Earlier this week, Graham Linehan announced that the last ever episode of The IT Crowd will air on C4 later this month (September). Though fans of the programme already knew the sitcom was coming to an end, an actual transmission date of the last time we will see Roy, Jen and Moss in their basement office brought an extra degree of finality to proceedings.
Many comedies are a victim of their own success in the sense that they become almost too big; suddenly aware of what fans like they to the lowest common denominator (Little Britain) or they lose momentum and never re-capture their early potential (The Big Bang Theory). The IT Crowd is a rarity in that its ending has been fast forwarded by the individual success of its two male leads, launching off from the show and into Hollywood. Chris O’Dowd went from the scruffy IT worker Roy, never seen without a t-shirt sporting a ‘Nothing is any good if other people like it’ style slogan, to Rhodes – the handsome male lead in Bridesmaids, one of Hollywood’s biggest comedies in years. Realistically, he was never going to come back and be Roy, telling yet another employee at Reynholm Industries to try “Turn it off and on again” once the US fell for him.
Similarly, Richard Ayoade has moved into films but as director, not actor (we’re deliberately forgetting his role in last year’s The Watch). In 2010 he directed ‘Submarine’, a deft and touching adaptation of Joe Dunthorne’s book which came complete with an Alex Turner soundtrack. Having previously directed music videos for Arctic Monkeys and Vampire Weekend, Ayoade proved to be as good behind the camera as he is in front of it. Further directing roles on US sitcom Community and upcoming Jesse Eisenberg film The Double are proof of why committing long term to a lowly viewed british programme was never really going to pan out.
It would be hard to argue against The IT Crowd as being one of the funniest, and most consistent, British comedies of the past ten years. Like Linehan’s previous hit Father Ted, it has a cartoon-like exuberance and naivety combined with an innate sense of the absurd and a pretty big heart to boot. It would be great to see lots more episodes made, but with the cast all busy on other projects (Katherine Parkinson, Moss and Roy’s foil Jen, recently became a mother) it would be a disservice for them to come back intermittently and phone in a performance while thinking about getting back to Los Angeles.
So for that reason, I am glad to see the back of The IT Crowd. Not because I can’t be bothered with seeing more instances of Moss and Roy downloading an app to teach themselves about football banter or the murky underworld of Street Countdown but because a perfect window of escape has been opened. By exiting gracefully now and neatly tying up all loose ends, the fans will get the fitting end they deserve.