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Peacock's Allan 'Seapa' Mustafa: 'People are being more open about body image issues'

The writer and star of BBC Three comedy series Peacock on what inspired the show.

Harvey Day

The team behind People Just Do Nothing are back with a new comedy series: Peacock, about a personal trainer called Andy who's going through an identity crisis and who's obsessed with what other people think of him and how he looks.

Steve Stamp, the show's BAFTA-winning writer, says the men of the reality dating series Love Island were a big inspiration for him.

"We wanted to do a comedy about masculinity and about being in a world of selfies and the gym culture that creates guys like the ones on Love Island - and what would happen if they sort of got a bit older and had a bit of a midlife crisis."

He adds: "But then it became about a bit more than that - and it became about dating in the modern world and about people kind of finding their true sense of self."

In BBC Three's Peacock, Andy (played by Allan 'Seapa' Mustafa) loses out on a job promotion to a younger personal trainer and he finds himself out of sync with his friends who are all moving onto a stage in life where they're forming serious careers and starting families. It hits Andy hard and he begins to question himself and his life choices.

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Steve Stamp (right), the show's BAFTA-winning writer, says the men of the reality dating series Love Island were a big inspiration for him. Pictured with Allan 'Seapa' Mustafa (left)

Steve - who wrote the show with Ben Murray - says: "Andy, as a character, is going through this stage in his life where he's realising that it's actually good for him to stop hiding behind the bravado of being a kind of attractive gym guy and that actually he'll be happier if he's more honest about who he is and how he feels."

"I think men in general don't talk about things they're going through as much," says Allan, who adds that he hopes the show can help people realise you shouldn't compare yourself to others in terms of being "in a relationship and having a kid by a certain age".

He adds: "We say: whatever works for you and makes you happy, really."

'More people are talking about body image issues'

The comedy series also looks at how men deal with issues around body image, like when Andy compares himself to the younger personal trainer Jay (played by Emily in Paris' Lucien Laviscount).

"I think now we're at a point where more people are talking about [body image issues], and people are being more open about it," says Allan.

"When we talk about taking your top off [on the show] that's based on me in real life. I've always had a bit of a belly.

"It's something that I will definitely be conscious of, you know, if I'm at a beach I'm thinking about the fact that I have to take my top off."

Last year, research by Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) and Instagram found 48% of men aged 16-40 had struggled because of how they feel about their body.

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The comedy series also looks at how men deal with issues around body image, like when Andy compares himself to the younger personal trainer Jay (played by Lucien Laviscount, left)

"In this day and age with the whole comparing yourself to others and living your life with the internet and social media, you can feel like you're always chasing something," Allan adds. "So hopefully people can relate to that."

Steve adds that the show can be seen as "a nice little microcosm of how people do things they don't even enjoy just because they feel like that's how they should behave or that's how they should look."

'I play pathetic men really well'

Peacock comes after the success of People Just Do Nothing - a BBC Three comedy series about a group of friends who run pirate radio station Kurupt FM - which was created and performed by Allan Mustafa, Steve Stamp, Asim Chaudhry and Hugo Chegwin.

The show, followed by the movie People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan, won three Royal Television Society Awards and a BAFTA.

Allan, who played MC Grindah on People Just Do Nothing, feels there are similarities between the two shows.

"I think towards the end of People Just Do Nothing, we started touching on getting older and getting left behind a little bit - and that's what this show's about," he says. "You know, getting older in a modern world.

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Allan, who played MC Grindah on People Just Do Nothing, feels there are similarities between the two shows

"And are there similarities between Grindah and Andy? Yeah for sure, it's like that insecure masculinity struggling with who you actually are and what you want people to perceive you as," he says. "With Andy it's way more closer to the surface and he really does want to make a change, he just goes about it the wrong way. Whereas with Grindah, it's buried a lot deeper.

"And they're both pathetic men, which I play really well," he adds, laughing and making a chef's kiss.

 

BBC Three