NATHAN BARLEY Friday 04 November, 2011

This is a scathing rebuttal of the Shoreditch nightmare and it’s very very funny.

Nathan Barley was originally screened on Channel 4 in 2005. It’s written by Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris. It’s based on a spoof TV show from Brooker’s spoof TV listings (TV Go Home).  The Nathan Barley of the title is, in his own words, “a self facilitating media node” but in reality he is an idiot running wild on his parents money.

Since it was first broadcast Nathan Barley has gained a cult following and many of those involved in creating the show have gone on to bigger things. The show has Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding, Richard Ayoade, Ben Whishaw and Benedict Cumberbatch amongst it’s cast. Which is no bad thing.

I work in the media and perhaps that’s why I am so fond of this show. I have encountered and had to work for many people similar to the characters depicted here.  This made me feel quite smug and not a little superior. That was, of course, until the bubble was burst by my mother.  You know, that uncanny ability that parents have to ruin your psychological constructs? One day my mother phoned me and told me that I had to watch this program because one of the characters was just like me! Cue harrumphing on a massive scale. Unfortunately my mother is a quite astute woman and it is true. I am as much a media idiots as the grinning halfwits depicted here.

That’s the joy of this programme though. It takes the ‘oh-so-cool’ shoreditch culture and mercilessly lampoons it. People wear flip flops on their heads, Nathan himself has a phone that is also a set of MP3 decks, the people in the magazine office scuttle around on children’s toy tractors. This is the show that shows us it’s not cool to be cool.

It’s quite easy to despise Nathan but at certain moments during the series we are allowed to feel a slight lurch of sympathy for him. It’s not easy to feel sympathy for many of the other characters. Even Claire Ashcroft, who is the least ‘Shoreditch’ of the characters is not spared.

What’s quite worrying is that six years later it now seems remarkably prescient. The Preacher Man’s proclamation that we were witnessing The Rise of The Idiots seems to have happened. If only a few more decision makers in the press and tv had seen it and understood its message. It’s never too late though.

The DVD is now available relatively cheaply and comes in some of the best packaging that you’ll have in your DVD collection. Now we just need Mr Brooker to stop poncing about on panel shows and get down to writing some more excellent TV.

In the words of Nathan “keep it mencap you fuccaneers”. Quite.

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