What is it? 15 Storeys High (2002-2004) is comedian Sean Lock’s sitcom. It ran for two seasons, totaling 12 episodes. It stars Sean Lock and Benedict Wong. It’s based on Sean Lock’s radio show.
Where can I see it? It’s currently on YouTube for free. If you want special features, like commentary, there is a DVD box set in region 2/PAL.
Sometimes, when you think you’ve seen a horse in your neighbor’s 15th storey apartment while you were spying on them through binoculars in the middle of the night because you couldn’t sleep after drinking so much rat-energy drink, it turns out to actually in fact be a horse. You will, naturally, end up knocked unconscious and forced to imitate your neighbor’s ex-wife while he hides the aggressive pony in your flatmate’s bedroom to keep it from the government. This is the sort of everyday absurdity that happens 15 storeys up that the rest of the world is immune to.
But Vince (Sean Lock) likes living on the 15th floor. He can make bicyclists fall over by shouting at them through from his balcony, for one thing. A life guard and swimming instructor at the local in-door pool, Vince is the sort of manly bloke who doesn’t like people touching him, a guy who holds a grudge forever, a guy who avoids idle chat with neighbors at all costs. He probably sounds like a lot of people you know…until you discover his quirks. Vince is also the sort of bloke who has a panic attack if too many people are touching him, re-tells exaggerated stories as if they’re his own anecdotes back to the people who told them to him, will seek revenge on someone just for dialing a wrong number, and sends horrible letters in the mail to people he doesn’t like. Unfortunately, he needs a roommate, and regrets choosing Errol (Benedict Wong) almost immediately after he arrives.
Errol is a nice guy, but as he has 11 siblings, he’s not bothered by human interaction, and simply sitting next to Vince on the sofa causes Vince to sell the sofa and buy two separate chairs. But Errol isn’t without his eccentricities either. He has a habit of peeling off other people’s wallpaper, and he’s immensely gullible. He is influenced by everyone around him, whether it’s Vince telling him to ignore his neighbors, his co-workers telling him to kiss the shark butcher, his neighbor turning him onto Gandhi, or the landlord telling him to pour syrup on the lobby floor so that no one slips and sues the building.
The series includes small asides of other people who live on the 15th floor, usually just silly sketches by comedy actors such as Toby Jones, Michael Smiley, and Peter Serafinowicz (who played Errol in the radio version).
Sean Lock keeps a clever balance between a Bernard Blackesque misanthropy the audience relates to and self-destructive predicaments the audience enjoys watching Vince suffer. Despite Errol’s naivety and Vince’s dickishness, both are likable characters.
Sean Lock is endlessly funny on panel shows, but he doesn’t do a whole lot of acting, so I wasn’t sure how his acting and sitcom writing would be. However, from episode 1, I was smitten with this show!