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Characters / Nathan Barley

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The characters of Nathan Barley are organized here by the groups they (loosely) belong to.

Trash Industries

The loss-making, garbage-producing amateur film studio, managed by Nathan out of a grotty flat on Textile Street, Hosegate. Nathan films, cuts and edits his videos here, as well as uploading shit to his website (registered in the Cook Islands) with Pingu.

Nathan Barley: OK, here's the credos. Trash, as in what's all around us...and...bat.

Nathan Barley
Played By: Nicholas Burns

Nathan is the titular protagonist; a hyperactive, immature idiot who spends his days filming videos, updating his website and promoting club nights and parties, which involve heavy advertising and canvassing on the streets of East London. His personal website,, is full of idents and selfies with unknown, Z-list hipster celebrities. He never takes anything seriously unless it has the word "party" in it, and is the progenitor of some of the most ridiculous slang words ever heard. As the series goes on, his popularity steadily grows within the scene, striking up friendships with the Sugar Ape crew and riding on the back of Claire's filmmaking efforts. He appears to have an endless supply of cash on a credit card, which was originally hinted to be from his parents' trust fund on the TV Go Home website. Nathan hero-worships Dan, has a perma-boner over Claire and enjoys bullying the absolute Christ out of his webmaster, Pingu.


Also refers to himself in person as "The Trashbat" and on the phone as "Barley UK".

Claire Ashcroft
Played By: Claire Keelan

A struggling amateur filmmaker trying to break into the mainstream television industry. Claire lives with her brother Dan and housemate Jones in a dingy flat, and randomly meets Nathan by chance in episode 1. She joins Trash Industries on Nathan's invitation, but her philanthropic, faintly political ideas end up clashing spectacularly with Nathan's drug-fueled, low-IQ hipster stupidity. Claire is bitchy, frustrated and pissed off at every single person around her, almost 100% of the time, as she fights an uphill battle to lift her career off the ground. She is also perfectly willing to drop Nathan and Trash like a hot potato whenever she gets an offer from an actual TV studio. Finally, Claire happens to be an unlikely and unwilling Dude Magnet; a fact that contributes to Dan's worsening mental state.

Played By: Ben Whishaw

Pingu is the only other member of Trash Industries that we see; a painfully shy hipster tech geek, who does all of the behind the scenes work on the website that Nathan gleefully takes credit for. He rarely ever speaks, and seems deathly afraid to stand up to Nathan, who bullies and harasses him almost to the point of 1984-style psychological torture.

Sugar Ape Magazine

Later stylized as "sugaRAPE", and then just "RAPE", Sugar Ape is a local, popular magazine on the forefront of fashion, arts and counter-culture. Nathan treats the mag as his personal bible, as do the rest of the local Idiot community. The employees are basically all Cloudcuckoolanders and likely on some form of recreational drugs at all hours of the day.

Rufus Onslatt: It'll piss people off, yeah? And they'll think they're getting pissed off by "rape", yeah?
Ned Smanks: Except it's not even "rape", it's still "ape"!
Rufus Onslatt: So yeah, so they're getting pissed off by "ape"!

Dan Ashcroft
Played By: Julian Barratt

Claire's brother, a journalist and reporter for Sugar Ape Magazine and the central antagonist of the series, opposite Nathan. Dan is a morbidly depressed, lethargic waste of space, likely going through an early mid-life crisis. He is only able to do his job out of sheer hatred against the people he reports on. His magnum opus, the acerbic, anti-hipster article The Rise of the Idiots unexpectedly earns him praise, idolatry and worship from hipsters, bohemians and even rival newspaper editors. However, he rejects the fame and responds with scorn and misery to everyone around him. As he battles to come to terms with this conflict, he suffers the pestering omnipresence of his biggest fan, Nathan Barley, as well as his own spiteful immaturity and failure to grow as a person.

Dan's rants and slurs get him reluctantly nicknamed "The Preacherman" as his popularity gradually rises throughout the scene.

Ned Smanks
Played By: Richard Ayoade

A graphic designer at Sugar Ape and one of the foremost, biggest examples of the Idiot subculture. Ned is often on the bleeding edge of cool; he is the first person to recognize Nathan's blowjob from a 13 year old girl as being completely fucking awesome. Or, in Ned's words, "That is well no way!". His best friend is fellow designer and idiot Rufus, and the two are never, ever seen apart.

Rufus Onslatt
Played By: Spencer Brown

A graphic designer at Sugar Ape, one half of the personality that he shares with fellow designer Ned. The only difference between the two of them is Rufus's obnoxiously stupid, goat-like laugh. Like Ned, he is permanently spaced out and fully ingrained in the Idiot subculture. Rufus and Ned are both good friends with Nathan.

Jonatton Yeah?
Played By: Charlie Condou

The chief editor of Sugar Ape. A smart, dry, highly sarcastic mastermind and smooth as ice. Had the question mark added to his name by deedpoll. He has a unique position within the scene, as he shares Dan's views on the waves of shallow, unintelligent hipster bullshit around them; however, Jonatton cynically participates in and exploits it all for profit. His respect for Dan as a colleague and reporter nosedives, as Dan's true incompetence and laziness becomes more apparent.

Played By: Nina Sosanya

Receptionist at Sugar Ape. She is remarkably sane and level-headed, and has a low-key role as a voice of reason to Dan, often sympathizing with the despair and angst he feels at his job. She meets Nathan once while he's canvassing, and immediately thinks he's a bit of a cunt.

  • Office Lady: Appears to be the only female at the Sugar Ape office, and the only one who does any sort of administration or organisation.
  • Only Sane Employee: Along with Dan (who suffers his own brand of quiet insanity), Sasha is really far too normal to be working at such a place.
  • Satellite Character
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Sasha takes a keen interest in Dan's welfare above the rest of her colleagues, and he hints briefly at taking her out to dinner, but it doesn't end up going anywhere.

Played By: Joe Van Moyland

A young-looking office hand at Sugar Ape. Has an affinity for riding toy tractors and mobility scooters in inappropriate places.


A foundation and central hub for aspiring artists, Place. was founded by legendary record producer Doug Rocket and advertises itself as "Fruition Central" Nathan likes to show off his extensive connections at Place. (i.e. Toby, the receptionist) and often bluffs that he can get unknown talent through its doors.

"Rocket consistently redefines "think". Enter Place. Be enabled. Place is Creativilization."

Played By: Rhys Thomas

Toby is Nathan's housemate and a part-time receptionist at Place. He bears a passing resemblance to Nathan, but is portrayed as slow and dim-witted, as well as obsessed with sex. He makes several clumsy, unsuccessful attempts to hit on Claire, but is almost always upstaged by Nathan. Dajve Bikinus is his cousin (who he also hits on).

Doug Rocket
Played By: David Hoyle

Doug Rocket is a world-famous musician, producer and visionary artist, and quite the narcissistic Large Ham and Cloudcuckoolander. Much older than the rest of the twenty-somethings in Hosegate, Doug started off as a member of pop group The Veryphonics in the 1980s, and went on to pioneer many more groundbreaking genres of music before founding artsphere Place., "a farm for idea". Doug wields immense reputation and influence on the local arts scene, but is ultimately a bit of a crackpot, spending most of his time reeling off infinite LSD-fuelled anecdotes about fellow celebrities.

Played By: Benedict Cumberbatch

Robin is the Business Manager at Place., in charge of accounts and finance. He is portrayed in a constant state of stress and anxiety, due to the uncontrollable losses and reckless spending that Doug Rocket indulges in.

Other Characters

Other hipsters, wannabes, tryhards, douchebags and mental-cases that Nathan bumps into throughout the series.

Played By: Noel Fielding

Dan and Claire's housemate, and a part-time DJ at the trendy barber's shop Stanley Knives. Jones is a musician and early dubstep pioneer, whose hallmarks are his late night, caffeine-fueled, 160dB+ mixing sessions, which constantly keep Claire awake at all hours. Whilst very much a hipster/Idiot at first glance, he actually shares Dan's dislike of Nathan Barley, despite possessing a similarly hyperactive, happy-go-lucky personality.

  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Jones is absolutely on another planet when he has his headphones and shoulder-mounted mixing station strapped on, often no earlier than 3am.
  • Death Glare: Shoots one at Nathan after he messes with Jones' record deck.
  • Madness Mantra
  • Mood Whiplash: Goes from quiet, nuanced concentration in his mixing, to an explosion of ecstatic screeching, at the snap of a finger.
  • Nice Guy: Only time he ever stops being nice is when he meets Nathan, who is a Jerkass and would inspire malice in a saint.
  • Talkative Loon

Dajve Bikinus
Played By: Celia Meiras

Toby's cousin, and "The VJ off the telly" according to Nathan. A highly fashionable and very attractive girl with a totally awesome male name, who seems to be very popular among the local club scene. Nathan feels almost honoured to be acquainted with her, and she goes on to develop a level of sexual attraction towards him.

Played By: Iddo Goldberg

A young artist who photographs people pissing. His entire credos is based on the act of urinating; taking photos and creating artworks that depict the sensation of joy, relaxation and vulnerability when taking a piss. 15Peter has an open exhibition of his work at Place. where the entire community recognizes his genius, so much so that he scores a cover feature in Sugar Ape. Like Dan, Jones and Sasha, he takes an instant disliking to Nathan when they briefly meet in episode 4.


Played By: Ophelia Lovibond

An 18 year old model and cocaine addict, who Nathan meets at Sugar Ape's Vice party. Nathan fancies her and not only invites her into his next film, but also gullibly hands her hundreds of pounds for drugs at the drop of a hat. Claire is less impressed, seeing Mandy as nothing more than a spoilt, trust fund junkie brat.

  • Good Bad Girl: Has no issue with trading sexual favours for coke money.
  • The Other Darrin: In the pilot episode, Mandy is played by a different actor, Kate Fleetwood. Although they both run through the same basic plot (starring in Claire's film about prostitution), Kate Fleetwood's Mandy is a totally different character to Ophelia Lovibond's Mandy.
  • The Ophelia: Is very forthcoming about her Bonobo Syndrome diagnosis.

Max Herbert

Played By: Oliver Chris

The slick, smooth-talking Features Editor at the mature, family-focused Weekend on Sunday magazine. Max appears to be an old friend of Dan's from university. He tries to leave his mark on the publication by poaching Dan from Sugar Ape, in an effort to make his magazine 'cool'.

Ivan Plapp

Played By: Stephen Beresford

An executive at TV station Channel Seven. He initially grants Claire an interview, but quickly loses interest when Nathan butts in with his awful prank videos. Not only is Ivan happy to accept the Idiot subculture, he actively embraces it in an effort to be 'down with the kids'.

Paul Chipes

Played By: Frank Boyce

A married builder who solicits Dan for a 'straight-on-straight' experience in the men's toilets of a family pub.


Played By: Kevin Eldon

A middle-aged Eastern European barber with his own shop in Hosegate, and an unhealthy obsession with cats. Dan asks Nikolai to get rid of his Geek Pie, but it doesn't go well.


Played By: Ramon Tikaram

A sullen, tattooed, intimidating-looking barber at Stanley Knives, who gives Nathan an excellent Geek Pie despite having almost nothing to work with.


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