Jeffrey 'Jeff' Murdock is a character in the TV series Coupling. He is played by Richard Coyle in the first three series. (In the Series Four episode "Nine And A Half Months", where he appeared in one of Steve's dream sequences as "Jeffina", "he" is played by Samantha Spiro.)
Jeff provides most of the one-liners and comedy dialogues in the series, often coming out with naively insightful observations and insane social theories. Despite his over-the-top advice to others, Jeff himself is unlucky in love, and he rarely finds an opportunity to put his great insight to practical use.
In the short-lived American version of Coupling, Jeff's surname was changed to Clancy.
Jeff is perhaps the most innocent and well-meaning character in the series, though his bizarre behaviour and conversation topics mean he often comes across as very weird to strangers. He gets incredibly excited about anything remotely seedy or sexual to do with women, and in particular lesbians
, and often excitedly describes his fantasies to Steve and Patrick in the bar. This is the main reason for his lack of romantic success as he is constantly nervous around women he is attracted to, often panicking and telling them ridiculous lies (such as his having a false leg
) or paying them bizarre compliments ("you look so good you should be embalmed" - though not immediately).
Jeff is very aware of situations and behaviour both in relationships in everyday life and has given names to many of them. He also has a very fond obsession with several actresses, including Helen Mirren (who according to Jeff, is a guarantee of screen nudity during movies), and Jenny Agutter, a particular favourite. Additionally, he has eight thousand different words for breasts (and counting) and has made a list of all the problems in his life in rank order, number 1 being a bathroom door without a lock and number 27 being trapped dental floss.
Considering that Jeff celebrated his 30th birthday (in the second series episode "Naked") in 2001
(the year the episode aired), Jeff's birth would have occurred around 1971
. Jeff speaks with a strong Welsh accent, suggesting he was either born or spent much of his early life in Wales
, though in the 'Jeffina' scene Steve recognises Jeff has taken the form of their fourth year Maths teacher, meaning they were at secondary school together, presumably in England
, so Jeff has been in England at least since that age.
As a child he had a huge crush on Britt Ekland and would watch television all day in hope of seeing her get naked, even becoming aroused every time it was switched on (even if the programme on was something innocuous and non sexual like Doctor Who). One day he 'lost control' during Songs of Praise and wrote off the TV by sexually assaulting it. He was somewhat traumatised by the behaviour of his mother, who made sculptures of erections and placed them all around the house, keeping the ones that went wrong in a box under Jeff's bed, or threatening to emasculate him with a miniature guillotine if he kissed a woman. Even as an adult he frequently recalls her disappointed cry of "Oh, Jeffrey!".
His problems with women began at school, where he tried to make his eyes steam up to replicate the screen effect during love scenes in Star Trek when talking to girls, causing them to nickname him 'Scary Jeff'. His first major crush was Jenny Terbett, who gave him her number on their last day of school, only for him to ring her up and find her in the middle of sex with her ex, Barry 'The Bastard', and for the phone to be used as an aid.
Jeff first met Steve in secondary school, and have been friends ever since. Jeff met Susan at work, where Jeff is an accountant. They also attempted to hook up, but failed when Jeff suffered a panic attack due to being so nervous about having sex with her. Through Jeff, Steve and Susan meet and eventually enter a relationship.
During the course of the show, Jeff has several (usually unsuccessful) romantic encounters with women. In the first series he tries in the bar to chat up a beautiful Israeli
girl who is on holiday in London
, though neither speak a word of each other's language. He believes her name to be 'Shadayim' which is in fact Hebrew
for 'breasts'. She says she will be back to take him back to her apartment in five minutes, though he thinks she is saying goodbye and when she returns he is busy with his friends and she thinks he has forgotten her. He is later arrested for running round the airport in the El Al
terminal, shouting her 'name'.
In the second series he meets a woman named Chrissy on a train, and his nerves cause him to tell her he has a wooden leg; she takes pity on him as her brother also has a prosthetic leg and agrees to go out with him. However, he is unable to have sex with her as he cannot remove his trousers to reveal both his legs are real, causing him to assault and swear at his leg. Towards the end of the series he meets Julia, who is the new head of department at the office where he works and shares Jeff's inability to have a reasonable conversation with a member of the opposite sex. They date until the end of the third series, when her ex, Joe, returns from the army believing Julia to still be his girlfriend. He finds Julia handcuffed to the bedposts and attacks Jeff. Julia and Joe then leave to discover their feelings together, in Bolton.
During the third series, Wilma Lettings, a woman from his office (possibly the 'little redhead' he mentions in the first series) attempts to tempt him away from Julia with an offer of 'unconditional sex'. Jeff tells her his girlfriend is called Mary and has recently died. Wilma goes to Jeff's flat to use the toilet, and notices a woman (Julia) asleep in bed and leaves in shock, believing that Jeff is still using his dead girlfriend for sex, this assumption is aided by Jeff not being aware that Julia is there and him saying incriminating things like "I'm finding it hard to let go of her" (referring to Julia his supposed ex)" Wilma is disgusted and is leaving in shock when she hears Julia cough; realizing Jeff had lied to her, she storms off.
In the opening episode of the fourth series, Steve is on the phone to Jeff, who is on an aeroplane travelling to Lesbos, which he thinks is populated entirely by lesbians. Though Richard Coyle does not appear in the final series, one last scene of the character is given in the final episode, where Steve falls asleep in the hospital awaiting the birth of his and Susan's first child, and dreams that Jeff has returned from Lesbos as a woman named 'Jeffina' (played by Samantha Spiro). Jeffina seems very pleased about having breasts to call his own and considers lactating to be 'convenience snacking on a whole new level'.
Throughout the series, Jeff describes a number of formalised social concepts to which he has given some thought.
is the period when a relationship is ending but not yet completely over, during which Jeff argues that both parties are still entitled to all the sexual perks. In the first episode of the first series, Jeff hails Steve as the new king of The Zone for arranging a date with Susan whilst having sex with his then-girlfriend Jane.
is somebody that you have a relationship with who you can not get rid of. The term unflushable
is used by Jeff to describe Jane, as Steve has tried breaking up with her four times and has not succeeded yet. Also Jeff calls Patrick an unflushable when he first meets him, because he just got dumped by Susan and is still hanging around.
The concept of porn buddies
is introduced in the episode "Flushed" and is one of the first indications that we are dealing with a man whose perspective on life is not only different, but often externally verbalised.
While at work, Susan asks if Jeff knows Steve well, and Jeff says that they are porn buddies. Porn buddies are very close friends who have promised each other that in the event of the other's sudden death, the survivor ("... upset though they may be...") will rush over to the deceased's home and remove all of their pornography before parents or other loved ones can find it. The survivor, of course, will get to keep the porn he has retrieved. ("Your best friend's dead, but there's a bright side to it!")
The concept of porn buddies has been credited by writer Brad Meltzer as the initial inspiration for his Green Arrow storyline The Archer's Quest.
The Giggle Loop
The giggle loop
is the increasing urge to laugh during a moment of solemnity or silence. Jeff's standard illustration of the giggle loop is that of stacking pint glasses in a tower; each pint representing one iteration of the loop, and the eventual fall and costly breakage representing the giggler's credibility."To know about the giggle loop, is to become part of
the giggle loop."
The Nudity Buffer
The nudity buffer
is a term that describes the time span between seeing an attractive woman and imagining her naked. After this buffer has elapsed Jeff - and, he supposes, men in general - find it impossible to interact with said woman because they are imagining her naked in the meantime. Jeff specifically "destroyed a water cooler" after attempting to converse with a women after the nudity buffer had expired.
The Sock Gap
The sock gap
refers to the finite window in which socks can be safely removed during foreplay without jeopardising one's chance of obtaining penetrative sex. Jeff's advice is that socks should be removed after shoes but before trousers. "Miss it, and suddenly you’re a naked man in socks. No self respecting woman would ever let a naked man in socks do the squelchy
is mentioned in the episode Her Best Friend's Bottom
. He is a mysterious figure who, according to Jeff, "lived in the attic and had secret meetings with my mother". He is equipped with a special "helmet of truth detection" that can process what someone says and extract what they are really saying, i.e., the sub-textual message.
During Jeff's youth, his mother apparently told him that whenever he told a lie, the captain would know this, and sneak into Jeff's room at night to remove a segment from his penis. During this episode, there is an extended sequence in which the helmet is indicated to be translating what each character is saying.
The Prickles, the Blurts and the Headlaugh
These are the sequential behaviours of people obviously telling a lie: nervous facial tingling and blushing, speaking too quickly, culminating in an exaggerated and fake laugh. During Jeff's explanation of this, the audience sees the sequence of events happening to Sally while she insists that nothing is the matter.
The Melty Man
The Melty Man
is the "arch-enemy of trouser confidence", causing men to lose their erections when they are in bed with a woman, by making them think too much about what they are doing and if they are doing it right. Jeff describes him in The Melty Man Cometh
as "The arch enemy of trouser confidence, Professor Moriarty
in groin form, Darth Vader
... without the helmet."
According to Jeff and Steve who, uniquely, agrees with Jeff about this character, you can't say his name, or even think about him, without him coming to "do his evil work inside your terrified pants".
The Sentence Of Death
As the one-year anniversary of Steve and Susan's first date approaches, Jeff prepares Steve for the worst, the five words: "Where is this relationship going."
N.A.T. stands for Nose Avoidance Tilting
and refers to the slight tilting of the head two people may unconsciously perform while standing opposite each other when there is an attraction between them, as if preparing for a kiss. This seems to be the only concept of Jeff's that Steve understands, as evidenced by the fact that Steve answers Patrick instead of Jeff. N.A.T., brought up by Jeff in the episode Naked
, is a sure sign that someone's interested in you, yet Jeff finds himself unable to act on the hint when he experiences it with Julia in that episode.
V.A.A. stands for Visual Access Angle
and applies to women's skirts. It refers to the location in a room or area where there is a clear view up the woman's skirt. "All you have to do is tilt your head, change seats, or accidentally fall on the floor, and there is a clear line of sight between you and intimate sighting number one" - that is, the woman's underwear or genitalia.
(also referred to as liquid porn
and edible porn
) is a product that currently only exist in Jeff's mind, it is the jelly (Jell-O
in the US) that is left over at the end of a woman's jelly wrestling contest, except in bottled form. Jeff believes it's a missed opportunity to simply throw the jelly away, and that it could instead be bottled and sold, claiming that "the human race's two most favourite things meet at last... in dessert form!"
With heterosexual pornography, Jeff argues that there's always the possibility of eye slippage
. When you are reaching the climax during masturbation
and your eye accidentally slips from the woman to the man, it could cause a lower whiplash effect (which is why Steve states that he is "against blokes in porn").
- 'I can't turn off the naked people!'
- 'Women remember, Steve. It's like they've got minds of their own.'
- 'Oh, wouldn’t that be great...being a lesbian. All the advantages of being a man, but with less embarrassing genitals.'
- 'I've got the key to the gates of paradise, but I've got too many legs.'
- 'All of us in our time are visited by the Melty Man. Don’t say his name, Patrick. Don’t even think his name, or he will rise from the shadow dimensions to do his evil work inside your terrified pants.'
- 'Trust me, lower whiplash is NOT an injury you want to have to explain while you're being stretchered out through your mother's coffee morning.'
- 'I like to play a game of girlfriend. "Hello Jeffrey you're home at last, go and tidy your room."'