When something reflects a place and a feeling that is familiar you can’t help but be sucked in. That is how I felt about This Country, a BBC mockumentary that recently picked up three RTS Programme Awards (for best scripted comedy, best comedy writer and best comedy performance). I’ll admit the first episode is possibly my least favourite, where the village has a scarecrow competition, but this series is a grower and I became to love it.
The comedy’s main characters are Kerry and Kurtan Mucklowe, two cousins that are bored unemployed 20-somethings in a tiny Cotswold village. Kerry is a different kind of character for TV. Completely asexual, her character reminded me slightly of Kathy Burke. She is always wearing a Swindon Town football shirt, or as her cousin Kurtan describes her wardrobe: “an explosion in an unofficial merchandise factory” (as he points out her shirt has four lions on it, instead of three). Kerry is played by Daisy May Cooper and Kurtan is in real life her twin brother. Daisy May studied drama at RADA, but hated it. She and her brother dreamt up the idea of the series while she was studying in London reminiscing about people they knew from home, which turns out, is Cirencester. Her brother wasn’t initially going to play Kurtan who in real life was working as a model after quitting university, but no one else could do the accent.
The village is full of these ‘characters’ they recall from home. One episode they walk around the village celebrating that “Mr Perkins is dead!”, it turns out Mr Perkins is the name of an actual teacher they hated in school, and they didn’t bother changing the name. Suffice to say their old school are not impressed despite the shows success. Kerry’s mother is never seen in the comedy, you just hear her shouting (voiced by Daisy May, who has a sore throat for ages afterwards). Kerry’s father (aka the local ‘peeper’) and Kerry have a unrequited relationship. Kerry’s father is played by Daisy May and Charlie Cooper’s (Kurtan) real life Dad, and their Uncle also features as a local character.
The setting of this comedy is not far from where I live… which is why I say it reflects a place and feeling that is familiar… but it could in fact be reflecting any British village in the country. It is full of the idiosyncracies you get living in a small village. It is gentle yet rich in humour. Some moments that stand out to me are Kurtan celebrating when he finds out he got a place at Swindon College to study Health and Social Care. The tent moment in one episode (I don’t want to spoil it… it is that funny). There are many genius moments of hilarity I can’t recommend this enough.