Blogs have been buzzing of late with articles marking the 20th anniversary of Friends, which first broadcast on September 22nd 1994. But honestly, it was another show of the 1990s that we’re keener to commemorate, as it turns 15: the Edgar Wright-directed Spaced, penned throughout its two series by stars Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson.
Spaced first appeared on Channel 4 in late September 1999, and disappeared from screens on April 13th 2001 (our online editor’s 21st birthday, which was something of a disappointment). Since the slightly surreal sitcom aired, several of its personnel have gone on to bigger and better things. Here, we take a look at what cast and crew members have gone on to achieve, interspersed with some of our favourite moments from the show’s 14 episodes.
- - -
“What kind of things do you do?” Daisy and Tim meet their new downstairs neighbour, Brian. (From series one, episode one, ‘Beginnings’)
- - -
Director: Edgar Wright
When Spaced first emerged towards the end of 1999, director Edgar Wright was a relative newcomer with a handful of TV shows (including Asylum with Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson) to his name, as well as the rarely seen Poundland-budgeted feature film A Fistful Of Fingers.
Spaced first demonstrated the director’s core traits, which would also inform much of his later work: his use of frantic zooms and rapid-fire edits is a characteristic borrowed from action movies that he generally applies to more mundane circumstances (one of its first uses in his 2004 ‘zomcom’ Shaun Of The Dead, for example, shows little more than Shaun getting ready for work); and his succession of pop culture references cross the spectrum from throwaway comments to substantial parody scenes.
His subsequent directorial work has included Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and The World’s End – but he’s no longer attached to next summer’s Ant-Man. Also a producer of leftfield Brit comedies Sightseers and Attack The Block, eagle eyes might also notice his cameos in Son Of Rambow and The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.
- - -
“You know when you said, ‘It went well,’ well, did you mean, ‘Shite’?” Daisy makes a tit of herself in a job interview. (From series one, episode three, ‘Art’)
- - -
Tim Bisley: Simon Pegg
A big-hearted if underachieving geek, Simon Pegg’s breakthrough as Spaced’s Tim Bisley set a certain tone for his future roles, with Shaun, Paul’s Graeme Willy and The World’s End’s Gary King sharing certain nerdy everyman characteristics. Even the basic joke of Hot Fuzz – a regular bloke cast as some kind of overly serious buddy movie action hero – called on Pegg’s innate dude-next-door qualities.
Okay, so maybe the likes of Run, Fatboy, Run weren’t exactly pushing boundaries, but Pegg has proved to be equally comfortable as Enterprise engineer Scotty in two rebooted Star Trek films, as the voice of Thompson in The Adventures of Tintin, and in two Mission: Impossible films (with a third on the way).
“One of things that Spaced was, was a reaction to the emergence of these 'youth sitcoms' that were trying to be the British version of Friends, and usually were written by people 20 years older than the characters,” said Pegg in an interview with Empire. “I'd say specifically Game On and Babes In The Wood.”
- - -
“All right, what’s your problem?” Tim and Mike have a run-in with a cyclist, before running over the offending treader. (From series two, episode four, ‘Help’)
- - -
Daisy Steiner: Jessica Stevenson
Jessica Stevenson (then Hynes) proved to be the perfect complement to Tim’s character as the wannabe writer who would almost immediately become his housemate of convenience. Co-creator of the show alongside Pegg, Stevenson’s post-Spaced career has featured reunions with Pegg in Shaun Of The Dead and Burke & Hare, further Brit comedies including Bridget Jones, Son Of Rambow and Magicians, and a voice role in Harry Potter.
Other work has included a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance for the Broadway run of The Norman Conquests, plus TV roles in Twenty Twelve, Blandings and Doctor Who – the latter of which will guarantee her a side-line of sci-fi convention signing sessions forever more.
- - -
“I’ve got some f*cking Jaffa Cakes in my coat pocket!” Before which, Tim, Brian and Daisy apply chaos theory to the (first) Star Wars trilogy. (From series one, episode five, ‘Chaos’)
- - -
Mike Watt: Nick Frost
If you’ve started following the Pegg / Frost relationship in recent years and then worked your way back to Spaced, it’s slightly odd to see Frost as he was back then. As Mike Watt, he not only looks distinctively different (a gingery handlebar moustache, big orange-tinted glasses), but his role is a supporting part rather than the main foil to Pegg.
Outside of his work with his old friend Pegg, Frost’s highlights include the lead role in an adaptation of Martin Amis’s Money, dopey dealer Ron in Joe Cornish’s monster comedy Attack The Block and a lead role with Parks and Recreation’s Rashida Jones in Cuban Fury; the idea for which started when a boozed-up Frost e-mailed the concept to his producer.
- - -
“It’s not a bedsit – it’s a flat.” SPLAT. Mike rescues Tim from the nasty Duane Benzie, played by Peter Serafinowicz. Don’t worry, he’ll be fine. (From series one, episode four, ‘Battles’)
- - -
Julia Deakin played Spaced’s perma-boozed landlady Marsha and seems to crop up in all sorts of unlikely places as varied as The Midnight Beast, Doctors and Ben Wheatley’s unorthodox gangs-meets-soap-opera debut Down Terrace, as well as the Cornetto Trilogy alongside the old crew.
Daisy’s best friend Twist was played by Katy Carmichael, whose most recent notable role was in BBC school drama Waterloo Road.
By contrast, raving rider Tyres – or Michael Smiley, as he’s known in real life – barely seems to be away from the big screen: his highlight being a lead as hitman Gal in the cult classic Kill List.
Shy / psychotically intense artist Brian was played by Mark Heap, another ever-present of screens big and small, again seen with most of the Spaced crew as one of The World’s End’s many publicans.
Peter Serafinowicz (later the voice of Phantom Menace’s Darth Maul), prog-rock loving comedian Bill Bailey and Reece Shearsmith of The League Of Gentleman and Psychoville can also be spotted as minor characters.
- - -
Words: Ben Hopkins
You can watch Spaced in full via 4oD on your telly or computer, or smartphone or tablet. Or buy the DVDs. Or just wait for it to be on 4Music again.