Spaced is a British television situation comedy written by and starring Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson, and directed by Edgar Wright. It is noted for its rapid-fire editing, frequent dropping of pop-culture references, and occasional displays of surrealism. Two series of seven episodes were broadcast in 1999 and 2001 on Channel 4.
Tim Bisley (Pegg) and Daisy Steiner (Stevenson) are two London twenty-somethings who meet by chance in a cafe while both are flat-hunting
. Despite barely knowing each other, they conspire to pose as a young professional couple in order to meet the requisites of an advertisement for a relatively cheap flat in the distinctive building at 23 Meteor Street, Tufnell Park
, which is owned by and also houses the landlady, Marsha Klein (Julia Deakin
). Also in the building is Brian Topp (Mark Heap
), an eccentric conceptual artist
who lives and works on his various pieces in the ground floor flat. Frequent visitors are Tim's best friend, Mike Watt (Nick Frost
) and Daisy's best friend, Twist Morgan (Katy Carmichael
The series largely concerns the colourful and surreal adventures of Tim and Daisy as they navigate through life, decide on what they want to do with their lives, come to terms with affairs of the heart, and try to figure out new and largely unproductive ways of killing time. Tim and Daisy repeatedly stress that they aren't a couple to everyone but Marsha, but despite (or because of) this, romantic tension develops between them, particularly during the second series.
The central comedic conceit of the series is that it portrays the rather ordinary lives of Daisy and Tim using overblown Hollywood blockbuster clichés.
- Tim Bisley (Played by Simon Pegg): Tim, often seen with his skateboard, his chocolate beanie, or his PlayStation controller, is an aspiring comic book artist (the Bisley part of his name is homage to real life comic artist Simon Bisley) amateur skateboarder, and passionate follower of cult fiction in many forms, including video games, science fiction, and especially - at least initially - the original Star Wars trilogy. He is a rather grumpy and short-tempered soul, quick to irritation at the slightest provocation, mostly because his girlfriend, Sarah (played by Anna Wilson-Jones), broke his heart and dumped him after an affair with Tim's friend - Duane Benzie (played by Peter Serafinowicz). He's currently writing and illustrating a graphic novel about an orphaned boy who has been inadvertently transformed into a giant mutant bear by an "oxypheromalkahyde" steroid created by the experiments of the crazed Doktor Mandrake, who now is trying to find this bear so that he can replicate the results. Tim hasn't actually tried selling his work, because he's afraid that people will laugh at both it and him, as shown by flashbacks in-show of an evil-looking man (who is later found to be Damien Knox, editor of Darkstar Comics) laughing at Tim's work. A traumatic incident in his childhood when attempting to cure a fear of dogs merely left him terrified of dogs, lightning and bamboo instead. He initially works as an assistant manager at a comic book shop, "Fantasy Bazaar", alongside its manager/owner, Bilbo Bagshot (played by Bill Bailey). In the second series, he lands his dream job as a graphic artist at Dark Star Comics. Tim consistently demonstrates more of a work ethic than Daisy, although his adverse reaction to Twiglets makes him violent.
- Daisy Steiner (Played by Jessica Hynes): Daisy is an aspiring writer, although she tends to spend most of her time actively avoiding doing any writing - or any other actual work for that matter. Whereas Tim is often grouchy and sour, Daisy is sunny, enthusiastic and cheerful, and at times overwhelmingly so. She can also be aggressive and confrontational at times, as demonstrated when she joined an employment agency only to lose most of the jobs she was assigned through her negative attitudes (including snapping "Fuck you!" to customers when presented with reasonable requests). She considers herself to be quite intellectual, even though she only graduated from Kingston University with a third class degree. She has a tendency to babble in conversation, making social interactions rather more difficult to navigate than they necessarily have to be. She also has a tendency to interfere in other people's problems or lives as a way of avoiding focusing on her work or her own problems. Daisy bestows most of her love in a shockingly high pitch upon her dog Colin, a Miniature Schnauzer, whom she rescues from being put down. Daisy also possesses an innate knack for martial arts, although this is seldom called into use. Her greatest desire was to go to India and see the Taj Mahal, a goal which she accomplished between series one and two after having actually published some articles for a change (her trip was also aided by inheritance money from her deceased aunt).
- Marsha Klein (Played by Julia Deakin): Marsha, the permanently sozzled landlady, is never seen without a lit cigarette in one hand, and a glass of red wine in the other. Once a promising young athlete, she retired from athletics after receiving a leg injury and became a groupie instead, resulting in several marriages that ended bitterly and a teenage daughter, Amber, with whom she is near-constantly arguing. She passionately lusts after Brian, an attraction which stems from a hazy, torrid incident in the past where rent negotiations became somewhat more sensual than usual as a result of Brian's sheer poverty. She's utterly delighted to have new, young friends, which is slightly awkward, as she's the only one who doesn't know that Tim and Daisy aren't actually a couple.
- Brian Topp (Played by Mark Heap): The lodger in the flat below Tim and Daisy's, Brian is a rather bizarre and somewhat angst-ridden and pretentious artist. Quietly spoken and intense, Brian gives the impression of being almost psychotic and sociopathic; in fact, he's just very shy and timid. His main artistic drives are anger, pain, fear and aggression, and his art is, according to him, 'a bit more complex' than watercolours. Both his artistic drives and his social maladjustment can be traced to the death of his childhood pet dog Pom Pom, run over by a truck when playing with Brian (who used to dress him up in period costumes and photograph him). He frequently behaves in a tormented fashion, particularly when Marsha's lusting after him. He is in love with Twist, and embarked on a torrid relationship with her before they broke up towards the end of series two. Despite this, his sexuality is quite complex and frequently alluded to throughout the series, as he seems quite undecided at times. When directly asked if he's gay he replies that he is not, but in a manner that suggests he thinks he ought to be. At the start of the first series, he has a strong dislike of contemporary art, but is quite talented in its use, and by the end of the second series he overcomes his disregard and proudly displays his abstract portrait of Twist in public. The character of Brian was originally written for Julian Barratt, who had previously worked with Wright, Pegg and Stevenson in their previous series Asylum. Barratt was unable to play the role so Mark Heap was cast instead.
- Mike Watt (Played by Nick Frost): Mike is Tim's best friend. He wishes dearly that he could join the British Army, but unfortunately is ineligible owing to the detached retinas he received following a painful childhood accident when jumping from a tree after being egged on by Tim, and as such, must console himself with membership in the Territorial Army instead. The first series revealed that Mike had been thrown out of the TA because he stole a Chieftain tank and tried to invade Paris with it while on weekend manoeuvres in France. At a readmission hearing, it is revealed that Mike's invasion plan failed because he stopped at Euro Disney and was apprehended on Space Mountain. Mike is granted readmission by the end of the first series however, and even advanced to the rank of sergeant during the second series. Mike is very protective of Tim, and subtle suggestions over the course of the series indicate that Mike may have a slight crush on him (evident in such 'subtle' indications as Tim and himself holding hands at the start of some scenes, most obviously in the Paintball episode: their hands are parted by a tree). Despite his military pretensions, Mike is a sweet and caring individual who is deeply hurt by being put aside in favour of Tim's growing relationship with Sophie in series two. The character was based on a recurring joke character between Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (who are best friends outside of the series). When writing Spaced, Pegg included the character and persuaded Edgar Wright to cast Frost.
- Twist Morgan (Played by Katy Carmichael): Twist, Daisy's best friend, is (in the words of Tim) either 'sweet, but stupid, or an evil genius'. She 'works in fashion' (i.e. a dry cleaner) and is an atrociously superficial 'fashion fascist'. She is prone to giving backhanded compliments to Daisy, particularly about her size, weight or clothing choices. It is never mentioned in the series how Daisy and Twist met, though various extras on the DVD boxset state that they met at university. Although she and Brian are social opposites with apparently incompatible fashion sense, they did have an intense love affair, mainly based on sex, which ended badly. It is alluded though that they both still love each other.Tim has said she is like "Cordelia Chase from Buffy The Vampire Slayer".
Style and references
According to Simon Pegg, the series Northern Exposure
and its frequent use of fantasy sequences was "one of the key influences" in the creation of the show. In fact, he and Jessica Hynes pitched the show to LWT
as "a cross between The Simpsons
, The X-Files
and Northern Exposure
References to popular culture — particularly but not exclusively to science fiction and horror films, comic books and video games — abound in Spaced to the extent that the DVD of Series 2 includes the "Homage-o-meter", an alternative set of subtitles listing every reference and homage; for the "Definitive Collectors Edition" DVD boxed set, the Homage-o-meter was added to the first series as well. Providing the artwork for Tim's comic 'The Bear', drawings and doodles were 2000 AD artists Jim Murray and Jason Brashill, who also provided other incidental artwork for the show.
Spaced has a distinctive cinematic style set by director Edgar Wright and shot (unusually for a sitcom) with a single camera. In addition to borrowing liberally from the visual language of film (in particular genre films), it has particular stylistic mannerisms like the recurring device of scene changes occurring in the middle of a pan. The series' atmosphere is also established by the use of a particular flavour of contemporary electronica on its soundtrack.
The series is also noted for its regular references to recreational drug use, from its title onwards. Tim and Daisy smoke marijuana on a number of occasions. The plot of Gone is mostly about cannabis use and consumption of alcohol. In Art, Tim and Mike take speed and some of the episode revolves around that. Also, in Epiphanies, it is implied that all the major characters (Tim, Mike, Daisy, Twist and Brian) take ecstasy while clubbing.
The first series was a nominee for Best TV Sitcom in the 1999 British Comedy Awards
, and the second series was nominated for both a BAFTA
and an International Emmy Award
in 2002. In 2006
came 9th on Channel 4's The Ultimate Sitcom
poll, as voted for by sitcom writers, performers, directors and producers, coming ahead of sitcoms such as The Office
and Father Ted
. In the BBC's 2004 poll Britain's Best Sitcom
, the series managed 66th place.
Spaced Series 1 and 2 were both released on DVD in the UK, followed by a boxset which collects the previously released single-series DVDs and adds a bonus disc with a feature length documentary "Skip to the End" behind the scenes of the show and a music video by Osymyso
Music rights issues long prevented the release of "Spaced" in Region 1 (U.S. and Canada), and despite the raised profile that resulted from Pegg and Wright's movies from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, no DVDs surfaced between 2004 and 2007. In an interview, it was suggested a deal with Anchor Bay Entertainment failed to come to fruition over the music rights.
On May 6th, 2008, Edgar Wright posted to his blog the press release finally announcing "Spaced" for US DVD on July 22, 2008 via distributor BBC Video. It includes an all-new commentary with Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Jessica Hynes and special guests Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Bill Hader, Matt Stone, Patton Oswalt, and Diablo Cody. Other supplemental features include the original commentaries, the "Skip to the End" documentary, outtakes, deleted scenes, and raw footage.
In 2001 a soundtrack of the first series
was released in tandem with the first series on DVD
. A second soundtrack was not released. A remix of "Smash It" by Fuzz Townshend
was featured heavily in series two.
Spaced Out features the full details of the music used in series two at this link
The series 2 finale makes prominent use of the Lemon Jelly track, "The Staunton Lick". Fred Deakin, who is one half of Lemon Jelly, also runs design studio Airside, who produced limited edition Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz t-shirts upon the release of the films.
The Guy Pratt remix of the The A-Team theme music was never made commercially available.
A third and final series has been eagerly requested from fans and considered for some time by the cast and crew (with Simon Pegg joking that it would end with a Blake's 7
style shoot-out) but a rumoured movie is not on the cards. Edgar Wright told the official fan website spaced-out that he is "torn" about making more Spaced
and that "we have genuinely talked about it and have some neat ideas that could work in a Before Sunset
/ Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?
kind of way". Soon after series two had aired on television, the official Spaced website announced that, "despite what certain national newspapers might have said, Series 2 is not the last series of Spaced. There will be a third series of Spaced - we just don't know when.
Many see the movie Shaun of the Dead as a natural extension of the television series because it used the same creative team (having been written by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, directed by Wright, starring Pegg, and featuring Nick Frost in a prominent role and Jessica Hynes as a minor character) and was set out in much the same way. Wright and Pegg have acknowledged that the zombie sequences in the episode 'Art' were a key inspiration. Wright, however, points out the differences: Shaun has fewer pop-culture and movie references, and tries to avoid the clichés of recent horror parodies in favour of a more naturalistic style as its story progresses.
Shaun of the Dead achieved unexpected success, both in the UK and the US, and provided an opportunity to produce a second movie entitled Hot Fuzz, released in the UK on 16 February 2007 and in the US on April 20, 2007. In a 2006 Radio 4 interview, however, Simon Pegg stated that he’d like to bring back Spaced for a one-hour special to "tie up all the loose ends". However, there have been no formal or significant commitments to a third series of Spaced, and no indication of a new series or special being commissioned.
Spaced premiered in the U.S. on Bravo in 2002. Only four episodes were aired. In 2004, the now-defunct Trio began airing the show regularly. BBC America began airing the series on June 23 2006. It currently airs in Canada on Showcase.
While there is little indication that a third series will be produced in the near future, the recent Spaced: Definitive Collector's Edition DVD box set contained a documentary, "Skip to the End", examining the making of the show and its cultural influence. While primarily factual and based around interviews with the cast, crew and outside commentators, this documentary is notable in that it features an in-character 'epilogue' of sorts to the series in which Daisy and Tim briefly appear in the doorway of the flat, holding a baby - a brief conversation establishing that the baby (a female baby Tim wishes to call 'Luke') is theirs and that they are now in a relationship.
During an Australian interview for Hot Fuzz with Sydney magazine The Drum Media, Nick Frost confirmed that Spaced would not be returning for a third series. “It’s dead. I know Simon doesn’t like to disappoint the fans so he says ‘ooooh, maybe…’, but I don’t have any sort of emotional attachment to it so I can just say it’s not happening.”
During a March 2007 interview on a New Zealand radio station, the interviewer asked Simon Pegg if Spaced was "an ongoing production", to which he replied, "No, I think that's done". Furthermore, at the Los Angeles screening of Hot Fuzz, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright both confirmed that the show would not return in any form, as the actors are all now "too old", and they fear it would ruin a good thing. An article published on August 02, 2007 states that the third season of Spaced will not happen.
On 30 October 2007, it was announced that Fox would commission a pilot for an American version of Spaced. Variety reported that it was unclear how Pegg and Wright will be involved, but that they may be advisors to the series; however, Wright later confirmed via his MySpace blog that neither he, Pegg nor Hynes were at any point approached regarding what Edgar infamously termed "McSpaced" (as picked up quickly by fans and internet press who disliked the idea of a remake) and will have no involvement. Wright expressed that he was upset that "they would a) never bother to get in touch but still b) splash my and Simon's names all over the trade announcements and imply that we're involved in the same way Ricky & Steve were with The Office." Wright also expressed anger at the media for overlooking Hynes' role in the creation of Spaced by connecting the series to Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz in news articles. Pegg, Hynes and Wright have complained about a "lack of respect" shown by the US makers who have left them out of discussions.
It was announced in May 2008 that, following a generally negative reaction to the pilot, the American version Spaced would not be commissioned.
On Saturday 10 November 2007 the BFI Southbank (London) hosted a Spaced marathon screening both series in their entirety (broadcast versions). Spaced cast members (Pegg, Frost, Mark Heap, Katy Carmichael, Julia Deakin and even Aida the dog) and Edgar Wright attended the screenings and a special 'Spaced on Stage' event. Hynes and Michael Smiley (Tyres) sent messages for the fans apologising for being unable to attend. It was repeatedly denied that a third series would happen.
However, in a public response to a Deadline Hollywood post, Simon Pegg declared that the makers of Spaced "have never categorically ruled out the possibility of more. Tim, Daisy, Mike, Brian, Twist, Marsha and Colin all have destinies locked in mine and Jess's collective grey matter, who's to say they won't some day be played out.