Nathan Barley DVD

Nathan Barley DVD cover I’ve already written several posts about Nathan Barley (use the search if you want to see what I thought), so I won’t go on too much about the actual programme. But the DVD came out a couple of weeks ago and I have a few more thoughts.

Opinion on Nathan Barley still seems sharply divided. Most seem to hate it, but that might just be because I visit Cook’d and Bomb’d, a Chris Morris “fan” site that actually hates Morris’ guts, and whose visitors go wibble if he isn’t doing his Jeremy Paxman impressions. Nathan Barley led to record-breaking poor viewing figures for Channel 4. I always thought Friday at 10 o’clock (the same slot as Big Brother evictions for goodness’ sake) was a strange place to put a programme like Nathan Barley; a late night weekday slot would surely have been more apt.

Still, a commited few, including me, think that Nathan Barley was actually a brilliant progamme, and the more I watch it the more I like it. But I’ve come to think that the series is a bit unfocussed. The first clue is that the programme is as much about Dan Ashcroft as it is about the eponymous character.

The release of the DVD also gives us a chance to compare it to the original pilot episode, which is a work of genius in comparison with the actual series. It contains a lot of the best bits of the series, like Dan Ashcroft’s haircut and 15peter20’s exhibition — and lots of other funny stuff that didn’t make the actual series. That’s disappointing because some of the actual broadcast episodes can go for ages without there being much in the way of jokes, like the bit when Ashcroft has to attend the nightclub in his Preacher Man gear — a scene that lasts about three times as long as it needs to.

The pilot feels closer to the original Nathan Barley character from the “Cunt” columns in TV Go Home. For instance, in the pilot Nathan Barley acts as though he has money on tap — this doesn’t happen as much in the series itself, but it’s much more obvious in the pilot. Barley also seems like more of a media all-rounder in the pilot. Straight away he’s collaborating with Claire on a documentary project. In the series, though, he’s little more than just an annoying person who shouts into his silly mobile phone.

A lot of the pilot material was re-used for the series, which leads to an error in the episode where Barley gets a Geek Pie haircut. In the actual broadcast episode you see him spit out the dummy at the end of his haircut. I didn’t know what it was all about until I watched the pilot episode, so why was him spitting out the dummy left in the actual programme?

All-in-all, though, I think Nathan Barley is a good programme. There are some great lines and brilliant characters who appear all too briefly, particularly the Channel 7 commissioner. A lot of these sorts of jokes maybe go over most people’s heads though, which might explain the ratings bomb. I’m convinced, for instance, that the anti-drugs singer-songwriter visting the school is a piss-take of Graham Coxon — but how many Friday night Channel 4 viewers even know who Graham Coxon is?

As for the DVD itself, there are some good (but not great) extras — but not a lot. Apart from the pilot, the best one is the booklet that comes with the DVD, which is an amusing spoof of middle class graffiti artist Banksy’s work. I’ve only come across one Easter egg, featuring Barley amusingly trying to explain away his tan line. The menus are quite amusing aswell, with Barley clowning up in public with his mobile phone permanently aloft.

I guess whether or not there is a second series hinges on DVD sales (and whether or not Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris can resolve the creative disagreement they’re apparently having). I’d love for there to be a second series, because I’m sure there’s more to come from this programme, which is severely under-rated in my opinion.


  1. It was in the Sunday Times a couple of weeks ago that there is to be a second series and Ashcroft will be living on Barley’s roof in a caravan after being evicted from his own gaff.

  2. Cook’d and Bomb’d, a Chris Morris “fan” site that actually hates Morris’ guts, and whose visitors go wibble if he isn’t doing his Jeremy Paxman impressions.

    This is a common complaint, but it doesn’t actually have any substance to it! If it did then I doub t Blue Jam, for example, would be held in such high regard.

  3. it’s HILARIOUS. I love it. It gets funnier with each viewing…well what i mean is it’s cut so fast and there are lots of gags in it. I get flashbacks off it. I love it. Please do more

  4. Love Nathan Barley, just gets funnier the more i watch it, fingers crossed the second series will happen

    Any know where the easter eggs are? cant find any.

  5. The only easter egg I know of is in the picture gallery. You need to wait a bit… I can’t remember which picture it is, but at one of the pictures a greeny-yellowy blob appears in the bottom-right corner of the screen. Hit select to hear Nathan Barley trying to explain away his tan line. It’s not that funny, but you can’t win em all.

  6. nathan baley is funny, one of those new funnys that takes a while to kick in.
    it doesn’t beat u into submission with repetition with repetition or smother u in gross out fat suits. it has new targets, man am i feed up with middle class comedy actors pretending to be chavs or working class thicko’s. barley had the balance of invention, story telling and being funny that bbc 3 and channel 4 fail again and again to produce. the dean learner thing is ok but a formulae. barley like python or the goodies could go anywhere

    with titty totty bing bong being recomissioned-WHY!!! and i’m sure miss joselynn being a xmas special , the idiots are in control

  7. At last. Someone else that
    a) agrees NB is actually funny and
    b) that Cooked & Bomb’d were wrong to slate it so much

  8. Barley makes me absolutely wet myself laughing. I think like a lot of Chris Morris stuff it is a parody of the media industry and its ‘cool’ image, the way Barley feels drawn to be involved with supposedly hip people whose opinions he feel matter. I work in the media and so many of the characters, namely Nathan and Jonatton have striking (and very amusing) parallels to the creatives in so many advertising agencies and television facilities houses. The more contact I have with guys like Nathan and Jonatton in real life the funnier the series gets. Barley is a total idiot, but I can’t help but find him rather charming in a short-sighted and childish way, so convinced he is a creative genius, he’d get a job at an agency no probs!

  9. Hidden extras, easter eggs,whatever you want to call them, here’s what I got.
    Most menus on the disc are mini sketches in their own right. Just let them run. Obvious, but you never know.
    The aforementioned blob during the picture montage, again, not so hidden.
    Now, on episode four I think (try one of the other five episodes if I’m wrong, it’s not like you’ve anything better to do), get your remote control out, point it at your DVD machine, and fiddle with the subtitles. You will be rewarded with the abuse and disdain you so richly deserve. Then realise what it said about you on the flyer in the video montage. If you don’t, you’ll have to watch it again, watching out for the word DVD on one of the flyers, it’s talking to you, c***.