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Ooh Roger Palmer

Little Dot Studios co-founder Andy Taylor died of cancer last month, aged 50. He was a pioneer of the UK digital media scene, spearheading Channel 4’s shift to on-demand and became commercial director at All3Media. Here, his friend and former business partner Jason George pays tribute to him.

Andy Taylor

I first met Andy as a cherubic 19-year-old at Nottingham University in 1989. A passionate Oldham Athletic football fan, to hear the club’s ‘Ooh Roger Palmer’ chant echo round the campus corridors was to know he wasn’t too far away. Later, Ooh Roger was his Twitter handle and the code name for Little Dot Studios’ strategic plan: though Andy travelled far in his personal and professional life, he always remembered where he was from.

He loved sports and was talented at many himself. A small hurricane at the snooker table and a county representative at squash and cricket, he also knew his sports folk in the days when they were harder to recognise: in a Nottingham nightclub, he once spotted two famous Pakistani cricketers enjoying a sneaky pint.

Before long, he’d cleared and meticulously prepared a wicket on Ritzy’s sticky carpet and insisted that Mushtaq Ahmed bowl his flippers from one end, before no-balling Waqar Younis off his short run at the other.

Stories like this of Andy are legion throughout his life – only he had the wit and originality to pull them off flawlessly. He was such fun and was a master at stringing a good story out; not for nothing was he always called Timmy Tall Tayls by his Rochdale mates.

Daunted by the prospect of having to actually work for a living, we postponed the inevitable by going traveling after uni. “What’s the capital of Bangkok?” he asked as we came into land there – he was an ace at economics, geography not so much.

After a freewheeling trip down through SE Asia, Australia and New Zealand – Andy putting double “runny” egg and chips on the Thai culinary map – he settled back in Nottingham for law school. Take That were on the rise and so was Andy – he often successfully passed himself off as Mark Owen’s brother, David, offering backstage passes to all and sundry the next time the boys were in town.

He’d had his tuition paid by a major city law firm and moved to London to take up a position with them in 1995. Though the life of a corporate lawyer wasn’t for him, it gave him something far more precious: it’s where he first met Lara Crellin, immediately declaring to his friends that she was a major contender for the Future Mrs Taylor and putting in place an 18-month strategic plan to win her over. He was head over heels in love.

Ever the over-achiever, they were an item within six months after he swept Lara off her feet for a romantic weekend in Paris (to watch the World Cup semi-finals, France 98). They later married on a wonderful, cherished day in September 2002.

He moved on to Reuters at the same time as I was working for a small digital agency in Brighton. He once sent me collar stiffeners for my birthday along with a message to “get a real job,” but fortunately for us, when we needed an adult to help us grow Victoria Real, we were able to persuade him to jump in.

Jump in he did, quickly becoming managing director, driving the company’s integration into Endemol and helping deliver those early ground-breaking Big Brother projects. On nights out, he’d startlingly produce a very passable caterpillar when the mood took him. Add b-boy to his list of sporting prowess.

Andy proudly showing off his Bafta

Channel 4 came calling and it didn’t take long before he was running its digital division and building a fantastic team and culture. The company led UK broadcasting into the future with the launch of VoD service 4OD in 2006, a seminal moment for British television that still resonates today. The revolution was coming, Andy in the vanguard.

During this time, we took another adventure together – deciding to buy a house in France in a small village called Callas. With Andy’s mastery of currency exchange, we took to La Machotte in June 2004. Despite his appalling grasp of the language (mine no better!), he managed to win over the locals with his cheeky grin and commitment to village life.

In reality, we were saved many a time by Lara’s fluency in French and her and my wife Katrina’s care and attention to the local community. I can still picture him there, sitting on the terrace with his face to the sun, a glass of rosé in hand. It was one of his happy places. The LaM “board meetings” just won’t be the same.

We later moved to Los Angeles and fortunately saw Andy regularly on his trips out there first with All3Media and later Little Dot, as he started to build up the firm’s now thriving US business. We welcomed children during this time – all boys – and enjoyed holidays at La Machotte, Andy often leading the way to the local Tabac for an unfeasibly strong noisette.

His talent already clear, Andy launched Little Dot Studios with his friend and All3 colleague Selma Turajlic in 2013. Naming the company in honour of Dot, his lovely and adored Mum, he soon proved himself a brilliant entrepreneur – strategic and courageous as well as a spotter and nurturer of talent.

From a very small team squatting out of an office in Covent Garden, they grew the business to a 300-strong leader in digital video, working with major media companies as well as launching over 20 of their own channels. The foremost of them, Real Stories, has a subscriber base of four million and in 2019 was responsible for YouTube’s first ever Bafta win for Missed Call, something Andy was incredibly proud of. From day one, it was also that rarest of beasts – a profitable digital start-up.

Of many sadnesses, one is that this was only the beginning – he was just getting into his stride and I’ve no doubt his successes would have multiplied in subsequent years.

He took on his illness bravely and positively – he couldn’t have fought harder, trying everything possible just to enjoy a few extra weeks with Lara and the boys. To the end, he was the same Andy – sharp as a tack with the wit to match, warm and kind, unfailingly modest about his immense achievements. He was a sensational human being, a true life force, and to say he’ll be missed doesn’t even scratch the surface.

He made a huge dent for a little fella and I know in time we’ll share stories, toast and cheer him to the rafters and beyond in support of the foundation Lara is setting up: Stand Up For Andy. I look forward to seeing you all there.

And to you Andy – we miss you already, but we are so proud of the person you were and what you brought to us all while you were here.

Jason George
Chairman, Telescope Inc

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