Hippies (BBC2, 1999)
Hippies was a sitcom that was co-created and written by Arthur Mathews who was one of the writers of the classic Father Ted along with Graham Linehan, so when it was revealed that he was working on a quirky sitcom that was going to parody life in the late-60s there was a big buzz around it as there was a chance that it could be another success with viewers.
Hippies was set in London in 1969. It centred around three young people who worked together on a counterculture magazine called Mouth, Ray (Simon Pegg), Alex (Julian Rhind-Tutt) and Jill (Sally Phillips of Smack The Pony fame). The basic idea of the show was that they thought they were at the cutting edge of everything trendy and they were really going to cause a revolution in society by publishing this magazine, but of course they totally failed in this area.
Ray is the editor of Mouth which he puts together in his fancy Notting Hill flat, and he is helped by Alex and Jill, who Ray insists is his girlfriend, although she doesn’t seem to agree with this. Also occasionally appearing is Hugo who has a rather spaced out attitude to life even by a hippie’s standard. It’s probably not too much of a surprise to discover that most of the episodes ended up taking an unusual twist.
Hippies was yet another late-90s BBC2 sitcom that I missed first time round that I got into after seeing a repeat run on UK Play. I know I am still going on about it but it was such a great digital channel, it repeated a lot of great sitcoms, and along with some of its original shows featuring comedy and music, it is still a channel I think fondly of even though it closed down 15 years ago now, and its nearest relative still on air is the channel Dave.
There was only one series of Hippies made, as it received fairly average reviews from critics, and the planned second series was scrapped. There was an almost decade-long gap between Hippies ending on TV and being released on DVD. Although it doesn’t feature many extras, the DVD does come with a copy of Mouth, and there is also an amusing article looking at where the cast are now (well, in 2008 anyway when the DVD was released).
About a couple of months before Hippies launched, another sitcom starring Simon Pegg began which was Channel 4’s much more successful Spaced, which unlike Hippies has remained popular and is fondly remembered. And while I would probably stop at saying that Hippies is a lost gem or in the same league as Father Ted, I didn’t think it was that bad at all really.