Mark Kermode

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Mark Kermode
Mark Kermode 2010.jpg
Kermode performing with The Dodge Brothers in 2010
Born Mark James Patrick Fairey
(1963-07-02) 2 July 1963 (age 52)
Barnet, London, England
Residence Brockenhurst, Hampshire, England
Occupation Film critic, presenter, writer, musician
Spouse(s) Linda Ruth Williams
Children 2
Website Mark Kermode at The Observer

Mark James Patrick Kermode ( Fairey;[1][2] 2 July 1963)[3][4] is an English film critic, presenter, writer, and musician. He is a member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. He is the chief film critic for The Observer, and a contributor to Kermode and Mayo's Film Review and Sight and Sound magazine. He also co-presents the BBC Two arts programme The Culture Show and discusses other branches of the arts for the BBC Two programme Newsnight Review. Kermode also writes and presents a film-related video blog for the BBC. Kermode is also a co-founder of the skiffle band The Dodge Brothers.

Early life[edit]

Kermode was born in Barnet, London.[4] He was educated at The Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School, an independent boys' school in Elstree, Hertfordshire, a few years ahead of comedians Sacha Baron Cohen and David Baddiel and in the same year as actor Jason Isaacs.[5]

He was raised as a Methodist, and later became a member of the Church of England.[6] His parents divorced when he was in his early 20s and he subsequently changed his surname to his mother's maiden name by deed poll.[7] He earned his PhD in English at the University of Manchester in 1991, writing a thesis on horror fiction.[4]


Film reviewing[edit]

Kermode began his film career as a print journalist, writing for Manchester's City Life, and then Time Out and the NME in London. He has also written for The Independent, Vox, Empire, Flicks, Fangoria and Neon.[8]

Kermode began working as a film reviewer for BBC Radio 1 in 1993, on a regular Thursday night slot called Cult Film Corner on Mark Radcliffe's Graveyard Shift session.[9] He later moved to Simon Mayo's BBC Radio 1 morning show. He also hosted a movie review show with Mary Anne Hobbs on Radio 1 on Tuesday nights called Cling Film.[10] Between February 1992 and October 1993, he was the resident film reviewer on BBC Radio 5's Morning Edition with Danny Baker.

Since 2001, Kermode has reviewed and debates new film releases with Mayo on the BBC Radio 5 Live show Kermode and Mayo's Film Review.[11][12] The programme won Gold in the Speech Award category at the 2009 Sony Radio Academy Awards on 11 May 2009.[13]

Kermode is a visiting fellow at the University of Southampton, having gained a PhD at the University of Manchester in English.[14] He has also contributed to Fangoria magazine,[15] authored the monograph The Exorcist (BFI Modern Classics), and worked on film-related documentaries like The Fear of God; 25 Years of the Exorcist, Hell on Earth: The Desecration and Resurrection of Ken Russell's The Devils, The Edge of Blade Runner, and The Cult of The Wicker Man.[16] He recommends The Witch Who Came From the Sea as one of the best video nasties of the 1970s.[17]

Until September 2005, Kermode reviewed films each week for the New Statesman.[18] Since 2009 Kermode has written "Mark Kermode's DVD round-up" for The Observer, a weekly review of the latest releases.[19] He sometimes writes for the British Film Institute's Sight and Sound magazine.[citation needed] Kermode is a film critic and presenter for Film4 and Channel 4, presenting the weekly Extreme Cinema strand. He also writes and presents documentaries for Channel 4,[8] and co-presents the regular Film Review with Gavin Esler, for BBC News at Five.[20] As a host of BBC Two's The Culture Show, Kermode presents an annual "Kermode Awards" episode which presents statuettes to actors and directors not nominated for Academy Awards that year.[21]

Kermode is sometimes critical of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the censor for film in the UK, calling for horror films from abroad to be shown in their uncut versions. However, in recent years, he has stated on numerous occasions that the BBFC do a good job in an impossible situation, and expressed his approval of their decisions.[22]

In a 2012 Sight & Sound poll of cinema's greatest films, Kermode indicated his ten favourites, given alphabetically, as Brazil, The Devils, Don't Look Now, The Exorcist, Eyes Without a Face, It's a Wonderful Life, Mary Poppins, A Matter of Life and Death, Pan's Labyrinth, and The Seventh Seal.[23] He has described The Exorcist as being "the best film ever made".[24]

In September 2013, Kermode became the chief film critic for The Observer.[25]

Other writing[edit]

In February 2010, Random House released his autobiography, It's Only a Movie, which he describes as being "inspired by real events".[26] Its publication was accompanied by a UK tour.[27] In September 2011 he released a follow-up book entitled The Good, the Bad and the Multiplex, in which he puts forth his opinion on the good and bad of modern films, and vehemently criticizes the modern multiplex experience and the 3D film craze that had grown in the years immediately preceding the book's publication.[28] In 2013 Picador published "Hatchet Job: Love Movies, Hate Critics" in which he examines the need for professional "traditional" film critics in a culture of ever increasing online bloggers and amateur critics.[29]

Other work[edit]

Kermode has been a regular presenter on BBC Two's The Culture Show. He also appears regularly on Newsnight Review and The Film Review on BBC News. It was during a 2006 interview with Kermode for The Culture Show in Los Angeles that Werner Herzog was shot by an air rifle. Herzog appeared unflustered, later stating "It was not a significant bullet. I am not afraid".[30][31] On 19 May 2007 he was featured on the show playing with his skiffle band, The Dodge Brothers, in which he plays the double bass.

Kermode also co-hosted an early 1990s afternoon magazine show on BBC Radio 5 called A Game of Two Halves alongside former Blue Peter presenter Caron Keating.[32]

Kermode appeared in a cameo role as himself in the revival of the BBC's Absolutely Fabulous on 1 January 2012.[33]

In April 2008, Kermode started a twice-weekly video blog hosted on the BBC website, in which he discusses films and recounts anecdotes.[34]

Kermode has recorded DVD audio commentaries for Tommy, The Ninth Configuration, The Wicker Man[35] and (with Peter O'Toole) Becket.[36] He also appears in the DVD extras of Lost in La Mancha, interviewing Terry Gilliam. Kermode has written books, published by the BFI in its Modern Classics series, on The Exorcist[37] and The Shawshank Redemption[38][39] and his documentary for Channel 4, Shawshank: The Redeeming Feature, is on the film's 10th anniversary special edition DVD.[40]

Kermode's strong family connections with the Isle of Man has led to him playing an active role in Manx culture and the arts. Part of this has seen him host various talks on the island including; An Evening with Mark Kermode at the Ballakermeen High School.[41] He is also heavily involved with the annual Isle of Man Film Festival.[42]


Kermode played double bass for a skiffle/rockabilly band called The Railtown Bottlers in the early 1990s. The Railtown Bottlers were also the house band on the BBC show Danny Baker After All for a series, starting in 1993,[43][44] where he performed with Madness lead singer, Suggs.[45] In 2001 he formed The Dodge Brothers, playing double bass in the skiffle quartet.[44]

Personal life[edit]

Kermode lives in Brockenhurst, Hampshire, with his wife, Linda Ruth Williams, a professor who lectures on film at the University of Southampton.[46] From October to November 2004, they jointly curated a History of the Horror Film season and exhibition at the National Film Theatre in London.[46] Kermode and Williams have two children.[7]

Kermode has been described as a feminist, pescetarian, churchgoer, and "straight-arrow spouse who just happens to enjoy seeing people's heads explode across a cinema screen".[47]

Awards and honours[edit]

Year Ceremony Award Result
2010 Sony Radio Academy Awards Best Specialist Contributor of the Year Gold[48]
2009 Sony Radio Academy Awards Speech Award Gold[49]

Kermode was 75th on The Guardian's 2010 Film Power 100.[50]

Kermode is a patron of the charitable trust of the Phoenix Cinema in North London,[51] which was his favourite cinema during his childhood in East Finchley.[52] The tenth anniversary episode of Kermode and Mayo's Film Review was broadcast from the venue as part of its relaunch celebrations in 2010.[53]

In 2013, Kermode was appointed an Island of Culture Patron by the Isle of Man Arts Council.[41]


  1. ^ Norman, Matthew (24 January 2005). "Matthew Norman's Media Diary". The Independent (London). Archived from the original on February 23, 2009. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  2. ^ Norman, Matthew (7 February 2005). "Matthew Norman's Media Diary". The Independent (London). Archived from the original on February 23, 2009. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  3. ^ "Birthdays". The Guardian. 2 July 2009. p. 35. 
  4. ^ a b c "Film critic honoured by University of Manchester". University of Manchester. 14 December 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  5. ^ Lester, Paul (2008-02-01). "JC Interview: Jason Isaacs". The Jewish Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2008-06-05. Retrieved 2008-06-23. Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School ... [produced] quite a vintage crop in [Isaacs'] time: fellow pupils included Sacha Baron Cohen, David Baddiel and Matt Lucas. 'I've seen Baddiel a few times', Isaacs says, and he sees the others occasionally at awards ceremonies. ... [N]ot all the Habs stars of the time were Jewish, though, and Isaacs has a lot of time for another alumnus, the BBC's film critic, Mark Kermode: 'He is always incredibly lovely and says hello on his Radio 5 podcasts, which I've listened to in Auschwitz and many other strange places. He's said I was too cool [at school], but he was at the epicentre of the in-crowd.' 
  6. ^ Dalton, Stephen (January 22, 2010). "Mark Kermode: the new Jonathan Ross?". The Times (London). Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  7. ^ a b Lawson, Mark (9 April 2009). "Drawn to the devil". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 9 April 2009. 
  8. ^ a b Mark Kermode, English Department teaching staff, University of Southampton, accessed 14 January 2008
  9. ^ "Fancy a Brew? (Mark Radcliffe and Marc Riley website)". Retrieved 2008-04-23. 
  10. ^ "Mary Anne Hobbs". BBC. Archived from the original on 13 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  11. ^ "BBC - Podcasts - Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo's Film Review". BBC Radio 5 Live. Retrieved 2011-06-14. 
  12. ^ "BAFTA member Mark Kermode". BBC News. 2011-01-10. Retrieved 2011-09-09. 
  13. ^ Speech Award 2009 citations Sony Radio Academy official site
  14. ^ Kermode on BBC Newsnight Review, accessed 14 January 2008
  15. ^[dead link]
  16. ^ "Biography". Macmillan. 2009-12-04. Retrieved 2011-09-09. 
  17. ^ Kermode was speaking during an interview with Simon Mayo on BBC Radio 5 on 12 June 2009 which as of 15 June 2009 can be downloaded here [1][dead link]
  18. ^ Mark Kermode, New Statesman, accessed 14 January 2008
  19. ^ "Mark Kermode's DVD round-up". The Observer (London: 13 July 2009. Retrieved 2011-06-10. 
  20. ^ "The Film Review". BBC Online. Retrieved 28 December 2015. 
  21. ^ "BBC Two - The Culture Show, Forget the Oscars, Here Are the Kermodes: A Culture Show Special". BBC. 
  22. ^ Kermode, Mark (2002-06-21). "Mark Kermode on censorship: What are they scared of?". The Independent (London). Archived from the original on 20 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  23. ^ "Greatest Films Poll: Mark Kermode". Sight & Sound. British Film Institute. Retrieved 2012-09-12. 
  24. ^ "Sight and Sound". BFI. 2011-08-03. Retrieved 2011-09-09. 
  25. ^ "Mark Kermode is new Observer film critic". BBC News. 18 August 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  26. ^ Gallagher, Victoria (10 February 2009). "Kermode to Random House". The Bookseller. Retrieved 11 January 2010. 
  27. ^ "It's Only a Movie". Random House. Retrieved 21 July 2010. 
  28. ^ Kermode, Mark (28 August 2011). "How to make an intelligent blockbuster and not alienate people". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  29. ^ "Picador - Mark Kermode". Picador. Retrieved 16 June 2014. 
  30. ^ Herzog shot during interview,, 3 February 2006, accessed 14 January 2008
  31. ^ Herzog on his latest film Grizzly Man, BBC News, accessed 14 January 2008
  32. ^ Kermode, Mark (2010). It's Only a Movie: Reel Life Adventures of a Film Obsessive. London: Random House. p. [page needed]. ISBN 1-84794-602-X. 
  33. ^ "Absolutely Fabulous | Series 6 - 2. Job". Radio Times. Retrieved 2012-10-08. 
  34. ^ "Kermode Video Blog from the BBC's Blog Network website". BBC. Retrieved 2011-09-09. 
  35. ^ "The Wicker Man review". Retrieved 2008-04-23. 
  36. ^ "Becket review". Retrieved 2008-04-23. [dead link]
  37. ^ Kermode, Mark (2003). The Exorcist (2nd ed.). London: BFI Publishing. ISBN 978-0-85170-967-3. 
  38. ^ Kermode, Mark (2003). The Shawshank Redemption. London: BFI Publishing. ISBN 978-0-85170-968-0. 
  39. ^ Kermode, Mark (22 August 2004). "Hope springs eternal". The Observer (London). Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  40. ^ Papamichael, Stella (8 September 2004). "The Shawshank Redemption 10th Anniversary SE DVD (1994)". BBC Movies. Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  41. ^ a b[dead link]
  42. ^ "IOMFF2015". Isle of Man Film Festival. 
  43. ^ "Critically speaking". Southampton Echo. 13 April 2002. Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  44. ^ a b Kermode, Mark (1 June 2008). "My 20-year love affair with the joy of skiffle". The Observer (London). Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  45. ^[dead link]
  46. ^ a b "Professor Linda Ruth Williams". University of Southampton. Retrieved 2008-03-08. 
  47. ^ Randall, Lee (6 February 2010). "Interview: Mark Kermode, film critic". The Scotsman Magazine. Retrieved 21 July 2010. 
  48. ^ "Radio Specialist of the Year Award". Retrieved 2010-08-12. 
  49. ^ "The Speech Radio Award". Retrieved 2010-08-12. 
  50. ^ Bradshaw, Peter; Kermode, Mark (2010-09-24). "Film Power 100: the full list". Guardian (London). Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  51. ^ "Mark Kermode". Phoenix Cinema. 15 February 2010. Retrieved 2011-06-17. 
  52. ^ Kermode, Mark (2011). It's Only a Movie: Reel Life Adventures of a Film Obsessive. Random House. p. 26. ISBN 9780099543480. 
  53. ^ "Press Office - Kermode and Mayo Film Review live at Phoenix Cinema". BBC. Retrieved 2012-10-08. 

External links[edit]