Today is my last day at Digital Spy. After around 12 years as your Editor, I am shortly departing "to start a fresh adventure", "move on to pastures new" and (insert your cliche of choice here).
When I - together with a band of fellow enthusiasts, most of whom have since moved on - started this thing way back when, I genuinely had no idea just how big it would become. Initially there was no master plan or strategy, it was just a bunch of guys writing about the things that they loved, which was pretty niche at the time (ever wondered why it's called 'digital spy'? The site originally focused just on news about digital TV services).
Over the years our popularity grew and in turn, so did our remit, as we gradually introduced coverage of areas like movies, music and showbiz. As I leave today, Digital Spy is in the strongest position it has ever been. We are officially the largest entertainment news website in the UK, with over 120 million hits a month and more than 9 million readers.
I am so, so proud of everything we have achieved at Digital Spy. For the last twelve years of my life it has been my life. I was a boy of 15 when it started and now I'm emerging from the experience as an adult, finally ready to see what 'real life' is like.
I take away some incredible memories of my time here. There is so much to mention but a few of the highlights: opening our first little office in Waterloo, covering the collapse of ITV Digital, BB Fight Night, getting a specially-recorded message from the judges and host on the set of American Idol, touring the LA studios with James and Kris, the DS Reality TV Awards, befriending John Barrowman, Comic-Con x 2, numerous T4s on the Beach, hunting down Lassie at the Tribeca Film Festival… I'll stop there.
What motivated me throughout my time here was the pure love of the job - I bloody love TV, music and movies, and getting to engage with that on a daily basis is an utter privilege - but over time my primary motivation for coming in to work has changed. For me it became about the people - the lovely, wonderful team I've created. Not only is everyone that works here incredibly passionate about their particular field, but they're also thoroughly decent individuals. I think that's pretty rare for a team of young journalists.
So why am I leaving? When we sold Digital Spy to Hachette Filipacchi three years ago, I knew there and then that I would be leaving today. I made the very firm decision to see the site through its next phase of evolution and then say my goodbyes. If I weren't to leave now, I never would. Anyone that knows me knows just how thoroughly integral Digital Spy has been to me, so leaving today is a highly traumatic experience and desperately saddening. But I know it's the right call.
As is customary I'd like to take this opportunity now to say a few thank yous to some people that have helped me along the way. Firstly my hero, my Dad, who helped fund me and DS through the first four or five years of its existence. The morals you have instilled in me have helped guide the way I've run this thing, daddio.
To Dan, my deputy, who's also leaving today - thanks for being not only a great work companion but an even better friend.
To Kris, our former soaps editor - meeting you, working with you and watching you develop has been one of the greatest highlights of my time at DS. I'm so proud of you.
To Nick, our longstanding music editor who is also leaving today - thanks for your unquivering loyalty, dedication and support. We're never going to get rid of each other, are we?
To Alan "sweeping digit" Jay, one of the founders - thanks for showing me the ropes, old boy. Sashimi set /number one/!
And to James - well, we've been virtually inseparable for the last decade, eh? I can't really contemplate not working with you any more and have been trying to pretend like it's not happening. You have blossomed the last few years and I'm certain DS will continue to thrive under your watchful ginger frame.
Finally, a big blanket thank you to everyone else. All of the staff at DS, past and present; the lovely PR people I've encountered; Betty White; and most importantly, all of you that have read us and continue to choose Digital Spy for your entertainment fix.