Jamie Demetriou is very, very relieved to hear that the first episode of the new series of his triple-BAFTA-winning sitcom Stath Lets Flats is actually really good. He’s still in the edit when VICE talks to him, and he says it’s “the most all-consuming thing I've ever done”.
“It's been a very, very, very, very, very dense 12 or 13 or 14 months. I hit a big old patch of writer's block.”
How did he get through it? “Sort of didn't. Yeah, it sort of resulted in a sort of endless bout of insomnia, which kind of made the whole process raaaaather agonising.”
But, to be clear: it’s actually really good. This time around Stath’s about to become a dad, and his own dad’s lettings agency is trying to pick itself up after the untimely death of its extremely Foxtons interim leader Julian. Julian spent all of Michael & Eagle’s money before he went, so, for the moment, they’ve had to move operations to Stath’s dad’s front room.
Demetriou grew up around Friern Barnet in north London with his sister and fellow comedian Tash, before heading to Bristol for uni. Since Stath Lets Flats arrived in 2019, he’s popped up alongside his comedy hero Steve Coogan in This Time with Alan Partridge, and moved into films: Paddington 2, Cruella and the upcoming The Electrical Life of Louis Wain. Next year he’ll be in the Apple TV+ murder-mystery The Afterparty too.
We chatted to Demetriou for Share Location about growing up in London and his formative, cravat-wearing years.
VICE: What is the worst job you've ever had?
Jamie Demetriou: My dad used to give me a tenner to come and work at his greasy spoon cafe when I was 11. But he'd insist that I woke up at like three o'clock in the morning, just to sort of dramatise the whole situation: like, "Oh, but I have to get up at three o'clock in the morning every day!" So he'd tell me to get up at three o'clock for no apparent reason, and then he'd just sleep til five while I waited on the couch, trying to stay awake. And then I'd spend the day trying not to fall asleep on top of the big vacuum pack of bacon. My memory of just smacking a big vacuum pack of bacon – it feels like that is one of the most evocative sensory experiences I've ever had. When I talk about it, I can feel it on my hand.
Was that your main duty, or were you expected to slap other products?
My main duty was just trying not to fall asleep while I took people's orders. I was like 11, and it was supposed to be sweet, like, “Aw the owner's son's going from table to table!” But my dad would charge extortionate prices and people would be like “Why do chips cost this much?” And I'd be like, “You know I'm 11? What do you think I'm going to say? I'm so sorry about that madam. Let me just refer you to my dad.” Occasionally my dad might be like, “Get that guy out of here”, whilst I'm trying to speak to somebody. So I'd sort of go up to someone and be like, “Get... get out? Again, I'm 11. So I don't expect you to get out.”
Where did you have your first snog?
Oh my god. On my first ever date I went to the Odeon Barnet to go and see The Others with Nicole Kidman. And I don't remember anything about the film. I spent the whole thing in my head just wondering how you go about kissing someone, because it felt too intense to just do it apropos of nothing. So we got through the whole film, I missed all of it. And then walking down the street, I texted her asking if I could kiss her. I remember her response, she said: “Well, my mum's about to pick me up – but I don't give a fuck”. And then we kissed. And then my mum came to pick me up. And as we were passing the Odeon Barnet we saw that someone was putting a poster up [announcing an] early screening of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, like two months before it was released. And my mum was like, “Should we go?” I was like, “Yeah”. And it was the best day of my life.
Where would have been your kind of classic date spot around where you've grown up?
It's hard to say, because I don't really remember going on dates. I was only single for a very short period of time in my teens before I got into quite a long term relationship. The closest thing I can think of to dating in my teens was going to Panic! at the Roxy in Soho on a Tuesday night, and just hoping someone would notice that I was wearing a cravat and want to kiss me because of it.
How long did the cravat era last?
Longer than it should have done, I imagine. Like, cardigan and cravat with a t-shirt underneath. I once was in Covent Garden and I got photographed by the Telegraph or something who were doing like ‘what people are wearing these days’. And then I saw it come out and there was like 25 guys they'd managed to spot in Covent Garden that day wearing my exact outfit. I remember one rare date I went on, we went to The Montagu Pyke on Tottenham Court Road. I purposefully got there 15 minutes early to lean up against a wall with one shoe on the wall and be reading a book when she arrived. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, which was quickly denounced by Oprah for being a disgraceful tome.
What’s the worst night out you've ever had in the UK?
I don't know how much I enjoy nights out generally. I remember there was one I had where a very close mate of mine got high – too high, and paranoid as a result. And his paranoia was directed directly at me. He just became obsessed for the night [with the idea] that I was plotting against him. I couldn't not see his eyes everywhere I went. Like, he was a different person. Just kept coming really close to my ear saying, "I know what you're up to." But I don't know what I could possibly have been up to. All I was up to was being scared of him for fucking six hours. The next day he told me it was one of the best nights of his life.
Where have you thrown up in Britain?
I once ate a bad BLT at school and threw up on my desk. I don't know why my brain has gone to this – it's not a question you're asking – but every Friday night I used to go to KOKO with my pals when I was a teenager, and everyone would get like six cans for a fiver. We'd all drink K, that black can of cider which is like battery acid. If I was to drink that now, I would be in agony. Your body's so untouched [at that age], it can just handle anything. But I'd drink like six cans of that so that I didn't have to buy any drinks at the club because I couldn't afford any. I'd go out with like £5 for the night. And I remember the whole bus, the whole 134, was just boys and girls grasping their groins trying not to piss themselves, and then once you arrived at KOKO you'd have an outpouring, just 100 people pissing in the street. I would start pissing as I was stepping off the bus. Once there were policemen that stopped us and I got told to go home. I just went, “Okay,” did a walk around the block, went to the club with wee all over my trousers.
Where's your favourite place to perform in the UK?
Moth Club on Valette Street in Hackney. My friend Rupert Majendie, who's one of my best friends, has been running a night called Knock2bag for nearly 13 years now or something. It's been in different venues over the years, but it's really sort of settled into Moth and me and Cardinal Burns and my sister and Ellie White and various other people – Tim Key et cetera – used to do a monthly night there. And [they were] some of the best nights of my life. It's just a great room. I get very, very good feels from going down there.
What are your favourite and least favourite places you’ve visited in Britain?
Manchester has a wonderful vibe and I really like Oxford. Worst? I'm not gonna rag on any places in the UK, but I will say when I stepped off the train in Coventry I stepped onto a massive dead rat. The rest of the city was full of lovely people. Just wasn't a great introduction to it.
Stath Lets Flats is on Channel 4 at 10.15pm on Tuesday 26 October, with all episodes available to stream on All4 afterwards.