The world according to Londyńczycy

As an Englishman living in Poland I am legally required to watch Londyńczycy, at least that’s what my wife tells me and she wouldn’t lie about a thing like that. I’ve never seen the inspectors myself but she tells me they came round a couple of times when I was out to check I was watching and were very angry. Just to be on the safe side I’ve been paying extra special attention to the program during those brief parts of the hour I’m able to remain conscious. If you’ve never seen or heard of Londyńczycy it’s a weekly soap opera about Poles living in London, also I would like to swap my life with yours.

The basic premise of Londyńczycy is that London is a cross between the Thunderdome out of Mad Max and an experimental institute dedicated to testing the moral fibre of Poles. So it’s fairly accurate. Nobody in the series has anything approaching a happy, constructive or fortunate time in the city. In that respect the series has obviously taken some pointers from Britain’s homegrown London-based soap Eastenders. Are there any Poles in Eastenders now? It’s so long since I even thought about Eastenders I just got that feeling I imagine ex-cons get when they suddenly realize they’ve been out of prison for five years already.

In the finest tradition of television drama Londyńczycy takes some generous liberties with locations, characterizations, and basic logic in order to satisfy the preconceptions of its viewers. For example, I conducted an exhaustive survey of the non-Polish characters in the London of Londyńczycy and came up with the following population break down:

Londynczycy chart

A typical Londyńczycy episode

Scene 1: The street outside Marek’s 120 m2 bedsit in Mayfair that he can somehow afford.

Marek is on his way to buy milk at the local corner shop which, like everything else in London, is next to Tower Bridge. He bumps into one of the knife-wielding drug dealers who make up 90 percent of the area’s residents.

Drug dealer: Hey! Why don’t you watch where you’re going you dumb Polack! Love a duck, apples and pears, innit.

Marek: Hold your horses old fellow. I’m simply on my way to buy innocent wholesome milk. Dupek.

The drug dealer slopes off with a sneer having assumed “dupek” means “you’re absolutely right.”

Scene 2: Corner shop interior. Mr Dim Luc, the Korean corner shop owner, is stacking cans of Zywiec and moaning about foreigners.

Marek: Mr Luc old chap, I see there is no milk.

Dim Luc: Ah yes my friend, but there is an illicit truck full of milk coming in this afternoon from Gdansk. If you can come up with 5,000 English pounds I can let you have the whole shipment.

Marek: What an interesting idea.

Marek does acting to show his inner struggle to overcome his natural Polish goodness and innocence in the face of the evil necessities of Crisis London. Finally, he phones his wheeler-dealer cousin, Darek.

Scene 3: Interior of Darek’s palatial office. Tower Bridge is visible through the window. Darek is drinking whiskey and looking vaguely worried about some numbers on a computer screen, but not doing any actual work. His phone rings.

Darek: Good day.

Marek: Cousin. I have a proposition for you…

Darek: I hope it’s better than that scheme to corner the market in barszcz czerwony you dragged me into last week. Especially since the barszcz czerwony cartons were actually full of amphetamines that we couldn’t possibly have known anything about…

Scene 4: Later that day. A dingy warehouse under a motorway flyover. Tower Bridge is visible in the background. Marek is waiting and nervously counting 5,000 pounds in unused notes. His phone rings.

Marek: Kasia… not now my love. Maybe when this madness is over and I can build you that little house in Jelenia Gora we can talk… hello… hello…

An articulated lorry with “Mleko Goodness” written on the side pulls into the warehouse. The driver climbs down from his cab, hugs Marek, takes the money, and rushes off in the direction of Tower Bridge. Gangsters appear, some of whom are American for no apparent reason, and immediately pull guns as if they were in a Bruce Willis movie rather than under the westbound Hammersmith flyover. One of the gangsters is the drug dealer Marek bumped into in scene 1.

Drug dealer: Okay punk, hand over the keys or I’ll pop a cap in your arse.

Marek: Please no. I paid for this milk fair and square.

Drug dealer: Oh it’s you, the dumb Polack who doesn’t look where he’s going (laughter from other gangsters, who are apparently severely starved of entertainment). That was bang out of order don’t you know. Now hand over the keys and we’ll be out of here with our seven tons of cocaine that you couldn’t possibly have known anything about.

Marek: I didn’t know anything about that!

Londynczycy1

“I say old chap, would you care for a cuppa before I off your sorry arse?”

Scene 5: Marek loses his cousin’s money but, in a bizarre and unlikely turn of events, saves the life of the drug dealer who instantly undergoes a radical reassessment of his racist attitudes towards Poles. He carries on being a drug dealer though. Darek drinks whiskey while staring out of the window at Tower Bridge but also doing acting to suggest he is staring at the lush meadows of Poland. Then he goes home and shags a nurse. Kasia flicks through a fashion magazine and dreams of becoming a fashion person of some kind. Then she stares out of the window at Tower Bridge waiting for Marek to call… etc.

Exporting Londyńczycy

In a turn of events that can only be described as “bizarre” because a more appropriate word for such mind-bending levels of illogicality has yet to be invented, the makers of Londyńczycy have come under severe attack in Poland for wanting to sell the series abroad. According to Uzar News “The National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) does not want to permit the series Londyńczycy (Londoners) being broadcast on foreign TV stations. ” Why? Because: “Polish ex-pats claimed that the series features Polish people involved in quarrels, selling drugs and marital infidelity.”

I can, in fact, confirm that British people never imagine Poles in Poland getting involved in quarrels, selling drugs and committing adultery. This is for much the same reason that we never think about pebbles in the South China Sea being wet; namely because its bleedin’ obvious. Do these people seriously believe the rest of the world imagines Poland to be an earthly paradise where oaths are never uttered, fidelities never broken, and drugs freely distributed under some government joy scheme? Pressing the issue a little further would it be unfair of me to point out that this is a series about the real life phenomenon of Poles living in London? That being the city in the United Kingdom where lots of Poles and an even larger number of non-Poles live, in real life. Presumably the logic behind this objection is that nobody in London has so far noticed the Poles living amongst them or, if they have, haven’t so far cottoned on to the fact that they are human beings like the rest of us.

Londynczycy3

I have nothing to say about this that you couldn’t already imagine me saying.

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28 thoughts on “The world according to Londyńczycy

  1. Ugh, TV.

    Frankly, God invented The Pirate Bay for a reason and that reason is that so you can watch something that has production values (and in your own language).

    PS: Just so you don’t think that I think all Polish stuff sucks, I loved Dzien Swira (I deeply sympathized with the main guy, Adas Miauczynski). Now that I think about it, I mostly thought TV in the US was crap, too, and the TV wasn’t really turned on much for the last six months I lived there. Yes there is good stuff on TV, but I’ll just wait for it on DVD or The Internet. The good stuff isn’t good enough to sit through all the rest of the garbage.

  2. Malcolm says:

    With your comments about exporting bad country specific TV: Unfortunately it is common practice. For example Australia produced McCleods Daughters (or is it McLeods? I dunno), which is based in the outback (where 99% of the population of DON’T live). This is ridiculous drama not dissimilar to ‘Londoners.’ But because it is so bad, no-one watches it and the people who do watch it don’t get out much. Nobody has ever once judged my character as an Australian based on what they have seen on that show.
    The British equivalent would be Doctor Who (tongue in cheek – no hate mail please!), which when it is shown, is shown at 1AM on TVP1. Do Poles avoid going to London at Christmas time because they are afraid of the Daleks? No, I didn’t think so.
    Do Poles think that India is full of young men and women dressed in colourful frocks singing and dancing all the time?
    I guess my conclusion is that I agree with Island1. Even if another country imports ‘Londoners,’ it won’t have any affect whatsoever on their perception of Poland.

  3. Ania says:

    …’shags a nurse’, hehe. See? there’s goodness in London ;)

    I’ve seen one episode and I was bored to death, too. Onet.pl is so much better for drama.

    Why upset? Would you be interested in writing a script of a series taking place in a small village in Wales where the hero is the only single Pole ever to wander there, watches football in the pub and the story is based on his attempts to shag the young and rosy schoolteacher? TVP is always looking for fresh scripts.

  4. Kiki says:

    As a Polish woman living in England, I am legally denied the pleasure to watch Londynczycy, and I am not going to install a satellite dish just to be able to do so.
    Therefore I fully rely on your views and comments,
    somehow not being suprised that the whole thing sucks…
    In my opinion such soaps do more harm than good, they only impregnate the people’s minds with more stereotypes.

    But I think the idea was, to show the life of the common Polish people in London to the Polish people at home, not to the foreigners abroad?
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s what I heard.

    Showing the life of the common Polish people in London to the British public or any other foreign public for that matter – is an entirely different thing I suppose.

  5. island1 says:

    I wouldn’t say you’re missing anything, but it’s not that bad. It can be quite entertaining, often hilariously so to a Brit. I can’t imagine they could ever sell it in the UK anyway.

  6. island1 says:

    Not upset. I enjoy watching it for the unintentional hilarity.

    Would the hero say “I am the only Pole in the village” at regular intervals? Regrettably I don’t believe any TV company would buy it, if there is any nation more sensitive to criticism than Poland it’s Wales, not necessarily unjustifiably.

  7. island1 says:

    I avoid going to London at Christmas time for fear of Daleks.

  8. island1 says:

    I also don’t think all Polish TV sucks. Most of it, but not all. Londyńczycy isn’t so bad, it’s just very funny sometimes.

  9. kika says:

    God forbid.

  10. Ania says:

    :D I do feel some kinship! They’ve got green meadows there.

  11. Steven says:

    With the age of laptop online tech. unfortunatley, many writers and editors are now able and do work from the pub rather than the traditional desk cube…

  12. Malaysian says:

    I have one question : How did the drug dealer know that Marek was Polish when Marek bumped into him and have not uttered a single word ?

  13. magsymags says:

    I hate Londynczycy and I hate that everyone wants to talk about it and wonder if its true or not, what they’ve seen in the tv.
    There’s one thing about polish tv series – one of them shows hospital with nurses like angels and where everyone is so lovely and they never getting mad and the hospital is the beautiful surrounding of the forest. Another one is about young people with problems that me, as a young person, have never had, and also they’re so sweet and at the same time they act so stupid and unrealistic that I feel like puke everytime I watch it. Another one is longlasting crap and one of its main stars has been recently caught DIU, but also, in this series everyone is almost a saint. Oh, I forgot about the lawyer’ series, where there were spending their time at dating, talking, gossiping, they were young and had plenty of time to cry and to laugh and ditch work, so that everyone thinks right now that lawyers do nothing at all while the’yre at work.
    The truth is polish tv series has never been and never will be close to real life. It’s just a fairy tale for old ladies that sit at their homes and they can know something about life from these series. So in my opinion it’s realy not worth my comment nor your article.

  14. island1 says:

    Not sure, but it seems to be a rule in the Londyńczycy universe.

  15. pinolona says:

    You know what? I don’t think there are any Poles in Eastenders. That’s really weird…

  16. pinolona says:

    Kiki you can watch it in odcinki on Youtube… (not that I watch Polish soap online… ahem…)

  17. Raf Uzar says:

    OK, I’m gonna make a brave admission here: I have actually been in/acted in/played a role in Londyńczycy – I had a cameo part in episode 7 as a music journalist. I’ve never actually watched the show and have absolutely no idea what it’s about but I’m pretty sure it’s cack. However, that hasn’t stopped thousands watching it. It’s a sad fact of media life that the more pap and cack is out there, the more people watch it. Ho hum…
    Raf
    http://uzar.wordpress.com/

  18. Pawel says:

    Oh dear, Polish TV sucks big time. This is an all time truth.

    This season TVP launches a new series with nuns. As fake as everything they do. There are like three series about priests already, if you consider religious programmes, and church service coverage one might think we’re in the Vatican.

    There are tiny tiny exceptions to the suck rule. Like “Kasia i Tomek” here and there, but that doesn’t change the general rule. Actually this is an idea for the next post – why does Polish tv suck?

    In the meantime all those in Poland who like British tv, can watch it all online, if they use VPN – Virtual Private Network.

  19. andy says:

    i have just had to watch the bold and the beautiful on polish tv and i must say if i ever meet anyone who cant sleep then i will tell to watch this show that will sure make them sleep the best thing about polish tv no eastenders or coronation st,there is a god

  20. paul carr says:

    Why doesn’t Poland just give up making TV dramas and just import the best stuff from the UK and US? Stick to what you do best, after all we don’t make vodka in the UK.

  21. Iceteajunkie says:

    I, for one, enjoy this series. Most likely not the way the director intended, but that’s not relevant. Its absurdity is so high, I just can’t wait till next episode. :D

  22. Iceteajunkie says:

    Weren’t those Sycorax? :P
    But I’ve stopped watching the new Doctor, after they switched the actor. Eccleston was brilliant in that role, Tennant… oh well, all teens loved him. So there.

  23. pinolona says:

    I still haven’t seen Kasia i Tomek, can you download it somewhere?

  24. wojtek says:

    Well, ‘Kasia i Tomek’ were in stock some time ago as a DVD series so you can buy or maybe even borrow it from library… But it’s only 30zł for 3-seasons’ box in merlin.pl, so it’s cool. However, there are also torrents, and Poles, yes, we’re good at it ;)

  25. Ben says:

    Thank you for a good belly laugh!

    I was one of the (British) actors in both series of Londynczycy, and found myself both reading the scripts and watching the actual episodes in incredulity!

    What the Polish writers apparently think of the Brits is hilarious, but as you touched upon, the reaction of how Poles were being portrayed abroad was (amongst the cast a crew) quite incredible!

    I spent a large portion of my time explaining to anyone that would listen that “An Englishman, no matter what his job/race/accent/sexual slant, just would not say/do/ this, that or the other.

    I’m told no series in 2010 due to money, but possibility of a series in 2011…here’s hoping you get some more comedy Polaks in London on TVP1 next year!!

    D

  26. Tim Richards says:

    Great post. Strangely makes me want to see it even more (I travel to both Poland and the UK regularly from Australia). Oddly, I can vividly picture this series, as it sounds exactly what an Australian TV series set in a foreign country would be like: full of lame dialogue, ethnic stereotypes and lots of shots of famous landmarks.

    For those interested in seeing it – I’ve just ordered it online from Merlin.pl, which worked out much cheaper than Amazon UK or Empik.com (it was even cheaper than the Polish shop just down the street here in Melbourne). There’s not much English on the Merlin site, but Google Translate helped out.

    BTW I write about Poland semi-regularly on my travel blog at http://www.aerohaveno.com/ if you’re interested.

    Cześć!
    Tim Richards

  27. Agnieszka says:

    I don’t get polish soaps… and as for “Londynczycy”… after watching that series, my grandmom started fearing for my well being because I stayed in england at the timeXD

  28. Julia says:

    Thank GOD English soaps are SO much better!

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