A quick chat with David Mitchell and Robert Webb
David Mitchell and Robert Webb return in a record-breaking seventh series of the ever-brilliant Peep Show... Since we first met them in series one of Peep Show back in 2003, chalk-and-cheese flatmates Mark Corrigan and Jeremy Usborne, played by David Mitchell and Robert Webb, have shown few signs of escaping their apparently terminal state of arrested development and barely-concealed mutual contempt. Peep Show itself, however, along with its stars, has gone from strength to strength, winning BAFTAs and Comedy Awards and, as it returns for a seventh series this week (Channel 4, Fridays from 26 November), it has become Channel 4’s longest-running homegrown sitcom. TV&Satellite Week magazine caught up with David Mitchell and Robert Webb to find out what’s in store… So, seven series on, have Mark and Jeremy grown up at all? David Mitchell: “It would be terminal for the show if they matured too much. I don’t think the fact that they haven’t learnt much about life is unrealistic. For most periods of most people’s lives, things don’t change much and they make the same mistakes over and over again. It’s actually quite tragic, but it’s quite nice that sitcoms make light of it.” The new series does feature one big change for Mark, though, when he becomes a father after Sophie (Olivia Colman) gives birth to a boy, doesn’t it? David Mitchell: “I don’t think he’s going to win any parenting awards, but he feels surprised he loves his own child. He’s quite pleased that, as well as being a source of stress, his son is also a source of joy to him.” Robert Webb: “Mark copes slightly better with fatherhood than you might imagine. He likes the organisational aspect of it – for instance, he’s very proud of how quickly he can assemble and disassemble the buggy.” We understand Mark chooses Jeremy to be godfather to baby Ian... Robert Webb: “Jeremy brings his enormous moral seriousness and reliability to that role. He’s a terrible choice, but obviously Mark felt he couldn’t not ask him. And how many other friends has Mark got?” So could bonding over the baby mean that Mark and Jeremy are finally going to start being a bit nicer to each other? Robert Webb: “The writers have allowed them the odd warm moment, but Mark and Jeremy still rely on each other in the most negative way. Their relationship reinforces to each of them what they’re glad they are not. It’s a case of, ‘No matter how bad things get, at least I’m not him’.” As the series starts, Mark is still working in a Mexican restaurant. How does he feel about that? David Mitchell: “It hits at his self-esteem. He misses that feeling of entitlement that an office job gives you, and finds working in a restaurant miserable and demeaning. If you’re ever going to love a job like that, it’s because you like interacting with customers – and he certainly doesn’t.” And what about Jeremy? There’s a new woman – Zara (Camilla Beeput) – in his life, isn’t there? Robert Webb: “Jeremy is bowled over by Zara because she talks about Toby Young and Alain de Botton. She’s a pseudo-intellectual who thinks Amelie is a very clever film. Jeremy buys into it because, even though he doesn’t have a clue what she’s talking about, it sounds brilliant.” Surely, though, the course of true love won’t run smooth? Robert Webb: “Obviously not. Unfortunately, Zara is already spoken for. Her boyfriend gives Jeremy a job, so his conflict is that he’s got this terrific job that’s related to music, but he’s having an affair with his boss’s girlfriend. At one point he actually says: 'Great, I can do my job and have an affair until it all blows up in my stupid face.' That’s what’s sort of loveable about him – he knows it’s all going to go wrong, but carries on doing it anyway." Finally, we hear Channel 4 is going to be showing episodes on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve this year. You must be very proud... David Mitchell: “There’s this sense that we’ve been around on the channel for a while now and they’re acknowledging that by making us a bit of a focus for their Christmas schedule. Mind you, we’ll probably be up against Indiana Jones and get absolutely minced.”
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