You can almost picture the TV executives' meeting: "We need something value-for-money for our late-night Friday slot." "You mean something absurdly cheap?" "Er, yes." "How about a four-part series written, performed, directed, filmed and edited entirely by two twentysomething popular culture junkies in their Brixton bedsit?" "No, surely no one would ever buy that."
The surprising thing is that we just might. The Adam and Joe Show is certainly cheap - at pounds 35,000 for a four-part series it compares very favourably with, say, The Girlie Show, which weighs in at a reported pounds 125,000 per episode - but it is also clever. Overflowing with charmingly chaotic film parodies and pop references, the show is a feast for popular-culture vultures.
In one inspired skit, toys act out a trailer for Trainspotting. A panda Begbie decks two Action Men with a pool-cue as the voiceover intones: "Choose toys, choose relentless dribbling. . . who needs reasons when you've got sherbet?" The makers of the original film are said to be delighted by it. In another neat send-up, entitled "Chew've Been Framed", the Chewbacca character from the Star Wars films presents home-movie clips of hilarious cock-ups by fellow cast-members. The whole feel is Wayne's World without the budget. Joe Cornish, one of the show's two creators, reckons that it is "like Cheggers Plays Pop, but without Cheggers and less pop". His colleague, Adam Buxton, who previously presented C4's Takeover TV with Cornish, elaborates. "It's like a TV version of a fanzine - lots of weird stuff that doesn't relate to anything. It's just a fairly dense collection of observations about the minutiae of pop culture, unclouded by any of the usual trappings of a late-night Channel 4 show. You know, that whole in-your-face ethic, trying to shock everyone and be glamorous. We're quite ugly guys who don't have the benefit of make-up. We look unhealthy and pasty because we're locked in our room making the show all the time. …