tue 23/07/2024

This is Jinsy, Sky Atlantic | reviews, news & interviews

This is Jinsy, Sky Atlantic

This is Jinsy, Sky Atlantic

British TV sets a new benchmark for bizarre humour

'This is Jinsy': arbiter Maven (Justin Chubb, left) and operator Sporall (Chris Bran, right) oversee the lives of the island's residents

Excepting the cows, Guernsey’s most famous resident was probably Oliver Reed, who lived there as a tax exile. The barmy This is Jinsy, the creation of Guernsey natives Chris Bran and Justin Chubb, probably isn’t a faithful depiction of the island’s life, but it’s got to be its most notable cultural export. If not that, then its most curious.

Jinsy is an island. Its population is 791. Dotted about the place – in homes, too – are 1067 tessalators, surveillance devices that look like old-fashioned parking meters. The tessalators issue edicts and show TV. Living in numbered chalets, the lives of Jinsy’s residents are overseen by the vain arbiter Maven (Chubb) and his straightman assistant Sporall (Bran). Operating from the Great Tower, Maven and Sporall are instructed by the unseen Great He. Local laws are interpreted by the always dripping wet Trince.

This Is JinsyThis second episode in the new series was a typically bonkers peek into the world of Jinsy. Eric Dunt, a cupboard salesman, convinces Jinsy he’s the Great He, so the islanders start wearing his cupboards (Peter Serafinowicz as Dunt with Justin Chubb, pictured right). But Sporrall is sceptical and, pissed off that his love Soosan Noop has fallen for Dunt's charms, decides to expose the seedy salesman. Along the way, show regulars appear: a couple of seagulls chat gnomically, Joon Boolay administers punishments, Tracee Henge does the weather report and Mrs Goadion gossips while guarding the tower.

In the tradition of every crazy, surreal British comedy of the last 20 years, This is Jinsy out-weirds them all. It’s hellishly funny too. The island’s take on animal testing is not what you’d expect. Early Reeves and Mortimer, Teletubbies, Father Ted, Psychoville, Look Around You, the first zoo-set series of The Mighty Boosh – all are in there. Along with Monty Python and Rutland Weekend Television. And The Prisoner.

This is Jinsy was first seen in March last year as a pilot on BBC Three. A series didn’t follow, even though it was nominated for a comedy Rose d'Or at the Swiss annual international TV festival. Luckily for Bran and Chubb, producer Lucy Lumsden moved from the BBC to Sky and picked it up.

This is Jinsy Catherine TateAlthough writers and stars Bran and Chubb are new to TV, This is Jinsy's director is Matt Lipsey, who helmed Psychoville. The safe pair of hands suggests caution from Sky Atlantic for its first comedy commission. Recognised names are presumably cast to hook viewers in a similarly bet-hedging way. Harry Hill appears each week as Joon Boolay, looking startlingly like a dragged-up Stanley Baxter. A wildly over-the-top David Tennant was in the first episode. Jennifer Saunders is the voice of the tessalators. Simon Callow, Jane Horrocks, Brian Murphy (George of George and Mildred), Nigel Planer, Catherine Tate (seen with Justin Chubb, pictured left) and KT Tunstall crop up later in the series. Look Around You’s Peter Serafinowicz was this week's rogue cupboard salesman.

Watch David Tennant in episode one of This is Jinsy

The caution is understandable as This is Jinsy is, well, weird. Next week, the goings-on at the island’s annual beard competition are revealed. Maven is more concerned with being the cover star of Glove Hygiene Monthly, whose editor, Roopina Crale, is played by a wonderfully off-beam Tate. When they first meet, Maven can't get his glove rituals right, implying he's not as clean as he should be. He ought to be paying attention to the mysterious beard thefts plaguing the island.

Cult is daubed all over This is Jinsy. This is not a criticism. Chubb and Bran’s vision is right now’s furthest-out, making it more than a TV spotters delight. It’s addictive. After each episode, you want to see another. Then you want to see it again to find the bits you’ve missed and work out what that “eh?” moment was really about. But you wouldn’t want to move to Jinsy.

Watch Sky Atlantic's trailer for This is Jinsy

This is Jinsy out-weirds every crazy, surreal British comedy of the last 20 years

Share this article


I absolutely love THIS IS JINSY, it is very reminiscent of Boosh, Python and Father Ted but with refreshing weirdness and distinct lack of dark or twisted humour. It's this light hearted nonsensical humour that sets it apart from darker comedies like Psychoville and The League of Gentleman. Such a shame it had to go to SKY, as it's now my policy never to give Rupert Murdoch a penny of my money I refused to buy the DVD and downloaded the entire series via a torrent. I always purchase great comedies on DVD and fully support British comedy, but in this instance I just couldn't do it.

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters