A Conversation for Ask h2g2

How is this possible? (Jinsy).

Post 1

Hoovooloo

It's easy to form the opinion that television, and in particular comedy on television, is a "closed shop", with the same usual suspects cropping up on each other's shows. I heard references, years ago, to "the Hat Trick mafia", in reference to a particular production company. The same people keep appearing on our screens, over and over, in different formats, for years. And frankly, if they're talented, fair enough, why not? There's always been something of a production line of these people - many of them privately-educated Oxbridge types, but not all - going from university to Edinburgh-fringe to the BBC and their own show starring just their mates to their own companies and successful tours and books and so on. Careers build from obscurity to ubiquity.

Except...

Except Chris Bran and Justin Chubb. They wrote and starred in a frankly bizarre pilot episode of something called "This is Jinsy" for the BBC, and Sky Atlantic gave them a full series, then another. It's an incredibly brilliant show, surreal, hysterically funny, and more importantly absolutely packed with high-profile stars and guests. The wonderful Alice Lowe, original Ford Prefect Geoffrey McGivern, Harry Hill, Greg Davies and Jennifer Saunders all have regular roles. David Tennant (fresh from Doctor Who), Peter Serafinowicz, Catherine Tate, Kevin Eldon, KT Tunstall, Simon Callow, Jane Horrocks, Stephen Fry, Ben Miller, Katy Brand, Rob Brydon, Stephen Mangan, Debbie Chazen, Derek Jacobi, Olivia Colman - all of these "usual suspects" had guest spots.

The show depicts life on an island ruled by The Great He (Jinsy praise him), an unseen and possibly non-human dictator whose deputy, Arbiter Maven, is a narcissistic idiot who delegates all his actual tasks to his assistant Sporall. The island is covered with 1984-style televisions/surveillance devices called "Tesselators", through which the many bizarre rules required of the island's residents are distributed. Everyone lives in a numbered chalet, there are apparently no children on the island at all, and everyone marries according to a lottery. Nobody on the island seems to be aware of any life or land outside it. If it sounds like a science-fiction dystopia, that's because it is (there's way more - don't even ask how the island's population is managed...) but don't let that put you off. The weird, slightly disturbing atmosphere is part of the genius. Another part is the music, and there's a lot of it, at least one song in every episode, most of them stone-cold classics, some of them literally made me helpless with laughter.

All of this is fine, except... look on IMDb for the creators of this - Justin Chubb and Chris Bran. To all available appearances, they arrived on the mainland from their homes on Guernsey, somehow produced a pilot and two series of this show with their all-star cast, then never did anything again. Neither of them have ANY apparent history in television, and haven't done anything AT ALL since (series 2 ended two and a half years ago). No appearances on chat shows, no appearances on panel shows, no appearances in anything done by or with anyone else, before, during or since Jinsy. I don't understand how this is possible, for two main reasons.

First - who are these people? However good their scripts, how on earth did they manage to attract such a range of stars to a show on a channel hardly anyone watches, when they had absolutely no history whatsoever of working in television?

Second - where did they go? If you look at, say, Richard Ayoade or Noel Fielding, they crop up *all over the place* in television comedy, appearing in things of their own and loads of stuff done by their friends, including but not limited to panel shows and other sitcoms. Chubb and Bran seem to have come down from comedy heaven to earth to deliver Jinsy, then jumped in a comedy starship and gone back to wherever they came from, never at any stage in between so much as standing in range of a camera wielded by someone else.

It's weird.

Does anyone know why this is? And what, if anything, are these geniuses working on now?


How is this possible? (Jinsy).

Post 2

Icy North

For that is the thing that cult shows are made of.


How is this possible? (Jinsy).

Post 3

Hoovooloo

Yes, but no.

Cult shows aren't supposed to work like this. My counter example would be "The Mighty Boosh", or come to that "Vic Reeves Big Night Out". Both of them quirky, odd shows which started as shambolic randomness done to tiny audiences in the backs of pubs, turned into barely-less-shambolic TV shows. Both of them mainly staffed with mates and even relatives of the creators. Both of them then parlayed into a massively successful ongoing career, other shows, panel game appearances, and so on.

Chubb and Bran seem to have sprung onto the scene fully formed and able to command dazzling guest performer rosters and impressively weird (although given modern tech possibly quite cheap) special effects, then parlayed that success into absolutely nothing at all.

It's as though Matt Groening came out of nowhere and produced seasons six and eight of the Simpsons, only with Pixar quality animation, complete with Hollywood star cameos, then stopped and never did anything else - no Futurama, no interviews, no films, nothing. It's baffling.


How is this possible? (Jinsy).

Post 4

Baron Grim

This seems to be unavailable via official formats in teh US. It's not available on region 1 DVD. Maybe I can stream it via HuLu or YouTube.

I'll find out tonight when I get home.


How is this possible? (Jinsy).

Post 5

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

Up until last year, I would have compared Chubb and Bran to Harper Lee, who published "To kill a mockingbird" and then never published anything else. Except that "Go set a watchman" has come out -- granted, it was written *before* Mockingbird, and languished in some file cabinet for decades.

My guess is that Chubb and Bran are working on something else, and it has made no headway yet. Rodgers and Hammerstein tried and failed to turn Shaw's Pygmalion into a musical [Lerner & Loewe then came otu with "My fair lady."] Hiatuses are not uncommon among creative people.


How is this possible? (Jinsy).

Post 6

Hoovooloo

It's not the hiatus that's baffling, it's the *complete* absence of any evidence of almost any creative work of any kind by either of them at all, anywhere, before, during or since - and I can see the Harper Lee connection there - but multiplying the bafflingness by being combined with the ability *from day one* of that creative spurt to attract top drawer talent to star and guest.

I'd love to hear an explanation...


How is this possible? (Jinsy).

Post 7

Baron Grim

Chris Bran does have this one other IMDb credit as director.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3794342/?ref_=nm_flmg_dr_2

Justin Chubb has a few more as writer and production staff. I won't bother linking to his production staff credits as I've worked as a production assistant before and that's basically a gopher.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0476369/?ref_=nm_flmg_wr_2
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4968902/?ref_=nm_flmg_wr_3


These are pretty meager credits. These only show that they did have some previous work and rules out that they didn't invent new names just for "This is Jinsy" to obscure previous larger careers like one might expect. For example, as an American with BBCAmerica, several years ago I might have once wondered about Alan Partidge's previous history and how he got his own TV show.


How is this possible? (Jinsy).

Post 8

Hoovooloo

He was the sports reporter in "On the Hour" and later "The Day Today". That's how he got his own show...


How is this possible? (Jinsy).

Post 9

Gnomon - time to move on

I'm not familiar with this series, but your description makes it sound as if the two writers are well-known comedians writing under pseudonyms.


How is this possible? (Jinsy).

Post 10

psychocandy - Moderation Team Leader

I can't answer the original question, but I did want to thank you for the synopsis. I hadn't heard of the series before, but it sounds brilliant and I've just ordered the DVDs. I'm looking forward to it. smiley - cheers


How is this possible? (Jinsy).

Post 11

coelacanth

I've heard of this, but only through Emma Kennedy's blog, and she's certainly got a long history in comedy and many connections. The writers come from Guernsey, maybe that's why they aren't known.
smiley - bluefish


How is this possible? (Jinsy).

Post 12

Baron Grim

Yeah, I'm really wanting to see it. It sounds like I might enjoy it as well as I enjoyed The League of Gentlemen. That was just so different from any show I had seen previously, wondrously dark humor.

smiley - evilgrin


How is this possible? (Jinsy).

Post 13

Baron Grim

Well, I won't be watching past the pilot episode apparently, as that's the only full episode I can find on YouTube.

I could watch it on Hulu or iTunes, but... No, I won't be doing that. $7.99 with commercials for a week?

Maybe one day Adult Swim will pick it up over here. This seems like the sort of thing that would go over well there. Preferably it will be available on DVD or BluRay because this looks like the sort of show that bares repeat viewing.


How is this possible? (Jinsy).

Post 14

Hoovooloo

Gnomon:
"the two writers are well-known comedians writing under pseudonyms."

That would be an excellent and consistent explanation... if it weren't for the fact that they're also the stars of the show, and they're both quite recognisable throughout.

There are plenty of clips on Youtube, and even some full episodes. Since there's no sense of developing plot at any stage, they could be watched in any order.

I'm just going to leave this here, because I hurt myself laughing at it the first time I saw it. And several subsequent times, come to that:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sikEe7MQN2w


How is this possible? (Jinsy).

Post 15

Sol

Chris Bran seems to have done quite a few music videos, particularly with Radiohead whose weird youtube channel he seems to be connected to, and seems to be linked to this company: http://www.promonews.tv/profiles/black-dog-films-2

He has a website: http://www.chrisbran.com/

There's a Justin Chubb who seems to have written some plays prior to the series (which is , but no idea if it's the same Justin Chubb - that ones seems to have been Cornwall based.

Series sounds fun. Must look it up.


How is this possible? (Jinsy).

Post 16

deb - I'm in love with my soup maker & I don't care who knows it

Maybe just a case of right idea, right place, right time?

Or perhaps there was some obscure "Guernsey's Got Talent" show they took part in. That usually results in overnight sensations with no spadework.

smiley - cheers I'll add my thanks for the synopsis too, I'd never heard of it but I've now added it to my LoveFilm rental list smiley - biggrin

Deb smiley - cheerup


How is this possible? (Jinsy).

Post 17

Hoovooloo

I'm still wondering about this.


How is this possible? (Jinsy).

Post 18

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

Does it take you five years of wondering to get around to posting again in a thread like this?


How is this possible? (Jinsy).

Post 19

Hoovooloo

No, I just rarely post here lately.


How is this possible? (Jinsy).

Post 20

Icy North

Did the programme makers resurface in that time?


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