That Mitchell and Webb Look

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That Mitchell and Webb Look
That Mitchell and Webb Look title card.jpg
An image from the show's opening sequence
Also known as Mitchell & Webb
Genre Sketch comedy
Directed by
  • David Kerr (series 1 and 2)
  • Ben Gosling Fuller (series 3 and 4)
Starring
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 4
No. of episodes 24
Production
Executive producer(s) Kenton Allen
Jon Plowman
Producer(s) Gareth Edwards
Running time 30 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel BBC Two
BBC HD (2008–2010)
Original run 14 September 2006 (2006-09-14) – 17 August 2010 (2010-08-17)
External links
Production website

That Mitchell and Webb Look is a British television sketch show starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb. Shown on BBC Two since 2006, its first two series were directed by David Kerr, who also directed Mitchell and Webb's previous television sketch show The Mitchell and Webb Situation, whereas series 3 and 4 are directed by Ben Gosling Fuller. As well as Mitchell and Webb themselves, the writers include Jesse Armstrong, James Bachman, Sam Bain, Mark Evans, Olivia Colman, Toby Davies, Chris Pell, Jonathan Dryden Taylor, Joel Morris, Jason Hazeley, Simon Kane, John Finnemore and others. It is produced by Gareth Edwards. Colman, Bachman, and Evans were also members of the cast alongside Abigail Burdess, Gus Brown, Sarah Hadland and Paterson Joseph.

Many of its characters and sketches were first featured in the duo's radio show That Mitchell and Webb Sound. First aired on 14 September 2006,[1] a second series was commissioned later that same year[2] and shown between 21 February 2008 and 27 March 2008.[3] The third series began on 11 June 2009.[4] Since series two, the production has also been broadcast on BBC HD. The first series won a BAFTA award in 2007. The third series started airing on BBC America on 14 April 2010. The fourth series premiered on BBC Two and BBC HD on 13 July 2010 with a total of 6 episodes commissioned by the BBC.[5] In a November 2011 interview, Webb stated that there are "no plans, sadly, for another series of sketches" continuing to say that "you'd have to ask the BBC" about further series.[6]

Recurring sketches[edit]

  • Numberwang: An apparently long-running game show hosted by Robert Webb, where two seemingly permanent contestants, Simon and Julie (Paterson Joseph and Olivia Colman) call off numbers until a "Numberwang" is declared. However, what actually constitutes a Numberwang is never fully explained as the game's progression is purely surreal. Additional bits include Numberscoff (contestants eating number-shaped cakes), Nümberwang (a German version with David Mitchell), and Numberbounce (contestants catching ceiling-hung numbers on trampoline). Each game is always concluded with the "Wangernumb" round, which is preceded by the rotating of the board the contestants are seated on, briefly revealing a non sequitur scene on the other side, then rotating back to the playing contestants in a full revolution. One contestant (nearly always Simon) is declared Wangernumb as the day's champion, while the losing contestant suffers varying consequences such as being stuffed into a cardboard box or arrested by the police.[7]
Other Numberwang-related sketches have also been seen in later episodes, including Wordwang ("the spin-off series with a difference and that difference is words"), a documentary on the history of the programme, an advertisement for a home game version, and a trailer for "The Numberwang Code" (a parody of The Da Vinci Code)[7]
  • Ted and Peter: a pair of alcoholic, chain-smoking snooker commentators, known for their absurd banter and dishevelled appearances. Ted Wilkes is played by David Mitchell and Peter DeCoursey by Robert Webb. They seem more interested in swapping inappropriate anecdotes about the players (for example, about one player's multiple suicide attempts, or another's numerous infidelities) than covering the game at hand, and these exchanges are sometimes laced with homoerotic overtones. In a later episode, Peter comes out as gay, a decision he discusses with Ted, who admits to having been homophobic before meeting his colleague. They also go to extreme lengths to consume alcohol, such as drinking an imperial bottle of champagne between themselves, drinking a table full of colourful shots (in a drinking game version of snooker), and trying to brew their own beer (which is only palatable when mixed with a large amount of sugar). In one sketch a packet of cigarettes is dropped into a pint of beer, and in the next sketch Peter is seen pinning each cigarette to a washing line and trying to dry them with a hair dryer. In another episode, it is revealed that they were the finalists of the 1974 World Championship. The match lasted several weeks, due to neither player being sober enough to pot a ball and was eventually abandoned due to a union strike. A recurring line in these sketches is "ooh, and that's a bad miss", which is in fact the only comment they seem to make on the game at hand and only at the beginning of each sketch. In the fourth series, it was revealed that the two of them were forced to comment on "dog poker" after Ted had tried to "finger Hazel", and Peter had made an inappropriate comment about Kelly Holmes.
  • Mitchell and Webb: a supposedly "behind-the-scenes" look at how the show is produced, starring Mitchell and Webb as themselves. Although ostensibly involved in the production of the programme, the pair are frequently drawn into furious arguments with one another, usually based on a gross misapprehension by Webb, such as whether or not cheese is produced by baking milk in a kiln, or whether or not people can levitate. Recurring points of humour include the sketches themselves (one or more of the pair are often shown still wearing a costume from another sketch), as well as Mitchell's pessimistic nature and ongoing bachelorhood. This sketch was parodied in series 1 when Webb asks Mitchell if he thinks that the audience enjoy the cutaways to them "being themselves", Mitchell then takes out the script to find that their "private moments" are scripted. Mitchell almost puts the sketch into infinite recursion with the line " It reads cut to a closeup of the script" before Webb stops him.
  • The Surprising Adventures of Sir Digby Chicken Caesar: a drunken, drug-addled psychotic tramp played by Robert Webb, who seems to be under the delusion that he is a brilliant and intrepid secret agent or adventurer, in the style of Dick Barton. He and his companion Ginger, another derelict, played by David Mitchell, who serves as his Snowy, commit various crimes (usually either theft or petty assault) whilst supposedly engaging in battle against the henchmen of their so-called "nemesis", a vague and undefined entity described simply as "some bastard who is presumably responsible". The sketch often ends with the pair being chased by somebody they've fleeced to the tune of "Devil's Galop", usually combined with the use of SnorriCam shots to humorous effect.
Although Sir Digby's past remains a complete mystery to the audience he seems to remember some of it as in one sketch he steals a bunsen burner from his 'old school', Ginger is provided with a much greater amount of back-story. In one episode, he alludes to having been sexually abused and repeatedly asphyxiated by his father. In the third episode of the third season, it is revealed that Ginger's name is Guy Reilly, and that he once had a wife and 12-year-old daughter whom he lost (and has since seemingly forgotten about) as a result of his severe alcoholism. In the same episode he is shown to have recovered temporarily from alcoholism and settled in a comparatively stable life as an assistant at an ironmonger's shop, only to be re-enticed into accomplice-ship with Digby when tricked into drinking an ale.
  • Big Talk: a debate show in the same vein as Question Time or HARDtalk and hosted by the confrontational Raymond Terrific (Robert Webb), who loudly bullies his panel of so-called "boffins" into giving yes or no answers to huge social and philosophical questions (e.g. "is there a god?"). The bemused panel then try and reason with him by starting a sensible discussion, but never to any avail. The show is given an epic and aggressive atmosphere, with the theme tune being "Ode to Joy" and Terrific's worked-up behaviour.
In one episode Big Talk underwent a format experiment whereby, instead of the usual boffins, mindless 'celebrities' were brought on to discuss laughably small matters (e.g. "how's your day been?"); this new version was appropriately called Small Talk, and the embittered Raymond Terrific frequently voiced his disapproval of the change being foisted upon him throughout.
  • The Quiz Broadcast: a post-apocalyptic television quiz show transmitted by the British Emergency Broadcasting System "between 600 and 750 days" after "The Event", an unexplained global cataclysm sometime between 2011 and 2012.. Participants on the show are the survivors "trying to enjoy themselves" whilst avoiding any traumatic memories of the Event; Peter, who was blinded by raiders after the Event, Sheila, who worships Tesco, and Unknown Male 282, who is suffering from shock. A few other participants briefly appear — a professor, Maltesers, the "unlucky winner" from a previous show, who died as a result of his prize being contaminated, and a strange man who turns out to be one of "Them". The show usually starts with an announcement by the host, reminding watchers to remain indoors, a message which is often displayed in large flashing letters across the screen at random intervals.
  • Friends Of...: two housemates, played by Mitchell and Webb, discussing whom to invite to their next party. The list usually comprises either historical figures or fictional characters, such as in one episode when they decide to ask Moneypenny along, but then worry that she may bring James Bond with her. The humour is derived from the way they sneer at the prospective guest's behaviour at previous parties; for instance, whilst deciding whether or not to invite the Scooby-Doo gang, they deride Shaggy Rogers' excessive eating habits and general cowardice.
  • The British Broadcasting Corporation: an old-fashioned black-and-white broadcast, in which characters talk about the wonders of the new medium of television, which seems to be powered by highly radioactive machines. (they mention having hot balls, and that after the first 48 hours of broadcast, all of their hair had fallen out) and how it enables people to see them talking to each other, or if it works like a telephone, but as 4 of the 5 televisions were in use at the centre, they were not sure if they were hearing through television or an open door. Programmes shown include a short guest appearance of George VI, a host and a guest describing a vase, a talk show called 'The Mrs Patricia Wilberforce Programme' and two hosts giving an inaccurate explanation about how television works.
  • Barry Crisp: Crisp (Mitchell) runs a range of attractions which are all unsafe, including charging £2 to jump off a cliff, or offering the chance to swim with a great white shark but with the shark inside the cage along with the diver. His middle-class customer (Webb) assumes everything is "fine" because Barry has a sign, so it must be legitimate, and is seemingly oblivious to the obvious danger, always eventually agreeing to take part, much to Barry's surprise.
  • The Honeymoon's Over: Mitchell plays a rude, mean, condescending, and posh man who takes a variety of different jobs, in all of which he does his best to demean his customers (Webb and Colman) and make them feel uncomfortable and inferior. When Webb and Colman ask about the nice people they had seen in a previous visit (often "that friendly Australian girl with the colourful jumper"), Mitchell replies "She/he's gone, sir. They've all gone, and we're back!" Jobs have included being a vicar, a waiter, and a menswear shop assistant.
  • Get Me Hennimore!: a parody of 1970s sitcoms, each episode featuring the nervous Hennimore (Webb) being given an important task by his boss (Mitchell), usually in relation to some sort of business deal involving one of his many companies, which always ends in disaster due to Hennimore's often understandable confusion as the items and rooms he must not mix up actually look identical. For example, in one episode he is told that a group of Korean chefs in Room 1 should not come into contact with a group of dog lovers in Room I, but the identical room signs get mixed up. Another episode had Hennimore placed in charge of entertaining of an ex-alcoholic with an antique golf caddy, but Hennimore mixed this up with a drinks cabinet fashioned to look exactly like the golf caddy. The disasters are almost always brought on by Hennimore's boss who unintentionally makes things difficult, like printing signs for Murder In The Dark (MITD) and Nervous Incontinents Tasting Day (NITD) on a printing press that confused Ns with Ms. In this same episode, Hennimore's first name was revealed to be 'Nomtgonery'. In the fourth series, all the sketches are Christmas themed as an in-joke – a Christmas edition of the series features Hennimore being placed in charge of "Go Home Day," which includes participants dressing as ghosts by donning white sheets and burning a cross while Hennimore repeatedly shouts, "Go home!", and accidentally crossing this event with a visit from men from the fictional African nation of Nigereria. The sketches always end with the boss, whose glasses have broken as a result of the disaster, shouting "Hennimore", before cutting to a terrified Hennimore.
  • The Helivets: a sketch parodying TV shows following the Emergency Services,[8] the Helivets are a pair of heroes clad in pink jumpsuits who claim they can rescue any pet in peril. In every instance of this sketch, the featured animal(s) are already dead when the vets arrive and, whilst Robert Webb's character is reassuring the owner that their pet will soon be OK, David Mitchell's character just keeps repeating "it's dead".
  • Lazy Writers: in a parody of film and TV genres, two script writers, John Gibson (Webb) and Andrew Turner (Mitchell), can never be bothered to be original for their next project. Instead, they pick a genre, take its signature aspects, and put them together to create something that is clearly a cheap cash-in. This included writing an "underdog" sport film about cricket despite knowing nothing about the sport, a TV medical drama with no knowledge of medicine, and on the live show, a sci-fi series based on Star Trek called 'Space Trek and Wars'. One programme they are unusually keen to research is called 'My Shags as a Whore', a thinly-veiled parody of Secret Diary of a Call Girl, as it gives them an excuse to visit a brothel.
  • Colin and Ray: Webb and Mitchell are co-workers in the same office, who have different jobs which tend to involve extraordinary plots. Colin works as a hostage negotiator, while Ray writes the plots to pornographic films.
  • Food Advertisements: a series of parodies of some already heavily over-advertised foodstuffs (these aired in series 3). For example, a parody of Lucozade shows a runner drinking a bottle of 'Glucozade Port', the world's first alcoholic, isotonic drink; or Cressps, which taste terrible despite the slogan Once you cressp, you just can't splessp; whereas another advertises 'Mar-mitts' Marmite flavoured gloves that are 'completely unsuitable for human consumption', and finishes with Webb collapsing and Bachman announcing "I think he's dead!"
  • Arguing Couple: a couple who talk to their baby daughter in cutesy voices about the problems in their relationship, breaking off to snarl "Up yours!" at each other and make violent hand gestures. The couple and their daughter are played by Robert Webb and his real life wife and baby daughter.
  • Small Office: set in a workplace, where employees are called into the boss' office, the problem being it is tiny and therefore is extremely cramped. This often leads to awkward situations such as an instance where the boss (Mitchell) burps in his employee's face.
  • Didldidi: a series of adverts, promoting bargains at a fictional supermarket, Didldidi (a parody of Lidl and Aldi) for unappetizing, unsafe looking foodstuffs (in a segment it is mentioned that the bargains are prompted by revisions to the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 a week later, which would render the stock illegal to sell.). The slogan of Didldidi is "It all goes down the same hole." In one episode of series 4, it is shown that the Didldidi adverts take place before "The Event" as the remains of a wrapper is present as one of the prizes.
  • A Prayer and a Pint – A show hosted by Donny Cosy (Mitchell), where he and a guest talk about the ever-changing, usually non-Christian, set. The show was set in Tokyo, Tehran and the Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Cosy usually makes politically incorrect statements (such as referring to Japan as "pixie land" or referring to Iraqis as "those Indiana Jones type fellows"). In a parody of light religious programming such as Songs Of Praise and Highway (TV series) the show always ends with the usual request song 'All I want to do, all I want to do, all I want to do, is praise Him'. The hymn is sung by written request of the same couple, Phil and Meg McQueen, in every episode. In the final episode of the series, Cosy reveals that he had been misreading the autocue and that this couple live in Sussex and not, as he had previously thought, in "Bumsex". In the Tehran segment, he drinks alcohol free beer mixed with industrial ethanol, which leads him to struggle through the hymn whilst in the midst of a massive coughing fit.
  • Wacky History – A wacky historian (Webb) tries to make history exciting through absurd, often unrelated props.
  • Sensitive Freak-shows – A Lifetime-like look on unfortunate people with funny deformities. It's seemingly depressing, but it often states that the only reason the viewer is watching is to see the deformities. Hosted by Mitchell, the segment has included such stories as: "The Boy With an Arse for a Face," "The Man Who Had so Many Penises He Was Worth Making a Television Programme About," and "The Woman With the Second Head that Won't Stop Calling Her a Bitch."
  • Unexplained Gestures – Various directors dealing with actors who cannot stop themselves doing something such as saying "Now we know!" during a sex-scene, or waving their hands uncontrollably. This results in many takes with the gestures growing more prominent each time.
  • Arch-Villain PSA – Mitchell plays a villain who runs into the real-life problems with his dastardly plans, namely having health and safety regulations disrupt his plans for a secret lair, and trapdoor to a tank of piranha fish, and his ambiguous terminology thwarting his orders.
  • Angel Summoner and BMX Bandit - Two super-heroes, one (Mitchell) can summon angels, the other (Webb) rides a BMX. The latter becomes increasingly upset by the fact that he is superfluous, as Angel Summoner invariably solves every problem they encounter by summoning his angels, usually after BMX Bandit comes up with a complex BMX-based plan. These sketches are frequently used online to demonstrate the principle of game balance.
  • Top Secret Government Conspiracies - A series of sketches, taking place in a darkened room at a top-secret location, featuring three government agents. The three agents discuss plans to carry out popular conspiracy theories, such as the Death of Princess Diana, the fake moon landings and the suppression of alien contact. In doing so, they inadvertently point out the holes in such theories - that the plan to assassinate Diana would be needlessly complicated and unnecessary, that it would be more expensive to fake the moon landings than to actually go to the moon, and that the US government would have more reason to announce alien contact to the world than to suppress it.
  • Hole in the Ring - This sketch is a parody of The Weakest Link with the presenter's antics an exaggeration of those of the show's host Anne Robinson, who was renowned for being harsh to the contestants and refer to their wrong answers. The presenter, played by Robert Webb, repeatedly holds up his middle finger at the camera and various contestants. He stands at a podium at the centre of the studio which spins round so he can face the contestant. He repeatedly makes mistakes when reading out questions, as if in a rush. He then unsuccessfully attempts to insult John, played by David Mitchell, who was too late answering a question.

Production[edit]

The show follows on from the duo's earlier TV series The Mitchell and Webb Situation, and is an extension of their Radio 4 sketch show That Mitchell and Webb Sound. The show's producer Gareth Edwards commented that the show's pitch to the BBC "was the shortest pitch I've ever written", citing that the show "has worked on the radio, just like Little Britain worked on the radio and Dead Ringers worked on the radio, and they transferred successfully to TV, so why don't you [the BBC] transfer this one to TV as well?"[1]

A pilot for the show was filmed on 27 January 2006 at BBC Television Centre,[9] with a full series being later commissioned.[10] Preview nights for the show were held at The Drill Hall in London on 11 January and 20 March 2006, and at Ginglik in Shepherd's Bush in London on 14 and 21 May 2006. These took the form of a radio recording, with verbal prompting to the audience for any visual element that would be required. The series was shot on location in June 2006 and three audience recording sessions were held in Studio 4 at BBC Television Centre on 14, 21 and 28 July 2006.

Following the first series, the pair went on a tour of forty-four UK venues between October and December 2006, entitled The Two Faces of Mitchell and Webb, featuring many of the same sketches as That Mitchell and Webb Look.

A preview night for the second series was held on 18 May 2007 at The Drill Hall in London. This series was shot in high-definition[11] on location during June/July 2007 and three studio recordings with an audience were held at TC8 in Television Centre on 3, 10 and 17 August 2007.

Two preview nights for series three were announced on 30 June 2008 on the BBC Tickets website; all tickets were booked in less than 24 hours. The first preview night took place on 13 July 2008 at The Drill Hall, with the second held there on 10 August 2008. Two audience recording sessions at Television Centre — with additional live sketches — were announced on 3 October 2008, and took place on 31 October and 7 November 2008, again in high-definition in studio TC8. A third recording session at the BBC Radio Theatre was announced on 10 October 2008, taking place on 18 November 2008.

A preview night for the fourth series was announced on 18 November 2009 on the BBC Tickets website; this was held on 26 November 2009 at The Drill Hall.

Reception[edit]

The show was nominated for two British Comedy Awards in 2006, in the categories of "Britain's Best New TV Comedy" and the "Highland Spring People's Choice"; it won neither of the awards.[12] However, the show did go on to receive a BAFTA in 2007, in the category "Best Comedy Programme or Series"[13] and been named "Best British TV Sketch Show 2006" in The Comedy.co.uk Awards[14] It was later nominated for another BAFTA in 2009, in the same category.

DVD release[edit]

The first series was released on DVD in the UK by Contender Home Video on 29 October 2007. Extras include Outtakes, Behind the Scenes footage and a Mitchell & Webb documentary.[15]

The second series was released on DVD in the UK by Fremantle Media on 20 October 2008.[16]

The third series was released on DVD in the UK by 2|entertain on 20 July 2009, meaning that the first three series have been released on different video labels.[17]

The fourth series was released in the UK by Fremantle Media on 4 October 2010.[18]

Worldwide broadcast[edit]

Region Channel
 Arab League ShowComedy
 Argentina Film&Arts/i-Sat
 Brazil Film&Arts
 Australia ABC1 / ABC2 / UKTV
 Belgium Canvas
 Colombia Film&Arts
 Denmark DR2
 Finland Sub
 Iceland Stöð 2
 India BBC Entertainment
 Israel Yes stars Comedy
 Netherlands Nederland 3
 New Zealand UKTV
 Norway NRK 3
 Singapore StarHub Cable Vision
 South Africa BBC Entertainment
 Sweden TV4 Komedi
 United Kingdom BBC2 / BBC HD / Dave / Netflix[19]
 United States BBC America[20] / Hulu / Netflix

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Mitchell, Ben (27 August 2006). "Masters of comedy". The Observer. Retrieved 2007-04-11. 
  2. ^ Ross, Deborah (2006-11-18). "Peep Show's David Mitchell and Robert Webb". The Independent. Retrieved 2007-04-11. 
  3. ^ "BBC Week 8 Unplaced 2008". BBC Press Office. Archived from the original on 5 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  4. ^ Saffron Walden Reporter (2009-06-03). "That Mitchell and Webb Look". The Saffron Walden Reporter. Retrieved 2009-07-06. 
  5. ^ "BBC That Mitchell and Webb Look: Series 4 episodes". BBC. Retrieved 2010-07-07. 
  6. ^ Nissim, Mayer (2011-11-14). "Robert Webb interview: 'We'll do Peep Show for as long as they let us'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2011-11-24. 
  7. ^ a b "BBC - Comedy - That Mitchell And Webb Site - Numberwang". BBC. Retrieved 2012-04-26. 
  8. ^ "That Mitchell And Webb Look series two episodes". BBC Press Office. 2007-12-19. Retrieved 2007-12-27. 
  9. ^ "Mitchell and Webb bring critically-acclaimed radio sketch show to BBC TWO". BBC. 2006-11-24. Retrieved 2007-04-11. 
  10. ^ "That Mitchell & Webb Look Goes HD". BBC Resources. 2008-02-22. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  11. ^ "Mitchell and Webb bring critically-acclaimed radio sketch show to BBC TWO". BBC. 2006-11-24. Retrieved 2007-04-11. 
  12. ^ "The Nominees 2006". British Comedy Awards. Retrieved 2007-04-11. 
  13. ^ "Victoria Wood scoops Bafta double". BBC News. 2007-05-20. Retrieved 2007-05-20. 
  14. ^ "The Comedy.co.uk Awards 2006". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 2012-05-19. 
  15. ^ "That Mitchell & Webb Look: Series 1 (DVD)". BBC Shop. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  16. ^ "That Mitchell and Webb Look: series two DVD review – Den of Geek". Denofgeek.net-genie.co.uk. 2008-10-16. Retrieved 2009-07-06. 
  17. ^ "That Mitchell and Webb Look: series three". Retrieved 2012-05-19. 
  18. ^ "That Mitchell and Webb Look: series four". Retrieved 2012-05-19. 
  19. ^ "That Mitchell and Webb Look on Netflix". Netflix. Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  20. ^ "BBC Comedy Hit Heads to U.S.". NPR. Retrieved 2008-02-07. 

External links[edit]