7 Reasons Spaced Was Brilliant

It spawned Shaun of the Dead and made it OK to fancy Simon Pegg a bit. Here's why Spaced is still fucking ace, 15 years on.
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It spawned Shaun of the Dead and made it OK to fancy Simon Pegg a bit. Here's why Spaced is still fucking ace, 15 years on.

Want to know something that will make you feel old? Well, ignoring the fact your answer to this rhetorical question is likely to be a resounding ‘no’, it’s that Spaced first aired on our screens 15 years ago. Yes, it’s been 15 years since Daisy and Tim’s worlds first collided in the café and we were treated to a lovely montage of them getting to know each other, set to the er… ‘Getting To Know You’.

Spaced is for me, as I’m sure it is for countless others, the ultimate in comfort TV. I watch it when I can’t sleep, when I’m drunk, when I’m hungover, on a come down, when I’m sick - basically it’s been, and continues to be, my TV comfort blanket that, 15 years on, still works. And what better way to celebrate the show’s teenage birthday than to construct a sycophantic list pointing out why it’s great.

It made being a landlady seem like an attractive career path

This seems like a good place to start. Marsha is, in my mind, probably the best character in Spaced. Tim and Daisy’s maroon-haired landlady spent most of her time drunk on red wine, smoked 40+ fags a day, had a wayward daughter who you never saw but could hear, and had a strong, unrequited crush on Brian – the mad artist who lived downstairs. Minus the daughter I feel I have a great affinity with Marsha.

But as well as being predatory alcoholic, Marsha was a kind of tragic heroine. I imagine her in her youth, hanging out with Mick Jagger, before taking too much acid and waking up 20 years later to find she owns a guesthouse in Tufnell Park and has somehow managed to birth a daughter who she refers to as: “the devil in an A-cup!” Living the dream.

The fake gunfight with the ‘youfs’

After a run in in a pub toilet and some confusion over a baggy of weed and one of oregano, Tim and Daisy find themselves in a face-off with a gang of youths. What follows a 60 seconds-long, excellently choreographed fake gun fight, which sees all the boys go down, and Tim fitting on the floor as he bleeds out. It’s one of the moments where you are reminded why Spaced is so fucking great, simply because of their propensity to come up with ideas like this. Indeed, it’s so good that Simon Pegg once joked that if there had been a third series it would have ended in a similar Blake's 7 style shoot-out.

It featured tinfoil-themed housewarming party 

It’s hard throwing a good party. Who to invite, who not to invite; the realisation that the only people who will turn up are the ones you didn’t want to invite in the first place, thus rendering the first two questions pointless. Anyway, it was good to learn that this was a struggle also shared by the characters in Spaced. In the aptly named Gatherings episode, Daisy convinces Tim they should throw a housewarming to celebrate moving into their flat. The soundtrack consists of ‘The Timewarp’, Daisy makes all the decorations out of tinfoil as “a tribute to Christo, the artist” and Mike brings a landmine as a present.

It made it semi-legitimate to fancy Simon Pegg (and Mark Heap aka Brian)

Perhaps they are not the two most likely crushes for teenage girls, and no, they are probably not going to be featured on People Magazine’s Most Beautiful list anytime soon. But I am not ashamed to say that when watching Spaced I somehow manage to fancy both of them. A lot.

When watching the show as a student, I did not have a problem with Tim’s complete lack of motivation, or inability to find full-time employment, or weird hair colour – in fact these things just made me see him as a kindred spirit. And how could you fail to find some appeal in Brian’s angst and faux-creativity, locked away in his dark room and completely infatuated by Twist. Damn it, I even had moments where I wouldn’t have said no to Mike (played by Nick Frost), although how that reflects on me as a person I don’t like to think about too much.

The fashion 

Tim’s cagoules and beanie hats. Daisy’s tattoo chocker necklaces and red leather jacket. The bindi Marsha wears. Mike’s yellow-tinted sunglasses. Jesus, these guys were fashion idols before their time, especially considering everyone’s current penchant for the 90s-revival look. But I think special praise must be saved for Twist, whose taste for neck scarves and furry scrunchies deserves real admiration.

Everything about Tyres O'Flaherty – the Irish bike messenger-cum-resident pill head

From his erratic mood-swings to his very bad dental work, Tyres O’Flaherty is a work of comic genius. He is also responsible for taking the gang to a party in the Epiphanies episode, resulting in what I can only assume is a very accurate representation of the 90s rave scene. Daisy spends most of her time queuing for the cloak room, Mike dons a jester’s hat and white gloves, Brian enquires about who wrote the music and there are shit loads of glow sticks and whistles. Human Traffic this ain’t. Also, going back to Tyres, who doesn’t like a man who can dance to the sound of a ringing telephone, a ticking clock and a boiling kettle?

It spawned Shaun of the Dead

Although the later two films in the ‘Three Flavours Cornetto’ trilogy failed to live up to the initial hype (let’s just not talk about The World’s End too much), it’s important to note that without Spaced, there would never have been Shaun of the Dead, and that would truly have been a tragedy. Because where else would you get to see Bill Nighy as a zombie, or Dylan Moran’s stomach ripped open, or Nick Frost chained up in a shed? Exactly.