Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Nathan Barley, the new Zietgeist Channel 4 sitcom is one reason why I'm pleased I live in the UK. Written by Charlie "screen burn" Booker and Chris "Brass Eye" Morris, it is set in the shallow, stupid world of dotcom meedja London, where blag has replaced talent, irony has devolved into a meaningless form of communication: "wotcha ma nigger" etc. and people ride around on tiny tricycles. The anti-hero is Dan Ashcroft, a world-weary writer who is considered cool and insightful, although he hates everyone around him. The eponymous Barley is the programme's anti-anti-hero - a "self-faciliating media node" he represents the most ridiculous excesses of the media set. He has a website trashbat.co.ck which advertises his new mobile phone, the Wasp 12 Speechtool (it's sharkproof) "where's yours?" He bullies his employee Pingu mercilessly and is constantly handing out flyers and badges for his latest party/happening.

Nathan Barley is somewhat self-referential and it's filmed in a disorienting style - quick camera jerks, loud music played over dialogue etc that makes it hard to watch yet also accurately sums up the collective Attention Deficit Disorder that characterises the culture. Having worked in the London media (for a dotcom) some of it is all-too familiar, although, unlike Dan Ashcroft I did the sensible thing and went back to academia.

I'm also looking forward to High Spirits with Shirley Ghostman, a sitcom on BBC3 (March 1) which pokes fun at psychics ("The dead talk to him. But do they say anything worth hearing?"). I absolutely hate psychics so anything which aims to burst their bubble is fine by me. I also love Marc Wootton who plays Shirley (last seen as a variety of irritating freaks in Channel 4's My New Best Friend), so this looks like it should be good.