Formats Unpacked: Curate TV

What's the magic that makes this internet curation format a trove of visual delight?


Thanks for joining us. And hello to new readers and subscribers. I’m humbled that your curiosity brought you here. Since launching this a couple of months ago I’ve enjoyed some really interesting conversations about formats with readers.

This week I chatted with Harry Hobson about lockdown quiz formats. My children have been doing a Friday night quiz with their friends since lockdown began. But as the weeks have passed they’ve had to keep changing the format to keep it interesting. They’ve become experts at quiz format development. Who would have thought we’d all be doing jobs like that at the start of 2020. I’d love to hear more about any entertainment formats you’ve adopted, remixed or developed during lockdown.

This week’s unpacking comes from me.

What’s it called? 

CurateTV (online curation format)

What’s the format?

CurateTV describes itself as ‘Desert Island Discs of internet video.’ These aren’t interviews, simply video playlists from ‘the most interesting people in the creative industries’. Each guest chooses a bunch of videos and provides a short explainer for their choices. It’s the baby of Angus MacPherson, an independent designer & art director based in London.

What’s the magic that makes it special? 

Curating video isn’t a new idea. Often great formats are simple old formats flipped on their head or made smaller by feeding it through a specific lens. 

The magic here is in who is doing the curating. They are illustrators, art directors, magazine editors, writers, indie agency owners, people who have got where they are through their taste. It describes itself as the ‘Desert Island Discs of internet video’, and there are obvious similarities. But the magic in both formats are at opposite ends of a spectrum. The brilliance of Desert Island Discs is that the tunes feel secondary to the chat. It’s hardly the first place you go for music recommendations. You’re going to Desert Island Discs to hear stories. Really brilliant stories. Told by guests that you know and love. The music selections are simply hooks for the guests to hang stories on. That’s not to say that the music isn’t good, but the music is the door you go through to get to the stories.  

With CurateTV the video selections really matter. We get to know little about the curator other than what is revealed in their introduction. But through their often obscure and fascinating selections we get to know a lot about their taste and their craft. From magazine editor Louise Benson choosing Mark Lecky’s cult classic clubbing film ‘Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore’, to illustrator Matthew The Horse choosing a film about stone skipping in Japan, to creative strategist Russell Davies choosing Aretha Franklin making the Obamas cry whilst singing Natural Woman in a fur coat, each video is a dot of inspiration in the minds of very smart and very creative people.

Favourite episode?

I lost a big chunk of my day to internet video watching Illustrator and artist Emily Forgot’s selections.

Similar formats:

Speaking of formats developed during lockdown you should check out Marie Foulston’s wonderful Party in a Shared Google Doc. I adore this and would love to see someone unpacking a format that attempted to break new ground. Get in touch if you’d like to share yours.

Thanks for reading,


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