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Jim Jepps

Johnny Vegas is inspired as the uninspiredApologies to everyone who doesn't watch BBC 3 - well, that's almost everyone of course - but there is a little gem of a series that has been tucked away unseen by the unblinking eye of Christian Voice.

'Ideal' is described by the BBC as a "new sitcom [which] stars Johnny Vegas as Moz, a small time hash dealer who lives in a run-down flat with his long-term girlfriend Nicki. Moz is a low achiever, and quite happy with it, but Nicki has aspirations for a better life…even if that means finding it in the arms of another man."

I've found this show absolutely fascinating. I don't know if you remember but there was a French film a few years back about a couple of rogues who went on a mad trip round France committing all sorts of terrible crimes and then they got away Scott free - there was outrage - it's okay to be bad - but you must be punished! This show is completely lacking in the equation crime = exciting and also = wrong. If you want to draw conclusions about their life style then they are going to have to be your own, not those imposed upon the story.

One of the great things about this show is its mundane drab depiction of Moz's life as a going nowhere dealer. There are no battles with the police (quite the reverse), there are no shoot outs with rival deals - although there was a tense moment, and what sexual promiscuity we can find is sadly not diverted towards Moz.

The delicate characterisation that Mr Vegas draws of Moz is absolutely brilliant. One of the things that makes Vegas so good as an actor is that he is absolutely unconcerned with making himself look good. Of course, I'm not sure if he's as versatile as Paul Whitehouse who is currently on tele as the numerous patients of a psychiatrist (which is also a good show) but he does what does very, very well.

It seems to me Ideal is an excellent example of real story telling without the restrictions of any ideologue speaking through the script. You won't find a tedious, drugs are great party line - nor the vacuous drugs are evil spasm that TV often feels compelled to introduce into every story dealing with drugs.

However, one note of disappointment, the last in the series has a murder in it. They had to spoil it didn't they! I mean, the murder's handled well and all, but, I couldn't help feeling a little cheated by it. If you dabble with the weed you will come to no good that says to me - we've got hundreds of examples of this kind of programming already, and frankly it does not fit with the experience of millions of people in this country. What made Ideal so daring was its willingness to say the people who take drugs are people, shock. Funny, stupid, boring, sexy, ungrateful and thoughtful by turns, as a little bit of balance Ideal has been a breath of fresh air (which is more than you'd get in Moz's flat).

March 2005


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