When the producers of Peep Show were looking for a location for their new sitcom for the 21st century, there was an obvious place to set it. Inside Croydon’s own Jez and Mark, JOE RAWLINSON and ED MATTHEWS, pay homage as their comedy heroes bow out
Here we are: 12 years of The El Dude brothers comes to an end tonight.
It has been a rocky road for the hapless pair of co-habiting friends as they have tried to navigate the pitfalls of modern south London life. They have defecated in a pool, eaten a dead dog, waterboarded a flat-mate with a can of beer, and more.
But finally, middle age, and some semblance of maturity, are inescapable. Life happens to you anyway.
Peep Show is the longest running Channel 4 sitcom in history, having first aired in 2003. It has drawn a cult following since its inception. With its innovative use of internal monologues and point-of-view camera work, the show has had a relatability that is both comic and occasionally worrying.
The show has always been set in Croydon, with Leon House in the opening credits and glamorous locations including Canterbury House, Zodiac Court and the Flyover regular features.
Peep Show was filmed on location for the first two series, and only stopped filming in Zodiac Court, home to Mark and Jez, when the landlords, according to local legend, banned them because they through it was harming the building’s reputation. Yeah – Zodiac Court.
Director Jeremy Wooding says that he set the show in Croydon because he “liked the idea of there being trams”. But Channel 4 stopped him using trams in the series.
Despite the lack of trams, the bond between Peep Show and Croydon goes deep.
Writers Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain have been careful not to make Croydon the butt of any jokes. Instead, the backdrop of Croydon has complimented the characters, giving them an accessibility that contrasts with those in American sitcoms, living in glitzy apartments they could never afford.
Armstrong speaks fondly of “real, affordable London… where people live relatively normal lives”. This is what Croydon signifies.
And, much like Jeremy and Mark, Croydon is growing up and changing. Peep Show, of course, is not the first time that a sitcom has centred on Croydon – Terry and June did that in the 1970s. And Peep Show reflected how the place has changed in the decades in between.
Though sometimes Croydon’s troubles may seem as farcical as an episode of Peep Show, the people who live and work here face them with stoicism and a frank, understated humour.
Depending on tonight’s final episode, we’ll probably never know whether Mark and Jez ever find their feet. A bit like Croydon really.
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