#25 – 15 Storeys High

The new Levis advert wasn't up to much.

“All the energy of a rat trapped in a can?” – Errol
“Imagine that…” – Vince

BBC Three (formerly BBC Choice) has done a lot of bad things; if they’re not chucking pop-psychological crap down your beleaguered, raw throat, they want you to bash your head against a kitchen work-surface and drink the fluids that pour out. Or as they called it, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps. Follow that with a course of Danny Dyer: I Believe in UFOs for dessert and you have all the makings of the worst TV channel known to man. Ok, second worst; I doubt anything is as pointless as ITV2.

However, sometimes the channel manages to spew out something excellent. The animated Monkey Dust was a great satirical sketch show heavily based in dark humour while Last Man Standing, which showed off some great tribal sports in a competition for athletes. However, the best thing to come from the channel, pipping Don’t Tell The Bride to a close second, is 15 Storeys High and is probably one of the best British comedy shows you may never have seen.

Set in a tower block of flats in London, it may not sound overly special; it has a pessimistic, easily irritable and cynical character in Vince, while his counterpart Errol is his exact opposite in nearly every way. Typical odd couple pairing, you’d say, and you’d be right.

However, it’s what’s done with the writing, directing and acting that sets this show apart. Sean Lock, probably better known for his stand-up/panel show appearances plays Vince supremely and utterly believably, mainly because the character is an exaggerated version of himself. It’s Errol (Benedict Wong), though, who steals the show, whether through his naivety when getting a job at a fish market, or accidentally destroying the wallpaper in the bathroom.

Less funny than a cat in a wheelchair

Even through it’s unique style – flicking to different flats through the episodes just seeing what’s going on elsewhere  in the building – and absurd, dark humour excelled on the digital channel, the BBC decided to let the show flounder. You can hardly say a broadcasting company is confident in a show when it sticks it in the arse-end of a Sunday night on BBC 2, despite laudable critical reviews and a BAFTA nomination.

As much as I like the BBC, they are perpetually scared of anything that veers away from the normal on their flagship channels; this is why we’ve been stuck with the insipid My Family for what seems like 63 years, while other crap like Miranda will probably be allowed to continue in the same vein.

I would, though, like the thank the BBC for killing the show off. Odd, I know, but hear me out. Just like Fawlty Towers, the series will now never get tired, lazy or start to second guess itself. The Mighty Boosh was great for series 1, and quite good for Series 2. Then it was allowed to continue and very quickly the jokes became tiresome and I wanted to use Noel Fielding’s hugely pointy chin to slice and dice every single person in the cast into itty bitty pieces.

I will never go off 15 Storeys High because all that I’ve seen is high calibre and can’t be spoiled for me. Well, not unless Sean Lock turns out to be Jim Davidson. Because that would ruin everything.

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