JACK’S RURAL HELL
A city couple’s dream move to the country turns into a nightmare in Jack Dee’s new sitcom – inspired by his own failed spell in the sticks
When Steve and his wife Nicky swap their home in the city for a pretty proper ty in the Yorkshire Dales, they believe it will herald a bright new chapter in their lives. Sadly, that’s not the case, as we discover in Jack Dee’s hilarious new ITV sitcom Bad Move, which demonstrates in excruciating detail how a dream house swap can quickly turn into a nightmare.
‘They discover that they can’t get the internet to work at the new property because the house is in a dip, which is disastrous as my character Steve works from home,’ says Jack, who created the series with Pete Sinclair.
‘ Then their pop star neighbour Grizzo keeps them awake at night by playing his latest album very loudly through giant speakers set up on his lawn. And the village store, run by the formidable Shannon, proves to be a strange and unwelcoming place. It sells repackaged food, such as dehydrated chicken soup, which was intended for the military and doesn’t taste very nice.’
Even Steve and Nicky’s fellow villagers in Garthdale don’t offer any solace. Some believe in paying in kind for work, which is no help to Nicky who’s trying to launch a gardening business. When she mows an elderly lady’s huge lawn, she’s offered a cake instead of cash. Throw in the couple’s irritating neighbours Matt and Meena, plus Nicky’s interfering father Ken, and you have the potential for rural hell.
The six-part Bad Move, which was shot on location in Yorkshire, was partly inspired by Jack’s own mixed experience of moving to the country. ‘My wife and I bought a house in Sussex and it proved to be too quiet and too remote, too isolating as a way of life,’ Jack explains. ‘And the garden in the morning was carnage! There was a peregrine falcon living nearby and it was a prolific killer, leaving carcasses everywhere. I’d see more live birds near where I lived on Wandsworth Common than I did in that garden.
‘Fortunately, we hadn’t completely dismantled our city life, we hadn’t sold the house in London and we hadn’t moved the kids out of school so we just came back to the city. It wasn’t all bad though. We had four good summers at our cottage before we sold up.’
Jack remained excited enough by the concept of rural living to keep watching TV shows on the subject. He and his wife Jane became big fans of BBC1’s Escape To The Country, almost to the point of obsession, and that show too became an inspiration for Bad Move. ‘When we started to watch episodes back to back, I noticed a pattern emerg-
ing. Like Steve and Nicky, many of the couples were on their second marriages and trying to re-invent their lives. Frustratingly you’d never really see the end of their stories on Escape To The Country. You never heard, “John and Janet bought the cottage and it was a total disaster” which is just as likely an outcome as any other.
‘Bad Move is that ending, it’s that total disaster, or at least it could be. Let’s see if Steve and Nicky adapt to country living or remain as frustrated by it as they are in the first episode.
‘But they have no choice but to try and make a go of it, thanks to unscrupulous estate agents, architects and builders squeezing money out of them. At the very least, they’re going to have to grin and bear it.’
(Miles Jupp) The Rawlings’ smug neighbour, his house has a better internet connection and he soon gets on their nerves. MEENA (Manjinder Virk) Matt’s wife makes her own yoghurt and manages to get the local store to sell her daughter’s badly made pots. GRIZZO (Seann Walsh) A flamboyant pop star who owns a traction engine, a quad bike, a helicopter and a peacock called Elton. STEVE (Jack Dee) The graphic designer on his second marriage is keen to embrace country life but is frustrated at every turn.
(Kerry Godliman) Steve’s wife, a gardener, is on her second marriage too and fears the move may not be such a good idea.