|Born||22 April 1963|
Chertsey, Surrey, England
|Died||16 August 2021[n 1] (aged 58)|
Muswell Hill, London, England
|Alma mater||St John the Baptist School, Woking|
|Spouse||Anoushka Nara Giltsoff|
Sean Lock (22 April 1963 – 16 August 2021)[n 1] was an English comedian and actor. He began his comedy career as a comedian and in 2000 won the British Comedy Award, in the category of Best Live Comic, and was nominated for the Perrier Comedy Award. He was a team captain on the Channel 4 comedy panel show 8 Out of 10 Cats from 2005 to 2015, and on 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown from 2012 to his death in 2021.
Lock frequently appeared on stage, television and radio. His routines were often surreal and delivered in a deadpan style. He also wrote material for Bill Bailey, Lee Evans and Mark Lamarr. Lock was voted the 55th-greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups in 2007, and was ranked 19th in the updated 2010 list. He was a frequent guest on other panel shows including BBC's Have I Got News for You, QI and They Think It's All Over.
Lock was born in Chertsey, Surrey, on 22 April 1963. His father was Sidney Lock, who worked in the building industry, and his mother was Mary (née McCreesh) whose family hailed from Cullaville, County Armagh (present-day Northern Ireland). Lock, the youngest of four children, was raised in Woking, Surrey, where he attended St John the Baptist School.
During Lock's teenage years, he watched art-house films on BBC Two, and named Andrei Tarkovsky's 1979 science-fiction film Stalker as one that affected him greatly. In 1981, he left education with a grade E in English A-Level. Afterwards, his father got him a job stripping concrete panels off buildings. After spending seven years as a labourer, he travelled, taking on different jobs. For six weeks, he worked on a French farm as a goat herder and worked on a kibbutz in Israel. During this period, he also worked as a toilet cleaner and a Department of Health and Social Security office worker. During his work as a labourer, he developed skin cancer.
He then decided to pursue acting and enrolled at the Drama Centre London, though soon realised he made an error. He quit and returned to being a labourer. After Lock saw comedians like Alexei Sayle and Paul Merton performing in comedy clubs, he decided to pursue comedy. Throughout this time, he visited comedy shows in London pubs and started doing open-mic spots as a hobby. In 1988, Lock had his first official gig at a pub in Stoke Newington, London. After being paid £15 for his 20 minutes, he realised he could pursue being a comedian as a career.
Lock's early television work included a supporting role alongside Rob Newman and David Baddiel in the 1993 series Newman and Baddiel in Pieces including touring with them as their support act. Frank Skinner and Eddie Izzard are credited as major influences on his comedy. A popular belief is that Lock was the first stand-up comedian to perform at Wembley Arena, as he was the support act for Newman and Baddiel. But, while Lock was the support act, he only featured in skits in the middle of the show.
15 Minutes of Misery and 15 Storeys High
Lock made regular appearances on various radio panel shows and script-edited for Bill Bailey's 1998 BBC2 series, Is It Bill Bailey?. In December 1998, he launched his own show on BBC Radio 4, 15 Minutes of Misery originally as a five-episode pilot. These shows also featured actors Kevin Eldon and Hattie Hayridge. The premise involved Lock eavesdropping on his neighbours in his south London tower block (all played by Lock, Eldon and Hayridge) using a bugging device fitted by his plumber, "Hot Bob" (Eldon), which was known as "The Bugger King" (and had "nothing to do with meat or sex"). 15 Minutes of Misery lasted for one series of six programmes in late 1998 and early 1999.
In 1999, 15 Minutes of Misery was expanded into the half-hour series 15 Storeys High co-written by Lock and Martin Trenaman. From ostensibly the same tower block, Lock's character was now given a flatmate (the hapless Errol) and a job at the local swimming baths, as well as a somewhat dour and intolerant demeanour. The bugging device was no longer used, but the antics of Lock's neighbours still featured heavily in the show. The plots for this series were more linear in a "traditional" sitcom style, although they still showed Lock's brand of dark, surreal humour. 15 Storeys High would transfer to television after two radio series, with Lock's character renamed 'Vince', for a further two series in 2002 and 2004. Initially aired on BBC Choice, it follows a cynical Vince and his naive flatmate Errol (Benedict Wong). It attracted a cult following after its release on DVD.
In 1995, Lock played an escaped murderer in an episode of The World of Lee Evans, alongside Lee Evans and Phil Daniels. Lock wrote the screenplay for Andrew Kötting's 2001 feature film This Filthy Earth, based on the novel La Terre by Émile Zola. In 2004, Lock had a guest appearance in television's first ever "dope opera", Top Buzzer, written by Johnny Vaughan.
In 2005 he became a regular team captain on the Channel 4 panel game 8 Out of 10 Cats. In an article at the time of his death, The Guardian said Lock "will be best remembered as a team captain for the first 18 series of... 8 Out of 10 Cats... and he quickly emerged as its biggest star." He was a team captain on 8 Out of 10 Cats between 2005 and 2015, and on its spin-off 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown between 2012 and 2021.
In spring 2006, he hosted his own entertainment show on Channel 4 called TV Heaven, Telly Hell. Lock narrated the BBC production World Cup Goals Galore in 2006. In 2008 he appeared on The Big Fat Quiz of the Year, on a team with James Corden. Lock also appeared on many popular British TV panel shows including Have I Got News for You, QI and They Think It's All Over. He was also a celebrity guest in The Last Leg. Lock became "The Curator" for the second radio series of The Museum of Curiosity, in 2009, taking over from Bill Bailey.
In 2010, Lock took part in Channel 4's Comedy Gala, a benefit show held in aid of Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, filmed live at The O2 Arena. He also appeared in a spoof video produced by Shelter, the housing charity, to highlight the problem of rogue landlords. In 2011, he took over from John Sergeant as the host of the Dave comedy panel show, Argumental. In 2019, Lock featured in episode 4 of the BBC comedy series Mandy.
Lock was known for his surreal style, deadpan delivery, and dry humour. The Guardian stated that he was "celebrated for his carefully crafted surreal content and imaginative observational wit". Lock stated that comedy is not always easy, saying: "The real secret ... is every day spending tedious hours straining over a blank sheet of paper trying to think of something funny. Some days I'd rather try and lay an egg."
Ed Power of The Daily Telegraph described his persona as "studiedly obtuse". He said Lock's topics included political correctness, "existential woe", and the difficulties of being a football supporter which gave him "irresistible everyman quality". Power described him as "a Samuel Beckett trapped inside a Tommy Cooper punchline." Power also suggested that his persona was so convincing because it matched what he was like off-stage. Fellow comedian Harry Hill said, "People are tempted to pigeonhole him as dark or surreal but he was more than that. He had a playful side; a wide-eyed wonder at the world".
Lock was diagnosed with skin cancer in 1990, attributing the condition to overexposure to the sun while working as a builder in the early 1980s. After seeing his doctor, he was referred to a dermatologist at Guy's Hospital, London, and made a full recovery. In May 2012, he gave his support to a Sun Awareness event at the hospital.
Lock was a supporter of Chelsea F.C. and was an active supporter of the Muswell Hill soup kitchen. In December 2020, Lock made a video to help raise funds for Edible London, a charity that aimed to provide ingredients for a million meals to help those struggling in lockdown. In the clip, he quipped, "I'm Sean Lock. You may know me as that bloke off the telly whose name you can't remember."
On 16 August 2021,[n 1] Lock died of cancer at his home, aged 58, after being diagnosed with lung cancer. According to Bill Bailey, a close friend of Lock's, he had been diagnosed with "advanced" lung cancer "a few years ago".
Those who paid tribute included fellow 8 Out of 10 Cats performers Jimmy Carr, Jon Richardson, Rachel Riley, and Susie Dent; many comedians, including Omid Djalili, Ricky Gervais, Lee Mack, Eddie Izzard, Alan Davies, David Mitchell, Rob Brydon, Dara Ó Briain, Vic Reeves, Jo Brand, Jonathan Ross, and Stephen Fry; Chelsea F.C.; QI; and Channel 4. Harry Hill wrote a piece in The Guardian, describing him as "the comedian's comedian". On 19 August 2021, Channel 4 aired a tribute to Lock, showing his stand-up show Keep It Light along with an episode of 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown. Chelsea paid tribute to Lock on 11 September during their fixture against Aston Villa with a one-minute applause during the 58th (the age at which he died) minute of the match.
Fans of Lock called for his book The Tiger Who Came for a Pint, a parody book read on 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown based on the children's book The Tiger Who Came to Tea, to be published, with some fans suggesting the proceeds should go to cancer research in his honour. In addition, the tribute night of programming prompted fans and friends, including Kathy Burke, to call for the BBC to add 15 Storeys High to its online service. After seeing that there were a lot of fans of Lock's work, the BBC released both series of the show onto its iPlayer service on 27 August 2021.
|1993||Smart Alek||Smart Alek||Writer, television short|||
|Newman and Baddiel in Pieces||Shenley Grange|||
|1995||The World of Lee Evans||Mitchell|||
|Anton & Minty||Visitor||Also writer, television short|||
|1996||The Chef and the Dancer||Guest appearance|||
|1997||The Jack Docherty Show||Guest appearance|||
|1998||Not The Jack Docherty Show||Guest appearance|||
|1999||Is It Bill Bailey?||N/A||Script editor|||
|2000||TV to Go||Guest appearance|||
|TV to Go||Guest appearance|||
|Stand up Perrier||Guest appearance|||
|2001||We Know Where You Live||Guest appearance|||
|This Filthy Earth||N/A||Writer|||
|2002||Jesus Christ Airlines||Guest appearance|||
|Is This It?||Guest appearance|||
|2002–2004||15 Storeys High||Vince Clark||Also writer and associate producer|||
|2003–2011||QI||Guest panellist||32 episodes|||
|2004||Today with Des and Mel||Guest appearance|||
|The Terry and Gaby Show||Guest appearance|||
|The Wright Stuff||Guest panellist|||
|2005–2015||8 Out of 10 Cats||Himself, team captain|||
|2006–2007||TV Heaven, Telly Hell||Himself, presenter|||
|2012–2021||8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown||Himself, team captain|||
|2012–2013||The Channel 4 Mash Up||Himself|||
|2014||Sean Lock: Purple Van Man||Himself|||
|2017||Dying Laughing||Himself, interviewee|||
|2020||Mandy||Geoff||Episode: "Fish" (Series 1 Episode 4)|||
|1998–1999||15 Minutes of Misery||Sean||Also writer|||
|Live||17 November 2008||Live at London's HMV Hammersmith Apollo|||
|Lockipedia Live||22 November 2010|||
|Purple Van Man (Live 2013)||18 November 2013|||
|Keep It Light – Live||20 November 2017||Live at Margate's Theatre Royal|||
Awards and nominations
Lock was voted the 55th-greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups in 2007 and as the 19th-greatest stand-up comic in the updated 2010 list.
|2000||British Comedy Awards||Best Live Comic||Won|||
|Perrier Comedy Award||N/A||Nominated|||
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- "Evict Rogue Landlords (video)". Shelter. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
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- Trust, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation. "Sean Lock backs our sun safety event". www.guysandstthomas.nhs.uk.
- "Before Three Lions, there was Mr Tambling Man". Chelsea F.C. 11 July 2018. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
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