on 1 May 2009
Great mocumentary. A must for spoof fans or fans of the Office.
Interviewer: How long have you worked here?
Worker: About 16 years.
Interviewer: And did you imagine you'd be working here for 16 years.
Worker: No, I really have been working here.
Well written and performed brilliantly, it helps cement your faith in British comedy.
on 5 August 2002
People Like Us follows inept reporter Roy Mallard (Chris Langham) as he explores a different job in each episode. In this, the first season, he visits the manager of a large company, a real estate agent, a police officer, a school master, a photographer, and a lawyer. Written by John Morton and based on the BBC Radio show, People Like Us is a perfect example of how television *should* be. The scripts are superb, John Morton weaves an unbelievable number of jokes throughout the show (pay particular attention to Roy's narration). A good script alone doesn't make a great show, but luckly for People Like Us, it's also blessed with wonderful actors. Chris Langham (Kiss Me Kate), the show's only recurring character, fits the role of Roy Mallard perfectly. The actors who portray Roy's subjects, or should that be victims, are of the highest quality. Look for future stars such as Sarah Alexander (Coupling). This first series of People Like Us- while not a huge hit- won much critic acclaim. The show only got better with the second series, but sadly it looks as if there won't be a third. I heard rumors that Morton wrote a third series which took place in America, but the BBC turned down the show. Buy this DVD, you won't regret it, and maybe the sales of the DVD will send a message to the BBC -We want more People Like Us.
on 20 March 2002
This is really one of the gems of the new style "subtle" comedy of recent years.
The 'fake documentary' format is of a much higher quality than other programmes (such as 'The Office'), and extends to the point that it was advertised and announced as a serious documentary, with the actors and actresses not credited as such. (Their names appear merely in a "With thanks to..." during the ending titles.)
This concept coupled with the typical eighties style theme music and "always unseen" presenter makes for an interesting gimmick, but not necessarily for an interesting programme. Amazingly, however, it is John Morton's script and directing which turns the series from a great idea to a fantastically high quality programme.
With the transfer to television from the radio series Morton has managed to utilise the visual medium to its advantage, most famously with the shyness of the presenter, Roy Mallard (played perfectly by Chris Langham), him not appearing on the camera at all, with only glimpses of his hand and the odd reflection in a window.
But it's not just Chris Langham who is good; *all* of the cast are absolutely excellent, especially as each episode features all new characters, with nearly all of the actors being unknowns. (Though admittedly since being in 'PLU' many, such as Sarah Alexander, are pretty well recognised!)
Think I've rambled on far too much, but the last note should be about the rewatchability of the series. The jokes are spread so thickly and yet discreetly that you can be watching an episode for the fifth time and notice a joke you hadn't spotted before ever, usually because you were laughing so hard from the previous line! Well, happens in my case, anyway.
Oh, forgot to say the sort of subject matter. Okay, one line: Roy Mallard plus cameraman following person or company around for a day in each episode (think Louis Theroux here), everything usually goes to pot, though in fairness that is often more the fault of the interviewed rather than Roy himself.
You've read to the end of this review? Wow...I wouldn't have.
on 19 October 2003
I was already a massive Alan Partridge/Brass Eye fanatic and couldnt believe my luck when i found something funnier drier and smarter. I have never laughed so much or so often....first time i saw the joy that is Roy Mallard on TV I actually thought it was a real documentary which only reflects its brillance...People Like Us is superb understated and brutally hysterically true ...from the over zealous PA in the Managing Director Epsiode to the folically challenged police big wig in the Police Officer Episode...The memory lapse client in the Solictor Epsiode...the progressive pupil centred teaching in the Headmaster Episode... and not forgetting the postcode hitler in the Estate Agent Episode (my personal favourite). You know someone like that or wish you did..... This is unmissable for anyone with a sense of humour...and will cure anyone else who hasnt....I see something new everytime I watch. I defy you not to want a Roy of your own after seeing this....
on 17 January 2005
Cleverly scripted and brilliantly performed (often by actors little known at the time but who have gone on to make names for themselves), filled with characters so concerned with their own little world they barely notice anyone passing through. This is the kind of programme where you need to concentrate or you'll miss so many of the jokes that are littered about - "I go to the gym on average twice a week, but usually more often than that". Every time you watch it you notice something else you missed last time round...
on 26 January 2006
If you didn't catch this when it first aired on the BBC you missed a real treat! These days it seems impossible to escape the endless barrage of reality and fly on the wall 'documentary' shows that dominate our TV sets. Chris Langham gives this tedious, mind-numbing format a comic twist. Playing an incompetent interviewer he introduces us to 'people like us' in six familiar 'reality' type settings. Highly recommended - an excellent choice for anyone with a love for satirical comedy!
on 8 December 2012
Coming along before The Office, The Thick Of It, Twenty Twelve and so on, this series seems almost forgotten, which is a real pity. Shot, like those later shows, as a spoof documentary series, there's not an episode here that isn't great. Chris Langham plays the role of interviewer of professionals as they go about their daily business. Langham is never seen on camera, though fleeting glimpses of reflections or parts of his body can sometimes be seen, and has the unhappy knack of offending people, misunderstanding them or being misunderstood by them, or all three. His character is generally pitiable in some way, with running gags including repeatedly spilling drinks all over his trousers, or the utter incredulity of his interviewees that he is actually married. But it's the deadpan delivery of most of the script, and the hapless "professionals" who seem anything but, which make it so brilliant. All the episodes hit the mark, but particular favourites are the bitter and incompetent estate agent, the headteacher (living with 2 people who work in schools it's worrying how so much of what was farce in 1999 is now reality in 2012), and the policeman. The gag in the latter with the fax machine is absolutely hysterical...
A second series followed and is now available on DVD at last. It is also excellent, if not quite scaling the heights of the superb first series.
on 19 August 2006
I watched this series on television years ago and never forgot it so decided to buy it and really wasn't disappointed in the slightest! I sat down and watched it from start to finish twice and laughed all the way through.
It doesn't have the cringing embarrassment of The Office (although I love that programme too) and I enjoy the variety of characters and situations. Brilliantly clever script and use of language.
I love it!
on 12 March 2003
I discovered this when a friend lent it to after a discussion on how Brass Eye is the funniest TV show ever made. Don't be fooled by the box (which for some reaason made me be doubtful) - this is hilarious. The language and style has much in common with Chris Morris's Brass Eye and The Day Today, albeit gentler and more approachable.
Roy Mallard tours the country interviewing 'People Like Us' in an increasingly inept style. His commentary is genius, e.g "Winchester is only an hour from London by either Rail or Train". SUperbly intelligent, rates up there with The Office and Brass Eye.
on 25 September 2002
People Like Us is an unbelievably sucessful venture into the comedy realm.
Choosing "mockumentary" as its format, the show joins a new profession each week and tries to get to grips with it. The first series sees bumbling and distanced reporter Roy Mallard following a policeman and his team, a headmaster and his staff and numerous other professionals doing what they do.... well, supposedly, "best". People Like Us is also keen on satire as "The Photographer" shows: the photographer in question is actually just an unemployed simpleton who merely purports to be a professional (perhaps simply to be on TV?). Not too false an indictment for our current dumbed-down culture, I suspect.
It is unsurprising that "People Like Us" won the Silver Rose of Montreux for both the program and Chris Langham (Loud Mouth Larry from "Bottom") - but essentially the real credit here, other than the performers, must go to John Morton who writes with such assurance of his material that he succeeds with his spot-on jokes and jabs each and every time:
"What does that sign say?",
"er... 'pick your own...'",
"No, I mean, underneath that one?",
"oh, erm... 'strawberries.'"
In every case, also, Morton servse as director and achieves this with success displaying a real knowledge of his subject.
"People Like Us" is, quite simply, a brilliantly observed slice of observational and intelligent humour in a time when we need it most. I cannot praise this work enough. There is a second series still to be made available... can't come soon enough in my opinion.