1st March 2010
Debut of Guernsey-set comedy This is Jinsy

Jinsy is a fictional island cast adrift off the coast of France. Sound familiar? In reality, it was a stand-in for Guernsey in a surreal British comedy piloted by the BBC. The broadcaster wanted to find something new for its youth channel, BBC3. This is Jinsy looked like it might just fit the bill.

In the end, it changed its mind. After broadcasting the pilot it decided not to proceed.

But Jinsy lived on. Sky Altantic recognised its potential, and commissioned two full series, comprising 17 episodes in total. The opening episode of series one had its first airing on Monday 19 September 2011. The last entry in series two aired on Wednesday 12 February 2014.

Jinsy celebrities

Chris Bran and Justin Chubb wrote and fronted both series. Both were born on Guernsey, and they attracted some big names to play alongside them like Harry Hill and Jennifer Saunders. Other guests included Stephen Fry, David Tennant, Catherine Tate, Jane Horrocks, Katy Brand, Ben Miller, Rob Brydon, Olivia Colman and Derek Jacobi.

It’s a bit like a comedy version of The Prisoner. It focuses on Arbiter Maven and Operative Sporall, who keep watch over Jinsy’s tiny population from the Great Tower.

As the Independent described it:

Jinsy (population 971) is stuck somewhere in the 1970s, governed by Arbiter Maven – whose nasal hairs offer insights into the future – and populated by means of a random televised “marriage lottery”… it’s brilliantly done. The world that’s been created is genuinely surreal, with its televised punishment round-ups, bizarre clothing and odd religion, which sees residents don cupboards in a mistaken attempt to welcome the messiah… it offers a slice of oddball humour quite unlike anything else to be found.

Viewers and reviewers alike gave the comedy the thumbs up. It won nominations in the Rose d’Or 2010 sitcom category (for the pilot) and for best sketch show at the 2011 British Comedy Awards (for series one as a whole).

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