15 Storeys High
|15 Storeys High|
DVD cover for the 2007 release of 15 Storeys High series 1 & 2
|Created by||Sean Lock
Mark Lamarr (as Mark Jones)
|Directed by||Mark Nunneley|
|No. of series||2|
|No. of episodes||12|
|Running time||30 min|
|Original channel||BBC Choice
|Original release||7 November 2002 – 18 March 2004|
15 Storeys High is a critically acclaimed British sitcom, set in a tower block. The main characters are Vince Clark, a depressed, sardonic recluse played by Sean Lock, and Errol Spears, Vince's exact opposite and whipping boy, played by Benedict Wong.
Both radio shows (Sean Lock's 15 Minutes of Misery and Sean Lock: 15 Storeys High) were recorded in front of a studio audience. The theme tune used on both radio series is the 1960s song "England Swings" by Roger Miller.
Sean Lock's 15 Minutes of Misery
The show's original incarnation was a radio series entitled Sean Lock's 15 Minutes of Misery. It was broadcast weekly on BBC Radio 4 in the "Late Night on 4" comedy slot at 11.00pm. It ran for six episodes between 30 December 1998 and 3 February 1999. The show was written by Sean Lock, produced by Dan Freedman and starred Lock, Kevin Eldon and Hattie Hayridge. The premise of the show involves Sean living in a London flat, listening in on the lives of his neighbours via a device called the "Bugger King" (which, he is at pains to point out, is not to do with burgers or buggery, but with bugging). The device, and corresponding microphones were fitted by Sean's plumber, Hot Bob, who is also a recurring character. Sean is also visited by various associates and neighbours.
Sean Lock: 15 Storeys High (Radio 4)
Lock's second series was entitled Sean Lock: 15 Storeys High, and it was also broadcast on Radio 4's "Late Night on 4" comedy slot and written by Sean Lock and Martin Trenaman and produced by Chris Neill. These series each consisted of five half-hour episodes. Series one aired from 24 November 1999 to 22 December 1999, and starred Lock, along with Felix Dexter, Jenny Eclair, Tim Mitchell, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Chris Pavlo and Peter Serafinowicz. Series two aired from 24 November 2000 to 22 December 2000, and included roles from Dan Freedman, Alex Lowe, Dan Mersh, Paul Putner, Rob Rouse and Chris Neill. The 15 Storeys High radio series used a different method to present the events going on in other flats in the tower block. It dispensed with the idea of Sean listening in on others using "Bugger King", replacing it with a voiceover simply announcing the flat number of the subsequent scene. The show introduced Sean's flatmate Errol (played by Serafinowicz in series 1, episodes 2–5).
- The Entry Phone
- The Dead Swan
- Jolly Shopper
- The New Sofa
- The Sticky Patch
- The Stolen Plough
- Billy Two Nans
- The Pigeon Lady
- Decorating The Bathroom
- Errol's Girlfriends
In 2002, 15 Storeys High was made into a television show which ran for two series, each series consisting of six half-hour episodes. In the television series, Lock's character was named Vince (he was simply Sean Lock in the radio series). Vince's flatmate Errol Spears was played by Benedict Wong. The TV shows were not recorded with a live audience.
The series was written by Lock, Trenaman and Mark Lamarr (as Mark Jones), and directed by Mark Nunneley. In the second TV series Lamarr is also credited as a writer. Digital comedy channel Gold (TV channel) began showing repeats of the first series during September 2014 as part of their After Dark comedy line-up schedules.
- The Sofa: Meet Vince's new flatmate, Errol, and witness the trouble a two seater sofa can cause.
- The Model: Nothing goes smoothly when Vincent teaches a model to swim.
- Blue Rat: A bargain energy drink from an Eastern European supermarket causes Vince a few problems.
- Ice Queen: Vincent falls in love with the woman upstairs, but can he pierce her icy heart?
- Pool Kids: A war of words between Vincent and the local kids threatens to escalate into all out war.
- Dead Swan: Vince is accused of a crime that could have him facing prison.
- Vince the Shirker: Vince falls for the aqua aerobics instructor, Stacey, while Errol tries to conquer his phobia of saying "no".
- Car Boot and Pigeon Shit: Car-boot sales, pigeon droppings and ping-pong enthusiasts converge to create a bad day for Vince.
- Holiday: Vince attempts to go on holiday leaving Errol alone in the flat with strict instructions. Things don't go to plan.
- Plough: Vince wakes up surrounded by the debris of a night out and tries to involve Errol.
- The Baby: Vince applies for the job as manager of the swimming pool. Errol starts smoking after using a nicotine patch as a replacement bandage.
- Errol's Women: Vince's depression has caused Errol, who has become irresistible to the ladies, to seek help.
The flat in which Vince lives was actually filmed in a studio with large pictures of the adjacent tower blocks as a backdrop. All other flats in both series are real, and are located in the Brandon Estate, Kennington, London. The British science fiction drama Doctor Who has also used this location. The location of the swimming pool, in which Vince works as a lifeguard, is Ladywell Leisure Centre in Lewisham, South East London in the first series. (map). In the second series, the swimming pool used is in the basement of the Shell Centre next to Waterloo station. The Elephant and Castle Shopping centre is also used as a location in several episodes, notably the Sundial restaurant and the Bowling alley.
The show starred Sean Lock and Benedict Wong. Additional cast members included Dan Mersh, Bill Bailey, Aml Ameen, William Tomlin, Steven Webb, Mark Lamarr, Toby Jones, Tracey-Ann Oberman, Felix Dexter, Paul Putner, Perry Benson, Simon Godley, Melanie Gutteridge, Peter Serafinowicz, Michael Greene and James Bachman.
The second series was not released on DVD alone until both series were released as a two-disc set on 17 February 2007. The extras include commentaries by Phil Bowker, Mark Lamarr, Sean Lock, Mark Nunneley and Martin Trenaman and a conversation with Sean Lock and Mark Lamarr, entitled 'Writing 15 Storeys'.
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In 2003, 15 Storeys High was nominated for a BAFTA in the Best New Director category for its unique style, and innovative shots.
"It should not take more than six minutes of your time to realise that this is the best comedy on television"
– The Sunday Times
"Lock's off-the-beaten-track sitcom is inadequate preparation for the live experience. On television Lock is bleak to the point of alienation."
"The straight acting, the rawness of the dialogue and arid production values make this resemble a Beckett play as filmed by Krzysztof Kieslowski. Minimal but beautifully constructed plots involve accidents at the local swimming baths and the loss of a sofa. On paper, 15 Storeys High is not remotely funny, but onscreen it has a bittersweet allure."
"Many of the most successful sitcoms, such as Steptoe and Son, Fawlty Towers and Porridge, have featured characters who, for one reason or another, are unable to escape from each other. While no one would suggest that 15 Storeys High is in that league, it possesses an appealingly dark sense of the absurd..."
"extraordinarily well-written comedy with plot strands and incidental characters worthy of vintage Seinfeld."
- "epguides.com". Sean Lock's 15 Minutes of Misery a Titles & Air Dates Guide. Archived from the original on 1 August 2008. Retrieved 18 August 2008.
- "epguides.com". Sean Lock: 15 Storeys High a Titles & Air Dates Guide. Archived from the original on 17 August 2008. Retrieved 18 August 2008.
- "epguides.com". 15 Storeys High a Titles & Air Dates Guide. Archived from the original on 18 August 2008. Retrieved 18 August 2008.