Given the involvement of Chris Morris, the comedy genius and visionary behind The Day Today and Brass Eye, it shouldn't really come as any surprise that, a decade after it first aired, Nathan Barley has proven so eerily prescient. I wonder how Neil Boorman and the unnamed producer feel now, having claimed at the time that the show was already painfully out of date. Sheepish, I imagine - I must confess to similar sentiments myself, as much as I loved it.
As Andrew Harrison comments, "Created as a comic figure, Nathan has become an insult and a signifier
and maybe even - here’s the frightening part - a role model." A horrifying thought indeed. "At 10
years’ remove the show seems less a comedy and more a documentary about
the future" - not just a depiction of Shoreditch hipster twattery and self-conscious edginess, but also of the obsession with social media and YouTube culture. Dapper Laughs, anyone?
Of the many insights in Harrison's article, one of the most interesting is Charlie Brooker's admission that Morris saw the need from a dramatic perspective to give the character (originally created by Brooker in the much-missed TVGoHome listings) "a tiny acorn of likability" for the TV adaptation - he did have a puppy-like enthusiasm and naive idealism: "In the fake listings he really was a cunt, whereas in the TV show he’s a twat - and there is a difference".
Given the contemporary relevance of the one and only series to date, you have to wonder whether Brooker and Morris might not be tempted to pick up the pieces of that abandoned second series. Or perhaps there's no point - they'd be better off getting together to imagine what 2025, rather than 2015, might look like.
Incidentally, believe it or not, the guy referenced in the opening paragraph really does exist.
(Thanks to Jimmy for the link.)