Review: This Country

BBC Three comedy This Country may be the greatest show you’ve never seen – and I say this as someone who is an avid TV lover yet only truly discovered its brilliance in the last few weeks, as its third and final series was airing. 

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The mockumentary sitcom is penned by siblings Daisy May and Charlie Cooper, who themselves play cousins Kerry and Lee “Kurtan” Mucklowe. They are the subjects of a documentary that aims to investigate what life in rural Britain is like for young people, exploring issues of marginalisation in a typical Cotswold village – not dissimilar to Cirencester, the hometown of the Coopers.

Daisy May has said herself in interviews that the show is about “two young people being bored” and the pair admit that inspiration for the series stems from their own experiences when they were growing up. Although it took a number of years for This Country to be commissioned, getting producer Simon Mayhew-Archer and director Tom George on board allowed Charlie and Daisy to create a series that is silly, heartfelt and authentic.

There’s Kurtan – who eats all the Bounties in a box of Celebrations out of respect for the underdog, and still holds a grudge against Tesco for the horsemeat scandal. And there’s Kerry – who remains tragically loyal to her estranged father and is always on the lookout for her latest business venture. Although their ages are not specified, they are about ten years out of education, but there are still childlike qualities in their language and behaviour, which is hilarious and endearing in equal measure. They are not just cousins, but best friends as well, and it is their chemistry and their bond that is undoubtedly the heart of the show. 

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In addition, there is a superb supporting cast of eccentric yet strongly recognisable characters. These include intimidating Mandy, Kerry’s villainous father Martin (played by Daisy and Charlie’s real-life dad), and “Slugs” (played by Michael Sleggs, who tragically passed away last year). But the other key player in This Country is Reverend Francis Seaton, referred to often as just “Vicar”, and played by Paul Chahidi. He acts as a mentor for Kerry and Kurtan, his gentle nature solving their frequent disputes. But the third series gives the Vicar a much greater depth of character, exploring his backstory and allowing Chahidi to truly shine.

There aren’t many major events during the series, it’s quiet and understated; entire episodes are dedicated to a village scarecrow competition; a driving lesson; a wait for an arrival at the train station; and one episode is even set over the length of time for Kurtan to cook a pizza in the oven. This Country is very much a character-based comedy, and an extremely successful one at that – as a viewer, I enjoy spending time with these characters so much that what they get up to is almost irrelevant.

A comedy like this, especially one which is broadcasted on digital channel BBC Three, could easily remain as something of a cult hit (much like one of my personal favourite sitcoms, Jamie Demetriou’s Stath Lets Flats). However, it has been recently revealed that This Country has had 52 million requests on iPlayer over the course of its three series, marking it as one of BBC Three’s biggest comedies since the channel went online in 2016, alongside Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag. Perhaps the ‘boring’ world of the Mucklowes is a lot more popular than anyone could have expected.

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If you haven’t already checked out This Country, it’s the perfect series to binge during this lockdown. It’s a show about family, friendship, kindness and loyalty. It’s sweet, poignant, joyous, heartbreaking, silly and intimate, and above all, it will make you laugh a lot.

All three series of This Country are available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

 

-Erin Zammitt

 

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