In my experience there are two kinds of fan of the sitcom The IT Crowd: the ones who have come late to the party that is…erm, writer and director Graham Linehan, drawn in through the huge mainstream success it’s had, and those who have previously seen his less geek-friendly works like Father Ted and Big Train. Being in the latter camp I have always thoroughly enjoyed Linehan’s programmes (me and my girlfriend first got to talking over our shared love of Black Books, so there is that I suppose) but The IT Crowd is definitely my favourite of Linehan’s programmes.
But it isn’t just the world he’s created here; it’s not just the comedic performance he gets out of three very talented actors (plus Matt Berry), and it certainly isn’t just that he’s helped Geeks to be cool – or at the very least, vaguely recognisable as human – it’s that there are so many little touches within the four-series-and-a-special that make you realise how much he gave of himself to make it all happen.
Let’s start with the set: painstakingly constructed from the nerdiest of nerd artefacts which the crew could get their hands on, and with so many little easter eggs for the repeat viewer to see, and be amused, and look up online if they want to know more about – the ancient but powerful computers littering the shelves, the many posters depicting bands and memes, even the t-shirts Roy wears; I can’t have been the only one demanding to know who supplied Roy’s “Music I like/Music I used to like/Music you like” Venn diagram t-shirt.
Then there’s the way in which the programme references all kinds of other stuff to further plots, jokes and character development. Our heroes have all been seen (or heard) on Dragon’s Den, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and, my personal favourite, Countdown! The picture which hangs on the wall of the 8+ Club depicting the late Richard Whiteley was as amusing as it was deeply respectful; wearing one’s influences on their sleeve in such a way as to acknowledge what got them to that point is a huge thing for me.
And it’s not just the stuff the characters are seeing and doing which shows off the influences; Graham Linehan has spoken often of his love for Seinfeld, which I definitely saw a tip of the hat to during Roy’s speech about how…some of the things they’re done before…are a bit weird aren’t they? Like that time he pretended to be in a wheelchair…and went to Manchester on a bus. This self-referential tone to previous episodes definitely had a touch of that final episode about it. Except I thought this one was funnier.
So, the main reasons I loved The IT Crowd, aside from being some of the funniest comedy I’ve ever seen? The easter eggs, the inward and outward references, and the general sense of self-reflexivity? That’s one geeky sitcom! It will be missed.