BBC Three has a good comedy pedigree (Fleabag, Gavin & Stacey, The Mighty Boosh, Nighty Night, Pulling, Him & Her). It’s not hyperbole to call This Country one of its best…
Mondays from 17 February, 7pm, on BBC iPlayer. Find it in Catch Up > Channels > BBC iPlayer
“I always said that if [Charlie] turns to the side, if you blur your eyes and look at him, he looks like Andy Murray’s mum,” laughs Daisy May Cooper. She’s talking about her brother, of course – fellow This Country co-creator and star (and possibly Cirencester’s number one Judy Murray lookalike) Charlie Cooper. It’s already clear why Daisy and Charlie inhabit the characters of habitually bored cousins Kerry and Kurtan Mucklowe so well.
Filmed in a mockumentary style like The Office and first airing on iPlayer in 2017, This Country is a genius show that revels in the mundanity of village life and British idiosyncrasies. Very few comedies feature an entire plot point about the top shelf of an oven (although we think they should). The public immediately took This Country to its heart, and it bagged two BAFTAs – for Best Scripted Comedy and Best Female Comedy Performance – along the way. It’s a very, very special show.
But the arrival of series 3 is bittersweet because it will also be its last. More than that, it begins with Kerry and Kurtan talking about the death of their friend Slugs. Fans of the show will know that the actor who played him, Michael Sleggs, sadly died from heart failure in July last year, aged just 33. Episode 1 is dedicated to him.
We were lucky enough to attend a screening of the first two episodes and the quality of This Country is as high as ever, filled with heart and humour and the tiny cultural references from Daisy and Charlie’s apparent wasted youth (Theme Hospital gets a mention!).
Kerry has a new job in a recycling plant, which forms the basis for some of the funniest scenes the show has ever done. Meanwhile, episode 2 focuses on Kurtan learning to drive, with the theme of this series becoming apparent; while series 1 was Kurtan’s story and series 2 centred on Kerry, this time the vicar comes to the fore, deftly played with so much pathos by Paul Chahidi.
Here’s everything we learnt from the screening with Daisy and Charlie.
They needed to deal with Michael’s death head on
“He always wanted to be included, whether he was here or not,” said Charlie. The pair said they decided early on that it didn’t feel right to say that the character had gone on holiday or moved away. The result is something as beautiful as it is funny.
Writing those scenes was hard
“It was such a difficult episode to write because how Kerry and Kurtan feel about Slugs is so different to how Daisy and Charlie feel about him,” said Daisy. “It was really tough, but we wanted to make it as funny as we could because he was so funny.”
Although some of his requests were ignored
Daisy laughs: “He wanted his body in his coffin to be in the first episode.” Michael also asked Paul Chahidi to be the actual vicar at his funeral (he politely declined).
Charlie revealed the script we’ll never see
Episode 2 takes place, largely, in a car – almost like a bubble episode. And it reminded Charlie of an earlier idea. “We wanted to write an episode that happened in the space of a day,” he said. “I think we wrote an episode for the first series that got binned about Kerry and Kurtan befriending a pig. And they take the pig home and it escapes and then the pig causes this trail of havoc that they follow. We realised when we finished it, it’s rubbish.”
The village residents love the show, says Daisy. Well, most of them…
“There’s a woman, right, and she really hates this show. She drives a big Land Rover. And we’re filming something in the marketplace, and she parks it right in front of the camera and our location manager went up and said, “Look, I’m sorry, we’re just about to film, could you just move to that parking space literally two centimetres away?” And she said, “No, I hate the show.” But we also have a lot of people who absolutely love us.”
The last series… for now?
“I think we’re ready for something new – and we’ve run out of ideas,” said Daisy. “We’ll be back if we need more cash.” On the prospect of a mockumentary movie, Charlie tantalisingly added: “If enough people buy a film stub, we might make a film.”
Daisy and Charlie will continue working together
“We couldn’t work not together,” Daisy said. “Because I wouldn’t work. I basically lie on the bed vaping and you say, “You’ve really got to work.” I ask him about his fishing because I know that will distract him. That’s how it works, but we get there in the end.”
When is BBC Three’s This Country on TV?
This Country airs first on BBC iPlayer on Mondays at 7pm, with the first episode available on Monday 17 February.
The six-part series will subsequently air every week until Sunday 23 March.
TV channels: Channels, content and features available depend on your chosen package. Channel line-ups and content are subject to change at any time and to regional variations.
HD: HD TV set, V HD Box, TiVo box or Virgin TV V6 connected with HDMI cables required for HD channels. Number of inclusive HD channels depends on package.
Catch Up TV: Catch Up TV content available for up to 7 days or up to 30 days after broadcast, depending on content.
Interviews: Any opinions expressed in interviews are those of the interview subject and not those of Virgin Media.
Image credits: This Country © BBC –Photographer: Jack Barnes