Episode 1. "Beginnings"

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"Skip to the end..."

The one where Daisy and Tim pretend to be a professional couple in order to get a flat.


Simon Pegg as Tim Bisley
('Big Train' 'Shaun of the Dead' 'Is it Bill Bailey?' 'Black Books' 'Band of Brothers')

Jessica Stevenson as Daisy Steiner and the voice of Amber
('The Royale Family' 'Shaun of the Dead' 'Six pairs of pants' 'Asylum' 'Bridget Jones: the edge of reason')

Mark Heap as Brian Topp
('Brass Eye' 'The Green Wing' 'Stressed Eric' 'The Calcium Kid')

Nick Frost as Mike Watt
('Shaun of the Dead')

Julia Deakin as Marsha Klein
('I'm Alan Partridge' 'Coronation Street')

James Lance as Richard
('Absolute Power' 'Teachers' 'I'm Alan Partridge' 'Smack the Pony')

Anna Wilson Jones as Sarah
('Inspector Morse' 'As if' 'Monarch of the Glen' 'Hex')

23 Meteor Street

First appearance of...

Tim's comic Daisy's laziness Brian's description of his art Marsha drinking Amber running away from home Smoking weed Drinking far too much tea


Loot magazine BBC TV show 'Eastenders' Visual ref to 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' (Tim's 'mouse-spider' monster) Visual homage to 'The Shining' (As Marsha shows Tim and Daisy around the flat) 'Green Card' Musical homage to 'Thunderbirds' 'Scooby Doo' 'The Evil Dead' (Camera work, see below) 'The Dukes of Hazard' 'Dark Horse Comics' Graphic Artist 'Simon Bisley' Arthur C Clarke's '2001: A Space Odyssey' Hull University 'The X files' 'FHM' magazine 'The King and I' (music, see below) 'Terminator 2' JRR Tolkien's 'The Hobbit'

"...thumping tunes, kicking bass..."

  • 'The weekend starts here' by Fatboy Slim.
  • 'Getting to know you' by Marni Nixon. This music was used in the film 'The King and I'.
  • The drum roll that plays as Daisy and Tim move into Meteor Street is very 'Thunderbirds'.

"...a super race of mice-spiders..."

Tim imagines that Daisy fears a 'super race' of 'mice-spiders', the graphics for the mice-spiders seem to be inspired by the art of the BBC's 'Hitchhikers Guide' TV series. Daisy also has the ability to come up with bullshit on the spot, when a scene opens on her and Tim chatting to Brian she seems to be in the middle of telling a story about escaping from a toilet window in Istanbul after she was forced to watch TV eat green eggs with a load of people; now there's an episode for series 3. Brian's description of his art is one of the highlights of the episode. He does Anger (throwing paint around), pain (painting with his own blood), fear (taking lots of psychedelic drugs before painting) and aggression (smashing a boiled egg with a hammer). At this stage in the series it isn't clear if this is how he really paints or if this is just a slice of pretentious wittering.

And I quote...

Tim: "Wha-you-doin'?" in a high pitched voice.
This was first used on Bill Bailey's TV program that aired once and once only on BBC2 in 1998 (thankfuly a friend of mine had the presence of mind to record the series on to VHS). Why isn't it out on DVD yet!

Daisy: "Do you rent downstairs?"
Brian: "Do you mean 'am I gay'?"
Daisy: "No I meant are you renting the downstairs flat"
Brian: "Err, sort of?"

Brian describes his art: "... processing concept into substance and trying to create a string of independent forms"
Tim: "Like sausages?"
Brian: "I see contemporary art as a dirty plate heaped with worthless junk food and I want something more nourishing."
Tim: "Like sausages?"

Marsha: "Hullooo?"

"What a bitch!"

Tim to Sarah: "You can't dangle the bogus carrot of possible reconciliation in front of me while riding some other donkey."

Tim: "Do you like my comic?"
Daisy: "Yeah, that reminds me, I need to take the rubbish out."

Give that man a BAFTA

The introductory cuts and zooms around the exterior and interior of the house give it a grandiose feeling which turns it into a lind of mystical entity, which of course it has become in the eyes of the series' massive cult following. As Amber runs down the stairs and then out of the flat, the camera makes a very neat movement from the ceiling to the ground, which apparently mimics a sequence from Evil Dead 2. I didn't notice an equivalent shot when I saw 'Evil Dead 2' but then my VHS copy was rubbish. There is a great sequence when Brian nearly uncovers the fact that Tim and Daisy are lying about being a couple in order to get the flat, a clock starts ticking and a violin cuts in while the camera cuts between the 'couple', Brian and Marsha. This is the sort of imaginary camera work and clever use of sound effects that set the series apart from anything else that had come before.

"Do you rent downstairs?"

Daisy has a drunken 1-night stand with a homeless guy. She gives him some spare change for his trouble, some people would call that prostitution. Tim's appears to have a relationship with Gillian Anderson, via a copy of a well-known 'lads-mag'. On the episode commentary Simon Pegg admits that he was very pleased to "...end on a 'wank joke'." Brian is unsure whether he is gay or not until Tim asks him bluntly, apparently he's not gay. Marsha doesn't think it's odd that Tim and Daisy had sex before they kissed (so well-practiced was Tim and Daisy's line on how long they had been together, "... 5 years 8 months 3 days!" , that they tell Marsha the same thing 2 days later. To cover their tracks they say that one of them measures how long they've been together from the time they first kissed while the other measures it from when the first had sex). Marsha seems to accept this at face value - "Happy anniversary!" - she must have strange views of today's youth (young adults).

"Today's youth... okay young adults"

Tim and Daisy laugh when Marsha tells them the spare room would be good for bringing a new life into the world. They abruptly stop laughing at the same time, almost as if they suddenly realise they are actually 25 year olds and not teenagers anymore.

"Ooh Mamma!"

Daisy's first impression of Tim is that he's a drug dealer. Well he does look like one doesn't he? They both smoke what I can only assume is weed while Tim talks about his comic. Despite this level of drugs consumption, Tim notes that 12 teas are his limit. During the series tea seems to be sort of a replacement for weed while in polite company. Marsha puts lots of wine away while they're talking at the end of the episode, this will become a running gag.

"Fuck off Twist!"

Daisy moans about "... fucking psychic house hunters..." while Marsha complains that "It was the fuckin' dog ... bitch." . The DVD commentaries seem to indicate that channel 4 put an upper limit on the level of swearing they were allowed, 2 'fuck's per episode apparently. Tim and Daisy simultaneously think: "Shit!" twice as they nearly let it slip that they aren't really a couple, perhaps there was no limit on the use of 'shit'.

"Timmy: fetch me my tools!"

Oxypheromalkahide is apparently a substance that turns normal people into bears when they reach puberty.

"Get off your arse!"

Daisy and Tim waffle on for a good 30 seconds about how "... we're so busy!" when Marsha asks them if they're working. Daisy claims to be a journalist, which means sleeping over a typewriter, while Tim claims to be a Graphic artist, a job that seems to entail handing out leaflets in a green monster suit outside a comic book store. The slackers in Daisy's squat are quite amusing, in fact it looks like the average student house on a Sunday morning. Director Edgar Wright is playing first slacker the camera cuts to when Daisy moves out. When they bullshit Marsha to get the house they both pretend to be employed.

"Let's play!"

Mike displays his violent streak when he turns up to help Tim move out of Sarah's place in his army surplus gear and then unceremoniously slings Tim's stuff into his van. In one of the series' funniest visual gags, Mike's introduction involves him shooting a cat with an elastic band (sorry if there are any animal welfare people out there).

"How's that for some Fried Gold?"

Brian's description of his artwork (see below) is hilarious, and thankfully repeatd several times in both series. A special 'thumbs-up' needs to go to the direction in the episode, as the camera zooms and pans there are plenty of sound effects like whooshes and disjointed chords; this kind of effect will become standard fare on future episodes and helped to define a 'feeling' that is unmistakeably 'Spaced'. The Scooby Doo gag (in which Tim and Diasy see themselves as Freddie and Daphnie but look like Shaggy and Thelma) works surprisingly well when you consider how much effort had to go into setting it up.

"Hawk the Slayer's rubbish!"

An overt reference to Terminator 2; Tim cried at the end of the film as Arnie's Terminator sacrificed himself for the good of mankind by descending to his death in molten lava. Well it is emotional!

Tim defends the fantasy genre with a scary level of gusto when Daisy bemoans people on the internet talking about symbolism in the X files. I have experienced that level of discussion going into a sci-fi TV series / film (and indeed have occasionally been the instigator of such debates). Now although Tim is clearly over the top in his defence of such debate, people shouldn't be so quick to bemoan discussion of the meanings and subtexts of popular fiction. After all, we all like to moan so much about mass-consumption fiction (i.e. soaps) that people watch and forget, shouldn't we be pleased to see that some people are making drama that others want to discuss and argue about as an intellectual exercise?

Tim's boss (Bill Bailey; who has no speaking part until the fifth episode) is called Bilbo, a blatant reference to the Lord of the Rings.

"...he's just a bit pretentious."

Brian is one of the most pretentious characters ever to appear on television, in fact each of the characters in Spaced is fairly pretentious in his or her own special way. Tim is obsessed by the deeper meaning of trashy science fiction, Daisy is convinced she is a big-name journalist in the making and Brian is, frankly, up his own backside, but in a lovable kind of way. The concept of Brian's art is introduced in the form of a series of cuts between Brian telling Tim and Daisy what he does. After telling Daisy he is an artist she asks him "Ooh, what kind of thing?" , Brian's eyes come over all hazy as he stares into the middle distance, "... Anger..." (throwing paint around as heavy metal music plays) "... pain..." (painting with your own blood) "... fear..." (taking lots of drugs and painting in loud colours while listening to spacey music) "... aggression..." (smashing a soft-boiled egg with a hammer). Kudos to Mark Heap for his excellent portrayal of the insecure failing artist. The expression on Simon Pegg's face after listening to Brian is priceless, he stares in exasperated confusion as Daisy asks Brian: "Watercolours?" , Brian tells her that "It's a bit more complicated than that!"

"Big's in this year"

The feel for the entire series is 'winter'. This is no more obvious than in the clothes that the main characters are wearing. Daisy is never seen out of a massive fluffy jumper and Tim usually sports a beanie hat and jacket, even indoors. This makes them look like students that can't afford heating; or perhaps the truth is that they can afford heating but they would rather spend the money on fags and dope (possibly an oblique reference to 'Withnail and I' running through series 1). Tim wears the same clothes every time he meets Daisy in the cafe while they're flat hunting, now that's classy. In fact it's no surprise that Daisy thinks he's a drug dealer given that outfit and the fact he's hanging out in a cafe all day long. Brian seems to be wearing a fancy dress outfit that makes him look like a cross between Arthur Dent and JR. Tim wears his fantasy bazaar costume (a green-haired bug-eyed monster) while he hands out leaflets. Daisy wears quite a lot of things that make her look like a care bear. Daisy describes Twist as being 'in fashion' although she works in a dry cleaning place.

Finally, a word from your author...

So this is 'Spaced'. A sitcom that defied convention and taught the current generation X that someone actually understood what it meant to be a 20-something in Britain in the late 1990s. This is a series that is so quintessentially 'British' and of the 1990s that I am always surprised to find that it has exported at all to other parts of the world, a series that managed to explore the ennui of being a person stuck between youth and adulthood as well as exploring the difficulty of building relationships in a modern world where pop-culture is just as important as real life.

Spaced is a television series that took the concept of paying homage to a new and scary level, the first episode is so densely packed with oblique and obscure references to popular films, books and music that often the actual plot risks getting bogged down in a mire. Thankfully the writers are cleverer than me, and manage to piece all the references and gags together in a way that seamlessly meshes into the plot. Indeed we become convinced that the characters themselves are so obsessed by popular culture that they can see their own lives through it (this seems especially obvious of Tim and his sci-fi obsession). 'Spaced' a undoubtedly a landmark in British comedy history.

£90 a week for a house that looks like a mansion in central London? I don't think so. Street scenes for the series were filmed in Wood Green while the address of the actual house that served as 23 Meteor street is 23 Carlton Road in Tufnell Park. Mark Heap changed Brian's character during his audition, the writers preferred his version. The original character had been envisaged as a much more pompous and snobbish artist. Heap played the part as a much more fragile character who would eventually endear himself to Tim and Daisy (and the audience) after the initial shock of his weirdness.