David Mitchell (actor)

David Mitchell (born 14 July, 1974) is a British actor, comedian and writer. He is best known as one half of the comedic duo Mitchell and Webb, alongside Robert Webb whom he met at Cambridge University. There they were both part of the Cambridge Footlights, of which Mitchell became President. Together the duo are most famous for starring in the Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show in which Mitchell plays Mark Corrigan. The show has received a BAFTA and won three British Comedy Awards. The duo have written and starred in several sketch shows including The Mitchell and Webb Situation, That Mitchell and Webb Sound and most recently That Mitchell and Webb Look. Mitchell and Webb also star in the UK version of Apple's Get a Mac advertisement campaign. Their first film Magicians, in which Mitchell plays traditional magician Harry, was released on 18 May, 2007.

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.

Early life

Mitchell was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England to Ian and Kathy Mitchell, who were then hotel managers, and has a brother. In 1977 his parents gave up their jobs in order to look after a then two year old David Mitchell. The family moved to Oxford where Mitchell's parents became lecturers on hotel management at Oxford Brookes University.

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.


Mitchell and Webb

"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.
The two put together their first project in January 1995, a show about the First World War entitled Innocent Millions Dead or Dying: A Wry Look at the Post- Apocalyptic Age. Robert Webb later described it as being "fucking terrible". After leaving university he and Webb began performing a number of two-man shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. From this, the duo were given the chance to write for Armstrong and Miller and for series two of Big Train.

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".

Solo work

Although more widely known alongside Webb, Mitchell has appeared on his own in several shows. He played technical expert Owen in the Radio 4 sitcom Think the Unthinkable in 2001. He played the surgeon Dr. Toby Stephens in the BBC2 sitcom Doctors and Nurses. In 2005 he played Kate's hapless secretary Tim in the BBC's updating of The Taming of The Shrew in its ShakespeaRe-Told series. Mitchell appeared as various roles on the Channel 4 sketch programme Blunder. The show was not well received, with the British Sitcom Guide naming it as the worst thing that Mitchell did in all of 2006 in their "British Sitcom Awards" of that year. He portrayed the recurring character of Dr. James Vine in the BBC sitcom Jam and Jerusalem. Mitchell appeared in a small cameo role as a photographer in the 2006 film Confetti, which starred Robert Webb. Mitchell had a small part in the film I Could Never Be Your Woman, playing an English writer, also named David. Whilst in Los Angeles to record the part he decided that he did not like the area much, and preferred filming in Britain. He has also written for series five of the BBC2 impressionist sketch show Dead Ringers. In 2006, he narrated the "social experiment" Beauty and the Geek. Mitchell has also expressed interest in succeeding David Tennant as the Doctor in Doctor Who, but commented that he would not be attractive enough.

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".


Mitchell and Webb's comedy has won and been nominated for several awards. Peep Show won the British Comedy Award for "Best TV comedy" in 2006, and retained it the following year with Mitchell himself winning "Best Television Comedy Actor. The pair shared the 2007 Royal Television Society Award for "Comedy Performance". It won "Best TV Comedy" at the South Bank Show Awards, and claimed a Golden Rose in 2004. In 2004 Peep Show was nominated for the BAFTA for \"Best Situation Comedy\", and the pair were jointly nominated for \"Best Television Comedy Actor\" at the 2006 British Comedy Awards. That Mitchell and Webb Look won the BAFTA for "Best Comedy Programme or Series" at the 2007 awards. It was nominated for two British Comedy awards in 2006: "Britain's Best New TV Comedy" and the "Highland Spring People's Choice". Their stage tour The Two Faces of Mitchell and Webb was nominated for the British Comedy Award for "Best Stage Comedy", and That Mitchell and Webb Sound won a Sony Silver Award. In 2005, the duo themselves were placed ninth on a list of the United Kingdom's best television talent, and were named twelfth in a Radio Times list of the most powerful people in television comedy.

Personal life

Mitchell is constantly "checking and re-checking things", such as whether the door is locked or whether he's left the gas on. He describes himself as a worrier, and fears he "might die" unless he adheres to "a special alarm system" whereby he sets two alarms and when the first wakes him he must switch off the other before it sounds. He once stated that he had diagnosed himself with Obsessive-compulsive disorder, but later noted that that was "overstating it a bit", and he does not actually have OCD.

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."



Year Film Role
2006 Confetti Photographer
2007 Magicians Harry
I Could Never Be Your Woman David


Year Series Role Notes
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
2006 Blunder Various


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