Jay Foreman YouTube Unfinished London

Unfinished London returns to uncover the quirky history of The Tube map

Popular YouTube show Unfinished London has returned with two new episodes explaining the evolution of the London Underground map.

Jay Foreman, YouTuber, singer-songwriter and comedian looks at London‘s quirky, unexplained, unbuilt infrastructure and explores bridges over nothing, tunnels to nowhere, and borders that don’t make any sense.

The first episode of Unfinished London aired on the platform in 2009, when Foreman and his co-creator Paul Kendler were looking for roles in television and wanted to showcase their skills. 

Foreman said: “We gave it the title Unfinished London to give the impression that it could be part of a wider series, but we didn’t actually intend to make any more episodes.

“But then, rather unexpectedly, our video was being widely viewed and shared, which encouraged us to make another episode two years later.”

As of writing, there are now 15 episodes of Unfinished London and 1.35 million eager subscribers to the channel.

The whole process for making an episode can take up to a year, which is why episodes tend to be produced in batches.

The most recent Unfinished London episode.

Foreman enjoys working alongside a co-creator, Paul for Unfinished London and Mark Cooper-Jones for Map Men, as the writing process is more fun.

The creators bounce ideas around, make each other laugh, and find motivation to keep to deadlines.

Each stage of the process has challenges, Foreman said, with research sometimes being time consuming and inefficient.

“Writing, getting all our assembled facts into a story-like order, can often feel like trying to solve an impossible puzzle,” he said.

Whilst the filming stage is the most stressful stage for Foreman, the edit is his most enjoyable stage.

Foreman said: “This is where I can indulge my control-freak side. 

“The project starts out as a very rough storyboard on the same piece of software that produces the final completed video, Premiere Pro, so it’s immensely satisfying to watch the video take shape over the course of a few months.”

Foreman with his baby son, earlier this year.

Another factor in the process was the recent birth of Foreman’s son, as it became hard to find the free time and the free hands to work on videos.

Having a baby meant the last video took three months to edit, rather than three weeks, and Foreman said it can be hard to write and edit, especially when sleep deprived.

“That being said, my son is bloody marvellous, and we really like him, and he’s so totally worth it,” he added.

A standout from the channel is the style in which Foreman makes distinct, hilarious sketches for video sponsors.

He said: “When I started doing ads on my channel, I took the approach that, if I had to do sponsored segments, I would adopt the strict advertising codes that British TV had when I was growing up, where there was a very clear distinction between the programme and the adverts. 

“That’s why the ads at the end of my videos are never in any way related to the video they’re attached to.”

As well as Unfinished London, Foreman also creates original songs.

The videos use the same black and white cue dots that ITV used to use to warn an advert was coming.

Although the actual videos can take months of preparation and rewrites, the adverts only take a few days.

This approach, looser and fun to write, allows Foreman the incentive and opportunity to make the advertising funny and more worth watching for viewers.

He said: “Being given a strict template, with bullet points of things you have to say, and a few things you mustn’t say, is actually very liberating – a far easier task than starting with a totally blank document.

“It encourages a lot of crazy ideas to come out – similar to how writing poetry rather than prose forces your mind to look for vocabulary you don’t normally access, to make it rhyme and scan.”

Foreman takes inspiration from a YouTube video by American sketch comedians Tim and Eric, guest starring Zach Galifianakis, in which they sipped Absolut Vodka like cats out of shallow glasses.

He said: “To see such insanity that had demonstrably been approved by executives from a real brand was quite radical and shocking at that time. 

“They understood that a completely stupid sketch was far more likely to be remembered and shared, and was ironically a far safer way to spend their money than a safe sketch.”

Foreman has other titles on his YouTube channel, including Map Men with Mark Cooper-Jones.

No company has yet turned down one of Foreman’s advertisements, and he says he is fortunate to work with sponsors that approve of his approach.

“I think they understand that the ad is much more likely to be watched all the way through, even shared or watched repeatedly, if the creator is given the freedom to be as silly as they want,” he added.

Unfinished London sits alongside other channel titles, including original songs and the series Map Men and Politics Unboringed.

Whilst there are new Map Men episodes due in Spring, alongside co-presenter Cooper-Jones, there are no plans to bring back Politics Unboringed.

Foreman said the world of politics has changed so much that it no longer needed to be un-boringed.

“With everything that’s going on, I now find it impossible, irresponsible even, to maintain the cheery, neutral tone that the series used to have,” he said.

Unfinished London was previously thought to be finished three times, but Foreman said it keeps being brought back.

“As long as we’re happy to keep making it, we’ll never run out of topics to discuss – especially now that the title Unfinished London has been abandoned somewhat, and a more accurate but less punchy name for the series would now be Interesting Things About London and its Infrastructure and Geography in General,” said Foreman.

For Foreman’s website, click here.

Feature Image Credit: Jay Foreman

Join the discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles