Music-focused British series ‘People Just Do Nothing’ celebrates the ‘idiots everywhere’ – Los Angeles Times
Underground club culture gets the âSpinal Tapâ treatment in âPeople Just Do Nothing,â a BBC mockumentary series that just landed in North America via Netflix.
On this series, which is structured like the British version of âThe Office,â 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 â some real, more byproducts of the copious amounts of weed they smoke.
But the musical sub-genre they are obsessed with â garage â is old, and most everyone else who loved it back in the day has moved on. That doesnât faze the members of this crew as they broadcast their tunes out of the âstudioâ (a.k.a. a spare room in Steveâs grandmaâs flat) via a weak signal across their West London commuter belt town, Brentford.
So what if they donât have mad skills on the turntables or a razor-sharp rap style. Their delusional sense of self-importance propels them toward a future theyâre pretty sure includes world domination â or at least a few free rounds paid for by adoring fans.
âEven if people donât know the [garage] scene, everyone knows what itâs like to think youâre a little better than you are,â said Allan Mustafa, who plays MC Grindah.
He co-created and co-writes the show with the rest of the main cast. âThe guys may represent a niche British subculture, but the comedy and stories will translate to everywhere, because there are idiots everywhere.â
Adds Steve Stamp, who plays the dim-witted (or is he just stoned?) Steve Green: âA lot of talented people donât have enough confidence, but then thereâs a lot of stupid people with no talent who have loads of confidence. Itâs something you see a lot on social media. All our characters are super confident; theyâre just not good at what they do.â
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 â90s around club music, hip-hop or had a friend who fancied him- or herself to be the next Tupac/Goldie/Tricky, letâs just say youâll recognize these guys.
Hugo Chegwin plays the keeping-it-real producer Kevin “DJ Beats” Bates, who it turns out is Grindahâs favorite punching bag. Asim Chaudhry is their manager Chabuddy G, a local entrepreneur and hustler who puts on shows in his âclub,â an empty warehouse space that resembles a mechanicâs 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 doesnât play âreal musicâ (i.e. the electronic drum ânâ bass stuff they like).
Both lament his use of actual instruments like a guitar, and refer to the red-headed singerâs ballads as âcampfireâ music.
âYou said urban artist,â complains one of the guys to the manager. âHeâs not urban. Heâs a ginger. Thatâs the whitest you can get.â
They begrudgingly tape Sheeran playing a few acoustic verses, interrupt him, then make it âmuch bettaâ by dropping in obnoxious amounts of drum and bass, and repetitive vocal clips.
âPeople Just Do Nothingâ started seven years ago as âWasteland TV,â a collection of YouTube skits filmed by Chaudhry and featuring his friends â 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.
âHugo used to make beats, I wanted to be a rapper,â Mustafa says over the phone during a recent stop with the Kurupt crew in Los Angeles. âWe all watched âThe Officeâ â and documentaries that werenât meant to be funny â and found the characters to be hilarious.
âI used to battle rap back in the day,â says Chaudhry. âI was my collegeâs battle champion. Battle rapping is a little bit like comedy. Improvising, being quick witted, taking the piss out of yourself and your mates.â
The YouTube collection caught the eye of Jon Petrie, a producer at Roughcut TV, a company started by âThe Officeâ 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 itâs the timing of the actors, and the cluelessness of the characters they play, that sets âPeople Just Do Nothingâ apart.
âDo you think garage can change the world?,â asks an off-screen interviewer in one episode.
âI donât think we need to change the world,â says MC Grindah. âI just think we need to make music saying we can change the world. Cause itâs not like we can do anything.â
âPeople Just Do Nothingâ
When: Any time
Rating: TV-MA (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 17)