Posts tagged “people like us”

People Like Us

People Like Us was a mockumentary that ran on BBC radio in the late 90s before becoming a TV show. The radio shows are hilarious and a great illustration of what can and does go wrong in fieldwork. Each episode is essentially a total War Story.

The shows follow a hapless reporter, Roy Mallard, investigating the lives and work of ordinary people: a bank manager, an artist, a stay-at-home mom, an actor and so on. Things go awry: despite being married (Really? You?) he finds himself awkwardly attracted to an interviewee, only to realize that another interviewee is her bitter ex-boyfriend. He’s a passenger in a recklessly driven car. He’s witness to firings, incompetency, violence, relationship hassles. He trips, drops things, is sneezed upon, breaks a washing machine, and more.

At the same time, his attempts to interview people and get to the heart of what their lives are about are thwarted. If not by circumstances, then by the inarticulateness of his interviewees, or by their sheer misinterpretation of his questions (e.g., Q: You’ve been here for a long time. What kind of things have changed? A: My hair.)

People Like Us manages to be completely absurd yet with an eye-rolling kind of truth that any user researcher (and journalist, I imagine) will identify with.

The radio series has been posted to YouTube and I’m embedding all the episodes as a playlist below. Check ’em out and let me know what you think.

This Week @ Portigal

And the scoopage for this week is as follows:

  • We’re off to Dallas for a couple of days for an in-depth immersion with our new client and their extended, distributed team. What is their business? What are their products? Who are the users? What changes to the product do they plan to make? What do we need to learn? Etc. Plus, there will be barbecue!
  • I’ll be finishing my final column for interactions; due to the editors imminently but not coming out in print until November!
  • I hope we’ll get some more War Stories this week. Do you have one for us?
  • I’m planning out speaking gigs – and potential speaking gigs – through the end of the year and into next year, even. Some fun ones coming up!
  • Ten years gone: In July 2002, we blogged about classic logos, an early Core77 article being published, a nice place to stay in Monterey.
  • What we’re consuming: pizza and ice cream, People Like Us, Diary of a Fire Lookout.


About Steve