People Just Do Nothing: A beginner’s guide to the BBC Three series
James R | On 11, Aug 2021
On 18th August, Kurupt FM goes global with the cinema release of People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan. It’s a giant step for the pirate radio station, which has gone from a self-published YouTube series to a BBC Three comedy and, several seasons later, a BAFTA award for Best Scripted Comedy, and now are heading to the big screen for its feature debut.
Awkward, smart, silly and sincere, People Just Do Nothing is a laugh-out-loud TV gem. But what is Kurupt FM? And who are the boys from Brentford? Here’s everything you need to know to get up to speed:
It’s a mockumentary
The first thing to know about the BBC Three series is that it’s not real – the fly-on-the-wall comedy is somewhere between Alan Partridge and Spinal Tap, with a dash of Flight of the Conchords. It follows the inept goings on at drum and bass station Kurupt FM (they’re very big in the Brentford area). The station is run by MC Grindah (Allan Mustafa) and DJ Beats (Hugo Chegwin), who are helped out by DJ Steves (Steve Stamp), Decoy (Daniel Sylvester Woolford) and Chabuddy G (Asim Chaudhry).
The characters are great
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.
Mustafa leads the ensemble as the arrogant MC Grindah, the head of Kurupt FM. He can be found jumping up and down in his radio studio or getting high on his sofa. Hugo Chegwin brings real heart to the crew as Beats, Grindah’s loyal best mate who is the station’s resident DJ and also the partner of Roche, a security guard with a teenage son, Craig.
Lily Brazier is heartbreaking as Miche, Grindah’s long-time girlfriend and full-time mum, who finds support and solace in their mutual friend, Decoy (Daniel Sylvester Woolford).
Steve Stamp is hilarious as Steves, the station’s clueless head of security and recycling, who lives at Kurupt FM – not because he’s dedicated, but because it used to be his nan’s flat.
They’re terrible people
What emerges is a surprisingly sweet tale of friendship expressed through shared passions and interests, but it’s immediately clear that none of these characters are good peoples. They blag their way through street life one track at a time – and talking nonsense as they go.
Ask Grindah who’s the greatest MC of all time and he’ll answer himself, but he’s an undoubted bell-end, juggling his career with looking after Miche and Angel – a tricky balancing act he manages mostly by ignoring the latter two completely. The exception is when it’s her christening (“Christianing”), when he interrupts the priest mid-ceremony so he can announce who his choice of “The Godfather” is. He doesn’t even notice that Angel looks more like Decoy than him.
Beats, on the other hand, likes to think of himself as father – and godfather – material, but nobody else really agrees because he’s as dim as he is nice and gives dreadful advice. Going for a job interview in a rare attempt to earn some actual money, he walks out halfway through after pretending to need the toilet, so he can “leave them wanting more”.
As for Steves, even his nan thinks he’s a fool, not that he realises because he’s too busy being wasted.
Miche are Decoy are the the only good ones of the bunch, but she doesn’t have the self-esteem to know that she deserves better than Grindah – getting a chance to follow her dream as a trainee hairdresser, she lies about being proposed to so she can keep her job, but still holds out hope that Grindah might actually pop the question one day.
But none are as bad as Chabuddy G
In between them all is the scene-stealing Asim Chaudry as Chabuddy G, an entrepreneur who just might be the worst businessman in London – although that’s not for lack of trying. He’s turned his hand to anything, without ever letting a lack of knowledge or skill get in his way. He runs the UK’s only dial-up Internet cafe, which is in a portakabin that doubles as his home. He makes Polish Vodka out of window polish. And he has a club, the Champagne Steam Room, that used to be warehouse and once attracted more than four people at the same time.
They can actually do music
A mockumentary about a pirate radio station would only work if it felt authentic, and the show gets every beat right. That’s not just in terms of the group’s friendships and failures, but also in terms of their musical ability: they can genuinely spit bars with catchy, witty lyrics that are perfectly pitched between parody and absurdly funny. While the influence of other comedy staples, such as The Office, is clear to see, the Kurupt FM stylings give the whole thing its own unique rhythm.
They once did a music video with Craig David
When your pretend music is good enough to attract genuine star talent, you know you’re on to something special.
They did a Comic Relief sketch with Ed Sheeran
They’ve released an album and a podcast
Kurupt FM has already released its first album, The Lost Tape, with a second studio album dropping alongside Big in Japan, released via Universal subsidiary Polydor Records. Also, in 2019, the boys got their own Audible podcast, which ran for two seasons and won Best Comedy Podcast at the British Podcast Awards 2020.
They’re sort of famous (maybe)
The result is a wonderfully observed mix of success and failure, as the Kurupt FM crew perform to big crowds in real life – while simultaneously not quite finding fame in the show. Sometimes, they receive up to eight text messages per show.
But they’re also so inept that they don’t really know how to handle anything remotely resembling success. Grindah is obsessed with fame, charging £80 for signed photographs at a car boot sale, but when cornered in the street by actual fans, is awkward and uncomfortable.
It’s that sincerity that has made the ensemble instantly sympathetic, as we find ourselves rooting for their small successes in the same way that you root for the self-made stars in real life, after making the jump from an indie web series to BAFTA-winning film actors.
The result is a winning show that’s hilarious but also capable of being surprisingly poignant and emotional – a celebration of friendship and dreams and a wistful ode to the wasted ambition of youth. “You can do anything you want,” they tell the cameras, an inspiring message that slowly becomes corrupted to something more realistic. “Do something that you’re already quite good at,” they add. “Set your goals low, so that you might be able to achieve them. Nobody likes a failure.” These boys are an exception to the rule.
It’s endlessly quotable
The show is stuffed with one-liners that have made it a cult favourite. Here are just a few:
Grindah: “People know I’m on telly so they think I’ve got money. I ain’t. They don’t give us money.”
Beats: “Do you think if Sea World hadn’t trained Free Willy to jump so high, he wouldn’t have been able to escape?”
Miche: “I’d probably go to the Bahamas and have a barefoot wedding on the beach. And stay in one of those nice hotels, where they fold your towel into a swan or a monkey.”
Chabuddy G: “Never underestimate the power of spray-painting things gold. It triples the value instantly.”
There’s even a hand sign for Kurupt FM
The best way to share the love for Kurupt FM to those who haven’t tuned in yet. Keep it Kurupt. Believe.
People Just Do Nothing: Season 1 to 5 is available on BBC iPlayer until April 2022. It is also available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.
Where can I buy or rent People Just Do Nothing online in the UK?