Monday, 16 November 2015

Peep Show

Peep Show is back for its final ever series. Possibly not before time, I would say, as Mitchell and Webb have long outgrown it in terms of career, family, newspaper columns and their constant panel show appearances. You see too much of them elsewhere these days to still believe them to be Mark and Jeremy. Mitchell and Webb never actually shared a flat in Croydon, stole each other's duvets and girlfriends, or wasted their lives in dead-end bands or dead-end clerical jobs. But somehow you think they did, and they just don't do it any more. So if they want to be convincing QI panellists, they kind of need to leave Mark and Jeremy behind for good.

Yet they have slipped back into the roles so comfortably, like jelly out of a mould or an eel into a river. Mark and Jeremy are just the same in their bitter love-hate relationship and can't-live-together-can't-live-apart needy dependency. They still make me laugh with their never spoken aloud one-liners, whether on the subject of futons, juice or apologies. The unique camera angles remind me of when our daughter takes photographs - everything wonky and at the wrong height and someone staring at her with a slight look of horror that screams "DON'T DROP IT!".


Peep Show camera angles
Super Han(d)s, at three-year-old height
Don't drop it!

It's only natural for a woman to wonder what a man is thinking, and Mark and Jeremy tell us, proving that it's not just about the stereotypical football scores. There is anarchy, anger and angst tucked in between. There is William Morris. And Napoleon.

Jargon-loving Johnson still spouts bullshit in his new bank meets car showroom. But Super Hans has gone sober, Dobby has moved to New York and Olivia Colman is too busy solving murders to appear...(dare we hope?)... yet. Jeremy is living in Super Hans' bathroom, which is the ultimate depiction of the London property rental market, where people - if they are single and aren't proper bankers - can end up sharing poky flats at exorbitant prices into well beyond middle age. "I mean, it's not Number One Hyde Park Palace or anything", says Jez. No, it's a sleeping bag in a bath, with a kettle for a kitchen and Super Hans regularly barging in to use the loo. The only thing that gives you comfort is the knowledge that Jeremy is unlikely to be paying Super Hans any rent. But soon Jez is evicted by Sober Hans' fiancee after he takes the flak for a cocaine incident. Super Hans feels guilty enough about this to bury Mark's smug new flatmate (Jerry) in his sleeping bag, shove him in a lift and waterboard him with beer. And that's it - Mark and Jeremy are back together, whether they really want it or not. And they do want it, really.

Mark and Jeremy's flat may be in Croydon, but the opening credits of the first five series were filmed in Crouch End, where my husband and I bought our first flat. We got our microwave from that television shop. The shop was called Power House or Power Point or Power Ranger or something Power-based that I can't remember now. Whatever, the microwave power it supplied is still going strong, 12 years on. But the shop isn't - it became a fancy Italian delicatessen and cafe about halfway through our Crouch End residency.

The microwave

Spiazzo in Crouch End, once the television shop on Peep Show

Behind Mark, you can see Hornsey Town Hall, and behind Jeremy, Walter Purkis The Fishmonger.

Hornsey Town Hall
Crouch End Broadway and Clocktower, with Spiazzo on the right

When Peep Show went into HD, they re-filmed the credits, and relocated them to Croydon High Street. Which is kind of as it should be. But I miss the little pastiche of Crouch End, our London home. I think Mark and Jeremy could have been a lot more harmonious, and possibly even happy in Crouch End. Instead of bitching on the sofa, they could have gone for a brunch at Banner's, a bun from Dunn's, Thai food at O's, tapas at La Bota, or a date night at Bistro Aix. Or they could have joined the comedians Downstairs At the Kings Head, where the audience can touch the ceiling and the heckles are a paragon of politeness. Or they could have stared at the celebrities on street corners and a Time Lord, a newsreader and half the cast of EastEnders in the gym. They could have shopped in a Londis where zombies roamed in Shaun Of The Dead, or tripped on pavements littered with prams. Crouch End - that little bohemian village in North London with no Tube but an awful lot of Bugaboos.

Dunn's Bakery
King's Head, with its low-ceilinged comedy club in the basement

I am part of that London generation that grew up with Mark and Jeremy. I wouldn't call myself grown up now so much as grown old. But Mitchell and Webb have definitely grown up. And now it seems it's finally time for Mark and Jeremy to grow up too. Adios, el Dudes.

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