Stath Lets Flats (Photo: Channel 4)

Stath Lets Flats actually is the best thing since life's bread

(Photo: Channel 4)

You can laugh with people but not at them. That's the rule.

Stath Lets Flats arrived on Channel 4 in 2018, complete with an unpronounceable name and worryingly niche plot-line: a wally of a man lets flats for a living, and carnage ensues.

This sort of premise feels bland enough to draw confusion at first glance and also mild concern, especially if you dare take it too seriously. Who is this man that can barely get out a sentence, and what makes him funny? Is it OK to be laughing at somebody this simple?

The answer is a comprehensive yes. You really can't overthink this show - and believe us, Stath definitely wouldn't. 

Stath Lets Flats aims directly at the heart of the humour algorithm. It's not hugely complex (to the clear annoyance of some comedy snobs) but by simply saying exactly what is happening, or what you think, in a different way than would be expected in usual speech - well, that is where the gold is. And with laser precision, Demetriou has fully exploited this recipe and conjured up something that is truly hilarious.

In many ways it follows a similar premise to Peep Show - another linguistic classic and favourite of Quite OK - where the detail in the simplicity is where the true comedy lies. On face value, phrases such as "this isn't usual" should never be funny, and yet when delivered without irony, within a clear context of mundanity and normality, they can be as funny as any curated punchline.

And it's beneath the layer of jumbled-up metaphors and relentlessly out-of-reach words that the comedic perfection displayed by the Demetrious (both Jamie and his sister Natasia) is best demonstrated - as authentic as it is ridiculous. 

The chaotic Stath is softened brilliantly by the ponderous simplicity of Sophie, but at their core they're aligned in their values and keep you rooting for them, regardless of their dippyness. The surrounding cast then provides extra counterbalance to the show's mad and wacky core. Be it the mild and endlessly patient Al; the cool and cutting sanity of Dean; or the semi-normal yet furious try-hardness of Carol - all have a key part to play in bringing a sense of believability to the show.

But they all nail it, ultimately delivering a programme that not only demands further instalments beyond the three series Channel 4 has commissioned to date, but also brilliantly redefines the ingenuity benchmark for new British comedy to come.

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