The IT Crowd



The IT Crowd is a Channel 4 sitcom written by Graham Linehan (Father Ted, Black Books) and produced by Ash Atalla (The Office). Currently, only one series of six episodes has been produced, but a second series of eight episodes has been commissioned by Channel 4. The show was filmed in front of a live audience at Teddington Studios. The first two episodes were broadcast by Channel 4 on Friday 3 February 2006.

In a first for Channel 4, each episode was available for download via the station's web site for the seven days preceding its initial TV broadcast. Downloads are only available for UK viewers and are supplied in Windows Media Video format. Each download was encoded with DRM restrictions, however there was no DRM on the first two episodes. This caused a minor uproar from the internet fanbase. It was nominated for best sitcom for the 2006 Rose d'Or.

The IT Crowd is set in the offices of Reynholm Industries, a fictitious British corporation in central London. It focuses on the shenanigans of the three-strong IT support team located in a dingy, untidy and unkempt basement - a stark contrast to the shining modern architecture and stunning London views enjoyed by the rest of the organisation.

Moss and Roy, the two technicians, are portrayed as socially inept geeks. Despite the company's utter dependence on their services, they are despised by the rest of the staff. Roy's exasperation is reflected in his support techniques of ignoring the phone in the hope it will stop ringing, and using reel-to-reel tape recordings of stock IT suggestions ("Have you tried turning it off and on again?", "Are you sure it's plugged in?"). Moss's wide and intricate knowledge of all things technical is reflected in his extremely accurate yet utterly indecipherable suggestions, while demonstrating a complete inability to deal with practical problems like extinguishing fires and removing spiders.

Jen, the newest member of the team, is hopelessly non-technical, despite claiming on her CV that she has "a lot of experience with computers". As Denholm, the company boss, is equally tech-illiterate, he's convinced by Jen's interview bluffing and appoints her head of the I.T. department. Her official title is "relationship manager", yet her attempts at bridging the gulf between the technicians and the business generally have the opposite effect, landing Jen in situations just as ludicrous as those of her team-mates.

* Roy - Chris O'Dowd: Roy is a laid back, lazy IT engineer who goes to great lengths to avoid performing his role within the organisation. He constantly eats junk food and has a low regard for his career in technology, despite signs that he is more than capable. He is a big fan of comics and often reads them when he is supposed to be working. He also wears a new geek related t-shirt every episode. Before IT, he held a job as a waiter.
* Maurice or "Moss" - Richard Ayoade: Moss (Age 32) is a typical computer nerd, and displays characteristics typical of both Asperger's Syndrome and stereotypical nerd behavior. The humour in his character is derived from his comments and his intricate and detailed knowledge. He lives with his mother, and does online dating. Both he and Roy feel they never get the credit they deserve in the company.
* Jen - Katherine Parkinson: Jen is a woman who enters the department in episode one as a new starter, placed there seemingly at random by boss Denholm, despite her lack of technical or technology management experience. Her role is that of a relationship manager. She has admitted to a propensity for telling lies in order to further her own goals, as evidenced by her current occupation as a member of the IT support team.
* Denholm Reynholm - Chris Morris: Denholm is a director of Reynholm Industries, and is a parody of modern earnest upper management, always ready with new and often ridiculous initiatives, such as mixed-gender lavatories in the office, stress-busting seminars, and other equally ludicrous ideas, all intended to boost performance in a company he openly boasts as employing attractive people who do very little work and all engage in adulterous relationships. Denholm also happens to be easily distracted, and often pays little attention to the people he happens to be having discussions with.
* Richmond Avenal - Noel Fielding: A rather cheerful goth whose new-found love for Cradle of Filth instigates his downfall from being Denholm's second-in-command. He works in the server room behind the red door all on his own, shunned by the rest of the department.

Guest Appearances:

* Daniel Carey - Oliver Chris: Daniel is the security guard that Jen falls for, but unfortunately her plans for romance go pear-shaped after he needs her help on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
* Rebecca - Hannah Bourne: Rebecca goes on a date with Roy after he puts in a classified ad online which made him sound like a psycho.
* Paul - Danny Wallace: Fired by Denholm from his position as cultural adviser for his choice of gift to the Japanese, but regains his position after a quick hand on the "Profanity Buzzer"
* Bill Crouse - Adam Buxton: Goes on a date with Jen and after being told by Moss that she'd subsequently died, told the entire office that he was the last person to sleep with her. Nicknamed, "The News," because of his propensity to announce those who he has slept with.
* Dr. Julian Holmes - Toby Longworth: A stress expert who visits the company to give a presentation, and ends up very stressed himself due to Roy and Moss.
* Dr. Mendall - Frances Barber: The company psychiatrist who has a crush on Moss, and the feeling is mutual. Roy claims that she looks exactly like his mother.
* Judy - Cheryl Fergison: A horribly ugly woman that Roy gets entangled with. Roy claims she has hair on her eyes and three rows of teeth.

Episode 1 - Yesterday's Jam

The technically challenged boss is fooled by Jen's techno-bluffing, and appoints Jen as the manager of the IT support office, where she demonstrates her complete lack of knowledge in technical matters. Roy and Moss want to get rid of her, as neither likes having to report to a higher ranking employee, also feeling that she is undeserving of her position, each having thought that he was in charge, and while Jen also dislikes her position due to being positioned in the company's basement, Roy and Moss eventually accept her presence.

Episode 2 - Calamity Jen

The three protagonists are summoned to a company wide meeting with Denholm, "I bet he declares war on something" Moss adds forebodingly. Denholm inevitably "declares war" on stress. Moss and Roy attend a seminar on stress while Jen buys a pair of shoes she falls in love with, but which are two sizes too small, causing plenty of stress in the basement. A fire breaks out after a soldering iron is used, causing many problems. This episode also contains the infamous 0118 999 881 999 119 7253 advertisement, which states that the 20-digit number is to replace the UK emergency phone number 999, the service itself having been upgraded with 'better looking drivers'.

Episode 3 - Fifty-Fifty

Jen impresses the security guard Daniel by correctly answering some of his musical questions. However, things go horribly wrong when Daniel realises that Jen was just guessing and he loses as a contestant on the television game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? when he uses Jen as his friend to phone, in order to answer a fifty-fifty question. Roy is convinced that all women are drawn only to bad guys, and never to gentlemen. Roy and Moss therefore invent a dangerous persona in an attempt to solicit people on an online dating site and to win a bet with Jen. This episode stars Graham Linehan as a Mexican singer and Chris Tarrant as himself.

Episode 4 - The Red Door

While Roy becomes stuck under a desk with Moss attempting to rescue him, Jen investigates the strange red door in the basement, leading to her discovery of Richmond, a lonely goth. Jen discovers Richmond's fall from grace through a series of flashbacks and tries to help him, while Roy tries not to become a "desk rabbit".

Episode 5 - The Haunting of Bill Crouse

Moss tells an extraordinary lie to help Jen escape the attention of Bill Crouse - he tells him that she is dead. Everyone at the office gathers for a memorial for Jen, where Denholm invites his friend Elton John (or is it?), and Bill starts telling everyone that he was the last person to sleep with Jen. Meanwhile, Roy is trying to escape the attention of a woman of his own. While trying to get acquainted with Julie on the fifth floor, he mistakes her for Judy, the horrible looking office cleaner, whom becomes very smitten with Roy.

Episode 6 - Aunt Irma Visits

Jen's menstrual cycle, nicknamed Aunt Irma, has unexpected consequences for the office, with her colleagues all directly suffering from the associated effects. Roy, Moss, and even Richmond says he's gloomy, rather than cheerful as he would normally describe himself as. Furthermore, Moss has sent an email to all he knows in the IT community, inciting "Aunt Irma" riots and disturbances throughout the world, for instance in Tokyo (a dog was frightened) and Hamburg (a bus was shouted at). The website "Ladyproblems.com" is devoted to them, bearing an image of their faces superimposed on old ladies. The only cure is to have a big girly night out with scented candles, and watching the movie Steel Magnolias. However they then all go to the company's "Thank-You" party, get incredibly drunk and wake up screaming in bed with various people.

The domain www.ladyproblems.com was registered by series producers Freemantle on 24 August 2005, but is currently not in use.

Despite its deliberate traditional sitcom format, the density of the show's geek cultural references quite possibly exceeds anything previously seen on TV. While clearly exaggerated for effect, many of the iconic props and dressings are commonly found in IT departments:

* The Slashdot and Boing Boing websites appear on Roy's monitor.
* A Flying spaghetti monster poster can be seen on the basement wall.
* Endless old computers, including a Pet, ZX81, BBC Micro and Mac Plus are strewn around the basement.
* Posters for retro computer games Elite, Underwurlde and Alien 8.
* Posters of old 8-bit computers, including the Atari 8-bit family and the Commodore 64.
* Great Quantities of Atari 2600 cartridges.
* Boxed versions of discontinued PC software - Xara Studio; Starship Titanic; The Lost Treasures of Infocom.
* Walls and desks are covered with Indie comics swag, including plastic action figures and posters of Jim Woodring's Frank and Pulque, Jimmy Corrigan, Daniel Clowes's Eightball, and others.
* A poster of Matthew Gast's 802.11 Protocol Map
* The office is plastered with EFF stickers, including 'Mp3 is not a Crime' and 'Fair Use has a posse'.
* A menagerie of O'Reilly Media animals - including the Perl camel and a moth mug - occupy the office.
* Warning/information signs are used decoratively - 'Emergency Exit' on Moss's desk; a WIFI hotspot; 'Beware of the bull'.
* The title sequence animation includes a Judge Dredd poster and a Linux kernel version 2.6.11 panicking during a Fedora Core 4 installation on Moss's PC (frequently mistaken for a Windows blue screen of death).
* Artwork includes Kozyndan's 'Uprisings' - a tribute to Japanese artist Hokusai's The Great Wave.
* There is a poster for the book The Monkey on the wall.
* A lava lamp appears atop the filing cabinet; shelves display a Rubik's Cube, Clock and the GSR game 'Open Secrets'.
* Roy has worn t-shirts showing "RTFM", an alien from Space Invaders, the Flash's lightning bolt, the 256th level of Pac-Man, Guided By Voices, and the number 42 (one of many Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy references that appear in the show).
* A poster saying Open Source, written in what seems to be Google's livery can been seen behind Roy's desk.
* Roy's bedroom include several references to comics as well. They include an action figure from the manga series Ghost in the Shell.
* The slideshow at the end of "Yesterday's Jam" is a stock iPhoto slideshow, using the notorious Ken Burns effect and even playing the supplied stock music, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, in the background
* A poster for the Boards of Canada album The Campfire Headphase.
* Moss can be seen playing F.E.A.R. on his computer.
* At the start of one episode Roy is singing the line "We don't need no education" (from the Pink Floyd song Another Brick in the Wall). Moss corrects him "Yes you do, you just used a double negative!"
* A NES can be seen on the shelf behind Moss' desk.
* TokyoPlastic poster on the wall.
* Through all episodes, a lot of Designer toys can be seen on the shelves in the background of the office; e.g. Pip + Norton or Eddy Table by Dave Cooper (both published by Critterbox)

Like the physical props, the dialogue (both technical and cultural) contains authentic references. Any technobabble is likely to be an in-joke for geek viewers, and most episodes contain both film and music references:

* Cradle of Filth, as mentioned in episode 4 (The Red Door), do exist, however 'Coffin Fodder' as mentioned during the funeral scene, is not track four on any of their albums, but actually track nine of Nymphetamine. Furthermore, the band are referred to by Richmond as a darkwave band, which is incorrect. Their actual genre has come into dispute however.
* In episode 1, Roy tells Reynholm that his computer has a new voice-activated interface. Reynholm goes on to say "Hello computer!" to the screen, then into the mouse in the same manner as Scotty in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
* The title of episode 5, "The Haunting of Bill Crouse" is a reference to The Haunting of Hill House.
* At the end of 'The Haunting of Bill Crouse', Judy points and screams at Roy in a direct reference to the final shot of Philip Kaufman's 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers
* The title sequence music by The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon draws heavily from Gary Numan's Are 'Friends' Electric? and "Everyday I Die".
* During the first episode, Moss is heard having a telephone conversation explaining the dangers of unloading driver code in a preemptive kernel. The dialogue is very similar to a passage in a blog entry by Windows programmer Mark Russinovich, then referring to First4Internet's XCP copy protection software.

Another cultural reference occurs in Episode 2, with a clip relating to the new emergency phone number for Britain. The commercial states it has been changed from the normal 999 to 01189998819991197253 (sung as "Oh-one-one-eight-nine-nine-nine Eight-eight-one-nine-nine, nine-one-ONE-nine-seven-two-fi~ve. Three"). Moss suggests the reason for this is that people are constantly mixing the number up with the American 9-1-1, as Roy does seconds later when he tries to downplay the changes. This joke is a reference at the recent change of Directory Enquiries from 192 to various 118 xxx numbers.

Episode 6 contains a reference to Carrie. When Jen tries to tell the guys what her problem is, Roy tells Moss to think of the first scene of the movie. In the same episode, Roy compares Moss going to a female therapist to that of Tony Soprano seeing Dr. Melfi in The Sopranos.

Many British Retailers, including Play.com and Amazon.co.uk are listing the Series 1 DVD with a release date of November 13th, 2006.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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