On his own, Mitchell has played Dr. James Vine in the BBC1 sitcom Jam & Jerusalem and Tim in the one off ShakespeaRe-Told adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew. He also is a frequent participant on British panel shows, including QI, Mock the Week and Have I Got News For You, as well as Best of the Worst and Would I Lie To You? on each of which he is a team captain, and The Unbelievable Truth which he hosts. Regarding his personal life, Mitchell considers himself a "worrier", and he lives in a small flat in Kilburn.
In a 2006 interview with The Independent, Mitchell stated his childhood dreams:
From the age of twelve he attended Abingdon School in Oxfordshire. Having always been top of the class at primary school, once he moved to Abingdon he realised that there were plenty of people smarter than he was, and so turned his attention to debating and drama "where [he] had a chance of being the best." There, Mitchell often took part in plays, "largely because you got to play cards backstage." His roles mainly consisted of small minute-long parts, until he won the role of Rabbit in Winnie the Pooh, and this was the first time that he was "consciously aware I was doing a performance" and that that "was better, even, than playing cards." Mitchell had been "obsessed" with comedy writing since his school days, as he "always felt that doing a joke was the cleverest thing", and "would intrinsically prefer a parody of something to the actual thing itself". In 1993 he went to Peterhouse, Cambridge University where he studied history. There he began performing with the famous Cambridge Footlights, of which he became president. He met Robert Webb in his first year at university, at an audition for a student pantomime of Cinderella, with the two men setting up a comedy partnership. These two factors had a detrimental effect on his university work, and he just scraped a 2.2 in his final exams. Previous jobs Mitchell had before his break into comedy included working as an usher at the Lyric Hammersmith theatre, and a job in the cloakroom of TFI Friday.
|"We have superficial differences and underlying similarities. We pretty much agree about what we think is funny. But we come across differently. We get on really. And together we're greater than the sum of our parts."|
|— Mitchell describing his partnership with Webb.|
Their first break into television acting was in 2000, on the short-lived BBC sketch show Bruiser, which they primarily wrote, and starred in. The show also featured Olivia Colman, who would become a regular cast member of Mitchell and Webb projects, and Martin Freeman, later of The Office fame. Other cast members included Matthew Holness and Charlotte Hudson. Additional material for the show was provided by various people, most notably Ricky Gervais and James Bachman.
In 2001 the two men were commissioned for a sketch show of their own, entitled The Mitchell and Webb Situation, which ran for six episodes on the former channel Play UK. Despite the show running for a mere series it was reasonably well received. Wessex Scene's Darren Richman said "what the series lacked in budget, it made up for in magnificent material" and went on to call it "far superior to the vastly overrated Little Britain" and "perhaps the greatest forgotten sketch show of modern times." Eureka! TV said that the show "gushes forth an hilarious stream of surreal and quirkily inventive sketches", as well as calling it a "cult success". Eureka! TV released The Mitchell and Webb Situation on DVD in 2005. In the interview with Wessex Scene, Mitchell stated that he was "more proud of the way it turned out than annoyed that it was only aired on a small channel."
Mitchell and Webb's next project came in 2003, with starring roles in the Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show, as flatmates Mark Corrigan and Jeremy Usbourne respectively. The show originated from writers Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain's failed attempt to complete a team-written sitcom for the BBC, they had an old script that they wanted to revive and Mitchell and Webb helped out, with it eventually evolving into Peep Show. The show was received to wide critical acclaim. The British Sitcom Guide called it "without a doubt one of the best sitcoms of the decade." Ricky Gervais has been cited as saying "the last thing I got genuinely excited about on British TV was Peep Show, which I thought was the best sitcom since Father Ted". The fifth series of the programme was shown in 2008 and a sixth has been commissioned. The BBC hailed Mitchell's performance in the series, citing that "As Mark Corrigan, David reached out to all those middle-aged men in a twentysomething's body, who believe drugs are boring and systems are necessary if society is to function at all." Mitchell has stated that he empathises with Mark and enjoys playing him and that he "agrees with many of [Mark's] opinions."
After the success of Peep Show Mitchell and Webb returned to sketch comedy with their BBC Radio 4 sketch show That Mitchell and Webb Sound, which has run for three series. The show was adapted for television and became That Mitchell and Webb Look, producer Gareth Edwards described it as "the shortest pitch [he had] ever written". The British Sitcom Guide named That Mitchell and Webb Look the "Best Sketch Show of 2006", as well as saying that it was the best thing that David Mitchell did in all of 2006. The second series of That Mitchell and Webb Look was broadcast in early 2008.
Towards the end of 2006 the pair made their first tour, with a show called The Two Faces of Mitchell and Webb. The tour was criticised as just "a succession of largely unrelated scenes" by The Guardian's Brian Logan, who gave it a rating of two stars.
Their first film, Magicians was released on 18 May, 2007. It was directed by Andrew O'Connor and written by Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain. Mitchell played the role of traditional magician Harry. Later in 2007, the pair recorded a pilot BBC Radio 2 sitcom entitled Daydream Believers, in which Mitchell played Ray, a science-fiction writer. The show was previously a one off television pilot from Channel 4's Comedy Lab, and also starred Mitchell and Webb. Mitchell and Webb are writing two comedy novels for release in 2009 and 2010, as well as a comedy television pilot for BBC2.
The duo also fronted the campaign of the UK version of Apple Inc.'s Get a Mac adverts. The adverts have received much criticism. The Guardian writer Charlie Brooker claimed that the use of Mitchell and Webb in the adverts was a curious choice. He compared the characters of PC and Mac in the adverts to that of Mark and Jeremy in Peep Show, stating that "when you see the ads, you think, 'PCs are a bit rubbish yet ultimately lovable, whereas Macs are just smug, preening tossers.' The British Sitcom Guide also criticised the pair for "selling their souls". The Telegraph wrote that an unnamed journalist called the adverts "worse than not funny", finishing that by using their comedy "for corporate ends" Mitchell and Webb committed "an act of grave betrayal". In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Robert Webb responded to the duo's critics, stating that "when someone asks, 'Do you want to do some funny ads for not many days in the year and be paid more than you would be for an entire series of Peep Show?' the answer, obviously, is, 'Yeah, that's fine'". In the same interview, Mitchell also said "I don't see what is morally inconsistent with a comedian doing an advert. It's all right to sell computers, isn't it? Unless you think that capitalism is evil - which I don't. It's not like we're helping to flog a baby-killing machine".
Mitchell has become a regular participant on many panel shows, leading The Independent's James Rampton to christen him "if not king, then certainly prince regent of the panel games." He has appeared on QI, Have I Got News For You, Mock the Week, Armando Iannucci's Charm Offensive and 8 Out of 10 Cats. As well as appearing on The Big Fat Quiz of the Year in 2005 and 2007. He was a team captain on the Channel 4 comedy quiz show Best of the Worst, opposite Johnny Vaughan. The British Sitcom Guide named Best of the Worst the "Worst Comedy Quiz Show of 2006". On 19 October 2006, he hosted the pilot edition of The Unbelievable Truth, a panel game on BBC Radio 4, in which the panellists are encouraged to lie, the show became a full series in April 2007. He is also a team captain on the 2007/8 panel show Would I Lie To You?.
He hosted the second week of Channel 4's FAQ U, and appeared as himself in an episode of Rob Brydon's Annually Retentive, a panel show parody. He also appeared as one of the participants on the Channel 4 show TV Heaven, Telly Hell. In a 2007 interview with Digital Spy, Mitchell stated that he enjoyed panel shows, as they are "a game worth playing." The Radio Times named him "The Best Comedy Panel Show Guest" in the world, stating that "he's incredibly, disgustingly witty" and "even starting to make Paul Merton look slow on the uptake".
He currently lives in a small flat in Kilburn, and cannot drive as he never took any lessons. In a 2005 interview, Mitchell admitted that he had "been in so many situations when I've just said nothing to someone I've fancied," and he has not dated anyone "for six or seven years", and is occasionally propositioned by fans. He notes that "I'm sort of all right on my own. I don't want it to be forever, but the fundamental thing is I'm all right alone." In 2007, he was best man at Robert Webb's wedding to Abigail Burdess. He remains interested in history and said in an interview with The Observer that "I can see myself in a few years' time joining the National Trust and going round the odd castle. I think I might find that restful as the anger of middle age sets in." In his interview on Parkinson he stated that if he could go back in time to do one thing, it would be to go the building of Stonehenge, to ask them "why they were doing it". He also plays the occasional game of squash and tennis, and enjoys watching snooker. Mitchell has expressed an interest in writing a novel but admitted that he currently has no ideas.
His favourite television programme is The Simpsons, which he called the "best programme ever". He claims that watching new comedy is "very stressful", and cites I'm Alan Partridge, The Office, Monty Python as being among his favourite television programmes. He also likes Extras, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Bleak House, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Terry and June and the television programmes of Adam Hart-Davis. His favourite actor is Alec Guinness, and he lists Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Peter Cook as being his comedy idols. Mitchell has stated that Morecambe and Wise, Monty Python and The Two Ronnies being a big influence on his career. He owns no records at all, and is "not remotely interested in music."
|I Could Never Be Your Woman||David|
|1997||The Jack Docherty Show||Various characters|
|1998||Comedy Nation||Various characters|
|2000||Bruiser||Various characters||Also writer|
|2001||Fun at the Funeral Parlour||Strachan||Episode "The Mountains of Doom"|
|The Mitchell and Webb Situation||Various characters||Also writer|
|2003||The Strategic Humor Initiative||Various characters|
|2003-||Peep Show||Mark Corrigan||Longest running role; three British Comedy Award wins; one BAFTA win, two BAFTA nominations, including Best comedy performance for Mitchell himself.|
|2004||Doctors and Nurses||Dr. Toby Stephens|
|2005||Twisted Tales||Ray||Episode "Nothing to Fear"; also writer|
|All About George||Jed||"Episode 3"|
|Look Around You||Pat Taylor||"Live final"|
|ShakespeaRe-Told: The Taming of the Shrew||Tim|
|2006-||Jam & Jerusalem||Dr. James Vine|
|That Mitchell and Webb Look||Various characters||Also writer; BAFTA win; British Comedy Award nomination|