The complete first series of the spoof documentary series. Hapless investigative reporter Roy Mallard (Chris Langham) has an unfortunate knack of being a fly in the ointment rather than a fly on the wall. In 'The Managing Director' Roy looks at the work of a hi-tech business who are currently in the middle of negotiations with a Japanese company. 'The Estate Agent' finds Roy spending a day with a Sussex estate agency where relationships between the staff are more than a little strained. In 'The Police Officer' Roy ends up in hot water when a fairly routine day observing PC David Knight (Tom Goodman-Hill) results in a suicidal rescue mission. In 'The Solicitor' Roy's inimitable style causes trouble for the husband-wife legal team at Broadbent & Broadbent. In 'The Photographer' Roy spends a day getting to know Will Rushmoore (Bill Nighy), a local photographer who hopes to put on an arty exhibition at a big London gallery. Finally, in 'The Head Teacher', Roy stumbles into the internecine warfare that rumbles among the staff of King Edward VII Comprehensive in Ashford.
The spoof documentary has long been a source of television comedy, but few series can claim to have hit the target as accurately as the BBC's People Like Us. The six episodes of the first series offer moment after moment of well observed, thoughtful and hilarious humour. Taking the fly-on-the-wall documentary genre as its inspiration, it focuses on the everyday lives of a range of different people: businessman, teacher, policeman, photographer, estate agent and solicitor. The comedy walks the line between the observational and the absurd (much of the dialogue is similar to that used in The Day Today) but mixes the two to perfection.
The man behind the camera is the hapless Roy Mallard, played by Chris Langham, but he is seldom seen. It was the type of role that Langham was to reprise in the film The Big Tease but for now, People Like Us remains his finest hour. Have fun also spotting the number of actors who would go onto greater things in the likes of Smack the Pony and Rescue Me. --Phil Udell
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