Magazine article The Spectator

A Right Rave

Magazine article The Spectator

A Right Rave

Article excerpt

When you're cooped up at home seven nights a week with a broken ankle, you do tend to watch an awful lot of television. And 99 per cent of it is so dire that you end up wishing you'd gone to bed early instead and read something worthwhile and life-changing like B.S. Johnson's The Unfortunates.

But, just occasionally, you happen to see a programme so impossibly brilliant that you want to ring up your brother immediately to make sure that what you've just seen really was quite as wonderful as you thought it was. Which is what I did after I'd seen the penultimate episode of Spaced (Channel 4, two Fridays ago). 'Yes,' my brother confirmed. 'It really was that g6od. And I'm bloody glad you saw it because if you hadn't, and I'd told you how good it was, you'd never have believed me.'

I know what he meant. Until this particular episode, Spaced was one of those comedy series you watched mainly because there was nothing much better on at that time. You quite liked the characters (a couple of twentysomething flat-sharers and their cast of weirdo chums), you laughed at the jokes, and you could see that sometimes it was teetering on the edge of sitcom genius. But frustratingly it never quite seemed to go all the way.

Then, quite without warning, it did. What triggered it was the arrival of a character we'd never met before -- a mankylooking individual with a strange habit of dancing wildly to any form of repetitive noise, be it the ticking of a clock or the ringing of a phone. To those viewers without much experience of dance music, clubbing or Ecstasy culture, this would have made no sense at all. But to those in the know, it sent a signal that this episode was going to be rather special. A cult classic, even.

And so it proved. Since rave music was invented in the late Eighties, there have been.dozens and dozens of attempts to capture in film and TV drama the paranoia, euphoria and silliness which are the hallmarks of a night's clubbing. But I've never seen it all evoked quite so convincingly as it was by scriptwriters (and stars) Jessica Stevenson and Simon Pegg in this episode of Spaced.

Rather cleverly, they achieved it without once mentioning drugs. They simply showed what happens before, during and after: the initial nerviness and reluctance: that awkward stage when you arrive at the club and everyone seems 'up for it' apart from you, so you have to stand there jigging your arms waiting for something to happen; the bit where everyone loses it and starts bonding with total strangers; the bit where your posse reunite and greet each other like long-lost friends, even though you separated only half an hour ago; the chill-out session where you burble lovey inanities at one another . …

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