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Series / PhoneShop

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The Sutton Branch. L-R: Christopher, Ashley, Lance, Janine, Jerwayne. Not seen: Little Gary Patel.
We don't run on the high street. We run the high street.

PhoneShop is a British sitcom first broadcast on Channel 4 as part of the channel's 2009 Comedy Showcase season of comedy pilots. This was followed by a six-episode series broadcast on E4 in 2010 (which was actually commissioned before the pilot was even broadcast). A second series followed in 2011, and a third in 2013.

The show is set in a mobile phone shop — a branch of the (fictional) PhoneShop Group — located on the high street of the South London suburb of Sutton. It follows a university graduate called Christopher (played by Tom Bennett) during a one-day trial and his subsequent employment. The branch is managed by Lance (Martin Trenaman) and the other employees are Ashley (Andrew Brooke), Jerwayne (Javone Prince) and Janine (Emma Fryer). PhoneShop is created and written by Phil Bowker (the comedy editor at the production company behind the show, TalkBack Thames), with "The Cast" credited as supplying additional material. It was script edited by Ricky Gervais.


If man says it is a trope...

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Despite being married to Lance note , Shelley has propositioned both Ashley and Jerwayne. In the case of the latter, she broke into his bedroom, causing him to run away in fear.
    • Jerwayne himself can come across as this towards Janine.
  • The Ace: Despite being in prison, Little Gary Patel — phone salesman extraordinaire and perpetual Salesman of the Month — is seen as this by the rest of the Sutton Branch. He even manages to retain his Salesman of the Month crown while doing time, as a result of selling phones to his fellow-inmates.
  • The Alleged Car: Jerwayne's Audi TT. There's a reason why he only paid £3,000 for a car that originally cost ten times as much.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Janine interrupts and ruins Christopher's date with Amanda by pretending to be a wronged ex-girlfriend of his. True, it hadn't been going well before the interruption ... but was Janine merely trying to prevent Christopher from making a fool of himself, did she know that Amanda was the Psycho Ex-Girlfriend that Jerwayne and Ashley had previously mentioned, or was she just indulging in a bit of jerkassery? Either way, she does her best to apologise to Christopher afterwards.
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  • Ambulance Cut: After the Meet & Greet guy goes out to beat up the Sax Man. Combined with a Gilligan Cut, since it turns out that the Sax Man won the fight.
  • Ashes to Crashes: A downplayed example; when Ashley is asked by an ex-girlfriend to scatter the ashes of her recently-deceased dog, he agrees ... only to empty the urn into a nearby bin when she's not looking.
  • Ax-Crazy: Little Gary Patel. And Razz Prince. Also, quite a few of the women who Ashley and Jerwayne try to date.
  • Bad Job, Worse Uniform: In "Bear Bad Man", Christopher has to don the mascot costume to drum up sales.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Often.
  • Basement-Dweller: Downplayed with the invariably well-dressed Jerwayne, who for all his street smarts and talk about being The Casanova does still live with his mum. Despite this, he seems to have more luck with the ladies than Ashley.
  • Because I Said So: "If man says it is a ting, it is a ting."
  • Becoming the Mask: Although he doesn't approve of sales tricks like showing off a flashy watch and pretending to be a student (who's only working in order to fund his studies to become a doctor or a lawyer) in order to gain a customer's trust, Christopher is nevertheless very quick to make use of such tricks.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Amanda ultimately turns out to be both of the Psycho Ex Girlfriends Ashley and Jerwayne had mentioned earlier in the episode — she just keeps changing her name.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Janine spends most of her time as an Extreme Doormat, but is quietly extremely ambitious, and pulls out the occasional Let's Get Dangerous! moment.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: "Now we know why man's called 'Lance'..."
  • Binge Montage: With shots of "quad-shot ristretto", in preparation for Super Sales Wednesday. Jerwayne is even shown licking sugar off the back of his hand, as one would lick salt while doing tequila slammers.
  • The Blind Leading the Blind: Christopher pulls the classic sitcom asking-your-mates-for-dating-advice error, which goes predictably badly. Subverted, though, as Ashley and Jerwayne freely admit that their strategy doesn't work on girls from a particular "aspirational demographic" which includes Waterstones employees, and Christopher had not mentioned that his date works in said bookshop.
    Jerwayne: You said she worked in Costa!
    Christopher: I said I met her in Costa!
  • Book Smart: Christopher, although he soon finds out that his new job requires him to be street smart, which he really isn't.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Don doesn't like people imitating his Scottish accent, and Jez doesn't like people putting on an Irish accent when they talk to him ... because he's actually Welsh.
  • Broken Ace: Lance qualifies, as it's explained that he was a promising company executive back in the late 1980s, but he ruined this by investing heavily in phone cards rather than the emerging mobile phone technology that would go on to dominate the communications industry. As a result, he's stuck in a management position for which he's unsuited, and is treated with disdain by staff and superiors alike.
  • British Brevity: One pilot + three series consisting of six episodes each = 19 episodes in total.
  • Call-Back:
    • "What did I tell you about running?"
    • "A hour?" "A hour."
  • The Casanova: How Ashley and Jerwayne both see themselves. In actual fact, Ashley is more of a straightforward Casanova Wannabe, while Jerwayne — despite having more luck with the ladies than his friend — still lives with his mum and can come across as an Abhorrent Admirer to Janine, the main object of his affections.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Although he sees himself as The Casanova, Ashley is actually this, as his romantic encounters rarely go well. Despite being more picky, Jerwayne does (slightly) better.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The one-touch voice recorder on Christopher's phone. And the dildos that Jez is giving away.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Although Christopher is mocked by Ashley and Jerwayne for having been in the debating society at university, this experience does come in handy — although his Rousing Speech falls flat when he's subsequently revealed to have used the 'part time student' trick that he was railing against in order to sell a phone plan.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: After a teenager tries and fails to rob the shop, Jerwayne strips him to his underwear and puts him in the cage in the back room. Apparently, Little Gary used to do this a lot.
  • Country Matters/Curse Cut Short: Almost once an episode, someone gets called a "cunnnn-"
  • Cringe Comedy: has its moments.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Lance claims to do this a lot, on account of the medication he's taking to deal with his high sex drive.
  • Dirty Cop: Somewhat downplayed, but Lance does have to pay off the police officers who find that there are two men in their underwear imprisoned in the store's cage. Another cop is happy to sell him some confiscated weed in order to help him get in with the White Men's Reggae Club.
  • Discriminate and Switch: Janine isn't eligible for Salesman of the Month. It's not because she's a woman — it's because she sells Pay As You Go.
    Lance: The company's come a long way since 2008.
  • Drugs Are Bad: In "Baking Bad", the boys are affected by inadvertently eating Lance's hash cookies in various ways, none of them good.
  • Employee of the Month: It's a sign of Little Gary Patel's talent that most of the Salesman of the Month awards given out by PhoneShop have been awarded to him. Even more so when he continues to win them whilst in prison.
  • Everyone Has Standards: A non-villainous example. Jerwayne, who sees himself as The Casanova, has a long list of high street retailers that he will not date the female employees of, those stores being beneath PhoneShop in his and Ashley's reading of the hierarchy of the high street note . He won't even consider dating any woman who wears a polo shirt as part of her work uniform, and does not respond well to Ashley's suggestion that they should give the "lower league talent" a try.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: PhoneShop is about the employees of a high street phone shop. Which is actually called PhoneShop.
  • Facecam: Christopher's coffee-fuelled Freak Out.
  • Fan Disservice: The security guard — an overweight middle-aged man who has pierced nipples and is very keen to strip down to his underwear — definitely counts as this.
  • First-Episode Twist: The pilot episode is about new employee Christopher's one-day trial as a PhoneShop salesman; if he doesn't make at least one sale, he doesn't get the job. Since he's a regular cast member in the main series, it's something of a foregone conclusion that he'll pass the trial. Especially given that a full series was commissioned before the pilot was even broadcast.
  • Fish out of Water: Christopher, when he starts working for the PhoneShop Group.
  • Funny Background Event: When Ashley and Jerwayne walk past Phones 4U, the employees are giving them the finger.
    • In series two, Little Gary is still pulling in the Salesman of the Month awards from behind bars, even though (according to the photos on the break room wall) he has become a radical Muslim extremist.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Kim from the Purley Branch is actually a man, something Lance was unaware of when he was agonising about how to respond to the fact that an email to him from Kim was signed with two kisses.
    • Ashley later falls victim to this trope when he signs up to an Army dating website in the hope of dating female soldiers, but is contacted by several male soldiers.
  • The Ghost: Little Gary Patel, salesman extraordinaire, is unseen because he's in prison — although we do see various photos of him on the Salesman of the Month panel, an image of him in the Shrine to the Fallen, and we briefly see him on CCTV footage.
  • Groin Attack: Razz gets shot in the testicles with a paintball gun.
  • Hard-Work Montage: Super Sales Wednesday, fuelled by Klatchian Coffee.
  • Hidden Depths: Janine has a few, including the ability to speak fluent Mandarin. Ashley finds that he's surprised by the eloquence of some of the poetry he received from soldiers after he signed up to an Army dating website. And Christopher, despite being the newest employee, knows a lot about the history of the PhoneShop Group (granted, this is evidently part of the company's training as fellow-newbie Rochelle from the Croydon Branch knows a fair bit as well, but his knowledge proves to be better than hers).
  • Hypocritical Humor: In "Doctor Who", Christopher makes a Rousing Speech entreating the other salespeople to stop using underhanded lies and confidence tricks to make sales ... at the end of which, a little old lady comes along and congratulates him, saying he'll make a fine human rights lawyer once he finishes his exams.
  • I Call Him "Mr. Happy": "Jerwayne Junior, Esquire."
  • Klatchian Coffee: As consumed to gee everyone up for Super Sales Wednesday.
    Jerwayne: What we're working with is under-the-counter quad-shot ristretto. This shit here? Banned in Milan. It killed a priest.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Happens to Jerwayne with the girls from Zara. He decides to go along with it in the hope of hooking up with one of them by way of claiming that she has 'converted' him to heterosexuality. They, though, are trying to hook him up with a gay friend of theirs, but in a final twist, this friend is revealed to be a straight man who is attempting the same thing as Jerwayne.
  • Mistaken for Racist: Christopher on his first day, although it's quickly revealed that Ashley and Jerwayne are just winding him up.
  • Memetic Mutation: In-universe; Jerwayne becomes an Internet sensation after a video of him sleeping goes viral in "The Sleepyman".
  • The Napoleon: Little Gary Patel, Ax-Crazy super-salesman.
  • New Meat: Christopher, or "New Man" as he is called by Ashley and Jerwayne.
  • Noodle Incident: Anything involving Little Gary, notably the "Catford hat-trick" (ABH note , GBH note  and attempted kidnapping) that resulted in his arrest and imprisonment.
  • Not That There's Anything Wrong with That: "Not being gay myself but simultaneously not having a problem with the lifestyle choices of others..."
  • Odd Friendship: Between Shelley and Janine, for a time; it mainly consists of alcohol-fuelled nights out, and ends when Shelley demands that Janine prove her loyalty by taking part in a group sex session with a pair of male escorts. Janine's uneasy with this anyway, but when the men are revealed to be Wheelchair Dave and a friend of his, she outright refuses (and almost throws up).
  • Oh, Crap!: Ashley has this reaction when he realises that the seemingly nice girl he's been chatting up is in fact the psycho with the owl tattoo that Jerwayne had previously been talking about.
    Ashley: A owl?
    Jerwayne: A owl!
  • Only Sane Man: Poor, poor Christopher.
  • A Party, Also Known as an Orgy: Invoked in a couple of cases:
    • When Janine and Christopher's out-of-hours visit to a seemingly nice middle-aged customer's home looks like it's about to become this, they bail.
    • Shelley's test of Janine's loyalty is one of these with two male escorts who turn out to be Wheelchair Dave and an unnamed (but presumably just as disgusting) friend of his. She's disgusted. So, for that matter, is Shelley as she evidently did not know who the male escorts she'd booked would be.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Lance, literally so.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: The White Men's Reggae Club is roundly mocked by Ashley and Jerwayne for being this, although Lance points out that it's really just a place where middle-aged white men who happen to like reggae music can dance to it "without fear of ridicule".
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Ashley and Jerwayne seem to have more than their fair share of these.
  • The Reveal: Don, a love interest of Janine's who poses as a businessman, is revealed to be the Sani Van Man note ; granted, it's his own business, but still.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Jez's Chilean Miners charity scam. Even though he's doing it over a year after the accident happened, with Lance posing as the last of the miners to be rescued.
  • Running Gag: Excrement is thrown at the shop window in more than one episode.
    Lance: Clean that off, Christopher. Use the old squeegee.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Jerwayne and Ashley.
  • Shout-Out: Several episode titles — among them "Doctor Who", "Baking Bad", "Come Dine With We", "The First Temptation of Chris" and "Soldier, Swinger, Shelley, Shelley".
  • Shown Their Work: The way that Jerwayne and Ashley speak is accurate, up-to-date London street slang.
  • Shrine to the Fallen: To Little Gary, although he's not dead — just in prison.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Pretty much every character has one, mostly competitors whose business rivalry has been inflated in their heads into a blood feud. The shop as a whole has the Croydon Branch.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: Lance's bike shorts certainly have an effect on Shelley.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: "Is this about the hoax call earlier? B-because there wasn't one and it wasn't me"
  • Take a Third Option: When the staff need to buckle down and get things done, they get a ludicrous amount of extra-strong coffee. Christopher asks how they could afford it all, and Ashley explains about the loyalty cards in coffee shops, which get ink-stamped eight times before you get a free coffee. Christopher assumes they just have a load of loyalty cards saved up, but Ashley explains the secret — they've got the stamp.
  • Team Dad: Lance, if only because he's somewhat older than the others.
  • Those Two Guys: Ashley and Jerwayne are usually seen together.
  • Title Drop: Frequently, and justifiably so given that the name of the show is also the name of the company the main characters work for.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Jerwayne and Janine. In Jerwayne's head, at any rate.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Lance, after smoking some weed.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Janine, after getting drunk with Shelley.
  • The Whitest Black Guy: Jerwayne is surprised when the father of a white girl he's dating says that he's not black enough for his daughter. The dad, for his part, is an exaggerated example of Pretty Fly for a White Guy, to Jerwayne's confusion.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist. Christopher. Also Janine, to a lesser extent.
  • Work Com: It's a sitcom set in a suburban mobile phone shop.
  • You Didn't Ask: The reason why Lance hadn't told Shelley that he still had those ... revealing bike shorts.
  • You, Get Me Coffee: Being the newbie, Christopher is often forced to make the tea.

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