"Kerry Is Like An Asexual Smurf": This Country's Daisy May Cooper

Courtesy of BBC.
Kerry (Daisy May Cooper).
"The Kurtan curtain is back? That's mental!" says Daisy May Cooper. I have just told her that the infamous Ben-from-A1 hairdo, which her brother Charlie sports on their comedy show This Country, is experiencing something of a renaissance. And she is, quite frankly, thrilled.
"I mean, I remember in the '90s, I thought it was the coolest thing of all time. Christ, next people will be wearing Swindon Town T-shirts with their hair back in greasy buns." Despite giving birth just two weeks earlier, Daisy is in marvellous spirits. And why not? Season two of BBC Three's This Country is here and people are super excited.
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If you have yet to watch any of This Country, then hoo boy, have you got a treat in store. It is – and I don't say this lightly – my favourite British comedy since Peep Show. It is one of the only television shows ever that has made me laugh actually out loud. I've watched all six episodes about six times over. I quote it about once a day (yes, I'm that dick). I'm snorting at my computer right now just remembering the "Peeping Tom" episode.
Like The Office, This Country is a spoof documentary. The purpose of this well-intended documentary was to highlight the plight of the marginalised youth of rural Britain in the Cotswolds. Unfortunately for the documentary team, they chose to film Kerry and Kurtan.
Daisy plays Kerry, while her brother Charlie plays Kerry's cousin, Kurtan. Living in a fictional Costwolds town, the countryside around them is picturesque; mansions owned by London weekenders dot the horizon, Alex James is eating cheese in the back of a Land Rover driven by Jeremy Clarkson while David Cameron sits shotgun.

The Cotswolds is lovely if you're middle-aged and you've got a second home down here but if you're young and you've got no job, there's absolutely fuck all to do.

Kerry and Kurtan, though, a million miles away from the middle-class Waitrose clichés of the Cotswolds, are bored af. There are no jobs (not that they're looking very hard), there's nothing to do (save throw plums at people's houses) and the only adult guidance that doesn't come from the well-meaning but useless village vicar is from Kerry's mostly absent father, who is a convicted "peeper". This is not the Cotswolds of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen (although Kerry and Kurtan did see him in the Co-op once).
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"We didn't write it with the intention to show a different side, we wrote it because that was all we knew," says Daisy. "It was a fluke, but I suppose that's what's interesting. The Cotswolds is lovely if you're middle-aged and you've got a second home down here but if you're young and you've got no job, there's absolutely fuck all to do."
My obsession with the show probably stems from the fact that I grew up a stone's throw away from Daisy and Charlie's hometown of Cirencester but to be honest, This Country will resonate with anyone who's been even momentarily exposed to the realities of being a kid in the British countryside: commandeering kids' playgrounds, robbing pointless stuff and getting wasted in a field on whatever cheap alcohol you can get your hands on.
For Daisy, her reality was slightly more sophisticated. "All I ever had were boyfriends that drove done-up cars, and I had one boyfriend who would pick me up from his house and I’d get in the car, we’d drive to McDonald’s, wind the windows down, and we’d be in a line and then we’d talk to each other through the windows." She laughs. "I wouldn’t actually talk, I’d just put CDs on and then we’d just drive home. It was absolutely mental, that’s all we’d do and I was perfectly happy with that. I was just a really miserable girlfriend who sat with her arms crossed in the front on McDonald’s car park in Cirencester."
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I ask Daisy whether Cirencester had a local legend; a villlage-famous oddball who ends up at the centre of most stories told at the one pub in town. My town had Dancing Ken, my mate's village had Smackhead Pete. "We had a guy called Sausage Man," says Daisy, remembering. "He was forever flashing at people. I remember seeing him in Waitrose by the deli counter and he stood next to Charlie, sparked up a fag and said 'I shouldn't be doing this' and it's like of course not, you're smoking in Waitrose at the deli counter, it was mental. But there's always one."
Much of the show draws directly on people Daisy and Charlie grew up with and, now they live back at home following a stint in London, still come into contact with. Weirdly, though, rather than being insulted, people seem keen to be featured. "Loads of people, especially people I went to school with, say things like 'Omg you wrote that about me, didn't you?' and I think 'I've not seen you for 20 fucking years, no!'" she laughs. "But it's great, because it shows that people can relate to it."
In fact, most local people (except my mum, who thought it was real and felt sorry for Kerry and Kurtan) have been entirely positive about the show. "I thought people would be upset and think we were taking the piss out of them and Cirencester... But it's been amazing," she says. You can't please everyone though. "There was this one guy who was working at the Tesco till and he said to Charlie, 'You're that bloke off that show, aren't you?' then he goes, 'Yeah, it's not my cup of tea'." She laughs.
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Courtesy of BBC.
Kerry (Daisy May Cooper), Kurtan (Charlie Cooper)
Daisy came to London to train at RADA before appearing in a few bit parts on TV. Ultimately though, she decided the city wasn't for her and she moved back home and started writing. Eventually (no thanks to a quite frankly criminal-sounding attempt to turn her work into something that was meant to be like The OC set in the Cotswolds), This Country was commissioned.
Not that it came easily, though. She was working for a long time first, and it was hard. "Don't, whatever you do, compare yourself to your peers," she advises those trying to make similar things work for themselves. "For me and Charlie, when everyone was moving to London and making a go of it, we were still cleaning in some shitty offices, that was an absolute killer. I had to come off Facebook because I just got so jealous of everyone else's life, it's crippling and awful."

Kerry will never get glammed up. We have had producers try and push that on us before. Like, she can’t be a good female character unless she becomes feminine? That's so wrong.

The best way to go after success, in Daisy's opinion, is to make sure you're working at something you love. "I think the biggest thing my parents ever taught me is make sure you do something you enjoy for a living and don't put a timeframe on it and that is where happiness lies."
This mentality is what has allowed Daisy to create Kerry, one of the best female TV characters we've had in years. One who delivers straight-faced hilarities while wearing a shitty old tracksuit. One who has absolutely no plans to change, get "glammed up" or pursue a relationship. "We have had producers try and push that on us before," says Daisy, "like trying to make her into something else, like, she can’t be a good female character unless she becomes feminine? It is so wrong and I think that would be my absolute biggest no."
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"She is like an asexual Smurf, you will never be able to pigeonhole her."
Hell yes.
Season 2, episode 1 of This Country is on iPlayer now. And oh my god just watch it.
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