Music-focused British series ‘People Just Do Nothing’ celebrates the ‘idiots everywhere’ – Los Angeles Times

Underground club culture gets the “Spinal Tap” treatment in “People Just Do Nothing,” a BBC mockumentary series that just landed in North America via Netflix.

On this series, which is structured like the British version of “The Office,” cameras follow a low-functioning group of thirtysomething underachievers who run the pirate radio station Kurupt FM.

They are DJs, rappers, producers and music biz entrepreneurs with dreams — some real, more byproducts of the copious amounts of weed they smoke.

But the musical sub-genre they are obsessed with — garage — is old, and most everyone else who loved it back in the day has moved on. That doesn’t faze the members of this crew as they broadcast their tunes out of the “studio” (a.k.a. a spare room in Steve’s grandma’s flat) via a weak signal across their West London commuter belt town, Brentford.

So what if they don’t have mad skills on the turntables or a razor-sharp rap style. Their delusional sense of self-importance propels them toward a future they’re pretty sure includes world domination — or at least a few free rounds paid for by adoring fans.

“Even if people don’t know the [garage] scene, everyone knows what it’s like to think you’re a little better than you are,” said Allan Mustafa, who plays MC Grindah.

He co-created and co-writes the show with the rest of the main cast. “The guys may represent a niche British subculture, but the comedy and stories will translate to everywhere, because there are idiots everywhere.”

Adds Steve Stamp, who plays the dim-witted (or is he just stoned?) Steve Green: “A lot of talented people don’t have enough confidence, but then there’s a lot of stupid people with no talent who have loads of confidence. It’s something you see a lot on social media. All our characters are super confident; they’re just not good at what they do.”

The BBC show, in its fourth season in Britain, is now available in the U.S. on Netflix and Viceland TV as well as for sale digitally and on DVD.

For anyone who came of age in the ’90s around club music, hip-hop or had a friend who fancied him- or herself to be the next Tupac/Goldie/Tricky, let’s just say you’ll recognize these guys.

Hugo Chegwin plays the keeping-it-real producer Kevin “DJ Beats” Bates, who it turns out is Grindah’s favorite punching bag. Asim Chaudhry is their manager Chabuddy G, a local entrepreneur and hustler who puts on shows in his “club,” an empty warehouse space that resembles a mechanic’s bay.

In a recent skit, Chabuddy G gets the Kurupt crew a meeting in the studio with bona-fide star Ed Sheeran. But Grindah and DJ Beats are more exasperated than elated because Sheeran doesn’t play “real music” (i.e. the electronic drum ’n’ bass stuff they like).

Both lament his use of actual instruments like a guitar, and refer to the red-headed singer’s ballads as “campfire” music.

“You said urban artist,” complains one of the guys to the manager. “He’s not urban. He’s a ginger. That’s the whitest you can get.”

They begrudgingly tape Sheeran playing a few acoustic verses, interrupt him, then make it “much betta” by dropping in obnoxious amounts of drum and bass, and repetitive vocal clips.

“People Just Do Nothing” started seven years ago as “Wasteland TV,” a collection of YouTube skits filmed by Chaudhry and featuring his friends — a group of folks who never really intended on being actors. They had all been aspiring musicians at one point or another, collecting vinyl as DJs, producing records and entering MC battles.

“Hugo used to make beats, I wanted to be a rapper,” Mustafa says over the phone during a recent stop with the Kurupt crew in Los Angeles. “We all watched ‘The Office’ — and documentaries that weren’t meant to be funny — and found the characters to be hilarious.

“I used to battle rap back in the day,” says Chaudhry. “I was my college’s battle champion. Battle rapping is a little bit like comedy. Improvising, being quick witted, taking the piss out of yourself and your mates.”

The YouTube collection caught the eye of Jon Petrie, a producer at Roughcut TV, a company started by “The Office” producer Ash Atalla. It was picked up by BBC Three.

Now, Kurupt FM crew has a cult following, a formidable social media presence (they post in character) and play tours and festivals across England such as Glastonbury. And this year, the show won the BAFTA award for scripted comedy.

But it’s the timing of the actors, and the cluelessness of the characters they play, that sets “People Just Do Nothing” apart.

“Do you think garage can change the world?,” asks an off-screen interviewer in one episode.

“I don’t think we need to change the world,” says MC Grindah. “I just think we need to make music saying we can change the world. Cause it’s not like we can do anything.”

‘People Just Do Nothing’

Where: Netflix

When: Any time

Rating: TV-MA (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 17)

lorraine.ali@latimes.com

http://twitter.com/lorraineali

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