Peep Show (TV series)
||This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (October 2013)|
|Created by||Andrew O'Connor
|Written by||Jesse Armstrong
Isy Suttie (series 5–)
Olivia Colman (series 1–7)
|Opening theme||"Pip Pop Plop" by Daniel Pemberton (series 1)
"Flagpole Sitta" by Harvey Danger
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||8|
|No. of episodes||48 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Andrew O'Connor
|Camera setup||Single camera (sometimes head-mounted)|
|Running time||24 mins. (inc. adverts)|
|Production company(s)||Objective Productions|
|Original channel||Channel 4|
|Picture format||PAL (576i) (series 1–5)
HDTV (1080i) (series 6–present)
|Original run||19 September 2003– present|
Peep Show is a British sitcom starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb. The television programme is written by Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, with additional material by Mitchell and Webb, amongst others. It has been broadcast on Channel 4 since 2003. The show's eighth series (broadcast in late 2012) makes it the longest-returning comedy in Channel 4 history (though in episode terms it ranks third). Stylistically, the show uses point of view shots with the thoughts of main characters Mark and Jeremy audible as voice-overs.
Peep Show follows the lives of two men from their twenties to thirties. Mark Corrigan (Mitchell), who has steady employment for most of the series, and Jeremy "Jez" Usbourne (Webb), an unemployed would-be musician, are the main characters of the show. The pair met at the fictional Dartmouth University, and now share a flat in Croydon, South London. Mark is initially a loan manager at the fictional JLB Credit, later becoming a waiter and then a bathroom supplies salesman. He is financially secure but awkward and socially inept, with a pessimistic and cynical attitude. Jeremy, having split up with his girlfriend Big Suze prior to the first episode, now lives in Mark's spare room. He usually has a much more optimistic and energetic outlook on the world than Mark, yet his self-proclaimed talent as a musician has yet to be recognised, and he is not as popular or attractive as he would like to think himself, although he is more successful with the opposite sex than Mark.
Series 1 In the first series, Mark and Jeremy start out with similar aims of bedding their next-door neighbour Toni, though Mark is also tragically obsessed with his workmate Sophie, who is more interested in the macho Jeff. Both endure awkward situations; Mark suffers a sexual admiration for his boss, Alan Johnson, while Jeremy remembers having oral sex with Super Hans during a drug binge. The two desperately team up to prank call Sophie and launch a pepper spray attack on Super Hans, who has begun a relationship with Toni. By the end of the series, Mark nearly succeeds in having sex with Sophie, but this chance is ruined by Jeremy's apparent overdose, while the latter claims that he has a terminal illness in order to receive sexual favours from Toni.
Series 2 In series 2, Jeremy meets and falls in love with Nancy, a free-spirited American, and has some success with his music career with Super Hans. Meanwhile, Mark is on a downward slope. Sophie plans to move in with Jeff. Mark accidentally forges a short friendship with a neo-Nazi and falls for a similarly socially inadequate student during an ill-judged return to his old university before losing her. However, the tables turn once more at the end of the series when Jeremy admits to Nancy — now his wife (for visa documentation) — that he accidentally had an affair with Toni, leaving his marriage a husk, while Sophie dumps Jeff after Mark finds out that he has been womanising and subsequently tells Sophie. Super Hans also develops a crack cocaine addiction.
Series 3 Series 3 sees Big Suze re-enter Jeremy's life. Meanwhile, Mark and Sophie have finally become a couple, yet Mark is left alone once again when she is relocated to Bristol. Jeremy seduces Mark's sister, while Mark falls for Big Suze. Later, Jeremy and Super Hans attempt to run a pub. In the last episode, Mark plans to propose to Sophie but changes his mind upon realising that they have very little in common. Nonetheless he ends up agreeing to marry her to avoid "embarrassment" after she accidentally finds his engagement ring and accepts a proposal which he has not actually made. Meanwhile Jeremy's efforts to get back together with Suze are hindered somewhat by Super Hans' attempts to go cold turkey.
Series 4 During series 4, Mark and Sophie visit Sophie's parents after their engagement, and Jeremy has sex with Sophie's mother. Big Suze breaks up with Jeremy once again after he tries to prostitute her to Johnson and subsequently starts a relationship with him instead. In an attempt to get away from Sophie, Mark joins a gym and discovers that Nancy is working there, after which Jeremy tries to win her back. Sophie leaves on a foreign business trip, leaving Mark to consider a fling with a woman from his school reunion. Jeremy finds some highly paid work as a handyman for 'The Orgazoid', one of his musical heroes but discovers that his employer expects Jeremy to give him "a hand". Mark and Jeremy spend a weekend on a canal boat for Mark's stag do, where Mark meets a businessman with contacts in India and attempts to secure a job there as a means of escaping his impending wedding: however, the plan falls apart when Jeremy accidentally kills the businessman's daughter's beloved dog and attempts to disguise his crime by eating the remnants of the dog. In the final episode, as the wedding approaches, Jeremy is having difficulty juggling a hungover Super Hans, the wedding, Nancy and his desperate need to urinate. After several attempts to get out of marriage, including jumping out in front of a car, proposing marriage to a cafe employee and hiding in the church, Mark with visible reluctance ends up marrying Sophie. However, realizing he was trying to get out of marrying her by hiding, she runs out on him after the ceremony, planning to seek a divorce or annulment because Mark is "horrible".
Series 5 Much of series 5 revolves around Mark's search for "the one". He asks out the new IT girl, Dobby, although the date ends badly when they find a disheveled Sophie in the toilets. Dobby remains interested, even when Mark is forced to reject her offer to be his date at his upcoming birthday party as Mark has to take an Australian he met while speed-dating. Meanwhile, Jeremy runs out of money and goes on a mini crime spree stealing from Johnson's credit card and is temporarily evicted by Mark. He asks Big Suze if he can stay with her and Johnson, but is turned down. He tries to obtain money from his mother after his great-aunt dies, and his poor relationship with his mother is revealed, while Mark thrives in her company and is given the job of writing her boyfriend's military biography. Jealous, Jeremy ruins Mark's ambitions by revealing how Mark was raped by the veteran's daughter, after she had sex with him while he was asleep. In the final episode, Mark fails to ask Dobby out and she finally moves on. He is promoted to Senior Credit Manager by Johnson but is unable to fire Sophie as ordered, after she reveals that she is pregnant with what may be his child. In the series' closing moments, it is revealed that Jeremy too has recently slept with Sophie and that her baby might be his.
Series 6 Series 6 begins with JLB Credit closing down and the mystery of who the father is being solved, Sophie revealing that Mark is the baby's father. Meanwhile Jeremy meets Elena, a beautiful Russian woman and occasional marijuana dealer who lives in their building. Jeremy quickly falls in love with her, but things deteriorate when it is revealed that Elena has a long-term partner, Gail, who is returning to London. Mark looks for work, starting a company with a recession-frazzled Johnson, almost landing his dream job as a guide for historic walks, and finally becoming a waiter in Gail's Mexican-themed restaurant, all the while trying (and failing) to get anywhere with Dobby. To resolve their woman troubles, Jeremy and Mark host a party, which ends in Jeremy rekindling his love for Elena, Mark drowning a snake in a bucket of vomit, and Gail and Elena deciding to enter into a civil partnership. In the final episode, Mark pledges to take driving lessons in order to drive Sophie to the hospital when the baby arrives, but lies to her when he fails his test. Jeremy spirals into despair over losing Elena especially after she reveals that she is moving to Quebec with Gail. Sophie goes into labour early, and with Mark forced to reveal he cannot drive, a drunk Jeremy attempts to drive Sophie to the hospital and nearly runs down Gail. Jeremy then admits that he and Elena were having an affair, and the series ends with Sophie driving herself to the hospital with the two boys in the back seat.
Series 7 Series 7 introduces Zahra and Ben, whom Jeremy meets while Sophie is giving birth. Jeremy is instantly attracted to Zahra and is selfishly pleased when he discovers that Ben, her boyfriend, is in intensive care, potentially making Zahra single. However, Ben recovers fully, and, as thanks for being so friendly to Zahra, offers Jeremy a job with his record company, which Jeremy accepts as he hopes it will allow him to get closer to Zahra. The job itself does not go well, and his attempts to sign up his and Super Hans's band fails badly and ends up with him being fired from the band. Meanwhile, Mark beats off competition from Gerrard to finally become Dobby's boyfriend, although he continues to behave awkwardly in her company. Jeremy sleeps with Zahra, and when Mark comes to meet him the next morning the two find themselves locked in Zahra's flat, causing Ben to discover them and Mark to miss his son's christening. At the end of the series, after discovering that Ben and Zahra have split, Jeremy resolves to leave the flat and move in with Zahra, while Mark needs to salvage his relationship with Dobby, and determines to ask her to move in with him. Dobby agrees to move in with Mark, but Zahra rejects Jez after she learns he has been flirting with Super Hans's girlfriend, leaving him on his own at the end of the series.
Series 8 Series 8 opens with Mark waiting for Dobby to move in, while Dobby waits for Jeremy to move out. Mark suspects that Dobby will never actually move in, and that Gerard is trying to steal her from him; however, Gerard dies after contracting a flu virus. Jeremy and Super Hans amicably end their band, and this causes Jeremy to contemplate his life so far—Jeremy eventually agrees to undertake therapy sessions that are paid for by Mark.
Impressed by the therapy, Jeremy decides to become a life coach, but he fails a course of questionable value. Mark then gives Jeremy a fake life coach certificate and he begins "coaching" anyone who will let him, causing emotional and personal harm. Jeremy also begins to fall in love with Dobby and considers declaring his feelings, but Mark declares his love for her first. While Mark and Jeremy fight, Dobby leaves the scene and is presumably on her way to New York.
||This section may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may only interest a specific audience. (December 2013)|
Characters appear in all series unless otherwise specified.
- Mark Corrigan
Mark Corrigan is a seemingly average, normal man. When the series starts, he is in his late twenties/early thirties, and by series 8 he is approaching 40 years old. He seems to have had a miserable upbringing. His parents, Dan and Pam, both seem to have committed some infidelity, and they both favoured his younger sister Sarah when Mark and Sarah were children. This favouritism continues when Mark and Sarah are adults. Mark seems to have been bullied particularly by his father, Dan. Mark attended a fee-paying secondary school until his parents could no longer pay the fees. He was then forced to transfer to a state comprehensive, Polefield School, where he was bullied by a boy called Foz (Jay Simpson), and had a crush on a girl called Sally Slater, who later married Foz.
Mark attained 7 GCSEs, did his A Levels and went to the fictional Dartmouth University. He had wanted to study Ancient History, but was coerced by his domineering parents to do Business Studies instead. While at Dartmouth, he met Jeremy Usbourne. They were roommates and became best friends, and were known as "The El Dude Brothers". They have remained best friends ever since. After graduating with a degree in Business Studies, he got a job at the fictional JLB Credit and moved into his own flat in Apollo House, Croydon.
After Jeremy split up with his girlfriend Big Suze, with whom he was living in a flat known as 'The Love Shack', he moved into Mark's spare room as a lodger, but basically never paid any rent. At JLB, Mark's eye was caught by the pretty girl of the office, Sophie Chapman. Despite a brief attempt to sleep with the girl next door, Toni, he soon left her to Jeremy and concentrated on Sophie. He faced competition for her affections from Jeff, the macho bully boy of the office. At a JLB conference, Mark met and became very good friends with Alan Johnson, and briefly contemplated the possibility that he was infatuated with Alan. However, he soon got over this and continued pursuing Sophie. To Mark's devastation, Sophie starting going out with Jeff in the second series, although she eventually dumped him after Jeremy caught him flirting with another woman.
Mark started dating Sophie in the third series, although he very quickly realised that his infatuation with her had been very misguided, and that he, in fact, had nothing in common with her. He found her irritating and annoying, but stayed with her because of his fear of loneliness. He was planning on proposing to her, but one night Jeremy talked him out of it. Unfortunately, Sophie found the ring and proposed to Mark, which he accepted out of embarrassment. On their wedding day, he hid in the upstairs pews of the church, before being forced to reveal himself and marry a humiliated Sophie. However, as soon as they got in the wedding car Sophie left, crying that Mark left her at the altar (which he technically did not but he was caught out trying to). They had their marriage annulled, and Mark began pursuing Debbie (known by her nickname of Dobby), the IT tech in the office.
Throughout series five, Mark seemed on a quest to find 'the one'. He contemplated that Sophie was the one, along with considering Dobby and women called Heather and Cally. After their divorce, Mark had a one night stand with Sophie after an office party, at a similar time that she had one night stands with Jeremy and Jeff. Sophie became pregnant and she did not know who the father was. It was later revealed to be Mark, and Sophie gave birth to their son, Ian James Chapman (although Mark had wanted him to be called James Ian).
Mark started going out with Dobby, and at the end of series 7 he asked her to move in with him, to which she agreed. At the start of series 6, JLB Credit went bust and Mark was made redundant. He later got a job as a waiter in a Mexican restaurant, but was later sacked for attempting to urinate in the sauce. Dobby fails to ever move in with him, and so he considers proposing to her. Mark is devastated by Jeremy telling him that he is in love with Dobby as well. The two friends both try to announce to Dobby at the same time their respective announcements, but before they can, she leaves to go to New York, with the two friends arguing and chasing after her, leaving series 8 on a cliffhanger.
Most of the time, Mark is sensible and careful, but often has moments of impulsive, erratic, hypomanic behaviour. As well as Ancient History, Mark loves modern military history – in series 1 he is often seen reading historian Antony Beevor's book Stalingrad. In series 5 he mentions "I've got all the Antony Beevors". Mark is aware of Jeremy's intellectual inferiority, but still looks to him for social guidance, as he is extremely socially awkward. Mark is plagued by paranoia as to how others perceive him, and doubts over whether his actions are normal. He once shared an awkward kiss with Jeremy during a game of spin the bottle in order to impress Sophie. He appears to be rather conservative and Eurosceptic in his political beliefs, being told several different times by Jez to "stop going on about the Euro" and once going on a rant about the benefits of capitalism to a group of Sophie's friends crashing in his flat. He occasionally alludes to being an atheist, although Jeremy at one point catches him praying in a time of crisis. Mark is also somewhat bookish and introverted as he consistently indicates that he would prefer to go home and finish a history book he is reading rather than meet new people or try something different. He is not very knowledgeable about popular music, failing to name more than four bands in a musical guessing game. He has been shown to enjoy the works of Vivaldi: he has been shown listening to The Four Seasons on the radio in the kitchen. He is also a listener of BBC Radio 4. Once, when throwing Sophie's friends out of his flat, he declared that he was making 'everything normal' by 'putting on Radio 4'.
Overall, Mark is essentially a good man, who tries to do right by those he cares about. He describes his son, Ian, as the thing he cares most about in the world. His less pleasant character aspects are clearly a result of his miserable childhood and his resulting failure to grasp how society operates. Despite his deep personal unhappiness, he was prepared to marry Sophie to make her happy, and is clearly very much in love with Dobby, he just struggles to express it. He also appears to care greatly for Jeremy, whom he loves and protects like a little brother. Whilst he deplores Jeremy's deludedness and laziness, he constantly sticks his neck out for him, such as when Jeremy stole £4,000 from Alan Johnson, Mark repaid it to protect Jeremy. Also, while Mark does occasionally complain and nag about Jeremy not paying the rent, it seems Mark's motivation for letting this slide is that he likes having Jeremy around. Jeremy, when defending his living with Mark, said 'we watch films on our massive telly, and we play guess the Revel, and we have a fucking good time', showing he enjoys living with Mark just as much as Mark enjoys living with Jeremy.
- Jeremy Usborne
Jeremy, also known as "Jez", appears to be more confident and well-adjusted than Mark but beneath the surface he is arguably just as troubled and insecure. While Jeremy's mother appears to care about him, he was greatly affected by his father walking out on the family when he was ten, and even in adulthood struggles to accept his mother's subsequent boyfriends. He attended the fictional Dartmouth University with Mark. He graduated with a degree in nursing, and was a nurse for a while, but quit because he was 'disgusted at having to help people'. His degree grade was low, but he never contested it, proclaiming 'I didn't go to university to get a degree'. He met Business Studies student Mark Corrigan at Dartmouth University, and became his roommate and best friend. Following graduation, Jeremy moved into a flat with his girlfriend 'Big Suze'. Jeremy nostalgically referred to the flat as 'The Love Shack'. They lived together for eighteen months prior to the series. However, they split up, Suze moves abroad and Jeremy moves into Mark's spare room as a lodger. The series begins a few weeks after Jeremy moves in.
His hedonistic attitude prevails later in life. He is, in Mark's words, a "work-shy freeloader" who uses his supposed musical creativity as an excuse to avoid menial jobs which he considers beneath him, and is consequently unemployed for most of the series. While Mark is overly critical of himself, Jeremy is full of bluster and claims to be more talented than he really is, though he has occasional moments of clarity when he admits he may be deluded and perhaps isn't as secure or talented as he had thought.
He has displayed no qualms about engaging in actions such as ganging up on Mark with a bully, poisoning Mark to save a party, kissing and having sex with Sophie or relapsing Super Hans into drug addiction. Jeremy is hedonistic and enjoys recreational drugs as well as casual sex. Jeremy has twice been diagnosed with chlamydia (once, sometime before series 3, with little surprise from Jeremy and again in series 5 with a great deal of perturbment from the character, potentially due to a continuity error). However, he also becomes emotionally involved in his relationships with Toni, Nancy, Big Suze and Elena. Although Jeremy primarily engages in heterosexual relationships, there are several instances of bisexual desires and experiences, a theme which is discussed by producer Phil Clarke and script editor Ian Morris in their commentary to episode 4 of series 4. In series 4, while discussing with Sophie, Jeremy reveals that he has had sex with more men than she has (four). There is conflicting evidence as to the spelling of Jeremy's surname. Webb himself confirmed that the name is spelt "Usborne", and this spelling appears written on a CD (ostensibly by Jeremy himself) in the pilot episode. In the series 8 episode "Business Secrets of the Pharaohs", however, Jeremy receives a certificate showing the spelling "Usbourne" and remarks that this is the correct spelling. The name has been variously rendered as "Osborne", "Osbourne", "Usborne" and "Usbourne", with Channel 4's official website for the series using both of the latter two spellings.
- Super Hans
Portrayed by Matt King, Jeremy's band-mate and friend, "Super" Hans, likes to think of himself as being superior to others and is an untrustworthy fantasist. He regularly uses recreational drugs, and experiences a crack cocaine addiction in the second series, later referenced again in the final episode of the third series and in the seventh series. His contentious opinions often contradict Jeremy's own ideas. His relationship with Mark is fairly neutral - the two have absolutely nothing in common, but Hans appears to be less aware of Mark's social awkwardness than others, and Mark is surprisingly tolerant of Hans' eccentric behavior. He works in a recording studio in the first series. At the end of series 5 he joins a religious cult loosely based on Scientology. During the finale of series 6 he makes the unconvincing claim that he is father to eight-year-old twins who have an opaque connection to the German language. He is of constant surprise to the others, including in the last episode of the 7th series in which he has apparently found the love of his life, a previously unseen Asian woman who speaks no English, but a tiny bit of German. At the beginning of Series 8, Jeremy and Hans have called time on their band. Russell Brand originally auditioned for the part. Hans was inspired by the character Danny from the film Withnail and I.
- Alan Johnson
A senior loan manager, Alan Johnson (usually referred to and addressed simply as "Johnson") becomes friends with Mark after meeting him at JLB. Mark was extremely impressed by Johnson, even beginning to question his own sexuality. During series 2 he becomes Mark's boss. Although a smooth, cool and professional businessman and apparently a pillar of the community, he was previously an alcoholic for 15 years. His approach to life in general and business in particular is basically an aggressive, Darwinian apology of the survival of the fittest and may at times become borderline fascistic, as seen in his eulogy for Gerrard in Series 8. Mark continues to get on well with Johnson despite some upsets, and Johnson is one of the only people who takes Mark's side after the breakdown of his marriage with Sophie. Jeremy, by contrast, does not, especially after Big Suze leaves Jeremy for him. An early draft of the final episode of series 3 was to conclude with Johnson committing suicide, but the idea was rejected as being too dark. During series 6, after the termination of the UK JLB operation, he begins to live in a cheap house with Suze, referred to by Mark as his "recession residence" and shows signs of insanity due to his fall from power. He swindles Mark out of £2000 by attempting to make him an executive in a new consultancy agency. In the final episode of series 7, he throws away his alleged teetotalism during a new year's party.
- Jeff Heaney
Jeff is a work colleague of Mark's at JLB Credit and a confident, macho bully from Merseyside. The two repeatedly clash, not least for the attentions of Sophie, who chooses Jeff but leaves him after he continues to chase women. In the later series, as Mark and Sophie's relationship takes its course, he is frequently seen mocking Mark. After their relationship falls apart, Jeff appears to gradually get close to Sophie again. Mark's anger over this peaks when Sophie even considers naming their child 'Geoff'. However, Sophie sees no connection between this name and that of Mark's rival, instead claiming that she takes it from a relative. In series 7 he becomes the baby's godfather when Mark and Jeremy both fail to turn up on time, and it appears that Jeff and Sophie are back in a relationship by the end of the series, which is a major torment to Mark, who constantly believes that his son will think Jeff is his father. Jeff confirms they are back together when he comes to Mark's house to collect the baby in Series 8.
- Sara Corrigan (Series 3, 6– )
Mark's sister, a solicitor who has aided Mark in his divorce settlement. She first appears having split up with her husband. Jeremy instantly seduces her to taunt his ex, much to Mark's disapproval which worsens when he sleeps with her the same night they meet. Jeremy finishes with her when his ex shows signs of wanting him back, but she continues to show a sexual interest in him every time she appears. Although Jeremy tries to avoid her, he eventually moves in with her in Series 8, when he agrees to move out of Mark's flat but realises that he has nowhere to go.
- Dobby (Series 5– )
Dobby works in the IT department of Mark's workplace and is a self-confessed misfit, much like Mark. She has many interests that are similar to those of Mark, such as MMORPGs. Mark meets her in series 5 episode 2 in the office canteen and quickly develops strong feelings for her, as does Mark's colleague Gerrard at the same time. Despite an at-times uneasy relationship, by the end of series 7 Mark invites her to move in with him. Series 8 ends with Dobby leaving to go to New York. It is not yet known whether she will star in Series 9.
- Gail Huggins (Series 6– )
Elena's long term girlfriend, a member of Mensa and a musician. She runs a Mexican restaurant, hiring Mark until she fires him in Series 7. In Series 8, she campaigns to be chairman of the freehold committee in Apollo House.
- Simon (Series 7– )
Dobby's boyfriend until they break up. Through Series 8, Simon tries to get Dobby back after she reveals she is going to move in with Mark. Frequently appears with his friends Neil (Patrick Kennedy) and Trish (Charlie Covell).
- Robert Grayson (Series 8– )
Mark's new boss, for whom Super Hans also works selling bathroom supplies. Despite Mark accidentally introducing himself as Robert Grayson due to nerves in the job interview, Mark wins the job but is then constantly shunned in favour of Super Hans, whose salesman techniques he appears to favour.
- Sophie Chapman (played by Olivia Colman, series 1–7)
Sophie is a co-worker and love interest for both Mark and Jeff; she eventually marries Mark, and almost immediately separates from him. She is from a rural background, and a storyline develops where she begins drinking heavily and taking drugs. She is less friendly with, or respected by, their boss Johnson than Mark, who is among the only people in the office to take Mark's side after their disastrous wedding. At the start of series 6, it is confirmed that she is pregnant with Mark, Jeremy, or Jeff's child. By the end, a DNA test confirms that Mark is the father, with the first episode of series 7, their child being born. Despite his greatest efforts, Sophie is let down throughout series 6 and 7 by Mark concerning his responsibilities as a father, including missing the christening of his son and therefore losing his rights to name his own baby as punishment. She does not appear in Series 8. When Mark is expecting Sophie to come and pick up their son, Jeff turns up to collect him instead, informing Mark that he and Sophie have rekindled their relationship.
- Gerrard Matthew (played by Jim Howick, series 4– 8)
Was Mark's co-worker at JLB credit, and later, his rival for Dobby's affections. He had health problems which sometimes result in a need for a tube up his nose, and had similar interests to Dobby such as MMORPGs and live action role-play. In Series 7, he and Mark form 'The Dobby Club', an organisation of two who are committed to breaking Dobby up with her boyfriend, deciding that the matter of which of them gets to date her if they succeed can be resolved afterwards. Despite their skin deep friendship, Mark would betray him easily if he stood between him and getting what he wanted. Gerrard died of flu in the first episode of the eighth series.
- Big Suze (played by Sophie Winkleman, series 3–7)
Big Suze lived with Jeremy in a shared flat (which Jeremy nostalgically refers to as the "love shack") for around a year and a half, prior to the start of the first series of the show. She is often mentioned but does not actually make an appearance until her introduction as a major supporting character in the third series. Suze is incredibly posh, though she appears to want to become more bohemian. She is an actress, but between roles works as a waitress in a café. Jeremy is desperate to get back together with her, and although they reunite briefly, she later leaves him for Alan Johnson. Her nickname comes from her height rather than her weight. Her appearance in the third series was intended for Nancy, but Blanchard was unavailable. During series 6, she and Alan's relationship seem very unsettled, leading to their break-up in Series 7, and her throwing a separate New Year's Eve party, resulting in Alan relapsing and drinking alcohol.
- Ian Chapman (played by Paul Clayton, series 4–7)
Sophie's homophobic, ultra-conservative father who lives with his wife and son in the countryside. Doesn't approve of Mark, but silently resents him rather than trying to intervene. After Mark gets Sophie pregnant he tries to persuade Mark to get back together with Sophie but nothing ever comes of it. Mark and Sophie's baby is named after him.
- Zahra (played by Camilla Beeput, series 7)
A pseudo-intellectual woman whom Jeremy meets in a hospital waiting room while her boyfriend Ben is in a coma. Ben regains consciousness and later employs Jeremy, in a role which Jeremy uses as a means to try and get close to, and eventually seduce Zahra, even though she affects an interest in many refined subjects that are beyond him, such as foreign films and classic literature like Frankenstein. Jeremy and Zahra eventually sleep together unbeknownst to Ben. When Ben and Zahra later break up, Zahra asks Jeremy to move in, until she finds out that he attempted to cheat on her.
- Elena (played by Vera Filatova, series 6)
Elena is a Russian emigrant who lives in the same block of flats as Mark and Jeremy. She works part-time as a legal secretary in human rights law and deals marijuana on the side. She has a sexual attraction towards single fathers despite being bi-sexual and having a long-term relationship with a woman called Gail, which she hides from Jeremy during their relationship which continues after her return as a secret affair. She likes spelt bread as she is wheat-intolerant.
- Nancy (played by Rachel Blanchard, series 2 & 4)
Arriving in England from small-town America to escape her conservative upbringing, Nancy is kooky and hedonistic. Her attitude towards love and relationships is affected by her upbringing and her Christian beliefs, leading to her sending Jeremy very mixed messages, from attempting wild, kinky sex one minute to abstaining completely the next (the "last taboo"). She later marries Jeremy for visa reasons, and is portrayed as either unaware of or uninterested in Jeremy's obsession with her.
- Toni Papadopoulopoulos (played by Elizabeth Marmur, series 1–2)
The next-door neighbour of Mark and Jeremy, and an object of their lust throughout the first series of the show. She is separated from her husband Tony at the beginning of series 1, but the couple reunite during series 2, although they are still seen arguing. Her father died when she was aged three and she may subconsciously be seeking a "daddy substitute". During her childhood she regularly went skiing, and has two sisters; one with cancer, and one half sister whom Jeremy briefly dated. She is opinionated and sexually liberal, and engages in casual sex with Jeremy on several occasions. In an early episode, she engages in pyramid selling of cleaning products, but at the end of series 2 she is shown working as a supervisor in a call centre.
Writers Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain met actors/writers Mitchell and Webb during a failed attempt to complete a team-written sitcom for the BBC. They had an old, unproduced script that they wanted to revive called All Day Breakfast and brought in Mitchell and Webb to help out. The show did not work out but the four developed as a partnership, and one idea eventually evolved into Peep Show for Channel 4. Peep Show was originally conceived as a sitcom in the style of Beavis and Butt-head revolving around two characters watching and discussing television. However, the idea was dropped due to the large expense that airing clips from other shows would bring as well as Mitchell and Webb's fear that, because their characters would only be watching television, "[they] wouldn't be in the show".
Instead Armstrong and Bain opted to produce a more story-based sitcom with an unconventional filming style. The events of the two main characters' lives are seen almost exclusively from their own points of view with a voiceover providing their internal thoughts. Scenes in the show are sometimes filmed using cameras strapped to the actors' heads, or attached to a hat, to give the viewer a point of view identical to that of the protagonists. The quality of footage captured with this method is sometimes poor and the technique has been used less and less in recent series. When head-mounted cameras are not used, scenes are filmed with the camera being held over the actor's shoulder, or directly in front of their face; each scene is therefore shot multiple times from different angles. Armstrong and Bain's choice of the style was influenced by the 2000 Channel 4 documentary Being Caprice about the model Caprice Bourret which featured a similar technique that had in turn been copied from the 1999 film Being John Malkovich. Bain noted: "So it's a third-hand steal, really. We thought it would be great for comedy, hearing someone else's thoughts. The voices give you a whole other dimension in terms of jokes." The idea for using voiceovers came from a scene in the Woody Allen film Annie Hall in which the true feelings of the characters are conveyed by subtitles. The POV technique separates Peep Show from other sitcoms and Mitchell claims that without it Peep Show would be similar to shows like Spaced and Men Behaving Badly.
Two pilots were filmed for the show which allowed Armstrong and Bain to firmly develop and finalise the style of the show. Armstrong said: "on the run of doing those two pilots we really created the show in the way that you couldn't if you hadn't tried it out." In the original pilot Olivia Colman's character Sophie Chapman had a voice-over as well as Mitchell and Webb's characters Mark and Jeremy. The POV technique was also restricted solely to the character thinking at the time; it was later expanded so that the view could come from a third party. Bain and Armstrong are the show's principal writers and Mitchell and Webb provide additional material. Many storylines come from experiences in the writers' lives, particularly Bain's. For example, the series 5 episode "Burgling" sees Mark apprehend a burglar by sitting on him, something Bain once did in a video shop before he was told to get off as he was scaring the customers. The writing for each series takes place seven to eight months before filming begins; once each episode is mapped out scene by scene they must be approved by the producer Andrew O'Connor and Channel 4. Rehearsals take two weeks and filming lasts for six to seven weeks.
For the first two series the scenes set in Mark and Jeremy's flat were filmed in a real property in Croydon, where the show takes place. The flat's owners did not allow it to be used for series 3 and so a replica was constructed in a carpet warehouse in Neasden.
The theme tune for the first series was an original composition by Daniel Pemberton and is featured on his TVPOPMUZIK album, and can be heard on his Myspace page. Since the second series the theme music has been the song "Flagpole Sitta" by the American band Harvey Danger (although the original first series composition is still heard briefly during scene changes). A working title for the programme was POV, as noted by David Mitchell on the DVD commentary for the first episode of the first series.
Spike TV commissioned its own version in 2008, originally to be written and directed by Robert Weide, who is the executive producer of Curb Your Enthusiasm. It was to be written by Armstrong and Bain, but it never went to series.
A book entitled Peep Show: The Scripts and More, which featured the scripts of every episode from the first five series as well as an introduction from Mitchell and Webb, was released in 2008. To celebrate the show, Channel 4 aired a Peep Show Night on Christmas Eve in 2010, which included the documentary Peep Show and Tell and the fan selected episodes "Wedding" and "Shrooming".
The series was met with critical acclaim, and is considered to be a cult television show. Early previews called it "promising" and noted it had "the sniff of a cult favourite"; Jane Simon of the Mirror claimed that Peep Show in years to come will "be seen as the pinnacle of comedy it obviously is."
The Guardian newspaper described it as "the best comedy 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". While presenting an award at the 2005 British Comedy Awards, Gervais called it "the best show on television today" and said it was a "debacle" that it did not win an award. The Times praised the show's "scorching writing" and named it the 15th best TV show of the 2000s.
Despite the critical acclaim, Peep Show has never garnered consistently high viewing figures. At the beginning of 2006 there were rumours that the show would not be commissioned for a fourth series due to insufficient ratings of just over a million viewers. However, due to the large DVD revenues of the previous series, a fourth series was commissioned. The premiere of the fourth series showed no improvement on the ratings of the previous, continuing to attract its core audience of 1.3 million (8% of viewers). Despite the low viewing figures, the fifth series of the show was commissioned prior to the broadcast of series 4. Channel 4's decision to commission the show for a fifth series was said to be for a variety of reasons, including again the high DVD sales of the previous series (400,000 to date), the continued high quality of the show itself, and the rising profile of Mitchell and Webb due to the success of their BBC sketch show That Mitchell and Webb Look, their advertisements for Apple, and their feature film Magicians. The fifth series showed no improvement with 1.1 million viewers. Producer Andrew O'Connor cited the POV filming style as the reason for the low ratings: "It made it feel original and fresh and got it commissioned for a second series, but it stopped it from being a breakout hit and stopped it finding a bigger audience." Bain and Armstrong agreed that the POV style stopped it from becoming mainstream.
The first episode of series 6 – the first to be shown in its new earlier time slot of 10pm – attracted Peep Show's highest ratings to date, with 1.8 million viewers (9.2% audience share), with a further 208,000 (1.8%) watching it on Channel 4 +1.
Awards and honours
Peep Show has won several awards:
- In 2004, it won the Rose d'Or for "Best European Sitcom"
- At the end of 2006, following the third series, Peep Show was honoured with the British Comedy Award for Best TV Comedy
- It won the same award in 2007 and Mitchell also won "Best TV Comedy Actor" in the same ceremony
- Mitchell and Webb both won the "Comedy Performance" award in the 2007 Royal Television Society awards.
- The fourth series won the 2008 BAFTA for "Best Situation Comedy"
- In 2009, Bain and Armstrong won the Royal Television Society award for "Writer – Comedy"
- Mitchell won the 2009 BAFTA Television Award for "Best Comedy Performance"
- "Frankie Boyle heads new Channel 4 season". BBC News. 26 August 2010. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
- "Peep Show – Jeremy Usborne". Channel 4. Channel 4. 2013. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
- "Peep Show – Mark Corrigan". Channel 4. Channel 4. 2013. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
- "Peep Show". 'TV.com'.
- Adam Sherwin (25 September 2013). "Peep Show star David Mitchell defends panel shows after attack by Fast Show co-creator Charlie Higson". The Independent. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- Sam Masters (25 September 2013). "Peep Show to end next year after ninth series". The Independent. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- Dean, Will (20 November 2010). "Peep Show's Jez and Mark … by the people who know them best". The Guardian (London).
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- "Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong". The Culture Show. Season 5. Episode 4. 24 June 2008. BBC 2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/cultureshow/videos/2008/06/s5_e4_bain/index.shtml.
- DVD commentary to the series three episode "Quantocking"
- Sam Delaney (7 April 2007). "Comedy rules". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 20 August 2009.
- Ross, Deborah (18 November 2006). "Peep Show's David Mitchell and Robert Webb". The Independent (London). Retrieved 4 April 2007.
- Linda Gibson (29 April 2008). "Peep Show: Meet the writers and stars". The Stage. Retrieved 19 August 2009.
- Mitchell, David; Webb, Robert; Bain, Sam; Armstrong, Jesse; Shapeero, Tristram (2005). Behind the Scenes Documentary (DVD). Objective Productions, 4DVD.
- "British Sitcom Guide — Peep Show". British Sitcom Guide. 2007. Retrieved 1 February 2007.
- Norton, Graham; Mitchell, David (18 May 2008). "Episode 5". The Graham Norton Show. Series 3. Episode 5. BBC 2.
- Sam Wollaston (10 November 2005). "Inside the sordid world of Jeremy and Mark: A new series of Peep Show starts tomorrow. Sam Wollaston has a close encounter with the odd couple behind C4's slow-burn hit". The Guardian.
- "Peep Show – Production Details & Cast and Crew – British Comedy Guide". British Comedy Guide. 19 September 2003. Retrieved 5 September 2009.
- "Pip Pop Plop". Myspace. 8 August 2006.
- "News — Peep Show to be re-made in America". British Sitcom Guide. 4 May 2007.
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- "Peep Show's nine lives". Chortle. 17 December 2010. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
- "Peep Show Night and Whistle And I'll Come To You: Friday's TV picks". Metro. 11 January 2011.
- Staff (13 July 2009). "53: David Mitchell". London: MediaGuardian.co.uk (Guardian News & Media). Retrieved 13 July 2009.
- Pettie, Andrew (7 April 2007). "Who are those guys?". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 28 April 2007.
- Barry Davies (14 September 2003). "Friday: Channel 4 Peep Show, 10.35 PM". The Guardian.
- Martin James, Jim Irvin and Brian Smyth (14 September 2003). "Critics' choice – Television". The Sunday Times. p. Culture 80.
- "The Comedy.co.uk Awards 2007". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 7 March 2009.
- "The Comedy.co.uk Awards 2008". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 7 March 2009.
- Pollock, David (16 April 2007). "Peep Show is the best comedy of the decade". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 17 February 2008.
- Rampton, James (13 September 2006). "Robert Webb and David Mitchell: The Peep Show duo's new pain game". The Independent (London). Retrieved 4 April 2007.
- Stephen Armstrong (19 December 2005). "No prizes for Peep Show? You're having a laugh: Last week's British Comedy Awards brought little cheer for Channel 4. But the underrated sitcom and the return of an old hit have kept a smile on the face of the network's comedy boss". The Guardian.
- Andrew Billen, David Chater, Tim Teeman, Caitlin Moran (19 December 2009). "The top 50 TV shows of the Noughties". The Times (London).
- John Plunkett (26 August 2007). "Why Peep Show's not bigger". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 19 August 2009.
- "That's all, Peeps". BBC. 20 May 2007. Archived from the original on 23 August 2007. Retrieved 21 June 2007.
- Neil Wilkes (29 January 2006). "Fourth series of 'Peep Show' "unlikely"". Digital Spy. Retrieved 21 June 2007.
- Neil Wilkes (1 March 2006). "New series for 'Peep Show', 'IT Crowd'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 21 June 2007.
- Leigh Holmwood (16 April 2007). "Winning combination back on BBC". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 3 September 2009.
- "Eureka!: Peep Show — a real-life Beavis and Butthead". Broadcast Now. 19 May 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
- "Peep Show gets a 5th series". British Sitcom Guide. 21 March 2007.
- Armstrong, Stephen (19 May 2007). "How the tide turned for Mitchell and Webb". The Times (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- Fitzsimmons, Caitlin (19 May 2008). "TV ratings — May 16: Travel insurance show claims 4m viewers". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- McMahon, Kate (21 September 2009). "Brown and Peep Show bump C4's ratings". Broadcast Now. Retrieved 1 October 2009.
- "Merchant takes top comedy honour". BBC News. 14 December 2006. Retrieved 14 December 2006.
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- "Programme Awards 2007: Winners". Royal Television Society. 19 March 2008. Retrieved 20 March 2008.
- "Bafta TV Awards 2008: The winners". BBC News. 20 April 2008. Retrieved 11 May 2008.
- "RTS Programme Awards winners 2009 in full". The Guardian (London). 18 March 2009. Retrieved 18 March 2009.
- "Television Awards Winners in 2009". BAFTA. Retrieved 27 April 2009.
Ten years of Peep Show http://www.comedy.co.uk/guide/tv/peep_show/special/10_years_of_peep_show/
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