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TV review: People Just Do Nothing; The Mimic

Dan Sylvester Woolford, Allan Mustafa and Hugo Chegwin in BBC3’s People Just Do Nothing. Photo: BBC/Roughcut Television/Jack Barnes

Just when you think the whole comedy documentary format has had every last laugh wrung out of it, along comes BBC3’s People Just Do Nothing with a take that is fresh, original and very funny.

The four-part series centres upon Kurupt FM, “the biggest and baddest pirate station in the land”, operating out of a high-rise council flat in Brentford, west London, and broadcasting all the way to Shepherd’s Bush, west London, where it dissolves into white noise.

The station’s leader is garage “legend” MC Grindah (Allan Mustafa), a man whose self-importance is in inverse proportion to his self-awareness. Like all the best comedy monsters, Grindah is a combination of the desperately pitiful and the truly appalling, a strutting motormouth forever spewing cliches, bombast and delusion to anybody stupid enough to listen. This is largely limited to his mate and co-presenter DJ Beats (Hugo Chegwin), cronies Decoy and  Steves (Dan Sylvester Woolford and Steve Stamp), local entrepreneur Chabuddy G (Asim Chaudhry) and, further fanning the flames of Grindah’s rampant ego, an off-screen BBC documentary team earnestly trying to capture the authentic voice of the streets.

We also get to meet Grindah’s girlfriend Miche (Lily Brazier), whose epically inane ramblings include the dismissal of her boyfriend’s criminal convictions as “silly little things, like GBH and hate crime”.

Episode one saw Kurupt FM trying to soundproof their walls with egg boxes following threats from a neighbour to report them to the council. Grindah is alert to the danger such an eventuality poses to both the station’s secret location and their very existence as musical outlaws. “The government works for the council,” he explains to his equally dim cohorts.

The set-up is original, the execution clever, the characters rich and the acting superb. From many wonderful moments, my favourite has to be Chabuddy G proudly showing off his latest money-making scheme: bags of peanut dust, everybody’s favourite when all the peanuts have gone.

The first series of The Mimic ended with our copycat hero Martin (Terry Mynott) hiding in the toilet, paralysed by stage fright and unable to face the television cameras that could have propelled him to stardom.

Series two of Channel 4’s sweet, gentle and understated comedy finds him back on the bottom rung of showbusiness, busking in the local shopping precinct, facing competition from a violinist and a human statue.

Anyone expecting to guffaw will be disappointed, but The Mimic’s combination of the consistently amusing and irresistibly engaging should put a large smile on most faces.

And then, of course, there are Martin’s uncanny impersonations. Episode one treated us to Walter and Jesse from Breaking Bad, two variations of Harry Potter’s headteacher Dumbledore, Morgan Freeman as the Hobbit and the Imp from Game of Thrones, who, it was pointed out, sounds a bit like Victor Meldrew. An observation I sincerely hope I can forget before the fantasy drama’s next series, or it will never be the same.

People Just Do Nothing, BBC3, Sunday, July 20, 10.45pm
The Mimic, C4, Wednesday, July 16, 10pm

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