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AppreciationNovember 18, 2014

The Spinoff and Lightbox present “Spunoff”: a Group Think Competition

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Television spinoffs are nothing new. Some nailed it (Daria, Frasier). Some didn’t (Joey, The Cleveland Show). Some are the current source of feverish rumours and hype (Better Call Saul, the untitled-Walking Dead parallel story). Most remain unmade – existing only in the hearts and minds of devoted fans worldwide.

Have you ever woken up in a cold sweat, desperately wondering what your favourite minor character is doing now? Or how they got to the show in the first place? We definitely have here at The Spinoff.

That janitor seen mopping in the background for three episodes of Glee? He’s actually three aliens stacked on top of each other. That old lady extra with one line in the pilot of NCIS: LA? She’s the killer – the whole time. That dog that gets killed by Kevin Spacey in House of Cards? He’s a dog president from the future, when dogs rule the whole world.

We love Spinoffs so much here at The Spinoff that we stole their damn name! We also love each and every last character in TV universe, so much so that we want to give them all their own shows – and want you to help.

Hence “Spunoff”, a competition to come up with some sweet new spinoffs and find us a sweet new writer – brought to you The Spinoff and our best buds, the wonderful altruists at

Simply pick your favourite minor character from any Lightbox show, flesh out a solid spinoff show pitch then Dragon’s Den it to us in the comments section. The best spinoff pitch will win a killer prize pack which includes a ballin’ Samsung GALAXY S 10.5″ tablet (to celebrate Lightbox’s arrival to Samsung tablets), heaps of delicious snacks and the opportunity to pitch in on future Spinoff group think posts – an extremely prestigious and lowly paid position. Entry conditions are at the bottom of this post.

For further inspiration/examples of lunacy, here are a few Spunoff Spinoffs we prepared earlier:

Spunoff from Top Gear:

Jay Kay’s Night Moves (by Duncan Greive)


After numerous appearances on Top Gear, duelling with the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Usain Bolt and Jennifer Saunders in their ‘Star in A Reasonably Priced Car’ segment, something broke inside Jamiroquai singer Jay Kay. The demon yowls and funny little dance he unleashed after finally besting Simon Cowell to top the Chevrolet Lacetti leaderboard were the outward manifestations of a Bruce Banner-style internal reprogramming he endured at that moment.

The massive rush of endorphins and dopamine subtly altered his DNA, leaving him with no desire to continue with his former career in white disco. Instead he would chase a new dream: conquering the midnight world of 2 Fast 2 Furious-style illegal street races.

Season one opens with the music industry mourning the premature retirement of one of its shortest stars, while the underground street racing community prepares itself for the arrival of a phenom from the telly with deep pockets and 37 vehicles to throw at the scene. With pride and pinks on the line, Jay Kay’s Night Moves follows the singer’s quest to rise to the very top of the street racing world.

The first episode features him driving his ‘rarri to a meet in North London – only to find out that being ‘world’s fastest celebrity driver’ is akin to being ‘the coolest guy in U2’: meaningless outside of that specific context. It turns out even the slowest regular people are much better drivers than even the fastest celebrity.

The season’s main narrative is swiftly revealed as a race against time, to see whether Jay Kay can get up to speed before losing all his vehicles, and having to put his even vaster collection of funny hats on the line.


Spunoff from Green Wing:

Running With Scissors (by Alex Casey)

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He appeared for one snippet of time in the ludicrous hysteria of the Green Wing universe. Leaning over his seat and offering Guy £200 to cut his enemy Mac’s hair, Julian “Scissors” Bentley clearly had a far more powerful backstory that deserves to be told.

Working by day as an affable Scottish hairdresser at his novelty tourist styling venture, the Lock Tress Monster salon, Bentley was unfulfilled. He couldn’t pay the bills, he couldn’t find a date, and he had a thirst for something deeper than the perfect ombré – he wanted to strike fear into the heart of men. Much like his war idol/hairspiration, William Wallace (Mel Gibson).

After observing the crippling power of the mighty scissor to a client’s lengthy ponytail, he found his criminal calling one afternoon. Moonlighting as a haircut hitman, Julian exercised his power by working for irritated co-workers and jealous ex-girlfriends in bringing the long-haired Jared Letos of the world to their knees. It was Marcia Brady’s worst nightmare, but for him it was a lucrative reality. He was the Delilah to the world’s Samson. He was Scotland’s Dexter, if Dexter was a whizz with layering.

The pilot episode sees Julian by day, making cups of fuzz-laden tea and chatting to clients about their weekend. After the neons go out and the hair straighteners cool, he puts a stocking woven out of hair over his head and runs out into the mean streets. He works quickly and quietly, snipping his way through bedrooms, libraries and movie theatres. Anywhere with an abundance of ponytails. He returns the next morning with a trench coat full of ponytails, which he stashes in the back room of his salon amongst the hair extensions. It’s the perfect, pointless crime.

It is only when he hears the tinkle of the door bell, that he realises he may not be alone. The clip-clapping of stiletto heels, the rush of wind past a face too-taut, the suffocating musk of niche business makeover TV – it was a combo the world knew all too well. Tabatha from Tabatha’s Takeover bursts through the door. It’s his salon’s time for a takeover, and his criminal venture might finally be revealed. Talk about shear terror.


Spunoff from Homeland:

That Kid Quinn (by Rose Hoare)


A shadowy operative who’s brought in in Season 2 to secure unknown agendas, we never learn as much as we’d like about Homeland‘s Peter Quinn. We know he sleeps in an empty house and tantalisingly, we learn that he has an estranged baby mama who works in a hospital, but where is the kid? Where are his flatmates?

Despite being mysterious, Peter Quinn (not his real name, obvs) is an empathetic character. He shows a lot of cunning and moxie (stabbing Brody in the hand during an interrogation = ultimate bad cop move) then coolly sparing Brody’s life. Why is his temper so unpredictable? And how did he get so boss?

The first episode of That Kid Quinn begins with a flashback to when CIA boss David Estes awakens to find Quinn lounging menacingly in his bedroom corner chair. Quinn informs Estes he’ll be disobeying Estes’ craven order to assassinate Brody, because “I’m the guy who kills bad guys”. The first synth notes of Jan Hammer’s killer theme music sound, and the opening credits roll as Quinn shrugs into a leather jacket, a toothpick in his mouth.

As the credit sequence concludes, Quinn is regarding Estes’ immaculate front yard with cool disdain. Reaching up into Estes’ typically WASPish rose-strewn trellis, he retrieves the skateboard he stashed earlier, finger-flips onto it and skates away. The Jan Hammer music starts up again, as it will continue to do every 8-10 minutes of this Emmy- and Grammy-winning series, which the New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum regards as “the best show of all time, hands down”.

In a montage, this time set to a blazing hip-hop/R&B soundtrack reminiscent of Bad Boys 2, we flash back to a darker time, when a young Quinn was a disaffected, angry skateboarder, rebelliously spraypainting QUINN (his tag) on the side of his deadbeat stepfather’s panel van, reflecting on his troubles from the side of an empty swimming pool, and sparring with his best friend (Jaden Smith), easily besting him due to having mastered Krav Magar entirely from Youtube tutorials.

“You’re the best at scrapping in the whole of Philadelphia,” Smith says, admiringly.

“No doubt,” Quinn says, subdued. In an internal voiceover set to a mournful beat, he asks himself… “but what’s the point, yo?”

Later, lying on his bed beneath a huge Mobb Deep poster, we see Quinn thumb-typing “CIA” onto his cellphone’s browser…


Think you can do better than us? Give it a whirl in the comments below with:

1) the show being Spunoff;

2) the name of your new show; and

3) a 200-400 world pitch.

The competition closes at 3pm on Wednesday 26th November 2014, and the best entries will be featured in their post next Thursday, with the winner announced within.

A whole GALAXY S of opportunity awaits you – so get spinning!


Regular-sized fine print: This competition is open to the entire world including pro writers and amateurs alike – only exclusions are writers already commissioned by The Spinoff and employees of Lightbox. We own all the intellectual property you create when you enter this competition, and will probably get very rich off the back of it.Feel free to enter more than once, but remember quality > quantity (most of the time).


Keep going!