David Mitchell Profile

Peep Show star David Mitchell is one of Britain's finest comic talents. He also has a rather worrying interest in alarm clocks.

David Mitchell

He's created trailblazing sketch shows, starred in a critically adored sitcom, and been called the greatest panel show guest in the world. Not bad for someone who bears a slight resemblance to a startled aardvark.

Has anyone yet called David Mitchell the UK's answer to Woody Allen? Well, by God, they should have. Who else in our comedy establishment is so good at turning neurotic angst into belly laughs? But don't be fooled by his hapless Peep Show persona - Mr Mitchell is a lean (well, slightly chunky), mean showbiz machine. He was even the President of Footlights at Cambridge, having been single-mindedly intent on breaking into comedy ever since he was a young buck.

Nothing was ever going to get in between David and his dreams of comedic wonder...except maybe his brief schoolboy dreams of becoming Prime Minister, that is. Can you imagine how much better Britain would have turned out if this David was at the helm? There certainly wouldn't be any need for tuition fees – David would simply have invited our feckless youth to Downing Street, imparted his wisdom, dished out a special cap and gown and been done with it. Luckily comedy's gain was politics' loss.

It was at Cambridge that David met Robert Webb, the yin to his yang, the nougat to his chocolaty biscuit base (in Double Decker terms). After a few false starts (including a show about the Great War acclaimed by Webb himself as "f-king terrible"), they went and starred in the blinding masterpiece that is Peep Show. As with all great sitcoms, no-one watched it for ages - no-one except a hardcore battalion of comedy nerds, those eccentric prospectors out in the wilderness of the TV schedules who bravely spread the word and alerted the wider public to the programme. God bless 'em.

Earning the admiration of Ricky Gervais, a man more used to praising himself, Peep Show catapulted Mitchell to the glitzy, musical chairs-like world of comedy panel shows. Flitting from one to the other, alongside a permanent post on Would I Lie To You? Mitchell's been dubbed by some hacks as the best panel show comic of all time. All of which would be absolutely nauseating if Mitchell wasn't reassuringly geeky and odd.

Being the bookish nerd that he is, Mitchell has previously claimed that he quite fancied himself as the next Doctor in Doctor Who, but admitted he probably wasn't good looking enough (anyone else want to wrap him up in a woollen blanket and rock him gently to sleep?). Having given up on this sci-fi scheme, David ended up narrating Beauty and the Geek instead. Well, water finds its level, as they say.

He claims to have gone seven years without dating, and keeps himself alive by having two alarm clocks by his bed - one to wake him and the other to switch off before it rings (he'll definitely die if he doesn't, you see). He also sees no point in music and likes old things. So, in retrospect, let's ignore what we said at the beginning of this piece - Mitchell is exactly like his Peep Show alter ego, albeit considerably richer and more fancied by comedy groupies of a certain persuasion.

While David's film career hasn't been quite as splendid as his telly work, here's hoping that he and Webb can follow Magicians with something a bit better than Magicians. In the meantime, we'll continue to revel in Mitchell's bulgy-eyed comic genius; after all, there's not many who can combine sketch show surrealism with old school observational brilliance.

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