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BBC Radio 4 sitcom written by James Cary which aired for four series from 2001 to 2005 and followed the fortunes of Unthinkable Solutions, a team of inept management consultants whose advice to the companies foolish enough to hire them nearly always left them worse off than they were before.

The personnel of Unthinkable Solutions include the team leader, Wide-Eyed Idealist Ryan Packer (Marcus Brigstocke); his second-in-command Sophie Stott (Emma Kennedy in Series 1-2, Beth Chalmers in Series 3-4), the only sane woman (when she isn't giving in to her violent temper); Granola Girl Daisy De Vere (Catherine Shepherd), who insists on carrying her fondness for New Age trends into the ideas for the corporations that hire them; and IT expert Owen (David Mitchell), Abhorrent Admirer to Sophie and openly critical of almost all forms of technology, even ones he installed himself.


This series contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Owen to Sophie.
  • Brainless Beauty: Daisy is apparently very pretty and has numerous male admirers but she's easily the dimmest character.
  • Breakout Character: Owen was originally intended to be a one-off character in Episode 4 of Series 1, but he proved so popular that he became a regular character starting in Series 2.
  • Bulungi: The fictional African state of Nambitrea from Series 2, Episode 5.
  • Catch Phrase: Owen's favourite greeting of "Alright, losers!", as well as his favourite "swear" word, "pump".
    • Jed had the similar "Alright, tosspots!"
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Ryan and Daisy both have many moments of this, to Sophie's eternal frustration.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Unthinkable Solutions team encounter a number of these over the course of the series, though special mention must go to Chip (Greg Proops), the CEO of the Enron-like Genforce from Series 2, Episode 1.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sophie, as befits her status as the only sane woman. Owen also has his moments, though he is less deadpan about it.
  • Freudian Excuse: Sophie's overbearing mother (see My Beloved Smother below) is likely the ultimate cause of her seemingly permanently high blood pressure (although Ryan and Daisy's cluelessness and Owen's unwelcome advances don't help).
  • Geek Physique: Owen falls under the "Fat" category.
  • Granola Girl: Daisy.
  • How Many Fingers?: After Ryan has received a blow to the head:

 Owen: Ryan, how many fingers am I holding up?

Ryan: Wha, fingers?

Sophie: Owen, put some fingers up!

Owen: OK.

Sophie: Not that one!

  • Mail Order Bride: In Episode 4 of Series 2, Owen leaves for Latvia at the beginning of the episode for his wedding to a mail order bride. He returns for the final scene, having left her in the lurch when she turned out to be rather less attractive than advertised.
  • My Beloved Smother: Sophie's mother is an overbearing control freak who has been married multiple times and several of whose husbands (including Sophie's father) have simply run away.
  • Nerds Are Virgins: Owen, possibly (Sophie hints in one episode that he may have hired a tart from a phone box advertisement, but says that it doesn't count as a sexual experience).
  • Only Sane Woman: Sophie, although only relative to the other team members; she has a particularly violent temper and is skilled in numerous lethal martial arts.
  • The Operators Must Be Crazy: In Episode 4 of Series 1, Unthinkable Solutions are hired to help utilities company Utiliton improve the quality of their call centre:

 Operator: Hello, this is Pam in Billing, how may I help you?

Caller: [almost hysterical] Look, this is the fifth time I've called! I've just had an enormous gas bill for £12,000 and you've already taken the money out of my account! I can't afford to eat! Now, please don't put me on hold again!

Operator: Unfortunately I'm unable to help you at this time, I'm afraid I'll have to put yourself through to Bill Cancellation.

Caller: No, no no!

Operator: They'll be able to deal with your problem. Would you like to hold?

Caller: NO!

Operator: I'm putting you on hold.

Caller: I said "no"! [hold music begins playing, caller begins sobbing and smashing the phone against something until the signal cuts out]

  • Parallel Porn Titles: One episode of Series 3 had Sophie going through Jed's DVD collection, which includes such titles as Good Will Humping; she correctly surmises that his version of Free Willy isn't about a whale.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: In Episode 5 of Series 2, the team are scheduled to meet with the Minister of Finance for the fictional African state of Nambitrea.

 Sophie: Formerly the Democratic Republic of Nambitrea, when it was Communist.

Ryan: And before that it was the Nambitrean People's Republic, when it was Fascist.

Sophie: And before that it was called New Devon, when it was completely owned by Lord Brinkworth.

  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: When David Mitchell was unavailable for a few recording dates in Series 3 due to his commitments to Peep Show, the character of Owen went into hiding and was replaced by the nearly identical Jed (voiced by Robin Ince), whose major differences from Owen included a fondness for pornographic films instead of Video Nasties and a catchphrase of "Alright, tosspots!" rather than "Alright, losers!"
  • Upperclass Twit: Daisy and to a lesser extent Ryan.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Owen's favourite swear word of "pump", which seems to be interchangeable with multiple actual swear words.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Ryan. Somehow the many misfortunes that befall him during the series (such as being held in a Bangkok prison when a packet of white powder[1] is found in his luggage) do nothing to break his idealism (or at least never for very long).

 Owen: [on Ryan's arrest for drug smuggling in Bangkok] I think they're more lenient on this sort of thing now.

Ryan: Really?

Owen: Well, they won't kill you. They'll just give you something minor.

Ryan: [hopeful] Ah.

Owen: Probably just fifty lashes.

Ryan: I could probably cope with-

Owen: And thirty years' hard labour.

Ryan: ... right, the positives aren't immediately obvious...

Owen: You might lose some weight?

Ryan: [brightening] Yes - that is some consolation.

Notes

  1. which turns out to be organic rye flour, not heroin
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