Chaotic wheeler-dealer letting agents don’t get much more incompetent than Stath.
The bumbling brainchild of Bafta Award-winning writer and comedian Jamie Demetriou, the endearingly earnest “gangster agent” of Stath Lets Flats is finally ready to “take himself seriously” – or so claims the show’s creator.
The was concept born out of a Channel 4’s Comedy Blaps, which aims to uncover emerging comic talent, and the journey of Stath Lets Flats to our screens was anything but straightforward.
A decade-long battle involving five years of script development and a repetitive process of churning out drafts “took its toll”, the comic recounts.
Yet this saw Demetriou become “incrementally better” as a writer, he says. Now he thinks that had series one of Stath Lets Flats been picked up earlier, his lack of experience in script writing would have led to an “uneven” series.
As he carries the show kicking and screaming into a highly anticipated third series, Demetriou’s character – incompetent Greek-Cypriot estate agent Stath – continues to exhibit delusions of grandeur. But with fatherhood now upon him, the realities of adult life are set to hit the wannabe property mogul.
“I definitely think there are some similarities there with my upbringing,” says Demetriou of Stath’s approach to fatherhood. “My dad was, and still is, undeniably loving and loves me to the hilt, but… I think it’s quite a Euro thing to decide you love [a child] before they’re born.”
Describing an automated thought pattern of “I know that I love him, so I don’t have to do anything”, Demetriou explains how this principle applies to his on-screen character – a man who has done “no research into what takes place during fatherhood” and hasn’t wrapped his head around the basic concept of “earning money”.
Also starring sibling and fellow comic Natasia Demetriou (What We Do In The Shadows) as Jamie’s on-screen sibling – a character set to deal with the fallout of confessing her love for Stath’s best friend – series three will feature a number of guest stars including Julia Davis (Nighty Night), David Avery (We Are Lady Parts) and Charlie Cooper (This Country).
In spite of his own financial predicaments, Stath remains set on rescuing the family letting agency, Michael & Eagle, from financial ruin, even as the business has resorted to operating out of the family’s cramped North London home.
Stath Lets Flats continues to draw inspiration from Demetriou’s childhood stomping ground.
“I really wanted to shoot it in Harringay in Green Lanes – that’s where my dad always used to go and play cards when I was a kid,” says Demetriou. “I’d have to go and grab keys or whatever and then get sort of engulfed in the cigarette smoke of an internet cafe he was playing cards in.
“I think most people know Stath as a letting agent – as in ‘Oh, I’ve met that letting agent’ but people from Barnet and Harringay and those sorts of areas are like, ‘Oh, that guy’s actually my brother’.”
At university he became “really frustrated” at the underwhelming reception his material received, but now Demetriou is glad of the experience, describing it as a time in which he “learnt the lessons”.
“What advice would I give myself? Maybe start earlier,” says Demetriou on reflection. “But at the same time, it’s quite hard to advise that guy because he was so lazy at a point. I don’t think he would have taken it. I think he would have been like, ‘Who’s this weird, big nosed Greek guy?’”
“I always think that you’re better off learning your lessons in the dark, so that when the light turns on and people can see you, you’re prepped.”
Demetriou has now had starring roles in films including the Will Ferrell-fronted spoof Eurovision: The Story Of Fire Saga, as well as series including the Bafta Award-winning comedy Fleabag and the forthcoming Chris Miller penned murder mystery The Afterparty. His career seems to be on a steady upward trajectory.
Demetriou’s recent projects have been skewed towards film and television over live comedy, as there is “more control” and “an edit to save you”. Creatively, he likens stand-up to strawberries – elaborating that “strawberries are better than any other fruit” – before shaking his head and declaring it “an unnecessary analogy”, and saying that he continues to consider stand-up as “sacred”.
“I don’t really get paid to do it and I quite want to keep it that way,” says Demetriou. “I don’t ever want to be financially reliant upon stand-up because it’s so pure, and it’s something that I can do without worrying about whether or not getting gigs is going to allow me to pay the rent.”
He believes that the devastating impact of lockdown on the live entertainment sector has helped to make mobile apps an exciting opportunity for emerging comic talent.
“People’s eyes are so drawn to Instagram and TikTok; there’s a world in which there’s a better avenue to enter the industry because people take those people so much more seriously,” says Demetriou earnestly.
“When I think about every new exciting act I’ve seen in the past year, I’ve seen [them] on Instagram and TikTok – which anyone’s allowed to go on. You don’t have to be booked for a gig, you can do whatever you want. And if there is something special about you, the likelihood is people will cotton on to it, which I actually think is a beneficial standpoint.”
Stath Lets Flats returns to Channel 4 on October 26 at 10pm. All episodes will be available on All 4