Looking back at Look Around You with Popper and Serafinowicz

Watch video: YouTube, or download MP4.

Make sure to have your copybooks ready, you'll want to take notes. In this episode of Boing Boing Video, the offbeat British comedy duo of Robert Popper and Peter Serafinowicz, creators of the BBC series "Look Around You," speak to us on the occasion of the US DVD release for their absurdist fake-educational science program.

Bonus: They are also founders of the faux religion of Tarvuism. In this very video, for the first time ever, they recite the full invocational prayer of Tarvu, meaning that just by watching, you are automatically indoctrinated as a member of the Church of Tarvu. So if octopuses (octopi? octopodes?) start chattering priestmuntyisms to you in the night, you've been warned.

In addition to the LOL-rich endeavors they discuss in this interview, these guys are busy: there's Popper's long-running prank phone call and Timewaster Letter series, work on the IT Crowd, and their Radio Spirit World podcasts, Popper is writing for South Park lately. Serafinowicz has an eponymous BBC show out on DVD, and lots of movie roles in the works, including the new Yellow Submarine remake. US audiences may know Serafinowicz best as the voice of Darth Maul.

We'll be debuting a new comedy short from these guys soon on Boing Boing Video, so stay tuned. Thants!

LOOK AROUND YOU Season 1 on DVD (Amazon)
• Watch excerpts from the DVD at the LOOK AROUND YOU YouTube channel.
• More Boing Boing Video: tv.boingboing.net, or check out our YouTube channel.

Photo, below: Popper (L) and Serafinowicz (R) at Comic-Con, with a new pal...


  1. The first season of Look Around You is brilliant, underplayed satire.

    I had my first helpless giggle fit in years while watching the “Ghosts” episode.

    I was kind of disappointed in the second (?) season. Very glitzy, on-stage and show-bizzy. It totally broke from the lame-educational-film paradigm.

    1. The first series parodied BBC schools educational programmes of the 70’s and 80’s.
      The second series is based on Tommorow’s World, the 1980s variant. Very closely based.

      I think if anyone is unfamiliar with either of those original shows then a lot of the potency is lost. How do you know that the Judith Hann / Michael Rodd personas are spot on, for example?

    2. Season two is a great parody of 70s and 80s british science and technolgy magazine shows like tomorrows world. Perhaps the US has no direct comparison?

  2. I was lucky enough to catch their panel at Comic-Con and even luckier enough to sit next to the microphone, which I used to issue my thants for coming and ask where I could find my copy book.

    Peter’s Alan Alda impression had me laughing hysterically for many, many minutes. And the whole thing brightened my day.

  3. Okay, I think Look Around You is great! But Peter’s v-neck t-shirt in these pics? Was he wearing that all over ComicCon? It looks ridiculous. GET A BETTER T-SHIRT!

    1. “But Peter’s v-neck t-shirt in these pics? Was he wearing that all over ComicCon? It looks ridiculous. GET A BETTER T-SHIRT!”

      On the contrary, good for him for wearing something comfortable so he could wander around and enjoy himself rather than sweat and suffer from all the body heat of everyone around him.

      “Popper is writing for South Park lately.”

      Good for South Park, but I wonder if this is really the best use of his ability? Either way, glad to see him getting use. Hopefully we’ll see less dumb Cato Institute-ish humor from South Park and something *slightly* more intelligent. I mean, I love SP, but groan whenever they try to say anything political.

      1. On the contrary, good for him for wearing something comfortable so he could wander around and enjoy himself rather than sweat and suffer from all the body heat of everyone around him.

        True. But ComicCon is such a sweaty sausage-fest to begin with does any mode of dress protect one from the wafting it all in?

  4. When I first saw Look around you, I couldn’t stop laughing, and I couldn’t stop looking for more and more of it. Then I finally (and apologetically will buy) got the pirated version which was because I live in Canadia. I sat through each episode, crying with laughter and thinking that these people think in amazingly similar ways to me, and I haven’t had comedy speak to me, much like music or movies or even other tv shows would occasionally do.

    I would like them to read these comments and think they’ve improved the life of the most important person on earth – me.

    On a completely related note, Hebbo!

  5. Thanks Xeni!

    I also wanted to say that the second season in its own right was brilliant. It should have been called something else, and nobody would even blink an eye in comparison of the two. Petticoat 5? Cobbles? These are the things I remember from the second season.

    as for mausium, I was with you on the cringingly political south park, but then I opened up the mindbox and thought that even if they were trying to say political things, there were enough speaking vaginas and mecha-streisands, snooks and snizzes that I could look the other way and laugh my shocked ass off. I haven’t seen much of the 14th season that I find super memorable, but new writers take a season to get their super groove on, and Popper, you’ve got that super groove man.

  6. I’ve not seen many of the Look Around You episodes, but of those I have seen (which must have been from Series 2), I loved them; Peter and Popper nail the parody perfectly.

    Sorry to be a pedant, Xeni, but I think you have to *say* Tarvu’s Prayer to join the Tarvuist faith, rather than just hear it. Still, I make no claim to perfection, and I’m happy to be set straight on this!

      1. An excellent idea, Xeni! I just went from the Tarvuism website’s description :)

        Puts me in mind of the drug “Bliss” in the Red Dwarf universe – if memory serves, you get high just from *looking* at it, which made drug busts tricky.

      1. Nah, you’ll be fine. Unless, of course, Tarvuism becomes a real religion, and a lot of people get psychotic about it…

  7. Thants for that Xeni!
    Popper’s voice cracks me up. The prank phone calls (on his blog/site) are a thing of wonder.

    Also, as great as the second series was, the first was just funnier. But that’s like whinging about the difference between awesome and fucking awesome!

  8. I’m an enormous fan of both of these fellows. I welcome any further involvement with them and Boing Boing.

    Thanks, Boing Boing. Thoing Boing.

  9. I agree with an earlier comment. LAY series one is much funnier if you remember watching TV science programmes at British schools during the late 70s/early 80s, as Robert and Peter absolutely nailed them with this show.

    In particular, there was one on ITV called “Experiment”, which was still being shown way into the 80s. There used to be a clip of it on YouTube: grainy 16mm footage, cheap animated visuals, anonymous scientific assistants, plummp-English-voiced narrator, the lot. If @Experiment” show wasn’t the primary inspiration for LAY, I’m a monkey’s uncle…

    1. Good memory! There’s a tiny bit of the opening to ‘Experiment’ on this montage. There’s also a clip from Granada’s ‘Physics In Action’, which has a similar feel.

      (The PIFs are glorious, but BBC/ITV Schools programmes are another thing entirely. They were one of the things you knew you could talk about on arriving at college/university, regardless of your differences.)

  10. One thing that struck me when I bought the DVD (UK region – your mileage may vary) was that it was so well put together and all the extras and design and cleverness (and bloody Ceefax! My teenage internet and first love) in the menus were just brilliant.

    A great example of the official version being vastly more tempting to buy than a pirated one because you got so much more, as opposed to the official version being an advert-riddled nightmare.

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