Londoner Mari Burkinshaw has won NOW TV’s first ever “Box Set Sabbatical”


Londoner Mari Burkinshaw has won NOW TV’s first ever “Box Set Sabbatical” – landing £35,000 to spend a year catching up on the latest and greatest telly.

The 29-year-old print designer from Woolwich won with a memorable poetic video on Instagram, beating over 1,000 other entries to claim the prize.

With one in seven time-poor Brits spending their holidays catching up on TV, the NOW TV Box Set Sabbatical was designed to take duvet days to another level, giving one lucky winner a gap year to stream TV.

Earlier this year, Mari had been working full time at a fashion brand. She decided to go freelance in January for better work-life balance – and then spotted the Box Set Sabbatical competition.

She said: “I was working full-time in an office, commuting long hours, juggling family commitments, not to mention maintaining a social life, or even finding time for myself! I realised I wanted to have more flexibility and decided to leave.

“Around the same time – I saw NOW TV was offering a paid sabbatical to spend a year watching box sets – and as a huge TV fan I realised this was the perfect opportunity for me. With so many amazing entries, I genuinely didn’t expect to win, and I’m absolutely delighted to spend the next year catching on all the shows I’ve missed.

Describing herself as an ‘amateur binge watcher,’ Burkinshaw’s entry featured 21 different Box Sets, which she insists are ‘just her favourites’, including Sex and the City, Westworld, Big Little Lies, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.

Speaking about her win, Mari said: “I decided to enter when there was just three days to go – so I pulled out all the stops to get my entry in on time – even raiding my sister’s jewellery box to dress up in costumes.

“I’ve always been one of those people who stay up far too late catching up on a box set and squeezing in shows. Winning this paid sabbatical from NOW TV means I can genuinely take time off, re-balance my priorities, spend time with people I love – and watch some amazing TV, such as The Sopranos and The Wire – and not feel any guilt, something I didn’t imagine would be possible. It’s a dream!”

According to OnePoll research*, across the whole of the UK, Londoners have the least time to watch TV. One in four Londoners say work commitments and long hours are one of the main reasons they can’t keep up to date with the latest popular TV shows.

The Box Set Sabbatical champion impressed judges, including TV buff and comedian Joel Dommett, with her entry.

He commented: “They were ALL so good. I say all – some were terrible, but all the good ones were REALLY GOOD.  It was so tough to help pick a winner – so many entries with incredible songs, artworks, poems and loads more. People put so much time and effort into making it special.

Mari’s entry was visually interesting, fun and creative and I truly believe she is dedicated to the TV watching cause – what an unbelievably great gig she’s landed!”

Mari will also get a NOW TV Smart Stick, plus 12 months of NOW TV Passes, with access to over 300 box sets to help her truly immerse herself in a great television.