As you’re here, I’ll assume that, like me, you’re a keen disciple of Peep Show. The comedy masterclass followed the oddball ensemble from 2003 to 2015 through nine series of unforgettable, toe-curling fun. Although we have plenty of episodes to be going on with – and David Mitchell and Robert Webb undoubtedly have their hands full – it’s my sincere hope that we haven’t said a permanent goodbye to the dysfunctional flatmates just yet.
The dark, invasive and often cringe-inducing comedy of the series is something so inherently British that the Americans haven’t even bothered giving it a rehash – perhaps they learned from the Inbetweeners USA disaster. Indeed, Peep Show’s pinpoint concoction of extreme characters (Alan Johnson, Superhans and Big Mad Andy), squares under pressure (Sophie Chapman, Mark Corrigan, Gerard Matthew), feckless cum-shedders (Jeremy Usborne, Superhans) and horsey posh-heads (Big Suze) makes it a treat for the viewer’s self-confidence.
No matter how bad a day you might have had, you can put on an episode of Peep Show in the evening (which inevitably turns into a series), and rest assured that Mark and Jez had an even worse one. The trailblazing ‘point of view’ style, met with a flawless cast and genius writing from Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, gives the show its unique appeal. As the cult following who attend ‘Dobby Club’ quiz events hosted by Big Mad Andy himself will attest, there’s nothing quite like a Peep Show marathon.
It’s the best comedy series of all time, and anyone who thinks otherwise clearly hasn’t seen it – or at least hasn’t seen it 100 times through and become irrevocably enveloped in the agonisingly amusing world of the El Dude Brothers.
While I can’t provide my fellow Peep Show nerds with any exciting news in the realm of forthcoming comeback episodes, I can and will take you back through what I regard as some of Mitchell’s finest moments. After all, today is Mitchell’s birthday, so let’s cue Altered Images and wish him a very happy birthday.
Without further ado, I’m going to kick you hombres off with a round of “no dice”.
David Mitchell’s best moments on Peep Show:
Anyone who’s seen Mark Corrigan for more than a minute will know he’s not one for exercise. He might momentarily see himself as a “natural jogger,” but when it comes to the crunch, he’ll remember “what an idiotic boob I was back ten or 11 seconds ago”. Mark is more your stay-at-home and settle in for a massive Fantasy War Quest sesh sort of guy.
With this in mind, it was always going to be a laugh when mark stepped onto the five-a-side pitch to play football with Dobby’s ex, Simon. After figuring out what “bibs” meant, he lurches across the pitch with the dynamism of a slug on a see-saw and saves face, slick as ever, by saying: “Sorry guys. I was gonna, you know, kick it up the other end and just put one right in their fucking goal hole, but…no dice.”
“Chance would be a fine thing”
Possibly the greatest moments on Peep Show are those in which Mark takes a plummet from grace. One of Mark’s fierce rivals in his world full of grinding resentment is Jeff, a colleague at JLB Credit. In ‘Jeremy at JLB’, Mark has finally reached the prestigious title of senior credit manager and abuses his new role to get Jeremy a job as a phone pig.
Not long after showboating his ergonomic management keyboard and prodding Jeff from his ivory tower, Mark’s boss, Johnson, announces that the UK branch of the company is being axed and that they are all “technically unemployed”. Prior to Johnson’s devastating announcement, the fire alarm is used to gather the employees in the car park. Jeff asks the newly inaugurated manager to get them some coffee. Mark’s reply is possibly one of my most used Peep Show phrases.
“Meet my sexual associate, Kenneth”
When Mark realises that he’s perhaps not the most sexually imposing mammal on mother Earth, he resorts to buying a dildo, a nine-incher. Most of the comedy comes from Mark’s intimidation in its presence as he describes it as a “leg of lamb” and names it Kenneth to “take the curse off”.
“It’s just funny,” Mitchell told NME, picking the scene out as one of his favourites. “It’s funny that he got a dildo. It’s funny that he was frightened of his dildo. It’s funny that it was in his drawer that he was scared to open. Everything about it is funny. On a normal filming day, you do a little rehearsal for the crew first. Then you do it for real. For this scene, they were absolutely loving it.”
“This is your stag”
In ‘Holiday’, Jez surprises Mark with a surprisingly pleasant-sounding weekend for his stag do. He hires out a narrowboat on the Shropshire Union Canal and even agrees to play chess with apparent enthusiasm. Predictably, Jez gets bored within minutes of the trip and offers to drink Mark’s urine to ease the monotony.
After tempting Mark into a pub for a yard of ale, Jez finds some ladies to woo. In classic Mark Corrigan style, he fails miserably to “turn it on” and “play the game” with the females. After one of them mocks the yards by saying, “can I get a metre of vodka… with an inch of tonic?” Mark, flirtation engines running at full torque, says: “Oh, uh, naughty, you’ve combined metric and imperial, you might get an interdenominational… you know, from mixing the two measurement systems, a hangover of that kind.” He internally says what we’re all thinking: “Just stay mute, Mark. You’re a social freak. Remain in your compound.”
Probably one of the most referenced moments in Peep Show is the Christmas episode – or “Christmark,” as I should probably say. The calamitous episode begins with a childish Jez, upset because he’s not getting the Christmassy vibe. For once, he’s not able to spend the festive season with his mother because she’s “sailing around the Med’ with mister potato head.” To get in the spirit, he makes a Christmas joke, but Mark’s response isn’t “very Christmassy.”
Discussing the iconic moment with NME, Mitchell said: “My wife absolutely hates this moment. It’s the only episode she refuses to watch because she feels Mark is so cruel to Jeremy. He’s just screaming at him on Christmas morning. But I am always happy to do that!”
In the same Q&A, Robert Webb said: “David was so livid, and he just went for it. It was one of the most enjoyable scenes to shoot, but it ‘wasn’t very Christmassy…’”