Interview with The English Programme, 19 Jan 2013.

Uploaded by rewboss on 24.01.2013

Well, one thing I’ve learned: Making videos, easy;
live broadcast...
A few days ago I was interviewed by a small community radio show up in Oldenburg,
and I’ve been given permission to use the recording in a video.
So... this is what this video is.
Now, we were trying something slightly different here:
instead of me travelling up to Oldenburg, we did it through Skype.
So I was able to do it here at this computer,
with a headset, and it actually sounded extraordinarily good.
There is actually a limitation in Skype in that it only allows one-way communication,
so there were several points where I was speaking
and I couldn’t hear that the people in the studio were actually trying to interrupt me.
I wasn’t being rude; I simply couldn’t hear them.
The other voices you’ll hear are presenters Barrie Redfern and Alecia Banfield.
And this is what it was like.
ALECIA: In the old days, it was the boob-tube.
These days it’s YouTube giving us a whole new genre of stars, and of course fans.
And with us today is one of YouTube’s rising sensations, Andrew Bossom.
His topic? German culture, what else?
Hello, Andrew.
ANDREW: Hello! I’m very flattered to be described as a rising sensation, very nice of you.
ALECIA: It’s a valid description, because you have been getting more and more hits on your videos.
Tell us a little bit about your YouTube videos.
ANDREW: Well, I make them as a hobby: it’s a very interesting thing to do.
Mostly they’re about life in Germany through the eyes of somebody who wasn’t born in the country.
As you can probably hear, I wasn’t.
ALECIA: So, you’re British by birth?
ANDREW: There’s all sorts. I’ve got little comedy things, little satirical things,
and more serious travelogues as well.
And I just make them because I enjoy making them.
ALECIA: How long have you been doing them, the ones on German culture?
ANDREW: Well, I started on YouTube actually right at the end of 2006,
which was when YouTube was still very young;
and I started off with videos about Germany right from then,
but I also mixed in a lot of other videos on many other subjects,
which I quickly realised was not necessarily the best thing to do,
because I kind of lost focus, and I’ve been trying to narrow the focus down ever since.
ALECIA: So you focused on German culture. And what kind of topics?
I have watched them, but for the benefit of people out there listening:
what kind of topics do you hit on?
ANDREW: Goodness... ALECIA: Like, what are the sweet spots?
ANDREW: For a start, anything that slightly annoys me,
like, for example, the phone, how people use the phone in Germany.
Things like the way that Germans are terribly punctual sometimes but when it really counts.
ALECIA: Germans are very exact.
Germans are very exact about lots of things, there are lots of unspoken rules of society:
five minutes before the hour is punctual.
ANDREW: Well, that’s exactly it:
you can be... and it’s not just in business either.
Sometimes for social events, where you’re just kind of gathering together with friends.
I had an experience that I recounted in one of my videos,
when somebody actually phoned me up because the party had been underway for 10 minutes or whatever.
I’d just got home from work and he was phoning me up to ask me where I was
because the party had started.
This was completely alien to me. ALECIA: And it was a children’s party, wasn’t it?
ANDREW: Not a children’s party, a birthday party. But it was an adult’s birthday party.
But the thing is it was a social gathering, it was an informal thing,
and I was expected to keep to a timetable.
Although I have to say, that’s a very extreme example.
ALECIA: Did it surprise you, then, the feedback you were getting to the videos,
and what kind of feedback was it?
ANDREW: Well, it depends. I mean, there’s lots of different types of feedback,
because there are lots of different people commenting on the videos.
And sometimes what’s interesting is that sometimes...
ANDREW: ...the Germans particularly... ALECIA: I was about to ask.
ANDREW: I don’t want to overgeneralise here, but
they do tend to misunderstand the point.
I made a video about the difference between German and British humour,
and half the Germans who commented misunderstood and thought I was criticizing German humour.
ALECIA: Which in itself makes a joke of humour. ANDREW: I made a follow-up video
to explain exactly this point,
and I was still getting people who were complaining that I was criticizing German humour,
which I wasn’t trying to do at all, and that slightly surprised me.
But I get a lot of other Germans writing to say, yes, that’s how we do it, isn’t it strange?
ALECIA: But, Andrew, that actually supports the joke about German humour:
the fact that you made something about German humour...
ANDREW: ...they do take their humour very very... BOTH: ...seriously.
ALECIA: [laughs] Which kind of defeats the point.
They then played my “Surviving Germany” video about using the phone,
which they seemed to enjoy. And...
...there’s a link to it in the description.
And then we continued.
[Music fading out]
BARRIE: Well, there we are. [laughs]
Three of us in the studio, we were laughing like crazy.
ALECIA: And nodding quite a bit.
You definitely hit a sweet spot there, I’ve gotta tell you.
ALECIA: All right. ANDREW: [laughs]
These are things that have actually happened to me.
The coda to the one about answering the phone with your name and nobody hears that bit:
a few weeks ago I decided that I actually wasn’t going to do that any more,
I was just going to answer with “Hello”.
And the very next time somebody called me I said “Hello”,
I got this silence, and then he said, “So who am I talking to?”
We had a bit of an argument about that actually,
and eventually he told me: “Well, I’m actually the electrician,
but you’re supposed to tell me who you are so that I know I’ve got the right number.”
ALECIA: Well, you do have— ANDREW: So I thought, OK, fair enough.
ALECIA: You do have those sticklers,
because I’ve been in Germany now for six years
and I must admit my brain hasn’t completely switched to how things are done in Germany 100%.
So I do, I must admit, pick up the phone and go: “Hel-LOOO!”
and I tend to sing it, so I don’t know if that throws people off
and they go: “OK, either she’s psycho or she’s clearly a foreigner.”
I haven’t had that yet,
but I have called people socially and business and gotten “Linten!” or “Hoffmann!” or “Müller!”
And I must admit for me it sounds...
For Germans it’s very practical and straight to the point;
but for me it sounds kind of clipped,
so I have to remind myself, “OK, Alecia, once again, it’s a different culture,
and just swing your brain around.”
ANDREW: That’s it, it has its uses, it’s businesslike, it’s efficient,
but to some other cultures like the ones we come from, it just sounds brusque and rude.
On the other hand, the British thing of answering by reciting your telephone number
isn’t terribly logical either.
ALECIA: No, it’s not.
BARRIE: Andrew, do you have followers literally all over the world?
ANDREW: Pretty much, yes.
I mean, most of my followers I think are in Germany,
at least that’s where most of my hits come from.
But I have a fair sprinkling... quite a lot of British people, and Americans as well:
a lot of Americans for example who were in Germany as soldiers,
as GIs in the 70s and 80s, looking for videos about their old haunts.
But I’ve also got a sprinkling from countries as far away as Singapore,
Australia, India, all kinds.
But that’s just the way that the internet works:
you put something up on the internet, and it’s instantly available all over the world.
So it’s not really that surprising.
BARRIE: Do you get feedback from them?
ANDREW: Yes, I get comments on my videos mostly, and the occasional private message.
If you look through my videos, you’ll see underneath them
people commenting and saying how rubbish they thought the video was.
ALECIA: But actually I found, considering where you’re coming from,
that you’re an amateur and... I don’t want to be completely glib and say you did it for a lark,
but you kind of segued into this, not as a main focus, but then you hit on it,
and realised you were on to something.
I found that the video and the audio components were actually very, very good;
and then it’s just humour. It’s just pure, sweet humour and... you know.
ALECIA: I loved it. ANDREW: Well, thank you for saying so.
ALECIA: I showed my husband and he loves it, too. ANDREW: I’ve been making videos for six years now.
ANDREW: Did I say 6 years? That’s right, 6 years. ALECIA: Six years, yes. 2006.
ANDREW: And I’ve just had a lot of practice. And...
But it was... one of those interesting things.
Before I got a camcorder in 2006, I’d never used a camcorder before in my life.
And I just discovered that it’s something that I can do.
ALECIA: OK, well, Andrew, we’re going to take a little break now
and then we’re going to come back and talk a little more about those YouTube videos.
BARRIE: Don’t go away...
Now, by this time there was a slight panic going on,
because there was supposed to be another guest who was going to talk about the monarchy,
and in fact the show was supposed to be principly about the monarchy
and whether we should get rid of it or not.
But they couldn’t contact the other guest. And so... interview continued.
BARRIE: Just a reminder, you’re listening to the English Radio Programme on Oeins,
with me, Barrie Redfern, and...
ALECIA: Alecia Banfield. And we are here with Andrew Bossom,
one of the internet’s rising stars, talking about his YouTube videos on German culture.
Welcome back, Andrew.
ANDREW: Hello, I’m still here. ALECIA: You’re still here, good, with us.
So, tell us: we already know you’ve done... telephone etiquette,
you’ve done punctuality,
I know you’ve done one on the Weihnachtsmann...
ANDREW: Christmas, and one on New Year’s as well. ALECIA: Right.
What other ones can you...?
We don’t want to give everything away, ’cause we want people to go there and check out your videos.
But what other kind of videos have you done?
ANDREW: Let’s see. Well...
You’ve been particularly talking about my series on “Surviving Germany”...
ALECIA: I love that name, “Surviving Germany”. ANDREW: ...I did one on public transport as well,
or at least one part of public transport.
I have also other things, for example, one which I haven’t been able to do much recently,
but I have another series where I take a piece of news from Germany and make fun of it,
and ask people to write in with their ideas;
and also, I said, travelogues: that is, sometimes I go to a place,
it might be a place that everybody’s heard of like Frankfurt or Hamburg,
or it might be some tiny little village that’s just fallen off the map somewhere,
and I go there and take my camera and make a video about that.
ALECIA: How do people respond to you when they see you hanging around with a video camera?
ALECIA: Because.... ANDREW: Mostly they ignore me.
I think video cameras are actually quite common these days:
most people with a modern smartphone have a fairly decent video camera actually in the phone,
so I think the sight of somebody pointing a camera at something is quite normal.
ALECIA: What I find here is that you need to be a little more sensitive.
Well, this is just my personal experience,
because for example in the States, where the interest in everything
is so... almost on the point of being invasive,
it’s almost expected that you whip out your camera, stick it in some person’s face,
and it’s almost, the right to personal space has now gone.
If you are a celebrity and you sneeze,
John Public will walk up and stick a phone in your face and take a picture.
But here in Germany there’s still that boundary and that respect for privacy.
So for example, they’re a lot more aggressive on internet privacy issues.
Like, for example, I remember I friend of mine went into a café
and there was this beautiful display of cakes and pastries as only Germany can do it;
and she’s from America, so she just wanted to take a picture and send it to her friends,
and actually, the people behind the counter, they didn’t... they didn’t take it in stride.
It was like... there was the frown and... was only after she explained, oh, you know, she’s a tourist,
she just wanted to take this picture and send it to her friends
so they could see what they were missing,
that they understood.
Have you found that as well?
ANDREW: Yeah... I’m very careful about filming on any kind of private property anywhere:
I haven’t had any major problems.
I was shooting a crowd scene at one point,
and somebody put their face up... uh, put their hand up to their face;
that’s fine, I just didn’t use those three seconds of video.
I’ve not had any big problems. But you’re right, I am kind of careful where I point my camera,
so they know I’m not trying to stalk somebody.
BARRIE: I have to say, Andrew, that—
ANDREW: Yeah, privacy is an issue that is very, very important in Germany.
BARRIE: Actually, Andrew, ’cos I’ve worked in TV and video as well as radio,
I have to say, I have had a few problems.
ALECIA: You have? What sort of problems?
BARRIE: There was one, for example, where we were filming outside a nightclub in Liverpool.
I won’t mention the name of the club,
but as soon as we got the camera out and put it on the tripod, this man came out,
BARRIE: a rather big man... ALECIA: The bouncer, i.e., the bouncer.
BARRIE: ...told us what we should go and do.
BARRIE: and things got— ANDREW: Well, I mean, I once...
...took my camera out on the Munich U-Bahn,
and I got my camera out and I was stopped by a very friendly security guard,
who reminded me that technically, this is private property and the house rules say
you can’t film without permission,
but also said a big problem is that people misunderstand what’s going on:
they’d had problems with people putting smartphone cameras up women’s skirts,
ANDREW: that sort of thing. ALECIA: Ah, yeah.
ANDREW: So, there are some... BARRIE: But you know, Andrew,
a lot of people don’t realise how much freedom they have to film in the street.
Now, I don’t know much about German law,
but I do about the media as regards Britain, something about it having worked in it.
And I had a tactic. Like, outside that club
I had a junior producer with me,
and we had a little pact, you see. So I said, “Well, if there’s any problem,
I’ll keep anyone engaged in conversation,
BARRIE: and you carry on filming. ALECIA: [laughs]
BARRIE: And believe me, it always worked.
ANDREW: The law in Germany is that if the person is deliberately the focus of your video,
you need to get their permission before you film them,
and you also need their permission before you broadcast it by uploading to YouTube or something.
Crowd scenes or people randomly walking in and out of shot is usually perfectly fine.
BARRIE: Well, we had the same trouble again, in Amsterdam.
Exactly the same thing, and I was with a colleague again,
we used the same tactic, it worked.
But actually, we found in both those cases, in Britain and so on, there was an element of...
...illegal substances, allegations that illegal substances might have been used
BARRIE: in those places, ALECIA: on those premises, yeah.
BARRIE: which is why I didn’t mention the name of the club.
ANDREW: Well, I know that the security guard on the U-Bahn in Munich told me
that there are some people who might accidentally walk into shot
who were actually not supposed to be there,
because their wives thought they were in Cuxhaven or something,
ALECIA: Exactly. ANDREW: and that there could be problems there.
ALECIA: Yup, basically.
Are you thinking, concerning now the success of these YouTube videos,
because even though they’re done in the spirit of humour,
they do strike a chord, clearly, from the response you’ve been getting.
Are you thinking, or has it occured to you,
to take this whole idea and do something a little bit more with it?
ANDREW: Yeah, I actually have had a couple of commissions
to actually make actual videos, actual DVDs for people;
it’s only a couple.
ALECIA: Along the same vein, or a whole new topic?
ANDREW: It’s something I’d like to take further if I possibly can.
I’ve just not had much time to concentrate on that:
we’ve just spent a year building a house and moving into it, so I’ve been busy with that.
But it is definitely something that, if it takes off, will be a very nice thing to do.
ALECIA: Are they on the same vein, or a completely different vein, these two commissions?
ANDREW: It was actually competely different.
One of them was a video I did for the anniversary of a church.
Another one, I filmed a musical production, you know, a musical,
which was a challenge, but I actually managed it.
ALECIA: Okay! BARRIE: Well, Andrew, um...
ANDREW: Quite different stuff, but it was my YouTube work that led to it in the first place.
ALECIA: All right, Andrew!
BARRIE: Well, Andrew, don’t go away, because in a moment we’re going to have the news,
and I have to tell you, we were going to have this feature about the British monarchy,
and should we have royal families or not?
But it looks like our guy from Republic has got problems and we can’t link to him.
So... that gives us an opportunity to carry on talking,
because I find the idea of your videos extremely fascinating.
I’ve thought about doing the same myself. Not on the subject of culture, but...
I think it’s great, YouTube opens so many opportunities and I’d love to ask you about that
a bit later on, yeah? So stay with us, Andrew, okay?
So, the presenters and the newsreader had a short discussion about the royal family
and whether we really needed it or not,
I was able to chime in in a few places,
but then the show was practically over.
ALECIA: ...form the skeleton of the society.
Now that the society is established, do we then say, “OK, right, we’ve got enough of you now,
you know... get lost”?
BARRIE: Let me just... because we have a guest with us, in case you’ve just joined us:
Andrew Bossom, and he’s not actually in the studio, he’s down in Bavaria, Andrew...
Whereabouts in Bavaria?
Whereabouts in Bavaria are you, Andrew?
ANDREW: In the extreme northwest corner, so actually not very far from Frankfurt.
BARRIE: Oh, right.
And Andrew, as we were discussing earlier, is the maker of many, many videos,
funny videos about German culture, on the internet, on YouTube.
Presumably, now you’ll going away and making some about the royal family, now, Andrew?
ANDREW: [laughs] I don’t think so:
that’s rather a long trip, and I’m not sure I’d be able to get an audience.
BARRIE: A long trip? Well, with greenscreen... you use greenscreen, don’t you?
ANDREW: I would have to set up my greenscreen.
I haven’t done that yet, because I’ve only just moved house. But...
ALECIA: Are there any other topics, with respect to German culture,
different aspects of German culture that you’d like to cover in a YouTube video?
ANDREW: We’ll see what annoys me most next.
I’ve just made a video about the catastrophe that is the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport.
But other things... whatever. Maybe building regulations, but that seems kind of boring.
ALECIA: Oh, okay. And what particularly about the airport?
ANDREW: Goodness, well... ALECIA: Where to start?
ANDREW: What can I say? It’s massively overdue, it’s massively overbudget,
and it looks like large parts of it will have to be torn down and rebuilt.
ANDREW: What more can I say? BARRIE: But apart from that...
ALECIA: Maybe you could do something more social, like the dating culture in Germany or something.
ANDREW: I’m very happily married, so I don’t have any experience of that.
ALECIA: Okay, all right. Okay. All right.
So we’ll keep you out of trouble. We’ll keep you away from that one.
BARRIE: So, finally, Andrew, what’s your website? What’s your...?
ANDREW: I think the best way to find me is to go to
that’s R-E-W-B-O-S-S.
My website is and there are links there to my YouTube videos and so on.
BARRIE: OK. Well, Andrew, thank you very much indeed.
BARRIE: That’s Andrew Bossom, from the YouTube site. ANDREW: Thank you.
BARRIE: And our production team today: Alecia Banfield, Anna Hahn, John Goodyear,
and myself, Barrie Redfern.
In our next programme, a very special invitation from a young lady
promising to give everyone a good time in Oldenburg.
We’ll be out on the streets to find out exactly what she means.
And on that note we leave you. Goodbye!
And there it was.
I was only supposed to be on the air for about ten minutes, but...
...unexpected things happened, and plans had to be changed at the last minute,
and I had to keep talking for longer than I’d expected to. But...
...that’s just the way it goes, that’s the problem with live broadcast,
it’s something that you don’t get on YouTube videos...
...thank goodness for that.