Stath Lets Flats must never die. Can this really be the end?

Jamie Demetriou’s lettings agent-based sitcom is a riot of idiocy … and a national treasure. But if it has just bowed out for ever, what a perfect way to do it

The end of Stath Lets Flats’ third season saw everyone’s favourite letting agent at the biggest crossroads of his life. Stath (Jamie Demetriou) had a baby and – perhaps – a love interest to keep him in place. But his dad, just married, had announced his intention to sell the family business and move to Cyprus. Stath’s sister and his new best friend were so enamoured of this idea that they, too, decided to leave the country. The very last shot of the show was a closeup of Stath’s face locked in sweet confusion as a wedding party raged around him.

It felt pretty final. Assuming his family goes through with its plan, any new season of Stath Lets Flats would see the lead character adrift, without a job or (almost) any supporting characters. It would be a hard reset of a sitcom whose world has only grown more beloved as the years have gone on, which doesn’t sound ideal. So this could very well be the end of Stath Lets Flats. The big question is: should it be?

No, obviously, it shouldn’t end. Stath Lets Flats should never end because it is, and has for ever been, a gem of a show. It’s a comedy that exists to make people laugh, which is a stunningly rare thing in the comedy landscape of 2021, filled as it is with endless bleak half-hours about unrelenting personal trauma.

Everyone in Stath Lets Flats, happily, is an idiot. They’re all characters who wouldn’t last a second in the real world. They’d be ripped off or run over or crushed at the bottom of a lift shaft the moment they stepped out of their house every morning. And that has always been their appeal. A normal person, a recognisable human being, would pose questions about the beautiful fractured logic of the show and kill it dead.

To create an army of gibbering morons but also make you care for them, is a gift ... Stath Lets Flats.
To create an army of gibbering morons, but also make you care for them, is a gift ... Stath Lets Flats. Photograph: Channel 4

The most recent series was probably its best. Although everyone in it was still unquestionably silly, they also became terrifically sweet. Stath’s rougher edges were sanded off by fatherhood, and if the moment that Sophie and Al finally declared their love for each other in a genuinely inept way isn’t the most adorable thing on television all year, I’ll be staggered. There was an episode told in VHS flashback that underlined what a lovely, tender family sitcom Stath is under all the shrieking idiocy.

To have a show like Stath, that not only creates an army of gibbering morons but also makes you care for them, is a gift. We must never let it die.

Then again, and this is just a wild punt, perhaps we’re being a bit greedy. Jamie Demetriou has been incredibly open about what a struggle the show is to write alone, and this third season appears to be the most gruelling yet. In interviews he has spoken of bouts of writer’s block and insomnia, combined with family illness, that have added to the difficulties.

Additionally, the success of Stath, which won Demetriou three Baftas last year, has caused his career to rocket. He’ll soon appear in the Benedict Cumberbatch movie The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, and a new Phil Lord and Chris Miller Apple TV+ series called The Afterparty, which essentially functions as a gathering point for everyone currently good in comedy. And this is probably just the start of a Phoebe Waller-Bridgeish rise that will see him able to put his talents to anything he likes.

The rest of the Stath cast, too, are on the up. Demetriou’s on and offscreen sister, Natasia, has found global fame with What We Do in the Shadows, while Al Roberts – whose recent credits include Feel Good and Starstruck – is quickly developing a reputation as the sort of actor whose appearance doubles as a reassurance of quality. Kiell Smith-Bynoe can be seen in Ghosts. Katy Wix is a breath away from being a national treasure. There’s every chance that we’ll look back on Stath Lets Flats in a couple of decades and marvel that so much talent collected in the same place at the same time.

Let’s not be awful here; Stath Lets Flats belongs to Jamie Demetriou and not us. We can demand more all we like, but it’s going to be his decision. And if this really is to be the end of Stath, then that last shot – of Stath blinking and smiling at, but barely comprehending, a future that threatens to be vastly different to the present – well, what a perfect place to leave it.


Stuart Heritage

The GuardianTramp

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