I had some very bored summers as a child. And that was pre-internet. The suburbs are not designed for teenagers – is anywhere? – and there’s only so much adolescent angst that mini-golf and Top Trumps can cure. Occasionally, a friend and I would prank-call strangers. We’d pretend to be deaf Latvians, jilted lovers, that sort of thing. So I have tremendous sympathy for Kerry and Kurtan, the adolescent heroes of BBC Three’s hilarious This Country (BBC iPlayer). They live in one of those villages in the sticks that you occasionally drive through and think aloud: “I bet it sucks to be young round here.” But you’d be wrong! There’s the annual scarecrow-making contest. And, er, well … there’s the annual scarecrow-making contest. In between making scarecrows (which, to be fair, are very good), Kerry and Kurtan lighten the duller moments by pursuing feuds with 11-year-olds, trying to escape work and wreaking vengeance on enemies with a terrifying ritual of vandalism known as “plumming” (they throw plums at your house).
A lot of the comedy comes from malapropisms. Kerry describes her uncle’s imprisonment thus: “On March 13, 2009, our uncle Nugget was wrongly incinerated for having a laugh.” He was waiting at Swindon bus station, saw a driver pop out of his cabin, jumped inside and innocently took the bus for a ride around the roundabout – for four hours. It was a miscarriage of justice, says Kerry, because “what people forget is that 12 out of those 20 passengers found it funny.” Kurtan adds: “I ain’t never seen that many people crying in court.” Kerry concludes: “Tears of laughter, though.”
A few reviewers see This Country as a comment on Brexit, on those places that have supposedly been left behind. Maybe, maybe not – does it really matter? Not everything is political, and this show would be funny whether we’d voted Remain or Leave. And if the greatest indictment of the left-behind places is that they are boring – so boring, you’d kidnap 20 bus passengers to lighten the day – then we’re not in such a bad state as either side of the Brexit fight claims. Keep calm and carry on doing nothing.
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