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<em>IT Crowd</em> creator Graham Linehan on iPad, geek stereotypes and the joy of Twitter

The man behind Moss and Roy talks to silicon.com about the new series of the tech comedy

The IT department at Reynholm Industries is doubtless the last place that any techie would want to end up.

Over the past four years Reynholm's IT team have found a vampire-like goth living in the server room, set fire to their office and even broken the internet.

The team are of course the creations of Father Ted co-writer and creator Graham Linehan that populate the tech sitcom The IT Crowd, which returns to Channel 4 for a fourth series starting at 10pm on Friday 25 June.

When not writing for TV, Linehan can usually be found posting on Twitter, the microblogging site that he used to great success to launch the welovetheNHS campaign to rally support for the National Health Service earlier this year.

Linehan took some time out to talk to silicon.com about where he finds inspiration for the show's endearingly awkward characters; how he stumbled upon someone illegally downloading his show via Twitter; and his love for Apple's iPad.

silicon.com: Why write a sitcom about IT?
Linehan:
The whole idea kicked off from when I was expecting this IT guy to come to my home and my wife answered the door to him, and rather than saying 'hello', he said to her: 'You're not Graham'.

Later on I asked him: 'Why aren't there more guys who do a door-to-door IT service?' and he said: 'They don't have the people skills'. That really made me laugh and I thought there's really something there.

Do you ever worry about causing offence to IT workers with your portrayal of techies on the show?
I presume that they will see it is written with a lot of affection and that it is definitely on their side.

The main characters Moss and Roy are kind of based on me at different stages of my life, Moss is based on me when I was about 16, and Roy is based on me when I was about 30.

I have seen a couple of comedy shows where IT guys are painted as being really unpleasant people, who have power over your computer and misuse it. I am sure that there are IT guys who are like that but my experience with IT guys has always been pretty positive.

IT crowd series 4

The IT crowd at Reynholm Industries
(Photo credit: Channel 4)

How do you make IT funny?
The characters don't go into a lot of techie stuff because I'm absolutely not that knowledgeable, I didn't do much research because I didn't want the show to get bogged down in too much detail.

That's the kind of technical level I like to keep it on because then everybody will find it funny, and not just the geeks.

What kind of technical support nightmares have you had?
I've had plenty. The worst one was...

About

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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