1 9 9 6 (UK)
6 x 30 minute episodes
This surreal black comedy about an assortment of odd characters trapped in an asylum in the English countryside aired in 1996 on the Paramount Comedy Channel.
The asylum is run by Dr Lovett (Norman Lovett from Red Dwarf) and his motley collection of staff whose sanity is decidedly suspect, as proved by their admission of the local pizza-delivery boy (Simon Pegg) for trumped-up reasons.
Dr Lovett has invited a number of sane people to the asylum for an indefinite period, planning to reprogram their identity and study the effects. So far his experiment has been running for 6 years.
Martha (Jessica Hynes) was a politics graduate but after a diet of nothing but daytime television she now has a strange obsession with Countdown and holds many conspiracy theories close to her chest.
Adam (Adam Bloom) previously lived the life of a “bug-eyed bank clerk”, but since being locked in a room with nothing but Lenny Bruce records, truly believes he’s a stand up comic. He even carries a dictaphone with him at all times to play canned laughter.
Victor (Julian Barratt) was once a painter and decorator from Barnsley. However, Dr Lovett manipulated his persona by surrounding him by Renaissance art. The result is a pretentious wannabe artist.
Paul (Paul Morocco) is a flamenco singer forced into a vow of silence, so he can only communicate via everyday objects. His favourite form of communication involves shooting ping pong balls out of his mouth.
As the patients try bizarre escape plans we are left wondering whether the whole thing is a massive experiment or just a cruel hoax.
Herding the inmates around are security guard Nobby Shanks (Mick O’Connor) and the dangerously seductive, but quite psychopathic Nurse McFadden (Jessica Stevenson).
All episodes feature a short musical segment by house band David Devant and his Spirit Wife. Their song Ginger was the show’s theme tune.
There are excellent cameo appearances from the likes of Bill Bailey and David Walliams.
David Devant and his Spirit Wife