The Horror Channel

Interview with Jonathan Sothcott

The Horror ChannelJonathan Sothcott is Head of Programming and has an impressive history as a cult writer, director and programme marketer.

SGM: Being a long respected contributor to countless genre magazines/DVD's etc and just by looking at the Horror Channel's scheduling for the first month you are most definitely the right man for the job (Head of Programming) - but how did it come to be that you landed such a plum job as this? (I can already hear countless genre scribes squirming with envy!)

Jonathan Sothcott: Thank you very much! As to how I got it, well, I read about The Horror Channel on the internet and called Tony Hazell, giving him this rambling spiel about having a production company that could make some original programming for him. He wasn't particularly interested in that, but he asked if we could meet for a chat next time he was in London. We did, and got on very well, culminating with him asking me if I was interested in doing the acquisitions for the channel. Rather stupidly, I actually thought about it for a long time, because I was in production on a documentary about Euan Lloyd for the Wild Geese DVD, and thought I wanted to stick to that (I know, I know - how stupid!).

Our first meeting was in September 2003 and I accepted the job on a three-days-a-week basis in the first week of January. Needless to say I had underestimated the undertaking quite monumentally, and in no time at all I was working for the Horror Channel six days a week. So, at the end of January I had to make a bit of a decision - full-time for The Horror Channel or not? Obviously I came to the right decision far more swiftly this time, and since February I've been full time.


It became apparent in February, however, that the job I was doing was more than acquiring product for the channel - I had come up with this idea to find a 'face' for the channel - a gorgeous girl who could present the ten o'clock movie, and take the channel's message to the public. So a big chunk of my time throughout February was taken up with organising a big open audition on the 27th, which was manic, and selecting Jade Fox as our girl. I was joined for the judging by Paul Annett and David Wickes and we had an amusing day, a sort of a 'horror idol' if you will.

So by this stage I was Head of Programming, which basically means that I have responsibility for evaluating and acquiring the films we show, supervising the interview-based original programming we make, looking after Jade (ah, the things I do for England) and running our London office.

So anyway, that's how I got it and what I do� as for why they picked me, I can only say I was very lucky!

SGM: With your knowledge and experience in the genre you are surely itching to get to work on some home grown programming for The Horror Channel. Any plans yet that you can give us the low down on yet?

Jonathan Sothcott: We've already started a little bit - last week we shot interviews with Linda Hayden, Michael Bassett (writer/director of Deathwatch) and Peter Sasdy (about Nothing But The Night) and next week we're interviewing Robin Hardy about The Fantasist. I'm trying to apply the principals of DVD featurettes to the channel - really concise interviews, generally focusing on one film, illustrated with clips and rare stills.

We're using these essentially as filler material between films. We've also acquired a series called The Fear Makers from the States, which is based on a book by John McCarty and profiles people like Terrence Fisher - these will fill the same role.

Ultimately, we'll be looking to launch a regular magazine type programme which will feature on-set reports, interviews and cinema, DVD and book reviews, keeping viewers fully up to date with everything that's going down on the horror scene, but it is crucial that we get this absolutely right, so we haven't charged into it.

SGM: Chasing down the licensing for some of those old obscure gems must at times be tricky? It's also known that some rights holders can be somewhat greedy when it comes to pricing their product, has this been a problem you've encountered yet?

Jonathan Sothcott: To be honest, it's not as difficult as you think, because when you're ringing up saying: "Hello, I've got money to spend," everybody wants to be your friend. Of course, there are people who value their product too highly, but that's ok - we only have a finite number of broadcasting hours, and so we can wait for prices to come down, or our budgets to go up.

SGM: Expense and licensing aside, if you could line up any films at all for the channel what would your dream schedule line up of classics be?

Jonathan Sothcott: I'd like to be able to have more concentrated themed programming with the excellent material we already have. For example, it would be great to do a month of Hammer or Amicus, a week of Wes Craven or George Romero. However, the rights are so fragmented that lining up ten or twenty films in the same availability window is virtually impossible. My first love is British horror films, but that's not to say this will colour our programming�

I would, however, love to get the mini-series Jack The Ripper and the follow-ups Jekyll & Hyde and Frankenstein on in the same night. The thing is, though, it's not really about what I want (though as someone who likes the genre I hope I'm not totally missing the point) but what the viewers want. So we really do welcome feedback via our website.

The Wild Geese

SGM: We hope that your commitment to The Horror Channel doesn't mean an end to your work in other fields! What other Sothcott goodies do you have planned for us in the pipeline?

Jonathan Sothcott: Well, I finished work on the Wild Geese DVD in January, and the Euan Lloyd documentary was shown at the Bradford Film Festival last month. The disc is out in May, and also includes a commentary by Sir Roger Moore, John Glen, Euan Lloyd and myself, a very nice booklet, a comprehensive stills gallery, talent biogs, the original news report on the UK Premiere and a lovely uncut print of the film.

Since TWG, really the only thing I've done is set up a R1 DVD release of Expose (aka The House on Straw Hill). This will be the fully uncut version, sourced from the original camera negative. So on Sundays I've been shooting a documentary about the film, which will include interviews with all the key players, and will finally solve the mystery of why Linda Hayden doesn't like the film, in her own words, which has been exaggerated and blown up out of all proportion over the years. I suspect the documentary will make it onto THC when we show Expose in the Summer.

After Expose, I'm afraid that will probably be it for my outside work - at least for the foreseeable future. Once The Horror Channel's up and running, there's another channel to prepare, and I'm totally committed to working on these.

Back to the main Horror Channel page