Jeremy R Vines - 21st Anniversary Interview

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To celebrate the twenty first anniversary of T-Bag first being broadcast in the UK, I thought that it would be great if we had an insight into why Jeremy first started his The T-Room Website all those years ago and his experiences throughout the last few years. So I asked Jeremy a few questions about what made him start his T-Bag website, his experiences making it and the reaction from the fans of the show.

A big thank you to Jeremy for his time spent answering these questions, it is greatly appreciated.

For more T-Bag goodness please visit Jeremy's The T-Room.

The interview is below, in his own words...

What was it about T-Bag that got you so ‘hooked’ on the show as a child all those many years ago?

It’s very hard to say exactly what got me hooked. I became hooked at the “Wonders in Letterland” stage. I think it was T-Bag herself that appealed most to me. I was used to seeing the “Wicked Queen” type of character in Disney films when I was younger, and Elizabeth Estensen played this fantastically well. Unlike the Disney “Wicked Queens”, however, we got to see T-Bag warts and all – she tried to be a real baddie, but usually ended up falling flat on her face. It was this human aspect to the character that really made me fall in love with the series.

What made you start the website all those years ago? Was the website started on impulse or was it planned?

“All those years ago” – is it really that long? I had searched for T-Bag on the Internet for a very long time, and found absolutely nothing. I then figured that I must do something about this situation, especially because when I asked people if they remembered the series, they would at first say “no”, until I described it a bit more. The memories then came flooding back to them, and they remembered it fondly. The Internet seemed the easiest way to bring T-Bag back to the public and revive it at least in people’s memories. This was when the T-Room was first conceived, although at this stage, it had no name nor Web space.

Had the website been in planning many months before that? Or how long were you thinking of starting a T. Bag website?

I knew that I was going to make a Website for a long time. It was only when I stumbled across a PCTV Rave TV tuner card for my computer in Dixons in Shrewsbury that I finally took the plunge. This card allowed me to capture stills of the T-Bag show from my video collection, and hence make my website more interesting to look at. A few days after buying it, the T-Room was born.

How did you decide on calling the Website ‘The T-Room’?

I used to play T-Bag a lot with my little sister, El, and my little brother, Howard. They are both much younger than me, so I became a male version of T-Bag (I think my name was Trevor), El was Tabatha Shirt, and Howard was a trainee T-Caddy called Thomas Spoon. Since I was T-Bag, I guessed that it made sense that I should call my Website the T-Room – a space where I had all the power and was the High-T (at the risk of sounding like a megalomaniac!).

Was this your first experience of building a website or did you have prior knowledge of website building?

I had some knowledge of HTML programming from University, where we were forced to create a website all about ourselves as an exercise for part of a teacher training course (which I’d rather not talk about – big mistake), but I didn’t know enough to set up the whole Site. I bought a piece of software called “Hotmetal Pro”, which had a WYSIWYG interface, so the layout could all be done visually rather than in HTML. This made the building of the site a lot easier and faster.

Tell me more about your experience making the website?

The T-Room has evolved over the years. It started off really tacky. The logo was created using Ulead PhotoImpact and looked really naff. There were no frames, so it was difficult to navigate, and the look of the Site was really amateurish. This was largely because it was at its first home at It was a very restrictive service which only allowed the uploading of tiny files, no mp3, etc. Most of the programming also had to be done online using their interface, so it was really annoying. Dreamwater gave me notice to leave, because they were closing their server, so I moved it to Lycos/Tripod, where it has been until recently. This was a much better, more sophisticated service. I overhauled the Site and it became more like it is now – I introduced frames and an annoying lighty-uppy menu thing that was all hand drawn and incredibly difficult to update. The star background appeared instead of a ghastly fake T-Leaf background that I had created during some strange delusional episode that I must have been having at the time. I also adopted the red and green colour scheme to echo the lighting when T-Bag takes T-Shirt’s powers away. The rest of the Site was all template based, so it was easy to add bits. The improvement was immense – it was far more navigable and easier on the eye.

Lycos was great until they started obliterating my Site with adverts that wouldn’t disappear, and then slapped extra frames full of garbage all over the place. Luckily, my friend Clare had started up, and offered to overhaul my site and make it more modern. The Site is now hosted at Berzerk, which is nice, because it’s only just upstairs from me! Clare has been great and has worked so hard on the Site. I am really appreciative of all her work.

In it’s time, the Site has had more than 100,000 hits, including times that the counter has been reset due to moves (or just lately resetting itself – GRRR!).

Tell me more about the reaction from fans?

The fans are always great to hear from. I think that the biggest surprise for me was that there are so many of them! They are all really glad to find my Site. I have scanned the Net for Websites in the past about shows that I half remembered, and they are invariably sketchy. I figured that since I had all the episodes on video, I should aim to make the T-Room as comprehensive as possible. I think that the depth of the information on my Site is what makes people so appreciative.

Have you had any bad experiences with making the website?

I have had one or two. I used to copy series for people gratis, but I stopped because people started auctioning them off. Since I have stopped doing this, I have had abuse from one user calling me all kinds of names because I don’t copy, and won’t allow the distribution of material from my Site. Why should I? I have had to buy the equipment to generate my images, or travel to London (from Wales) to get them, or put my sister up for a few days for costume images, or make the costumes myself to get them….*ahem* and so on, and then I get people complaining because they can’t right click and save all my hard work in two seconds! GRRR! I try to take the rough with the smooth, however, but I won’t lie down and die if I’m treated badly.

You’ve spent so much time and money (especially with the costumes, design sketches etc)? Was there ever a time when you thought all the effort wasn’t worth it?

Never. T-Bag is something that I have always loved, and always will love, despite my older brother telling me that I would have recorded over it all by the time I was twenty – IN YOUR FACE, MATTHEW! Seriously, though, I am thrilled to bits with what I have achieved with the Website – I have met some very nice people, both fans and members of the cast and crew, plus I have found all that memorabilia! T-Bag is a hobby of mine, and the Website is just a means of sharing my hobby with other people. It’s great because most of the Website just stands as it is and looks after itself, so there isn’t much work involved. The forum and the guest book are the main areas where I am busy – I check them every day, and try to eliminate robots, which are becoming more aggressive these days.

Have you had any lovely messages from people who you’ve helped remember the show?

You just have to look at my guest book to see the kind of reaction that I have had from fans. I promise you that the guest book is almost completely unedited (I say almost because I deleted that one abusive post due to inappropriate language – but I did post a reply in its place – I haven’t heard anything else about it). It makes me glad that I can help fellow fans of such a great series.

Tell me more about the reaction you’ve had from some of those who worked on the show (e.g. Lee Pressman, Grant Cathro, Raymond Childe etc)?

All the cast and crew that I have been able to track down have been really great and very supportive. They are glad that I am trying to keep the series alive in people’s memories. They are a really nice bunch of people, and I’m really happy that I have managed to get in touch with them.

I know you’d like to see a DVD release of T. Bag but which series would you most like to see on DVD?

I don’t actually have a favourite series since I love them all. I know that I have said that I like “Bounces Back” and “Pearls of Wisdom”, but I would be really disappointed if these were the only series to be released on DVD. I really, Really, REALLY, want to see them all released. I have copied my videos to DVD, but copies are never as good as the originals, and my earliest recording is now twenty years old! Since the life expectancy of video recordings is thirty years, time is fast running out!

Jeremy R Vines