Richard Ayoade

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Richard Ayoade
Ayoade facing the camera
Ayoade in 2011
Born Richard Ellef Ayoade
(1977-05-23) 23 May 1977 (age 39)
Hammersmith, London, England, United Kingdom
  • Actor
  • comedian
  • writer
  • director
  • television presenter
Years active 1998–present
Spouse(s) Lydia Fox (m. 2007)
Children 2
Relatives James Fox (father-in-law)
Laurence Fox (brother-in-law)

Richard Ellef Ayoade (/.ˈɑːdi/ eye-oh-AH-dee, born 23 May 1977) is a British actor, comedian, writer, director and television presenter. He is best known as Maurice Moss in The IT Crowd – for which he won the 2014 BAFTA for Best Male Comedy Performance – and as Dean Learner in Garth Marenghi's Darkplace.[1] He has directed films including Submarine (2010), The Double (2013), starring Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska, and various music videos for bands including Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Kasabian.

Ayoade has often worked alongside Noel Fielding, Julian Barratt, Matt Berry, and Rich Fulcher in shows such as The Mighty Boosh and Nathan Barley, was a team captain on panel show Was It Something I Said? and presents the factual shows Travel Man and Gadget Man.[2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Ayoade was born in Hammersmith, London,[4] the son of Nigerian father Layide Ade Laditi Ayoade and Norwegian mother Dagny Amalie (née Baassuik).[5][6][7][8] The family moved to Ipswich, Suffolk when he was young.[1] His name "Ayoade" means "The Blessed Crown" or "Joy of the Crown" in the Yoruba language.[9]

Ayoade studied at St Joseph's College, Ipswich[10] and later read law at St Catharine's College, Cambridge (1995–1998), where he won the Martin Steele Prize for play production[11] and was president of the Footlights from 1997 to 1998.[12] He says that his parents would not approve of studies considered to be of the "Regency era",[13] adding that "a non-vocational degree seemed such an outlandish indulgence".[14] Ayoade states that the law is no longer a viable "fallback" for him and that he would need to "go back to square one".[15]


Early career[edit]

While in Footlights, Ayoade acted in and wrote many shows. He and Footlights vice-president John Oliver wrote two pantomimes together: Sleeping Beauty, and Grimm Fairy Tales. Ayoade acted in both Footlights' 1997 and 1998 touring shows: Emotional Baggage and Between a Rock and a Hard Place (directed by Cal McCrystal).[16]

Garth Marenghi[edit]

Ayoade co-wrote the stage show Garth Marenghi's Fright Knight with Matthew Holness, whom he also met at the Footlights, appearing in the show at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2000 where it was nominated for a Perrier Award.[13] In 2001, he won the Perrier Comedy Award[17] for co-writing and performing in Garth Marenghi's Netherhead, the sequel to Fright Knight.

In 2004, Ayoade and Holness took the Marenghi character to Channel 4, creating the spoof horror comedy series Garth Marenghi's Darkplace. He directed and also appeared as Dean Learner, Garth's publisher, who plays Thornton Reed, a hospital administrator who bears a trademark shotgun and answers to hospital boss "Won Ton". Ayoade's Darkplace character, Dean Learner, was resurrected in 2006 to host a comedy chat show, Man to Man with Dean Learner, on Channel 4. The different guests were played each week by Holness.

The Mighty Boosh[edit]

In The Boosh radio series Richard played the part of Tommy Nookah in the second episode, "Jungle", originally aired on 23 October 2001. Ayoade was part of the original cast of Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding's The Mighty Boosh: he was selected to play the role of dangerous villain Dixon Bainbridge. However, by the time the radio series transferred to television he was under contract by Channel 4 and was only able to act in the pilot before leaving The Boosh. The part was taken by fellow Darkplace actor and eventual IT Crowd co-star Matt Berry. He later returned in the second series, to play the part of the belligerent shaman Saboo, where he improvised the line "an erotic adventurer of the most deranged kind" when describing Kirk, a fellow shaman played by Noel Fielding's girlfriend's nephew. Ayoade continued his association with The Mighty Boosh in the third series, acting as script editor and also reprising his role of Saboo in the episodes "Eels", "Nanageddon", "The Strange Tale of the Crack Fox" and "Party".

The IT Crowd[edit]

Main article: The IT Crowd

Ayoade is now a recognisable face in Britain owing to his role as the technically brilliant but socially awkward Maurice Moss in Channel 4's The IT Crowd. In 2008, he won the award for an outstanding actor in a television comedy series at the Monte-Carlo Television Festival for his performance. In 2009, Ayoade co-starred with Joel McHale in the pilot for an American remake, reprising his role with the same appearance and personality; no series was commissioned, and the pilot never aired. In May 2014, Ayoade won a BAFTA for Best Male Comedy Performance for his performance in the show's 2013 special.[18][19]

Was It Something I Said?[edit]

Ayoade was a team captain on the Channel 4 panel show Was It Something I Said?, which began airing on 6 October 2013 and co-starred David Mitchell as host and Micky Flanagan as fellow team captain.[20][21]


In 2010, Ayoade released his debut directorial feature, Submarine, a coming-of-age comedy-drama film adapted from the 2008 novel of the same name by Joe Dunthorne. The film stars newcomers Craig Roberts and Yasmin Paige with Sally Hawkins, Noah Taylor and Paddy Considine. The film was produced by Warp Films and Film4 and musician Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys contributed five original songs to the soundtrack.

The film premiered at the 35th Toronto International Film Festival in September 2010.[22] Following a generally positive reception it was picked up by the Weinstein Company for a North American release.[23] The film also played at the 54th London Film Festival in October 2010 and was played out of competition at the 27th Sundance Film Festival in January 2011.[24][25] It was also screened along with 400 other films at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival the next month.[26] It went on general release in the UK on 18 March and was released on 3 June in the US. It won the 2011 London Awards for Art and Performance. Ayoade was also nominated for a BAFTA for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer at the 65th British Academy Film Awards.[27]

Music video work[edit]

Ayoade has directed videos for the Arctic Monkeys ("Fluorescent Adolescent", "Crying Lightning" and "Cornerstone"), Super Furry Animals ("Run Away", which has Matt Berry in the lead role[28]), the Last Shadow Puppets ("Standing Next to Me" and "My Mistakes Were Made For You") and Vampire Weekend ("Oxford Comma" and "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"), as well as for Kasabian ("Vlad the Impaler", which starred Ayoade's frequent collaborator Noel Fielding) and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs ("Heads Will Roll"). In 2007 he directed a live Arctic Monkeys DVD entitled At the Apollo, which was recorded at the Manchester Apollo. It was previewed at Vue cinemas across the UK during October 2008 and was released on DVD the following month, winning the "Best DVD" title at the NME Awards that year.

Voice acting[edit]

Ayoade voices Todd Lagoona, an anthropomorphic hammerhead shark who is a recurring character in Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy. Since 2013, he has voiced Templeton in the CBBC animation Strange Hill High and in 2014 he voiced Mr. Pickles, one of Snatcher's henchmen in the stop motion animated fantasy film The Boxtrolls.

In 2013, Virgin Media launched an advertising campaign starring the Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt which also featured the voice of Ayoade. He again lent his voice to an advertising campaign when he teamed up with fellow IT Crowd star Chris O'Dowd to provide the voice-over for Apple's iPhone 6 advertisement campaign which was released in the United Kingdom in 2014.[29]

In 2013 Penguin Audio released several Roald Dahl audiobooks featuring the voices of some of the UK's most prominent stage and screen performers, including Ayoade, Chris O'Dowd, Kate Winslet, Andrew Scott, Stephen Fry, Dan Stevens, Hugh Laurie and Miriam Margolyes. Ayoade reads The Twits in the audiobook collection.[30]

In 2015, a reboot of the cartoon Danger Mouse was created, in which Ayoade voices the character of the Snowman. In 2016, Ayoade voiced Onion in the Cartoon Network pilot, Apple & Onion.

Ayoade on Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey[edit]

Ayoade's first book Ayoade on Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey was published by Faber and Faber on 2 October 2014. It satirises the nature of interviews and books that document and analyse the careers of iconic film directors (e.g. Orson Welles and Martin Scorsese). The book parodies Faber's Directors on Directors series, in which critically celebrated filmmakers discuss their work.[31] A Cinematic Odyssey sees Ayoade conduct several interviews with himself in which he discusses his work and enthusiasm for the world of cinema. Ayoade has said that he hopes that the book will act as 'a container for jokes that's themed around film'.[32]

The Crystal Maze[edit]

Main article: The Crystal Maze

On 13 January 2017, it was confirmed that Ayoade would present 20 hour-long episodes of The Crystal Maze, following the success of a celebrity special for Stand Up to Cancer in October 2016. The new series will be filmed at a purpose-built maze in Bristol that's being created by the original Crystal Maze designer James Dillon and spans over 30,000 square feet.

Other work[edit]

In 2005, he played the role of Ned Smanks in Chris Morris' and Charlie Brooker's Nathan Barley.[33] Ayoade directed, co-wrote and co-starred (with fellow Darkplace and IT Crowd cast member Matt Berry) in AD/BC: A Rock Opera, and has appeared on T4. He helped write The Mighty Book of Boosh, along with Noel Fielding, Julian Barratt, Rich Fulcher, Dave Brown and Michael Fielding. He is also featured in Paul King's film, Bunny and the Bull,[34] where he plays the role of an extremely boring museum tour guide.[35]

In November 2007, Ayoade appeared on Channel 4's The Big Fat Anniversary Quiz, which marked the channel's 25th anniversary. In January 2011, he appeared on The Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2010, then appeared again in December 2012 on The Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2012, and once again on The Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2013 in December 2013.[36] In March 2011, Ayoade directed the episode "Critical Film Studies" in season 2 of Community.[37] Ayoade directed comedian Tommy Tiernan's world stand-up tour, Crooked Man, which was released in November 2011.[38]

Ayoade starred in the American comedy film The Watch (2012),[39] alongside Submarine producer Ben Stiller. He co-wrote and directed the comedy film The Double,[40] starring Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska.[41][42] He also plays various characters in the show Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy.[43]

Ayoade replaced Stephen Fry as presenter in the second series of Channel 4's Gadget Man, in September 2013 and also hosted a third series in August/September 2014.[44][45] He is also the host of the spin-off series Travel Man: 48 Hours In... also on the Channel 4 network.[46]

In August 2016, Ayoade appeared on the second episode of Channel 4's Big Fat Quiz of Everything Series alongside Noel Fielding, as he had on the 2013 edition.[47] Ayoade and Fielding were winners with 25 points.

Personal life[edit]

Ayoade married actress Lydia Fox in 2007. They have two daughters, Esme and Ida. The couple were expecting a third child in 2016.[48] [needs update]

Ayoade is a dog enthusiast and has two brown Dachshunds named Marv and O'Grady, who appeared in The Double.



Year Title Role Notes
2003 Hello Friend Computer Man Short Film
2004 The Life and Death of Peter Sellers Wedding Photographer
2005 Festival Dwight Swan
2008 At the Apollo Concert film; director
2009 Bunny and the Bull Museum Curator
2010 Submarine Director and writer
British Independent Film Award for Best Screenplay
Palm Springs International Film Festival Directors to Watch Award
Giffoni Film Festival Award for Best Film
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer
Nominated—London Film Critics' Circle Award for Breakthrough British Filmmaker
Nominated—Evening Standard British Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer
Nominated—Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award for Best Film Screenplay
2012 The Watch Jamarcus
2013 The Double Director and writer
Nominated—London Film Festival Award for Best Film
Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Foreign Film
Nominated—Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival Grand Prize
Nominated—Tokyo International Film Festival Grand Prix
2014 The Boxtrolls Mr. Pickles Voice
2018 Early Man[49] Treebor Voice


Year Title Role Notes
2004 Garth Marenghi's Darkplace Dean Learner / Thornton Reed 6 episodes; also co-creator, writer and director
2004 AD/BC: A Rock Opera Joseph Television special; also writer and director
2004–2007 The Mighty Boosh Saboo 5 episodes; also script editor and wrote episode: "The Chokes"
2005 Nathan Barley Ned Smanks 6 episodes
2006 Man to Man with Dean Learner Dean Learner 6 episodes; also co-creator, writer, director and executive producer
2006 Time Trumpet Himself 6 episodes
2006 Snuff Box Music Show Host 2 episodes
2006–2010, 2013 The IT Crowd Maurice Moss 25 episodes
British Academy Television Award for Best Male Comedy Performance (2014)
2007–present The Big Fat Quiz of the Year Himself 9 episodes
2011 Community Directed episode: "Critical Film Studies"
2011 Crooked Man Stand-up special; director
2012 Full English Edgar (voice) 6 episodes
2012–2014 Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy Various Characters 6 episodes
2013 Was It Something I Said? Himself 8 episodes
2013–2014 Strange Hill High Templeton (voice) 26 episodes
2013–present Gadget Man Himself (host) 19 episodes
2015 The Vicar of Dibley Bernard Episode: "The Bishop of Dibley"
2015-16 Danger Mouse The Snowman (voice) 4 episodes
2015–present Travel Man Himself (host) 17 Episodes
2016 Apple & Onion[50] Onion (voice) Pilot
2017 The Crystal Maze Himself (host) 20 episodes[51]

Music videos directed[edit]

Year Artist Track
2007 Arctic Monkeys "Fluorescent Adolescent"
2007 Super Furry Animals "Run Away"
2008 Vampire Weekend "Oxford Comma"
2008 The Last Shadow Puppets "Standing Next to Me"
2008 The Last Shadow Puppets "My Mistakes Were Made for You"
2008 Vampire Weekend "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"
2009 Kasabian "Vlad the Impaler"
2009 Arctic Monkeys "Crying Lightning"
2009 Arctic Monkeys "Cornerstone"
2009 Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Heads Will Roll"
2016 Radiohead "Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief"[52]


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  2. ^ "Was It Something I Said? – C4 Panel Show – British Comedy Guide". Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
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  28. ^ Super Furry Animals – Run-Away on YouTube
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  32. ^ "Here's a full transcript of Richard Ayoade's bizarre interview with Krishnan Guru-Murphy". 22 October 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  33. ^ Harrison, Andrew (10 February 2015). "Totally Mexico! How the Nathan Barley nightmare came true". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 June 2016. 
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  35. ^ "Bunny and the Bull (2009) – New Cinema Wallpaper of the Day – Mighty Boosh meets Gondry meets Withnail & I meets Sideways". 7 June 2009. Archived from the original on 10 June 2009. 
  36. ^ "Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2010". Channel 4. 3 January 2011. 
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  52. ^ "Instagram video by Radiohead • Jun 17, 2016 at 1:59pm UTC". Instagram. Retrieved 2016-09-07. 

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