James and the Giant Peach – peachy bottom. Always look at James’ arse when you talk to him, and you’ll soon have his name nailed.

VALERIE – Bit of a stupid name. She doesn’t even look like a Valerie, she’s much more suited to Marge, or Barbara. In your head, rename her Margbara, then in your brain put an asterisks next to which you’ll need put a mental note ‘Margbara = Valerie’. You’ll soon have it nailed.

ALDEGONDA – Is this even a name? I mean you can’t be expected to remember names that you don’t even know how to pronounce. In some cases, just calling someone ‘bro’ or ‘hey there’ is perfectly fine. Before long the whole office will catch on to your casual friendly lingo. You’ll soon have it nailed.

*NB You will have to come up with your own memory tricks, depending on the names in question.


 Sounds simple but many people forget this, they think first days are all about ‘getting set up with IT’, ‘finding out where the stationary cupboard is’ and ‘establishing who the office bitch is’. No. The best thing you can do on your first day is actually do some work. If your problem with this point is that you’ve got no idea how to do any actual work, here are a few handy phrases you can throw into conversation to make people think you are working immensely hard.

“Does anyone have a stapler?”


This will make people think, “Wow – this guy’s done so much work he needs to staple paper together! That means he’s done MORE than one side of A4’s work. My god, he must be good.”

“Does anyone want my ticket to see Hamlet at the Barbican tonight? I’m not sure I’m going to get away in time.”


This one works on SO many levels. Firstly, your co-workers will think, “Wow, this guy is cultured, he likes Shakespeare. He must be smart, we should promote him.” Secondly they will think, “He managed to get tickets to a sold out show! He’s either really well connected or really on the ball – both attributes I admire in a co-worker.” Finally they will think, “Wow, he’s willing to give up those tickets to stay late and work – what commitment!”

One little sentence and it’s given you all that kudos.

*the only problem with this one is that you do actually have to have tickets to Hamlet and be willing to give them up for some minor office kudos.

“Does anyone have a log-in for Lexis Nexis?”


Find out one of the professional sounding websites used by your industry. (Lexis Nexis is a great one – its a service which provides online access to most magazine and newspaper articles ever written). Instantly your co-workers will think “wow, this guy knows about Lexis Nexis!” Next they will be wracked by self doubt thinking, “Shit, what does he need Lexis Nexis for? Should I be using Lexis Nexis!?” Finally it will make your boss panic as they’ll be thinking “Shit, we don’t have a Lexis Nexis log in, and we can’t afford one, gah! I’m useless at my job and everyone’s going to find out because this guy wants a Lexis Nexis log in!” Three-fold result.

To summarise, if you follow these top tips, you’re guaranteed to nail your first day and be on course to become the kind of responsible, hard working co-worker everyone enjoys being around. Congratulations.



on set

A lot of TV work involves wearing a headset, holding a clipboard, and pretending you know what’s going on. If someone asks you a question you don’t know the answer to, one trick is to put your hand to your headset, as though you’re getting a very important communication, then say “Sorry, I have to go, the shiminy’s* stuck in the cameraboodle!*”

Incidentally, all radio talkback has a little button you can press to talk to the Really Important People in the Gallery (the Producer and Director). Never accidentally press this button while you are: – on the loo – complaining about how annoying the Producer is – singing a theme tune to yourself otherwise everyone on production will hear you. It will be bad.

*Made up, technical sounding words



If someone asks, “Hey, you, can you put on this snowman outfit, so we can see how hot and uncomfortable it gets under the studio lights?” – agree with gusto. See it as your own miniature sauna challenge, or perhaps a nice day at the beach (but with less sea breeze… and a lot more unpleasantness).   When you are finally released from the snowman torture chamber of hell and your make-up has melted down your face and your clothes are dripping with sweat – worry not; I’m sure all the people you meet that day will deduce you were recruited to be a human snowman thermometer, rather than eye you suspiciously and try to avoid talking to such a strange sweaty person.

This advice goes for all strange requests from your superiors, such as “Hey, you, can you stand against this target so we can see if these bullets made out of sandwiches hurt when they hit you?” or “Hey you, can you just come here and see how long you can keep singing for if we hold this venomous snake right next to your face?”



For every time someone asks you to don a ridiculously hot snowman costume, there will be less laborious tasks you might be asked to perform. For example, “Hey, you, can you stand-in on this rehearsal and be proposed to by Robbie Williams?” Um okay!

Incidentally, with any shows involving celebrities, it is never acceptable to act as though you are excited to meet them. You must not ask for an autograph or tell them that story about how you named your favourite goldfish after them when you were eleven. This will make them uncomfortable.

The best approach for appearing professionally is to treat someone like Victoria Beckham as though you barely know who she is. Paradoxically you will in fact know everything there is to know about her, as will have researched every aspect of her life in case your producer asks you a question about her. For example, ‘Hey, you, does VB eat dairy on Tuesdays?” or ‘What was her third number one again?’ All this information you must have at your fingertips or you will be fired.


 IMG_0043 IMG_0032

The best TV ideas happen long before you ever reach a studio. They’ll happen in the office, brainstorming with your colleagues, working through all the potential ideas thoroughly and methodically.

Unfortunately, sometimes you will come up with ideas that aren’t great, but you won’t realize this until it’s too late. In these situations, it’s important not to convey to your team that you have suddenly realized your idea isn’t funny and the show is probably going to be a disaster. The best way to convey this is with a classic thumbs-up. For example “Oh yes, look this balloon modeler is really talented. I’m so glad I decided to book him for a twenty minute segment on the show today.” or “Yes, Badger heads definitely make everything funny. I mean we don’t even need jokes in the script as long as we have this badger’s head,”

(I stand by that last one actually…)  



Sometimes you will find yourself presented with a desk or workstation covered in buttons, knobs and twiddly things – none of which you know how to use. You will be given a cursory five-minute explanation as to what everything does by someone who doesn’t have a clue either.

This is fine, as long as you didn’t get the job by claiming you knew how all the twiddly bits worked, and had done ‘loads’ of said knob twiddling before. Best to watch what someone else is doing and try your best to copy them. If the worst comes to the worst, blame a ‘glitch’ in the machinery (maybe even a ghost) for why you failed to record any sound on twelve hours of overnight footage…



In ‘that’ chair… as long as no one else is around… and you’re not supposed to be doing something else… and no one sees you… and you’re not working on a completely different show, but just happened to be passing the empty studio…. Then it’s totally fine.



When you finally become a bit more senior, you might get to see your name in lights on the side of a gallery. This is an exciting moment, and you will definitely want to take a photo. However, remember that with great* power comes great* responsibility and your name in lights means every one knows who to blame if something goes wrong. If calamity does strike, it might be a good idea to hang a coat over said name board, just to make it less obvious to everyone that this is all your fault.

*a bit of…



When you finally get to produce a show, and you’re rehearsing a sketch and decide, “Hey, someone needs to sit in these giant baby seats to see how funny they look,” obviously it would be sensible for you to get the runner/researcher/general-dogs-body to do the job (refer back to number two where you were said dogs-body). However, now you are in a position of authority, it is totally reasonable for you and the other senior producer on the team to take ten minutes out of your very busy schedule bossing people around, to do this kind of thing yourself.*

*only if it looks like fun


 downton abbey copy

There’s no point saying to the presenter/ comedian/ actor “oh no, I’m sure the crocodile won’t bite your ear off if you cuddle it to your face, it will look great on camera!” or “Oh yes, definitely dress up as Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey, it will look hilarious! if you aren’t prepared to do the same yourself.

Sometimes the actress booked to play the role will have an aggressive attack of the hiccups, or the presenter will claim to be allergic to crocodiles, and people will look to you to step in.   (Incidentally you are more likely to find yourself in this pickle if everyone on production votes you ‘the only person who looks like they might actually be in Downton Abbey’).



At some point in your illustrious career, you might find yourself in the back of a cab, navigating three comedians around London, already fifteen minutes late for a studio slot, with a cab driver who blatantly doesn’t know where Waterloo is. At this point, one, or all of the comedians will say they want to stop for doughnuts/ burgers/ a full-on-fry-up (or all of the above). You will be tempted to say, “No, we don’t have time! We’re already late!” Do not yield to this instinct. Well-fed comedians with half the studio time will always be funnier than hungry / grumpy comedians with all the time in the world.    



Good shows have GREAT wardrobe departments. If you find yourself filming a sketch, where say, the star of the show dresses up as a sheep – then later that week you have a Halloween party and nothing to wear – don’t be afraid to ‘borrow’ said costume from work. With a little adaptation you’ll soon have an inventive ‘Silence of the Lambs’ outfit which everyone will think you spent months making and hail your unparalleled commitment to fancy dress.

One tip – when returning purloined items such as this, it’s best to make sure it goes back exactly as you found it. I.e. not covered in red wine, singed fur and a hoof-that-smells-like-it’s-been-used-as-a-beer-receptacle.



Working in comedy, especially on programmes for BBC3, you will find that a lot of the humour revolves around farting, falling over, and male genitalia. The sooner you learn to embrace this, the better. There is no point waxing lyrical about how you’d like the show to include witty word play that’s amusing in two languages or satirical jokes that only work if you know Winston Churchill was a Sagittarius who enjoyed bricklaying in his spare time. Know your audience and learn to embrace the amount of cock-shaped hedges that will appear on all your productions.

(DISCLAIMER: Some of the above might not be true. It just vaguely related to pictures I had on my phone…) 


  1. When you’re asked to do a tea round…






 IMG_2811 (1)

  1. When you’re asked to sign the ‘Get Well Soon’ Card for Julie in Accounts…





  1. When you’re asked to prepare a plate of biscuits for the meeting room….







  1. When you’re asked to bind a manuscript for the MD…





  1. When you’re asked to buy and wrap a leaving gift for Jim from Payroll…





  1. When you’re asked to top up the printer with paper…








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