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Spaced: How Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jessica Stevenson, and Edgar Wright Got Their Start

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Cast of Spaced

A young Simon Pegg, actress Jessica Hynes (née Stevenson), and writer/director Edgar Wright met on the set of the 1996 show Asylum, a dark humor sitcom featuring various comedians, and from there began to develop their first project together, alongside Nick Frost (who worked with Pegg on Big Train). In an interview with Simon Brew of Den of Geek, Pegg notes that this debut work was “a reflection of a lot of [his] interests and personality” and went on to have “enormous significance.”

The 1999 sitcom Spaced, developed by Pegg, Stevenson, and Wright, was compiled of fresh, surreal humor and wild visuals that was like nothing audiences had seen before. In his conversation with Den of Geek, Pegg explains that “if you try to appeal to the mainstream, you generally end up appealing to no one.” Spaced certainly leaves the realm of the mainstream behind. Jessica Stevenson, in a discussion with The Guardian, credits some of their creativity to “fierce energy and excitement,” and ultimately, being broke.

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Stevenson also expresses that the “mainstream” never suited her, but projects like Spaced did. Writer Edgar Wright feels similar to the two other creators and tells Tom Nicholson of Esquire that “the show [was] an extension of [them] and how [they] were living at that time in North London.” Spaced follows two 20-somethings, Daisy Steiner and Tim Bisley, who meet by chance and decide to pose as a couple to qualify for flats in London. They acquire a flat in Tufnell Park where they are frequently visited by friends of theirs, including Mike Watt, played by Nick Frost, and Twist Morgan, played by Katy Carmichael. Despite being low-budget and incredibly different from other content on TV, Spaced was this comedy trio’s ticket to success.

Unlike other popular sitcoms such as Friends, Seinfeld, or How I Met Your Mother, Spaced was truthful about the reality of life for two unestablished 20-somethings. The whole premise of the show is Daisy and Tim attempting to make ends meet, put a roof over their heads, and discovering what they want to do with their lives. The relatability of their situation is one of the reasons viewers were drawn to the series, in addition to the show’s quirky humor.

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Another appealing aspect of Spaced is the undeniable chemistry between comedy duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Frost’s only prior acting experience was completely uncredited in the show Big Train, and otherwise had no prior acting experience; when Pegg met him he was a waiter in a restaurant. In an interview with Simon Hattenstone of The Guardian, Pegg says that Frost was “funnier than anyone he knew [in the comedy industry]” and could tell that he was uniquely talented. In the same article, Pegg reveals that he came out of university very “politically correct” while Frost emerged from the opposite side of the spectrum, with a “less pretentious, working-class background.” The balance created something so natural, funny, and authentic, that people just couldn’t get enough of it.

Finally, Spaced found popularity for the importance of its female leads. In other sitcoms, it was easy for female characters to become flat stereotypes, while in Spaced, Daisy and Twist are more complex. This detail is due to Jessica Stevenson’s writing and contribution to the show.

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