Jen Barber works as Relationship Manager for the IT Department of Reynholm Industries. She managed to lie her way into the job when she said on her CV that she had a lot of experience with technology, despite having to be told how to pronounce the word ‘computers’. She shares the department with ‘standard nerds’ Maurice Moss, who finds incorrectly constructed circuit boards hilarious and collects wires, and Roy, whose idea of a perfect night in is Lasar Quest followed by pornography.
Jen considers herself the leader of the group despite having insufficient knowledge of the computing world. Whenever Jen leaves Roy and Moss for whatever reason, the department is sent into chaos and peace is not restored until Jen’s return. Jen shares the basement with Maurice Moss, a stereotypical “nerd” who still lives with his mother, and Roy Trenneman, the laziest worker of the department who spends his day ignoring phone calls and playing video games. Over the course of her time of five years at Reynholm Industries, Jen’s relationship with Roy has improved and they can now even be considered friends and potential love interests, although Roy is still jealous of Jen’s higher-ranking position and other boyfriends.
Jen originally worked in another office with two other female colleagues, Liz and Suzanne. Whenever their menstrual cycle was getting in the way of their work, they would all go for a ‘big girl’s night out’, which would some how rid them of stress. She was also a heavy smoker during her adulthood, however, she gave up in 2004.
For unknown reasons, Jen left her original job and moved to Reynholm Industries in late 2005. She had an interview with the Head of Reynholm Industries, Denholm Reynholm, who read her CV. Jen had falsely claimed that she had had a lot of experience with computers, and, against her wishes, was put in the IT Department where she met Maurice Moss and Roy Trenneman. She was given the job of head of the department, and was promoted to Relationships Manager due to her social skills. Despite getting on relatively well with Moss, Roy was rightly convinced that Jen did not have a sufficient knowledge of computers to work in IT, however, was forced to keep this to himself when Denholm started firing any employees who disagreed with each other. Jen continued working as Head of the IT Department with insufficient skills. One morning, Jen passed a shop window and was extremely attracted to a pair of red shoes which was being displayed. She tried to ignore them and after trying to convince herself that she did not want them, Jen eventually escaped the office and returned to the shop to by the shoes, only to find that they were several times too small for her. However, she forced the shoes onto her feet and, although they caused her extreme pain, she managed to carry on with her day-to-day life. Eventually, the pain became so intense that she was forced to see a doctor and, after freeing herself from her shoes, noticed that her feet were extremely mangled and deformed. Jen was forced to walk back to Reynholm Industries barefoot, and frightened many of her fellow employees with her contorted feet.
In a bizarre twist of unfortunate events, Jen passed by Denholm Reynholm, who was involved in a meeting with Mr. Yamamoto, head of the massive Japanese business empire, the Yamamoto Corporation. Mr. Yamamoto, who had just been given a massive pair of Doc Martin boots by Denholm as a gift, was jumping and stamping around the office, and accidentally jumped on Jen’s feet, causing her extreme pain. Jen was sent into a fit of rage and violently swore at Mr. Yamamoto. Denholm, who had ‘declared war’ on stress that day, suspected that Jen was suffering from stress and that if this was true she would be fired. Jen brought Denholm to her office where Denholm tested Jen’s stress levels, however, she was found to be free from stress.
Later that year, Jen became interested in a romantic relationship with Reynholm Industries security guard Daniel Carey. Daniel was chosen to be a contestant on the British general knowledge gameshow Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, and asked Jen to be his ‘Phone a Friend’ lifeline. Jen got a call from Chris Tarrant, host of the show, that night, where Daniel asked Jen on a date live on air before using his ‘Phone a Friend’ lifeline. Jen accepted Daniel’s offer, however, she was then asked Daniel’s question on classical music. Jen had been pretending to know a lot about classical music to impress Daniel, despite having next to no knowledge about the subject. Jen guessed the answer to the question, as it was a 50/50 choice, however, she got the question wrong, resulting in a very frosty date the night afterwards. After several weeks of her new job, Jen noticed a red door at the back of the basement where she worked. Roy and Moss suddenly became very nervous and quickly told her that it was just a storage room which they used to keep various computer parts. However, when the department was empty, Jen opened the red door, only to reveal the hidden fourth member of the IT Department, Richmond Avenal. Richmond told Jen that he was once second-in-command of Reynholm Industries, however, he was demoted to work in the IT Department when he became a goth.
Jen became very angry about the rest of the company’s treatment towards Richmond, and campaigned for him to come out of isolation and to return to his original post as second-in-command. She discussed the issue with Denholm, and managed to persuade him to take Richmond back. Denholm agreed and Richmond became second-in-command again for only a few seconds, before changing his mind and commanding Richmond to stay in the IT Department. However, Richmond was no longer forced to stay in the room behind the red door, despite spending most of his time there. Jen began dating renowned sex addict Bill Crouse and the pair went to a restaurant one evening. Bill was extremely rude to both Jen and the waiter, who Bill made several references to his resemblence to Mick Hucknall. The morning after, Jen told the whole office about her disastrous date, and told Moss that he should lie to Bill if he came looking for her. Moss, a self-proclaimed ‘terrible liar’, told Bill that Jen had died. Bill became very distraught and left flowers outside the IT Department in memory of her. Bill then proceeded to tell the whole building that he had had sex with Jen moments before her death. Jen, who was unaware that the whole company thought that she was dead, went about her daily business.
Bill, thinking that Jen is dead as well, thought that he was seeing her ghost when he noticed her around the building. Bill then went home and tried to calm himself down, however, Jen, angry that he had told everyone that he was the last person to sleep with her, tracked him down and waited outside his house in the rain. Bill noticed Jen outside and began thinking that he was being haunted by her ghost. Jen then returned to the office, where a funeral had been prepared in her memory. Jen, thinking that she had won Employee of the Month, began making an acceptance speech, only to be booed off her own funeral. Sometime after her incident with Bill, Jen began experiencing PMT when she was approaching her ‘time of the month’. Eventually, her symptoms became so intense that, whenever she was annoyed, she transformed into a gorgon-like monster with fiery red hair and a deep inhuman voice, much to the distress of her colleagues. However, these symptoms began spreading to other members of the department and Roy and Moss began crying spontaneously. Moss took it upon himself to inform the whole building of their frustrations, much to Roy‘s embarrassment.
Roy seeked Jen’s advice and decided that he, Moss and Jen should recreate a ‘big girl’s night out’ which involved watching romantic comedies and skipping arm-in-arm. Despite the Moss and Roy’s discomfort, the night seemed to cure the department’s PMT problems.
In 2007, Jen was asked out on a date to see a performance at New Wimbledon Theatre by Philip, an accountant who works on the sixth floor of Reynholm Industries. However, Roy and Moss insisted upon coming with her. When they arrived at the theatre, they found out that the play they were seeing was Gay: A Gay Musical, which raised serious doubts as to whether Philip was actually heterosexual. Not wanting to be rude, Jen, Roy and Moss went with Philip to see the play which contained graphic homoerotocism.
While Roy and Moss escaped the second half of the play by impersonating a disabled person and a member of staff, Jen remained watching the play with Philip. Jen was made extremely uncomfortable by her doubts about Philip’s sexuality, and eventually asked him on their way home if he was gay. Philip stated that he was heterosexual, and convinced Jen until he suddenly broke down in tears and confirmed that he was running from the truth that he was a homosexual. Philip then said that he only went out with Jen because she looks ‘a bit like a man’, at which point Jen fled the scene in a taxi.
In either late April or early May 2007, Denholm commited suicide by jumping out of a window 34 storeys high after irregularities were found in the company‘s pension fund. His funeral was held on May 3, and was attended by his family and the employees at Reynholm Industries, including Jen, Moss and Roy. After seeing Denholm’s video will which contained him smoking, Jen was suddenly reminded of her intense smoking habit in her early life, and was so driven to smoke a cigarette that she rushed from the church and began to smoke a dirty cigarette butt from a drain.
During the reading of the eulogy read by Derek Pippen, Denholm’s inexperienced, sexually-frustrated son, Douglas Reynholm, dramatically appeared at the church and declared himself as the new Head of Reynholm Industries. As soon as Douglas spotted Jen, he was immediately attracted to her and even began seducing her at his own father’s funeral. Later, Jen managed to escape the funeral and returned home to smoke an overwhelming amount of cigarettes. Later, Jen is expressed her frustration at the fact that the smoking area at Reynholm Industries was ‘too Soviet’
In the same year, Jen organised a single’s night dinner party with her new boyfriend, Peter File. However, due to the male guests being unable to attend, Jen was forced to replace them with Roy, Moss and Richmond. Jen was extremely reluctant to have her work colleagues at her home, and was very awkward throughout the party. During the meal, Roy, Moss and Richmond continually brought up the subject of the resemblence between Jen’s boyfriend’s name, Peter File, and the word ‘pedophile’, making Jen even more awkward.
When the party was over, Jen and Peter decided to go on a weekend break to Paris. While at the airport, Peter’s name was called out several times on an intercom in front of the whole airport, and many of the passengers also noticed its resemblence to ‘pedophile’. Jen, unable to cope with the embarrassment of having Peter File as her boyfriend, decided to leave him.
Later that year, Jen began experiencing a ‘bad bra’, which made her extremely uncomfortable during Head of Department meetings. Moss took issues into his own hands and created the Abracadabra, a revolutionary bra which, using a system of moving particles, never allowed the bra to sit in any one place. Jen began using the bra, and commented that it was one of the most comfortable bras she had ever worn. However, during an important meeting with Helen Buley, Head of BHDR Industries, the moving particles caused friction which heated the bra, causing Jen to experience extreme pain. Douglas, used to getting his own way with women, persued a relationship with Jen and asked her up to his office continually for no real reason, much to her annoyance. Douglas eventually hired Jen as his PA and tried seducing her by use of bringing her for walks and asking her to dress in provocative clothing, however, she resisted his seductions. Douglas refused to give up and travelled to a far off land to recieve what he thought was a magic love potion from a sorcerer, but was actually the drug rohypnol.
Douglas laced a cup of tea with the rohypnol and gave it to Jen while she was watching a video presentation in which a naked photo of him appeared. Fortunately, Jen did not consume the rohypnol and was not incapacitated. However, Douglas drank the tea when prompted to by Jen, as he believed it was a love potion, and instead of passing out, became extremely sexually aroused and violated Moss and Roy. All three sued Douglas, however, none of them managed to gain more than £560.
In 2008, Jen hired a builder named Gary to do some construction work on her house. Shortly after hiring him, Jen brought Roy to her house, where Roy told Jen that he had seen Gary on a TV show called Builders from Hell, and proceeded to inform Jen on the repulsive things the builders did while in the whole, particularly urinating in the sink. Jen became so worried that she returned home to supervise Gary. Jen continued to follow Gary around the house, which led him to believe that she was attracted to him.
When Jen found out about this, she was so frustrated that she called him a ‘big ugly builder’ and told him that she knew about his appearance on Builders from Hell. As it turned out, Gary had not featured on the TV show and that Roy had mistaken him for someone else. However, Jen continued to supervise Gary by use of hidden cameras around the house, and watched his every move using a series of TV monitors at the office. Ironically, Gary was so annoyed with his treatment from Jen that he urinated in her bath, however, Jen, with her pathetic knowledge of anything technological, was unable to record the footage and instead connected to a live video conversation with Head of the Yamamoto Corporation, Mr. Yamamoto, who she had met before two years ago. It is presumed that Gary finished his work at Jen’s house and then made a hasty retreat. After sueing Douglas, Jen began thinking that Head of the IT Department was not the job for her, and began looking for another job. She arranged an interview with June, the head of another business. Despite being questioned on one of her worst subjects, the acronymn I.T., the interview went relatively well and Jen came out feeling very proud of herself. However, when she returned to the office, she found that Roy, after a series of unfortunate events, was thrown out of the building and made ‘homeless’ for three hours, and Moss had been concussed after running into a door.
Jen decided that she was a vital to Moss and Roy’s welfare and that if she left them the department would descend into chaos. Jen got a call later from June who offered her the job, however, she turned it down for ‘personal reasons’. In November, 2008, Jen won Employee of the Month for the first time. She was ecstatic with her achievement as she was unaware Reynholm Industries even organised an Employee of the Month competition, and she made sure that her co-workers Roy and Moss knew fully of her accomplishment. After winning the award, she began to display a higher level of dominance over her colleagues, and seemed to be speaking down to them at times.
However, her confidence plumetted when she found out that, as Employee of the Month, she would have to make a speech at the Monthly Shareholder’s Meeting about her work as Head of the IT Department. Jen found that she was unable to write an acceptable speech and appealed to Moss and Roy for help. Though reluctant at first, Roy suddenly hatched a plan to prank Jen by writing her speech for her and making her say the most ridiculous things about computers. After some brainstorming, Roy and Moss came up with the idea of giving Jen a small black box with a glowing light on it, and convincing her that it was the Internet. Somehow, Jen believed their story, and based her speech around it.
When the speech came, Jen amazingly convinced the major stockholders of Reynholm Industries that the whole Internet was contained in the small black box and that if any harm ever reached it, the world would be sent into chaos. Roy and Moss were very disappointed with their prank, as everyone seemed to be fascinated by ‘The Internet’, however, suddenly Douglas came crashing through the wall after a fight with his girlfriend and crushed the box. The meeting was thrown into havoc and all attendants began running around the room in fear, much to Moss and Roy’s amusement. In late 2008, Jen became heavily addicted to the website Friendface.co.uk, a social networking site which allowed old friends to reunite with each other. Jen was on the website long into the night and became dependant on the website. She eventually met up with her old school friend Delina for a coffee. Jen became put under pressure when Delina told her of her seemingly perfect life. Jen, wanting to sound impressive, said that she had a husband. However, this lie turned out to be disasterous for Jen as she was asked for her and her fictional husband to attend a school reunion.
After the meeting Jen rushed back to the office and asked Roy and Moss if they had any attractive male friends, but to ill-effect. Jen eventually had to resort to paying Moss to pose as her husband for the evening. However, Moss, not being good at acting, told Jen’s friends about his unbelievable life of being a professional tennis player and having two children with Jen, Zenith and Quasar. Despite this, Jen’s friends seemed to be believing this until Roy appeared. He had been having an unsuccessful date with a girl who resembled The Joker, and wanted to get rid of her by getting Jen to pose as his girlfriend. Not knowing of Moss and Jen’s agreement, Roy rushed in and began telling his date that Jen was the love of his life.
Moss, still playing the character of Jen’s husband, began being very defensive of Jen and even slapped Roy across the face. Roy tried to play along and asked Moss to ‘take it outside’. When outside, instead of fighting each other, the pair just ran away, with Jen following soon after them. In December, 2008, Jen was asked to organise a nude calendar of the girls of the seventh floor, in aid of a charity which helped people suffering from ‘boss-eyedness’. Roy, being himself, was very keen to become the photographer, however, Jen thought that a man taking photos of naked women was sexist and alternatively arranged the grandmothers of the girls of the seventh floor to pose for the calendar. Roy scoured the city for willing any willing grans, hwoever, most were either unwilling to do it or had some disability prohibiting them from taking part.
However, Jen got a call from Douglas, who told her that the calendar must be extremely sexy and make at least one million pounds, and will hold her personally responsible if that goal is not reach. Jen panics, and realises that after persuading the seventh floor girls to not take part, her only option to make a mildly sexy calendar was to hire Moss‘ ‘geeky’ friends to pose in provocative positions. The calendar was a complete failure, and only sold to the ‘geeks’ that were in it, who got it for free.
Jen is very hard-working and commited, and is always trying to help people’s situations. She can be very persuasive and she finds it easy to talk to people. Because of this earned the title Relationships Manager. However, it is unknown what her role is exactly as Relationships Manager. Once she has set herself a goal or a task, she will go to any means necessary to achieve it.She has been known to lie to improve her own situation e.g. lying on her CV in order to secure a job. She has a very amatuerish knowledge of computers, and, despite being taught, is unable to grasp the basic essentials. She can be easily seduced by female pursuits e.g. shoes, shopping and the opposite sex, however, seems to be immune to Douglas’s methods of seduction.
It has been hinted that she has asthma and is arachnophobic. She can get very angry and agressive during her menstrual period, and adopts a strange, monstrous image, with wild red hair and a deep, inhuman voice. If she is even slightly annoyed, she will scream and is capable of shattering glass with her voice.
Jen is heterosexual, and, despite often being described as beautiful, so far she has been unsuccessful at dating men. She has had many attempted relationships in the past, including a man called Peter File, Michael, a driving-instructor who looks very much like a magician and Phillip, a shameful homosexual.
She has been known to sleep with men she wouldn’t sleep with if she was sober, such as Maurice Moss. Despite Moss seeming quite pleased with himself, Jen was horrified when she discovered what she had done, and the relationship ended between them.
Skills and abilities
- Video Games: Possibly because she is surrounded by computer fanatics, Jen is quite skilled at video games, particularly Guitar Hero, and is capable of achieving a perfect score.
- Social Skills: Jen finds it very easy to socialise with people, and has described herself as a ‘people person’, and because of this, earned the title Relationship Manager.
- Public Speaking: Jen is capable to give a speech in front of many people, and was able to convince grown adults that a small plastic box was the internet and that if it was ever harmed the world would be sent into a state of chaos.
“We should get drunk together then. We should get so drunk that we don’t know what’s going on.”
-Roy at a party with Jen
At first, Roy was rightly convinced that Jen had lied on her CV and said that she had a respectable knowledge of computers. He was constantly looking for things which could lead to her sacking, however, he was forced to give up. However, Jen and Roy’s relationship improved over time and both were seen dancing together lovingly at the ‘Thank-You Party’ for Project Icarus. At times, Jen has been known to insult and mock Roy, particularly about an incident in which he looked like he had feces on his head. However despite this, Roy looks at Jen as a friend, a boss, and a love interest. Roy even go so far as to flirt with her, as well as become jealous when she’s around other men. Also, he can be quite protective and has proved his need of her in the department on numerous occasions.
Despite this, Jen only saw Roy as a work colleague, and never as a friend, until she went to an interview for another job. There she realised that Roy and Moss need her, and that she couldn’t possibly leave them. This indicates a genuine liking for both Roy and Moss, who she had originally seen as just work associates.
Jen later admitted that Moss and Roy are her friends, and on one occasion stood up for them when Douglas began insulting.
“She’s a little bit wierd, to say the least”
—Moss’ first impression of Jen
Jen and Moss got on relatively well when they first met. Moss taught Jen some basic computer skills, but to ill-effect. Jen was quite violent towards Moss after she discovered that she had told the whole office that she was dead. However, when she discovered that Bill Crouse had been spreading rumors that he had been the last person to have slept with her, she transferred her aggresion onto him.
Jen and Moss had a very brief sexual relationship. The night after the ‘Thank-You’ Party for Project Icarus, Jen woke up to see Moss standing over her in a pink dressing gown. It is unknown what happened next, but it is probable that Jen was drunk at the time and the relationship did not continue.
Despite this, Jen only saw Moss as a work colleague, and never as a friend, until she went to an interview for another job. There she realised that Roy and Moss need her, and that she couldn’t possibly leave them. This indicates a genuine liking for both Roy and Moss, who she had originally seen as just work associates. Jen later admitted that Moss and Roy are her friends, and on one occasion stood up for them when Douglas began insulting them
“I like you, Jen. You don’t ask questions. A lot of people would be confused as to why I invited them up here then asked them to leave, not you. A person’s got to have a lot of backbone to allow herself to be ordered around like that. You’ve got spunk and balls, and I like that in a woman”
—Douglas’s impression of Jen
Immediately after seeing Jen at his father’s funeral, Douglas was hugely attracted to Jen. He used his wealth and power to try and seduce Jen into starting a relationship with him, however, this didn’t work. Douglas went to the extent of hiring Jen to be his PA and trying to drug her with rohypnol, however, after accidently consuming it himself, assaulted Moss and Roy. Jen managed to sue Douglas for only £500 for attempted sexual assault, however, Douglas was forced to wear ‘electric sex pants’ to prevent him from getting aroused.
Jen had quite a brief relationship with Denholm, as he commited suicide shortly after her employment. Jen would occasionally turn to Denholm if she had problems, and would usually report issues or problems in her office if it came to that point.
Jen attended Denholm’s funeral, and was quite shocked when she learned of his death. However, she said that she enjoyed informing the rest of the building about his death.
“Well, we’re happy to have you”
—Jen after brining Richmond out of isolation
Richmond first met Jen shortly after she joined the department. After being told by Moss and Roy that she should not open the red door leading into the store room, her curiosity got the better of her and she discovered the existence of Richmond. When she discovered the living conditions that Richmond was forced to endure and his treatment from Moss and Roy, she campaigned for him to be brought out of isolation. She succeeded, and she treated Richmond well.
However, it seemed that she shared the idea that Richmond was depressing and once Richmond frightened her so much that she screamed. Although she would never tell him, she finds Richmond depressing and never considered him a true friend.
Jen is usually seen in work clothes, wearing a jacket and a knee-length skirt. She can sometimes be seen wearing earrings and has an extreme weakness for shoes, and will go to the ends of the earth to wear a fashionable pair. She is usually seen wearing make up, and holds the opinion that ‘less is more’.
Jen’s eyes are green and her usual hair colour is strawberry blonde, however, she dyed it brown in 2007. She may tie it back or let it down depending on occasion. Jen has been described as beautiful in the past and many men are attracted to her, however, she cannot seem to hold a relationship together.
Behind the scenes
- Jen is portrayed by actress and comedienne, Katherine Parkinson.
- The length and colour of Jen’s hair varies throughout the series. In Series One, Jen has shoulder-length strawberry blonde hair, however, in Series Two, she has much longer hair which is dark brown in colour. Later on in Series Three, Jen has hair similar to what she had in Series One, while in Series Four, her hair remains strawberry blonde however it has since grown several inches.
- In a poll conducted by Channel 4, Jen is the least favourite character in the show as of June 2010, with only 6% of the overall vote.
- Jen has appeared on two British TV shows: Dragon’s Den and Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, embarrassing herself on national television on both occasions.