In Peep Show S1E1 (at 9:54, to be specific) there is this piece of dialogue between the main character and some unpleasant kids:

Kid: Look, it's Clean Shirt.

Man: (thinks) 'Clean Shirt? Isn't that good? '

Kid: How do you get that shirt so clean?

Man (thinks) Use the power of reason.'

Man: Look, I know it must be difficult being a kid. Not a lot of schemes. But You know, I'm not the borough.I wish I was but

Kid: fuck off, Clean Shirt.

Man: I'm just a man.

I couldn't find any appropriate meanings for the words schemes and borough, which would fit in this context. Could you provide me with some of your suggestions?

  • It's here on Youtube (around 10.05). Note that "Use the power of reason" is the nervous narrator talking to himself, not explaining how he gets his shirt so clean. The epithet "clean shirt" has no currency - it's just made up for the skit, but it implies Mitchell's character is "middle class", whereas the kids are "dirty street urchins". And it's The local council here doesn't run a lot of schemes to provide things for young people to do. And I'm not [on] the borough council. That's why the kids are roaming the streets (which bothers him). Commented May 14 at 19:46
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    Unless you're a native Anglophone, I don't think watching Peep Show is a very good idea! There's a lot of one-off wordplay that will just be frustrating, with no useful payoff in terms of learning how to speak naturally in English. The set of Peep Show has always been "unusual" on many levels, including the use of language. Commented May 14 at 19:49
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    ...but note that Mitchell's character isn't remotely interested in the well-being of the kids when he laments the lack of council-run schemes (youth clubs, etc.). He's intimidated by them, and just wishes the council would do more to keep them off the streets. Commented May 14 at 19:56

1 Answer 1


"Schemes": Literally an organised plan for doing something. In context he is referring to "Youth schemes" a term that is now rather dated for various plans to provide for training or activities for young people such as the youth training scheme. But also things like youth clubs etc. Some schemes were national but other were run by local government.

"Borough" an administrative district in a city, particularly London. "I'm not the borough" means "I'm not responsible for providing "schemes" for young people".

The whole interaction is awkward, unnatural, and strained.

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