The sitcom Spaced is the creation of Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson, who are both the writers and stars of this surreal delight, which at the time of writing has just begun a second series on Britain's Channel 4. The first series didn't get a lot of attention, possibly due to its late-night slot in Channel 4's schedule, but developed what is commonly known as a "cult following", i.e. everybody who happened to catch it recognised its unique genius. The current series has been scheduled in the more sensible slot of 9.30pm Friday.

The plot, such as it is, centres around two twentysomething friends, Tim and Daisy (played by Pegg and Stephenson respectively), who pretend to be a professional couple in order to secure accommodation. In fact, they are neither a couple nor professional: Tim is an aspiring comics artist who works in a comics shop, and Daisy is a free-lance journalist who publishes the odd fluff piece in women's magazines. Other characters include Marsha, their chain-smoking landlady, Brian, the tortured artist who lives downstairs, Mike, Tim's military-obsessed best friend and Twist, Daisy's airhead friend and latterly Brian's girlfriend.

A typical episode involves a minor life crisis for one or more characters, at least one pastiche of a classic movie and several dream sequences. What distinguishes it from other shows with such lightweight subject matter is the generally high quality of both the writing and production. Although the action revolves around the sitcom staple of the main characters' sitting room, the show never appears studio-bound, unlike Friends or Frasier. Like BBC's The League of Gentlemen, the style of photography is more akin to film than television.

Of course, the show probably works best if you can identify with the characters, so if you are in your mid to late twenties, have been to university and have ever read 2000 AD, you will undoubtedly get a kick out of it.

I will leave you with my current favourite line:

"Yeah, I love being at work. You know, the smell of the ink. The taste of the biscuit."

What's already written explains most of the basic plot but I'd like to draw your attention to episode 6 of series 1 (out now on Channel 4 DVD for the low, low price of about twenty quid).

This is by far the most accurate depiction of going out clubbing I've ever seen. Where many films and television programs have tried and failed, Spaced gets it spot on. And they manage to pull it off without a single drugs reference. This is just another example of the genius of this programme.

This is about as far from Friends as a sitcom gets.

Below is a rough guide to the characters in the Channel 4 sitcom Spaced. Most of the information is taken from watching the show and the biographies on the DVD edition of the first series.

Tim Bisley (Simon Pegg)

Age: 25
Born: Highgate, North London
Ambition in Life: To work as a comic book artist
Current job: Assistant manager, Fantasy Bizarre comic store (later, artist with Dark Star comics?)
Likes: Comics, films, videogames, Jaffa Cakes, Mike, Gillian Anderson
Dislikes: The Phantom Menace, kids who ask for Jar-Jar Binks merchandise, dogs

Daisy Steiner (Jessica Stevenson)

Age: 24
Born: Richmond, Surrey
Ambition in Life: To be a journalist for a women's magazine
Current job: Unemployed
Likes: Dogs, tea, Prefab Sprout, Twist
Dislikes: Rats, spiders, work

Mike Watt (Nick Frost)

Age: 25
Born: Hoddeston, Hertfordshire
Ambition in Life: To live out Bravo Two Zero
Current job: Lollypop man. He is also a member of the Territorial Army despite being thrown out after stealing a tank and trying to invade Paris. He was caught when he became distracted by Eurodisney.
Likes: Guns, paintball, guns, hand grenades, guns, Tim, Andy McNab, Space Mountain
Dislikes: Paris

Marsha Klein (Julia Deakin)

Age: 49
Born: Epsom, Surrey
Ambition in Life: To be a world class athlete
Current job: Landlady
Likes: Brian, wine, Lambert & Butler, spirits
Dislikes: Daughter Amber, soberness

Brian Topp (Mark Heap)

Age: 33
Born: Unknown
Ambition in Life: To win the Turner prize
Current job: Artist
Likes: Pain, fear, violence, bad sandwiches, Twist
Dislikes: Vulva, people hitting him

Twist Morgan (Katy Carmichael)

Age: 25
Born: Wells, Somerset
Ambition in Life: To be a fashion designer
Current job:
Dry cleaner
Likes: DKNY urban warfare range, fashion, shopping, fad diets, Daisy, Brian
Dislikes: Her parents for being hippies (hence the name Twist)

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