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Stath Lets Flats series 3 review: One of the funniest half-hours of TV in a long time

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When Stath Lets Flats first aired on Channel 4 in 2018, it was an anomaly among the comedy landscape. At a time when schedules were dominated by dramedies, thrillers with jokes and one-person shows using laughter to make serious points about identity and mental health (as it largely still is), Jamie Demetriou’s series was a rare thing: an out-and-out comedy. Enjoyment of Stath requires an acceptance of one central idea: that saying things wrong is the funniest thing in the world. Fortunately, the series makes a damn good case for this argument. Even by the sitcom’s already lofty standards, the opening episode of series three is one of the funniest half-hours of TV I’ve seen, every performance utter gold.

As we rejoin the dodgy world of the London rental market (courtesy of Michael & Eagle Lettings), we find Stath (Demetriou) nervously anticipating a major life change. His colleague Carole (Katy Wix) is heavily pregnant after their ill-fated one-night stand and he’s desperate to be a good father, his excitement manifesting by way of singing to strangers’ babies and crying in the back of cars.

But while Stath is entering a new phase, there’s a total s***show going on over at his family business. Series two ended with posh-boy manager Julian running the company into the ground before falling to his death (off an award-ceremony stage, naturally). They’re now in huge amounts of debt and have relocated to Stath’s family home to save costs, meetings taking place on the cramped stairs and in the kitchen while his dad Vassos (Christos Stergioglou) fries fish. It’s a nightmare set-up and one even Carole, with her Apprentice-esque line that “we care so much about bleedin’ houses, we’re working in one”, can’t spin.

The scenario may be ripe comedy fodder, but it’s Demetriou’s densely packed script that elevates the series. There are no wasted moments, every line containing an incorrectly pronounced word or misquoted idiom that left me doing ungainly snorts of laughter. There are a hundred moments that could be referenced here, but particular highlights include a prospective tenant telling Stath that his name is actually Bernard, not “Gurdled” as he’s been pronouncing it, while the letting agent worries about having to meet with “langlords” (landlords) and getting a “park-time” (part-time) job. At this stage, viewers have come to expect these Stath-isms, yet their content is still a genuine surprise every time.

Demetriou has always been the star of Stath Lets Flats, but series three is pushed into new territory by the wealth of material given to the supporting cast. As ever, Natasia Demetriou and Ellie White are hilarious as Stath’s sister Sophie and her best friend (and Stath’s new girlfriend) Katya, while Al Roberts’s desperately awkward Al continues to provide some of the best cringe comedy on the show.

Katy Wix as Carole is a stand-out (Channel 4)
Katy Wix as Carole is a stand-out (Channel 4)

But the highlights of the first episode are Wix and Kiell Smith-Bynoe, stand-outs even among a cast of total comedy heavyweights. Where Carole and Dean once felt like secondary characters at Michael & Eagle, they’re now more fully realised and are given some of the funniest lines in the script. Both actors are masters of the facial expression – no one does unimpressed despair like Smith-Bynoe, his delivery of the line: “You think I’m having a meeting with a fish for jokes?” so good, it’ll be etched in my mind forever. In such a dense script, they eke out every possible laugh and are utterly magnetic.

So no, Stath Lets Flats is not a dramedy or a comedic take on subject matter (although the portrait it paints of the London rental market is depressingly accurate). It’s silly, ludicrous and nonsensical – but a preference for word play and slapstick doesn’t mean the show lacks heart. Its characters may be idiots (every single one of them, no exceptions), but they’re well-meaning, expertly performed and treated with warmth by Demetriou’s script – even when speaking absolute rubbish.

‘Stath Lets Flats’ airs Tuesdays at 10.15pm on Channel 4

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