This weekend sees Channel 4 approach the conclusion of its Funny Fortnight with a countdown of its greatest ever comedy shows. One show sure to feature is Graham Linehan’s hugely popular sitcom The IT Crowd.
Our American correspondent, and self confessed Anglophile, Trixie, takes a look back at this comedy classic below…
“Have you tried turning it off then on again?”
If you’re familiar with this phrase, you’ve probably watched The It Crowd. This classic British comedy series aired on Channel 4 and ran from February 2006 to July 2010, producing a comfortable four season’s worth of witty, charming and unique entertainment.
Created and written by Graham Linehan, The It Crowd centres on the goings-on at sexy, glamorous Reynholm Industries. However, the three main characters, oddballs Roy, Moss and Jen, don’t get to experience the attractive benefits of the company – as these social misfits are relegated to the dark, dirty basement of the building. Pariahs in the workplace, they are ignored and unappreciated by their boss and co-workers.
Roy Trenneman, played by Chris O’Dowd, is a movie and junk food loving geek, who is looking for love… in all the wrong places, of course. Jen Barber, played by Katherine Parkinson, has lied on her CV and has no technical experience with computers whatsoever. A lover of shoes and the beautiful things in life, she longs to escape her basement prison and will lie, lie, and lie in order to accomplish her goal. Finally, Maurice Moss, played by Richard Ayoade, is a tech genius that lives at home with his mother, and has different sized glasses for different sized plans. Yeah, they’re that sort of people.
The trio squared off against two very different, but equally stupid bosses, who happened to be father and son. Chris Morris played the father, Denholm Reynholm with furious stupidity. A fanatic in all things, like fitness, not being stressed, and being a TEAM player, but when he met his untimely end in order to avoid some uncomfortable questions about irregularities in accounts, he was replaced by his long lost son, Douglas, played with typical joie de vivre by Matt Berry.
Douglas has a bit of a problem with women, from sexual harassment suits, to a mysterious ex-wife, with a stop-over in gender reassignment along the way. He notices Jen and pursues her relentlessly, yet finds himself, for all his money and power, to be as equally inept socially as our heroes, with an added lack of intelligence.
Factor in Noel Fielding in the recurring role of Richmond – a Cradle Of Filth loving goth who’s been banished first to the basement, then to the room at the back of the basement, and a string of big name guest stars and TVO favourites, including Alice Lowe, Lucy Montgomery, James Bachman, Tom Meeten, John Hopkins, Dolly Wells and Laura Patch to name a few – and you have the easy makings of a comedy classic, and in typical TVO fashion, something very different to everything around it at the time.
The show was conceived at a time when dark comedies and Office style realism ruled the airwaves. It’s been a safe haven for comedy lovers ever since. Like comedy shows of old, The IT Crowd is cheerful and optimistic, and there’s little strong language, or violence. The show was filmed in front of a live audience, and helped reignite the traditional sitcom which had been seen as a dying art form in the UK. Linehan has referred to The IT Crowd as “unashamedly old-fashioned”.
Sadly, it seems we have almost seen last of The IT Crowd. The cast’s growing reputations and crazy schedules put paid to a fifth series after writing began, and the proposed special planned for Easter 2012 never materialised. It may still happen, but it does appear that we may be waiting a while just yet. Nevertheless, the show lives on. You can check out your favorite episodes on 4OD, buy DVD’s from TVO Amazon store, and of course the show is vital part of Funny Fortnight, as a jewel in Channel 4’s comedy crown.