Over the last few days I’ve been rediscovering Phil Cornwell and John Sessions’ low-fi filmed-on-a-camcorder BBC2 comedy series Stella Street.
I came across the programme when it first aired, thanks to the recommendation of the lead guitarist of my then band. We become friends through a mutual love of Police Squad, which we’d discuss a lot at school, so when he pointed me toward Stella Street, I was likely to enjoy it.
The basic premise, if you haven’t seen it, is that a handful of celebrities have moved into a street in Surbiton, and are adapting to a more sedate pedestrian life. Most of the humour comes from seeing these people - who are mostly Hollywood A-listers - in incongruous mundane situations. The famous people are brought to life by just Cornwell and Sessions, who play most of the incidental characters as well. It’s a brave choice which pays off, though filming the series must have been a time-consuming affair, when you consider how many costume and make-up changes the actors had to endure to make it work; it must have been a frustrating experience.
A friend of mine appeared in the film as the back of the head any of the characters played by the same person talk to, and said it was a masterclass of coming acting; it must have been hard not to laugh when face to face with such excellent impressions that are so close to the real thing, particularly in the case of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who are the series and film highlight.
I’m essentially rambling about the show now because its late and I’m tired, but outside of my incoherent mumblings, it’s genuinely worth looking up when if you have the chance. It’s on YouTube at the moment, so it can’t be missed; until they take it down, that is: spoilsports.