Quote: Godot Taxis @ August 2 2013, 12:06 PM BST
There wasn't enough distinction between them. To satirise Barley and Jonatton Yeah! and others effectively for the average viewer would have required a very straight character as a reference point which they clearly weren't willing to do. Think Rory Kinnear in Count Arthur Strong rather than Julian Barrett.
Kinnear isn't very straight per se though - he comes across as fairly bitter and selfish on occasions.
I get your point and agree that characters being all loathsome (well to varying degrees) probably made it hard for many to digest - but doesn't that actually make the sitcom somewhat unique in that respect? I don't perceive it to be a negative aspect, but rather a strong-suit of NB. And unlike @chipolata, I actually think it's the exact opposite of one dimensional. Ashcroft is a mess, he doesn't know how to survive in a world of Idiots - and funnily any resistance to not join the crowd just ends up to be much worse for him (refuses to write about 15peter20, tries to leave Sugar ape and ends up tossing off a builder). Was a painful watch, but I still was able to empathise with him - for being trapped in such a living hell and there was no way out for him.
Barret also lived with the Noel Fielding DJ character. Why would he do that if he hated these people and wasn't part of their scene? Incidentally Fielding would have been much better casting as Barley but presumably didn't want to play a 'c**t'.
He made peanuts (constantly borrows money from Claire) and the Idiots were everywhere either way - so I don't think he did have much of a choice did he?