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David Mitchell

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Peep Show is something of an anomaly. While most revered British sitcoms (The Office, Spaced, Fawlty Towers) tend to span only a couple of series, the trials and tribulations of Mark Corrigan and Jeremy Usborne are now on the cusp of their eighth season. More remarkably, the show seems to get funnier with each episode. We sat down with David Mitchell (Mark) to discuss the latest series, as well as politics, his passion for walking and why he considers product endorsement akin to prostitution…

What’s Mark up to as the new series begins?

He’s desperate for Dobby to move in and Jeremy to move out. Also, he gets a job in a bathroom supplies store, thanks to Super Hans. That’s a new low for him, being head-hunted by Super Hans [laughs].

With the success of The Inbetweeners film, has the idea of a Peep Show film ever been mooted?

We’ve always discussed it but we feel doing a film would mean the end of the TV series. I think if [Peep Show’s creators] Sam [Bain] and Jesse [Armstrong] decided to stop [doing the show], we might discuss a film as a last hurrah. But we’ve always felt we should keep the series going as long as possible. Anyway, a ‘Mark and Jez go to Barbados’-type thing wouldn’t really work. I don’t think Mark and Jeremy would choose to go on holiday together [laughs].

You’ve spoken in the past about similarities between Mark and yourself. Do you think you get more like him as time goes by?

It probably stays about level. I definitely share his innate suspicion of novelty and his ‘conservative with a small ‘c’’ and ‘cynical with a big ‘C’’ approach. But Mark’s a deeply disappointed and self-loathing man… [David’s phone beeps]. Sorry, I forgot to switch it to ‘Airplane’ mode. It should be ‘Aeroplane’ mode, of course. That always hurts me.

That was a slightly ‘Mark’ observation…

[Laughs] Yes, there you go.

Have you encountered any bizarre celebrity Peep Show fans?

I heard that David Bowie has a Peep Show DVD. And someone else told me that Sam Neill was really into it.

It’s hard to imagine how David Bowie would relate to Mark and Jez’s humdrum existence…

[Laughs] Yes. I don’t know whether Bowie can have lived ‘normally’ since about 1970.

You’ve also branched out into political satire with 10 O’Clock Live. Have you ever considered going into politics yourself?

When I was at school, I seriously thought I’d be a politician when I grew up. But then, that was only a few years after I seriously thought I’d be a wizard. Then, when I got to university, I found that I really didn’t like the student politicians. I still don’t like politicians now. It frightens me how much they must thirst for power if they’re willing to go through what they go through – being slagged off by the public and the media – to obtain it. I don’t want people in charge of us who are that desperate to be in charge of us. Because that’s the sign of the tyrant. Thatcher, for instance, would have done anything for power, and thank God we had a robust democratic regime where she could be removed from power. If she’d grown up to rule in a different country, she might still be ruling it with an iron rod now.

Do you have any interest in trying to ‘break America’?

If I was offered a part [in a Hollywood film] I might take it, but I’m not up for going out there to try to forge a career.

Why not?

Have you been to LA?

Yes.

Then you know why not [laughs]. It’s an ugly, urban, sprawling, centre-less place.

And very anti-walking…

Oh, very. You’d probably get arrested for walking in LA. I wouldn’t want to live there. I’m a bit xenophobic, I suppose. I like the country I’m from. It’s always been British people I’ve wanted to make laugh. I worry that I wouldn’t be funny in America. Or that I’d only be funny because I’ve got a funny voice.

Is it true you’re writing a film about cricket?

[Laughs] No. I said I liked cricket once in an interview, so maybe that’s where that idea came from. And I do like cricket but I don’t love cricket. The problem is, we live in a culture where people just aren’t interested in moderation. So, any sniff of an association with cricket and suddenly it’s, “Oh, he’s cricket mad! He’s like John Major with cricket!” And now I get invited to loads of cricket things and cricket charities get in touch. I just want to keep my interest in cricket moderate [laughs].

Your wedding to [journalist and broadcaster] Victoria Coren is coming up and Robert Webb’s the best man. Are you worried about him roasting you in his speech?

No, I’m not expecting a roasting. We’ve never had that sort of relationship. The problem with many best men is they think the worst thing that could happen is that their speech isn’t funny. That’s horse sh*t. The worst thing that could happen is that their speech offends half the guests and makes the mother of the bride cry. My advice to any best men out there is if you’re writing your speech and you think, “Is this bit funny or offensive?” – take it out.

Finally, what’s the weirdest acting offer you’ve received?

I get all sorts of weird offers for ads. I’m not against doing the odd advert, but there’s a big difference between acting in an advert and actually endorsing the product as a human being. I’ll occasionally get someone saying, “We’re launching a new form of insurance and we’re hoping you might get involved for some ‘media days’.” So, they don’t just want me to play a funny shopkeeper in a TV advert – they want me to pretend that I actually give a sh*t about their product. That’s basically the difference between doing a sex scene and being a whore [laughs].

That’s a great thought to end the interview on.

Yes [laughs]. Always end an interview on the word “whore”.

The new series of Peep Show starts on Channel 4, 25 November at 10pm

(Image: Rex Features)

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