The story of two cousins living in the Cotswolds is hilarious and humane—with a subtle political streakby Sameer Rahim / February 14, 2020 / Leave a comment
When David Cameron was prime minister—about a century ago, it feels like—there was a lot of media chatter about the “Chipping Norton Set.” In 2012 the Cotswolds’ town was home to some of the most powerful and best-connected people in the country: aside from Cameron, there was Matthew Freud and Elisabeth Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks, Steve Hilton and Jeremy Clarkson, who all, apparently, hung out with each other at lavish parties and plotted how they were going to take over more of the world. How Tempus fugit.
More recently, a somewhat different set has put the Cotswolds on the map. Fans of the BBC sitcom This Country are more likely to associate this part of rural England with the Mucklowe cousins, Kerry and Kurtan, who live in somewhat less exalted circumstances than the former prime minister. Unemployed (mostly), the pair fill their time by dossing about their village and testing the patience of the local vicar. Kerry once saw Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen at the Co-op (“he’s so humble”) but that’s the extent of their contact with celebrity. Brilliantly funny, full of pitch-perfect observations about a class of people often stereotyped, This Country has a big heart to boot. The third and final series starts on Monday evening on BBC One.
Written by and starring brother and sister Daisy May Cooper and Charlie Cooper, This Country owes a lot to two predecessors. The first is The Office, which pioneered the mockumentary format, and Detectorists, which mines the humour of small-town life. (Incidentally, both star Mackenzie Crook, who Charlie Cooper often seems like a younger version of.) This Country is also a family affair: Paul Cooper, the siblings’ dad, plays Kerry’s estranged father. Despite being a Peeping Tom and a criminal, he is the object of Kerry’s unrequited adoration—a theme that runs through the series. Other family members and friends are also involved, giving the whole production a feeling of in-jokes overheard. (Sadly, one of the best minor characters, Michael “Slugs” Slugette, died last year of a brain tumour.)
The show’s opening titles indicate this will be an investigation into “marginalised” young people—BBC-types coming up from London to see how “real” people live. Naturally, the world they encounter—one where the biggest drama is over who gets access to the…