Pirate radio, it seems, is the online blog of broadcast media: Kurupt FM, the illegal station that forms the basis of tonight’s People Just Do Nothing (BBC3, 10:45pm), receives eight texts per show (eight!) and is broadcast to over 100 people; it’s no wonder it is – apparently – the second most popular pirate radio station in West London (well, Brentford to Isleworth anyway).
Using the spoof documentary format that has been flogged to death in recent years is perhaps not the most auspicious omen, but PJDN is actually well-suited to the lo-fi style of the mockumentary, going behind the microphone to explore Brentford’s ‘grime culture’ by following the creative minds behind a pirate radio station.
It would be easy to poke fun at the ‘wannabe gangsters’ here for their lack of brain power, and while at times this does stoop to that level, such as when resident fool Steves talks about “endolphins”, the show really draws its humour from the undermining of its characters grand delusions.
Ostensible star, MC Grindah (Allan Mustafa), fancies himself as the ambitious, hardened leader of the Kurupt FM crew, boasting about having recently done a two-stretch in prison (that’s two weeks, what did you think?) before cowering behind the door when confronted by a disgruntled neighbour. Beats (Hugo Chegwin) is Grindah’s dense sidekick, responsible for the brilliant idea of removing the flat number off the door to their secret location “so even they don’t know what number it is”. But it is Asim Chaudhry’s Chabuddy who is by far the most entertaining. A weird amalgamation of David Brent, Del Boy and Alan Partridge, Chabuddy is a classic tenacious entrepreneur who optimistically sticks his fingers in countless fruitless endeavours (“Peanut Dust: may contain nuts and glass.”).
This episode also takes a few brief moments to flesh out the characters’ backgrounds, introducing Grindah’s “biological” daughter (her skin is darker because her mum used loads of fake tan while pregnant, obvs) and showing Beats’ attempt to connect with his sloppy step-son, which could prove to be interesting threads throughout a full series.
All that is missing is a bit more heart. Mocking people’s delusions about themselves can become heart breaking or touching when they are inevitably brought crashing down, a moment that makes it easier to empathise with what are otherwise irritating characters, but here the farce of using egg boxes to soundproof the studio ends with Grindah and his crew crouched in the dark hoping their neighbour doesn’t call the council.
People Just Do Nothing is the first of the comedies piloted online by BBC3 last month to make it to broadcast and proves to be another fine example of the channel’s ability to spot unseen talent – the team behind the show catching the eye with a string of five-minute webisodes on YouTube. While it may not have the impact of Gavin and Stacey or Russell Howard’s Good News (which recently made the jump to BBC Two), the show is incredibly funny and surprisingly original, suggesting that BBC3’s impending move online may not quite be the death knell to new comedy as people initially feared.