- Nathan Barley
Nathan Barley Format Sitcom Created by Chris Morris,
Starring Julian Barratt,
Country of origin UK No. of episodes 6 Production Running time 26 minutes Broadcast Original channel Channel 4 Original run 11 February 2005 – 18 March 2005
Nathan Barley is a Channel 4 sitcom written by Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris, starring Nicholas Burns, Julian Barratt and Claire Keelan. The series of six weekly episodes began broadcasting on 11 February 2005 on Channel 4. Described by his creator as a "meaningless strutting cadaver-in-waiting", the character originated on Brooker's TVGoHome – a website parodying television listings – as the focus of a fly-on-the-wall documentary called Cunt.
Nathan Barley played by Nicholas Burns is a webmaster, guerrilla filmmaker, screenwriter, DJ and in his own words, a "self-facilitating media node". He is convinced he is the epitome of urban cool, and therefore secretly terrified he might not be, which is why he reads Sugar Ape magazine, his bible of cool. Sugar Ape has been described as a spoof of Dazed & Confused and Vice, although Brooker has stated that "the SugarApe "Vice" issue from Ep5 wasn't an assault on Vice magazine — I think it just (understandably) ended up looking that way".
The website consists of stupid pranks caught on camera, photos of him with attractive women and famous figures (some of them digitally edited to insert himself), and photos of him standing on street corners in major cities around the world. He is fully of the belief that because he has a camera, some knowledge of web publishing and a webspace, that he has a talent.
The humour derives from the rapid rise of both the Internet and digital television, and the assumption by publishers and broadcasters that almost any such work is worthy of attention. Barley and his peers are often hired ahead of actual journalists and talented writers trying to make intelligent points, such as the earnest documentary film maker Claire Ashcroft, and her brother Dan Ashcroft, a jaded, opinionated and apathetic hack who, having written an article for Sugar Ape entitled "The Rise of the Idiots", is appalled to find that "the idiots" in question – Nathan and his contemporaries – have adopted him as their spiritual leader, failing to see that they are the very people he was criticising.
The series features two other central characters, siblings Dan (Julian Barratt) and Claire Ashcroft. Dan dislikes everything Nathan Barley stands for, while Claire seeks to highlight the plight of the inner city's homeless and drug-dependent. Ironically, while Dan sees a clear distinction between himself and the "idiots", he's frequently forced to compromise his own ethics in order to earn a living, and seems to be fighting the dawning realisation that he may actually be the very thing he despises. At the same time, Claire, who clearly wants to see herself as socially responsible and philanthropic, is doggedly determined to further her own career.
Other recurring characters include the staff at Dan Ashcroft's magazine, Sugar Ape, such as asinine chief editor Jonatton Yeah? (Charlie Condou), Ned Smanks (Richard Ayoade) and Rufus Onslatt (Spencer Brown), a pair of gormless graphic designers, Sasha (Nina Sosanya) the receptionist (one of the few non-"idiots" in the show), and the eccentric and ludicrous Doug Rocket, founder member of The Veryphonics, played by comedian David Hoyle (referencing Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics).
Dan Ashcroft's flatmate is a DJ called "Jones", who appears blissfully unaware of the antisocial cacophony he creates. Jones is played by Noel Fielding, Barratt's partner in comic duo The Mighty Boosh.
In the pilot of the show, characters are different from those in the actual series. The character of Claire already knows Nathan and Pingu instead of meeting them in the first episode of the series. The character of Dan is decidedly darker and gets one up on Nathan and the idiots more often. Ned Smanks and Rufus Onslatt do not appear in the pilot, but Spencer Brown does play a minor character in the art gallery scene. Jonattan Yeah? makes a brief appearance and is largely the same. The pilot was never transmitted, but was included as an extra on the DVD. Story elements and some scenes shot for the pilot became used in the fifth episode of the series, where the familiarity between the characters, and Dan Ashcroft's darker nature, make greater sense in context.
Advertising for the series attracted some attention, with billboards advertising a fictitious mobile telephone, the Wasp T12 Speechtool ("it's well weapon"), appearing throughout the UK. This device was advertised as being exceptionally loud, with several hugely annoying ringtones, a giant key for the number 5 (allegedly the most common number), a powerful projector, a business card printer and miniature turntables for scratching MP3s, and "shark-proof". Barley's website, www.trashbat.co.ck, serves as an official site for the television series.
The DVD of the series was released in October 2005, featuring all six episodes, a number of extras (including the pilot), and a booklet written by Nathan featuring his artwork. The artwork in question is largely in the style of prolific graffiti artist Banksy.
In 2007, Chris Morris told students at a talk at Bournemouth University that he was working on new Nathan Barley material. Flak magazine later reported that Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker were working on the scripts between other projects. However, in the October 2008 issue of Loaded, Nicholas Burns (Nathan Barley), when asked if there would be a second series of the show, replied: "I don't think so. If we'd done it a year ago, maybe, but now there are too many people in real life like that". He made similar comments in a radio interview with Ian Collins on TalkSPORT in September 2008.
In October 2008, Brooker revealed tentative plans for a second series, saying it would shift its focus away from satirising the media industry. He added, "We haven't said we're not going to do it." In the Flak interview, Morris gave cryptic answers in response to questions about a second series. When asked what to expect, he noted: "Nathan's brother, Jason."
- Nicholas Burns – Nathan Barley
- Julian Barratt – Dan "Preacher Man" Ashcroft
- Claire Keelan – Claire Ashcroft
- Richard Ayoade – Ned Smanks
- Spencer Brown – Rufus Onslatt
- Charlie Condou – Jonatton Yeah?
- Noel Fielding – Jones
- David Hoyle (aka "The Divine David") – Doug Rocket
- Nina Sosanya – Sasha
- Rhys Thomas – Toby
- Ben Whishaw – Pingu
- ^ "In search of the real Nathan Barley - Media, News". London: The Independent. 2005-02-17. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/in-search-of-the-real-nathan-barley-483637.html. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
- ^ Armstrong, Stephen (2008-05-12). "From hero to zero | Media". London: The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/may/12/itv. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
- ^ a b "The Creators of Nathan Barley". Flak Magazine. 2008-01-02. http://www.flakmag.com/features/nathanbarley.html.
- ^ Holmwood, Leigh (2007-03-19). "Chris Morris film to tackle suicide bombers | Media | MediaGuardian". London: Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2007/mar/19/broadcasting.channel4. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
- ^ "Brooker reveals Nathan Barley plans". Digital Spy. 2008-10-27. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/tv/a133785/brooker-reveals-nathan-barley-plans.html.
- Nathan Barley at the Internet Movie Database
- Nathan Barley at the British Comedy Guide
- Trashbat.co.ck – Official Website
- BBC News: Anatomy of a backlash – Nathan in the context of Internet hype
- Text from press release for the Nathan Barley show
- NTK reference First reference in NTK in Y2K
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