Take Alan Partridge, mix in some Ali G and sprinkle in a bit of Spinal Tap, and make everyone wear baseball caps. That’s the recipe for BBC Three’s comedy, People Just Do Nothing, which has grown from a web series to one of the channel’s best shows.
Starring Allan Mustafa as MC Grindah and Hugo Chegwin as DJ Beats, the mockumentary follows the vaguely inept owners of pirate drum and bass station Kurupt FM. (They’re very big in the Brentford area.)
“How far does Kurupt reach?” asks our filmmakers on a balcony overlooking a council estate. “As far as the eye can see,” comes the proud reply. “But not that bit on the left.”
The programme was co-created by its cast, including Steve Stamp and Asim Chaudhry, and it shows; they bring their characters to life without breaking persona, able to milk their ridiculousness for drama, tragedy and, most of all, laughs.
While the influence of other comedy staples upon the gang is clear to see, their setting, characters and music has its own rhythm, which the ensemble stick to with engaging chemistry. Scenes where we catch Beats out of his hat and looking uncomfortable in a business suit for a job interview bring a surprising sympathy to his struggles to balance DJ life with family duties – and even more sympathy for his girlfriend, Miche (Lily Brazier), who has to endure the worst birthday party for their daughter ever recorded on screen.
But it’s Asim Chaudhry as their friend, Chabuddy, a entrepreneur who runs a string of incompetent and illegal businesses (hello to the UK’s first dial-up Internet cafe), who steals the whole show. Whenever he pops up, his unrelenting idiocy – and sincere devotion to his clearly uninterested girlfriend – is always a treat. (Watch out for his “Polish Vodka”, which isn’t from Poland, but is made with window cleaner.)
The result is a winning demonstration of the importance of nurturing homegrown comic talent – and a testament to the role that the Beeb, and BBC Three, can play. After being chosen to make a Comedy Feed pilot, People Just Do Nothing became the first BBC Three show to premiere on BBC iPlayer and has since been nurtured into a comedy staple for the channel, with a third season having just aired and a fourth season on the way. Funny, smart and endearingly dumb, People Just Do Nothing continues to go from strength to strength. Believe. (Click here to read our review of Season 2.)
People Just Do Nothing: Season 1 to 4 is available on BBC iPlayer until 11th January 2019. Season 1 to 3 are also available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.
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Photo: Roughcut / Jack Barnes