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Stephen Merchant set The Outlaws in Bristol as it is the ‘cocaine capital of Europe’


Stephen Merchant has enlightened fans about Bristol’s darker edge beyond the balloons and bridge it is famous for.

The proud Bristolian revealed that people have questioned why he decided to set his hit comedy thriller The Outlaws in his home city, as they don’t associate it with crime.

He responded in a video shared on his Instagram profile yesterday (Wednesday, December 8), in which he announced the BBC show had been voted best new comedy in the I Talk Telly awards.

READ MORE: Every Bristol filming location you will see in The Outlaws

The comedian shared his heartfelt thanks with fans who voted for it, describing The Outlaws as a “real labour of love for me”.

Speaking in the video Mr Merchant, who was born in Hanham, said: “Some people say to me, ‘why set a comedy drama thriller in Bristol? We don’t think of Bristol as a crime hub.’

“But a lot of people don’t realise that Bristol was actually, genuinely, voted the ‘cocaine capital of Europe’ a few years ago.”

Grinning, he went on to declare: “So we’re famous in Bristol for three things – crack and Wallace and Gromit, which we’re very proud of, as I am of this award.”

Bristol was indeed named the cocaine capital of Europe in 2019, according to researchers who examined sewage in dozens of cities around the continent.

In an interview on the Graham Norton Show in October, Mr Merchant spoke of noticing Bristol’s “crime underbelly” when he was growing up, and how his mum’s work with people on community service inspired the show.

The city’s gritty side made it an apt backdrop for The Outlaws, which follows a group of law-breakers as they carry out community service and try to stay safe from a Bristol crime gang.

Mr Merchant stars in the cast alongside actors including Christoper Walken and Eleanor Tomlinson.

He said he “deeply appreciated” fans’ support in voting for the show, which has already been renewed for a second series.

The BBC describes it as a “series that celebrates the city’s distinctive culture and people”.

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