Ideal (BBC3, 2005-2011)
I must admit that I have not been a big fan of a lot of the comedy programmes on BBC3, but there are a few that I do like, and this is one of them. I got into the show from the first episode which was shown at the start of 2005 when I was trying to find out what new programmes were going to be launched and the sound of this one interested me because it starred Johnny Vegas, whose outrageous antics I had enjoyed on such shows as Shooting Stars.
Ideal starred Johnny Vegas as Moz, a very small-time dealer in a manky Manchester flat, and most of the action is based around the various characters who come round to interact with him. He also has a girlfriend called Nicki but they are always arguing and their relationship is in trouble.
A huge amount of characters turned up in Ideal over the years as Moz’s life became ever more complicated. Among my favourites were Colin, someone who when he came round would always say “I’m on probation”. This was clearly an attempt at creating a catchphrase but I’ve never heard anyone reference it outside of the show.
There was also Brian (who was played by Graham Duff who also created the show and wrote all of the episodes) who turned up with a different man every week and he always thought that they were “scrummy” (another attempt at a catchphrase for the show there) before dumping them and he was into gossip about all of the people that Moz knew.
There were even more unusual characters though. There was also Moz’s brother Troy who liked to live in the cupboard and run his own pirate radio station when he wasn’t being electrocuted or stabbed by his wife. There was also the memorable Cartoon Head, a mute character who permanently wore a mouse mask on his face who seemed to be some sort of crazed killer.
Also among the best characters were the policeman who Moz was mates with, the rather daft Jenny who Moz eventually takes a shine to, the strange nextdoor neighbour Judith, the indie group Silicone Valets who eventually hit the big time until one of their members gets trapped in Moz’s boiler (it’s a long story), and Psycho Paul who thought of himself as a big-time gangster when he was nothing of the sort.
One of the things that made Ideal stand out as well as all of these bizarre characters and situations was the creative use of atmospheric music, with several songs from various genres being used, and the soundtrack to the first series was released on CD. Although Ideal was never a big success with viewers or critics it did gain a fanbase including myself, and eventually the show ran for seven series and over 50 episodes including a Christmas special, and also featured a few guest stars including Mark Radcliffe, Sean Lock and Janeane Garofalo.
All of Ideal has also been released on DVD and there are lots of great extras including lots of deleted scenes and funny outtakes, and some of the cast members have gone on to bigger things including Natalie Gumede and Tom Goodman-Hill. Although Ideal has now ended on TV, there were a few rumours that there might be a film version to tie up the loose ends, but nothing has been confirmed about this which is a shame as it would be a great way to conclude this underrated comedy show.