People Like Us (mockumentary)
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Home station||BBC Radio 4|
|TV adaptations||People Like Us|
|Air dates||10 June 1995to 9 August 1997|
|No. of series||3 (radio); 2 (TV)|
|No. of episodes||17 (radio); 12 (TV)|
|Audio format||Stereophonic sound|
|Ending theme||Unsquare Dance by Dave Brubeck (radio)|
People Like Us was a British radio and TV comedy programme, a spoof on-location documentary (or mockumentary) written by John Morton, and starring Chris Langham as Roy Mallard, an inept interviewer. Originally a radio show for BBC Radio 4 in three series from 1995 to 1997, it was made into a television series for BBC Two that was broadcast from September 1999 to June 2001.
Each episode featured the affable, bumbling Roy Mallard following a day in the lives of representatives of a particular career or lifestyle. This he does in his own manner. A comedy of wordplay and misunderstanding, People Like Us could be a metaphor for life in that, while the protagonist is an idiot, everyone else is a bigger idiot - Mallard's questions are usually sensible yet misinterpreted.
There were hints (particularly in "The Photographer" – with Bill Nighy) that Mallard is unattractive – his subjects often ask in passing if he is married, and their reactions range from surprise to incredulity when he tells them he is. Another recurring theme is Mallard's quest for a coffee – or even lunch. At the end of each episode the cast was never credited. Instead, over Dave Brubeck's "Unsquare Dance", statements of the kind, "Roy Mallard would like to thank Chris Langham" appear.
The character of Roy Mallard was based on an exaggeration of the writer John Morton himself. Morton had been a fan of Chris Langham's performances since seeing him on Smith and Jones, and had Langham's voice in mind when he was writing the scripts.
Eleven of the radio episodes were adapted for TV, with one original episode – The Actor. The TV version featured an array of acclaimed guest stars including Bill Nighy, David Tennant, Geoffrey Whitehead and Tamsin Greig.
Mallard is hardly visible in the TV episodes. He is usually just out of sight, but viewers can spot him, or part of him, in every episode; on one occasion he is reflected with the camera in a shop window. Much of the humour is verbal as characters take a literal interpretation of what others say, use redundant expressions and non-sequiturs. Alongside this verbal aspect there was more conventional humour. Mallard encountered bizarre behaviour from his featured characters and their counterparts. For all his own mediocrity and haplessness he could appear sane and competent compared to those alongside him. The lack of laugh track and the dead-pan approach led some viewers to believe they were encountering a "straight" documentary.
Home video release
The first TV series was released on VHS and DVD on 16 September 2002. The second was due to be released in 2003 but was cancelled, eventually being released (in Australia only) in November 2007. In September 2009 the complete two series were released in the United States on region 1 NTSC DVD. The second series was finally released on DVD in the UK on 24 May 2010.
List of episodes
- http://www.bbcprograms.com/pbs/catalog/peoplelikeus/docs/presskit_PeopleLikeUs1.pdf (password-protected)
- "Past Winners". British Comedy Awards. 1996. Archived from the original on 2008-08-20. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
- "Past Winners". British Comedy Awards. 1997. Archived from the original on 2008-08-20. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
- "Full cast and crew for People Like Us". IMDb. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
- "BBC Two - People Like Us". BBC. 5 August 2001. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
- "Neon Internet". Family Box Office. Archived from the original on 2008-08-11. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
- People Like Us: The Complete Series. "People Like Us: The Complete Series: Chris Langham, Bill Nighy, David Tennant, Jessica Hynes, Sarah Alexander: Movies & TV". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2013-02-02.