Creator: Graham Duff
Starring: Johnny Vegas, Graham Duff, Nicholas Reynolds
Ideal appears to be one of those television series that passed a lot of people by. Even your typical Britain, who - believe me - knows there shit when it comes to television (blame the weather, perhaps?). The fact that Johnny Vegas (well renown stand-up comedian and key figure in the ITV series, Benidorm) starred in this should have been enough to drag large proportions of Benidorm fiends. It seemingly didn't.
Sure, Ideal isn't your existential version of Benidorm. It runs far deeper. You have scratch for the clues. It's a stoner's wet dream, all told.
Creator, Graham Duff (who also plays the flamboyant homosexual, Brian), creates a satirical version of scheme life in Northern England, capturing the difficulties one has to free themselves from social decay. Not that Moz, (played by Vegas) really has any intentions of pitching a tent anywhere else other than his flat (despite the temporary hiatus to Portugal). He seems content on selling his weed to the characters who filter in and out of his flat for the duration of the series.
Although set in the mundane, as each episode passes you develop a feel for each character and their idiosyncrasies that you can't help but maintain an interest.
Duff not only encapsulates common Britain to a tee; the elements of black comedy hit home in the driest sense possible. Don't discard Ideal's most fucked up elements, either; there's plenty. After all, who else would have a gangster known as 'Cartoon Head' as one of the most pivotal characters? I won't say too much more on that front.
The soundtrack isn't one to be sneezed at, either. It's a musical nerds heaven, in fact. Duff, a DJ himself, hand picked the selection, as the sounds of Ugly Duckling, Bowery Electric and Deerhunter create an interesting juxtaposition throughout the series.
In hindsight, the series could've been trimmed a season. Throughout seasons 6 and 7, things become a little stagnate, however in saying that, there's not too many BBC series that last this sort of distance. This on its own is a victory to the series.
One for a laugh, indeed. Ideal is one of the finest escapisms you could come across these days. It's like a vicariously getting stoned. I totally recommend it.
By Simon K.