People Like Us (mockumentary)

People Like Us is a British radio and TV comedy programme, a spoof on-location documentary (or mockumentary) written by John Morton, and starring Chris Langham as Roy Mallard, an inept interviewer. Originally a radio show for BBC Radio 4 in three series from 1995 to 1997, it was made into two television series for BBC Two broadcast between September 1999 and June 2001.

People Like Us
DVD cover
GenreMockumentary Surrealism
Running time30 minutes
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Home stationBBC Radio 4
TV adaptationsPeople Like Us
StarringChris Langham
Written byJohn Morton
Produced byPaul Schlesinger
Original release10 June 1995 (1995-06-10) –
9 August 1997 (1997-08-09)
No. of series3 (radio); 2 (TV)
No. of episodes17 (radio); 12 (TV)
Audio formatStereophonic sound
Ending themeUnsquare Dance by Dave Brubeck (radio)

Radio version Edit

Each episode features the affable, bumbling BBC journalist Roy Mallard following a day in the lives of representatives of a particular career or lifestyle. A comedy of wordplay and misunderstanding, People Like Us builds on an inept protagonist helpless as forced to relate to the absurdity incarnated in the "professionals" he meets, where his relatively sensible inquiry fails in front of the disproportionate facts.

A regularly recurring joke is that of the shocked reactions Mallard gets as he reveals he is married – ranging from disbelief to exaggerated congratulations, from invitations to be more realistic to database systems refusals to accept such a piece of data. These bewilderments may root in the frequent hints throughout the episodes that Mallard is not just oddly looking (e.g. the patient at the doctor's recognizing walls and windows but giving up deciding what Mallard was), but terribly dishevelled – as it is even seen in one extremely rare shot including him in the video recording (as he is helping fixing presentation equipment). Another recurring theme is Mallard's quest for a coffee, or a meal, or even a room fit for a good night's sleep.

The character of Roy Mallard was based on an exaggeration of the writer John Morton himself.[1] Morton had been a fan of Chris Langham's performances since seeing him on Smith and Jones, and had Langham's voice in mind when he was writing the scripts.[1]

At the end of each episode, as Dave Brubeck's "Unsquare Dance" is played, the mockumentary cast is credited as a list of people to which Roy Mallard is grateful («Roy Mallard would like to give a special "thank you" to Chris Langham...»).

The radio show was named Best Radio Comedy at the British Comedy Awards in both 1996[2] and 1997[3] as well as winning a gold Sony Radio Award for best comedy.[1]

Television version Edit

Eleven of the radio episodes were adapted for TV, with one original episode – "The Actor". The TV version featured an array of acclaimed guest stars including Bill Nighy, David Tennant, Geoffrey Whitehead and Tamsin Greig.[4]

Mallard is hardly visible in the TV episodes. He is usually just out of sight, but viewers can spot him, or part of him, in every episode;[citation needed] on one occasion he is reflected with the camera in a shop window. Much of the humour is verbal as characters take a literal interpretation of what others say, use redundant expressions and non-sequiturs. Alongside this verbal aspect there was more conventional humour. Mallard encountered bizarre behaviour from his featured characters and their counterparts. For all his own mediocrity and haplessness he could appear sane and competent compared to those alongside him. The lack of laugh track and the dead-pan approach led some viewers[citation needed] to believe they were encountering a "straight" documentary.

A third series was planned but was cancelled in favour of The Office.[5]

The TV version was well received, with the first series winning the 1999 Silver Rose d'Or for comedy.[1]

Home video release Edit

The first TV series was released on VHS and DVD on 16 September 2002. The second was due to be released in 2003 but was cancelled, eventually being released (in Australia only) in November 2007.[6] In September 2009 the complete two series were released in the United States on region 1 NTSC DVD.[7] The second series was finally released on DVD in the UK on 24 May 2010.

List of episodes Edit

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ a b c d "People Like Us" (PDF). BBC Programs. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 April 2009. Retrieved 14 September 2009.
  2. ^ "Past Winners". British Comedy Awards. 1996. Archived from the original on 20 August 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  3. ^ "Past Winners". British Comedy Awards. 1997. Archived from the original on 20 August 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  4. ^ "Full cast and crew for People Like Us". IMDb. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  5. ^ "BBC Two - People Like Us". BBC. 5 August 2001. Archived from the original on 2 April 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  6. ^ "Neon Internet". Family Box Office. Archived from the original on 11 August 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  7. ^ People Like Us: The Complete Series. "People Like Us: The Complete Series: Chris Langham, Bill Nighy, David Tennant, Jessica Hynes, Sarah Alexander: Movies & TV". Amazon. Retrieved 2 February 2013.

External links Edit