Peep Show (TV series)

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Peep Show
Genre Sitcom
Created by Andrew O'Connor
Jesse Armstrong
Sam Bain
Starring David Mitchell
Robert Webb
Olivia Colman
Theme music composer Daniel Pemberton (Series 1)
Opening theme Harvey Danger - "Flagpole Sitta" (Series 2 onwards)
Country of origin  United Kingdom
Language(s) English
No. of series 5
No. of episodes 30 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Andrew O'Connor
Producer(s) Phil Clarke
Camera setup Single-camera (often head-mounted)
Running time 25 minutes
Production company(s) Objective Productions
Original channel Channel 4
Picture format PAL (576i)
Audio format Stereo
Original run 9 September 2003 – Present
External links
Official website

Peep Show is a BAFTA and Rose d'Or award-winning British sitcom starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb. The programme is written by Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, with additional material by Mitchell and Webb themselves. It has been broadcast on Channel 4 since 2003, with the sixth series due to air summer 2009 and a seventh series commissioned for 2010.


[edit] Synopsis

Peep Show follows the often sexually-frustrated lives of two men in their late twenties, Mark (Mitchell) and Jeremy (Webb). Having met while at the fictional Dartmouth University together (they occasionally refer to themselves as 'The El Dude Brothers' in reference to their student days), they now share a flat (Flat 5) in Apollo House, London Road in Croydon, south London.

Mark is a loan manager and the more financially successful of the two, but is extremely uncomfortable socially and pessimistic about nearly everything. Jeremy, who at the start of the first series has recently split up with his girlfriend 'Big Suze', now rents 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 is yet to be recognised, and he is not as popular or attractive as he would like to think himself.

[edit] Production

The show is unusual in that the events of the two main characters' lives are seen almost exclusively from their own points of view (and those of other characters they interact with) to the extent that a working title for the programme was 'POV'. Scenes in the show are often filmed using cameras strapped to the actors' heads,[1] to give the viewer a point of view identical to that of the protagonists, and the two main characters' internal monologues (or interior thoughts) are presented to the audience as voiceovers. On occasion, this viewing style is dropped in favour of a more traditional third person view, usually for establishing shots and flashbacks. Even in such events the third person view is often shot from the point of view of an actual third person (a passer by, bystander, or a marginal character) making it to a point still faithful to the initial first person point of view formula.

Speaking on The Culture Show in June 2008, Armstrong and Bain explained that their use of first-person perspective was influenced by a Channel 4 documentary series aired in 2000, Being Caprice, which in turn copied the gimmick from scenes in the 1999 film Being John Malkovich. They also said that 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 theme tune for the first series was an original composition by Daniel Pemberton and is featured on his TVPOPMUZIK album. Since the second series the theme music has been the song "Flagpole Sitta" by the American band Harvey Danger, with elements of the original Pemberton theme tune still used for scene changes and commercial breaks. In the third episode of the first series, Flagpole Sitta can be heard playing in the background at the bowling alley.

Despite the characters living in South London, the title sequence was filmed in Crouch End, North London; Jeremy and Mark see their faces in a TV in the window of what was once a branch of Powerhouse, now replaced by an Italian restaurant and delicatessen.

[edit] American versions

In 2005, the Fox network commissioned a pilot for an American version of Peep Show (named 'Odd Couple'), however, the pilot was unsuccessful.[2] Jeremy was played by Josh Meyers, and Mark was played by Johnny Galecki.[2]. Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain have commented that the American version did not utilise the point-of-view filming like the original.

Spike TV has since commissioned its own version, originally to be written and directed by Robert Weide, who is the executive producer of Curb Your Enthusiasm.[2] However, it is currently being written by the original creators of the British version, Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain.[3]

[edit] Major Characters

[edit] Jeremy

  • Played by: Robert Webb
  • Series: 1-
  • A wannabe musician, Jeremy, also known as "Jez", is a "work-shy freeloader" who is unemployed for most of the series. He is naïve, immature and often selfish, and considers himself very talented and attractive. He tends to be more sociable than Mark, but can sometimes be quite malicious and spiteful. Jeremy is hedonistic and enjoys recreational drugs, as well as casual sex. However, he also becomes emotionally involved in his relationships with Toni, Nancy and Big Suze. Although Jeremy only engages in heterosexual relationships, there are several indications of homosexual 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 3. Like Mark, Jeremy attended Dartmouth University, but his degree classification remains a mystery. It is unclear whether Jeremy's surname is "Usbourne" or "Osborne" - Channel 4's official website for the series uses both spellings.[4] However, in episode 5 of series 3, Jeremy's surname was spelt as "Usbourne" on a letter requiring him to do jury service.

[edit] Mark Corrigan

  • Played by: David Mitchell
  • Series: 1-
  • Loan manager Mark Corrigan is the owner of the flat that he shares with Jeremy. He is sensible and careful, but often has moments of impulsive and erratic behaviour. He appears to have had a somewhat miserable upbringing, with a domineering father, some infidelity by both parents, and a switch from private to state education. He is a graduate in Business Studies from fictional Dartmouth University, where he met Jeremy. He has a love of history, especially ancient history (which he originally wanted to study at university) and modern military history. Mark is conscious of Jeremy's intellectual inferiority, but still looks to him for social guidance. Mark is plagued by paranoia as to how others perceive him, and doubts over whether his actions are normal. He is often unable to grasp how modern society operates, and simply endures activities that others seem to enjoy. Mark's infatuation and relationship with Sophie is a major theme of the first four series. Following their disastrous wedding and break-up, he pursues a series of other women during Series 5, wondering whether each could be "the one".

[edit] Sophie Chapman

  • Played by: Olivia Colman
  • Series: 1-
  • 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. As of the end of Series 5, she is pregnant with the child of either Mark or Jeremy.

[edit] Super Hans

  • Played by: Matt King
  • Series: 1-
  • Jeremy's band-mate and friend, Super Hans likes to think of himself as being superior to others and is an untrustworthy shyster and 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. His contentious opinions often contradict Jeremy's own ideas. He works in a recording studio in the first series. At the end of Series 5 he joins a religious cult. Russell Brand originally auditioned for the part.[5]

[edit] Alan Johnson

  • Played by: Paterson Joseph
  • Series: 1-
  • A 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. As of series 2, he became 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. Mark continues to get on well with Johnson despite some upsets. Jeremy by contrast does not, especially after Big Suze leaves Jeremy for him. An early draft of the final episode of series three was to conclude with Johnson committing suicide, but the idea was rejected as being too dark.[6]

[edit] 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 very open-minded and she is keen to break all the taboos that exist on such matters. She marries Jeremy in series two for visa purposes.

[edit] Big Suze

  • Played by: Sophie Winkleman
  • Series: 3-
  • 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 was often mentioned but did 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 Big Suze, and although they reunite briefly, she later leaves him for Alan Johnson.

[edit] Jeff Heaney

  • Played by: Neil Fitzmaurice
  • Series: 1-
  • 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.

[edit] Toni

  • 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.

[edit] Dobby

  • Played by: Isy Suttie
  • Series 5
  • Dobby works in the IT department of Mark's workplace and is a self-confessed IT 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 works canteen.

[edit] Plot summary

[edit] Series one

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 more macho Jeff. Both Mark and Jeremy go through awkward periods throughout the series, as is seen by Mark's confusing and sexual admiration for Johnson, while Jeremy remembers a "bad thing" he did while high on drugs, which turns out to be having oral sex with Super Hans. As the series develops, so do their frustrations, climaxing in the two teaming up to prank call Sophie and launch a pepper spray attack on Jeremy's friend and Toni's short term lover, Super Hans. 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 a hand job from Toni.

[edit] Series two

In series two, Jeremy's luck is far greater as he meets and falls in love with Nancy and has a little more success with his music career with Super Hans. Meanwhile Mark is on a downward slope: Sophie plans to move in with Jeff, and Mark forges a short friendship with a Neo-Nazi, and falls for a similarly socially inadequate student, before losing her after an ill-judged return to his old university, where she is currently studying. However, the tables turn once more at the end of the series when Jeremy admits to Nancy — now his wife — that he has been in an affair with Toni ("by mistake"), leaving his marriage a 'husk', while Sophie dumps Jeff and very nearly begins a relationship with Mark. During this series Jeremy's friend Super Hans discovers a love of crack cocaine, failing to understand why, in the 21st century, "a nice relaxing smoke of crack" is socially unacceptable.

[edit] Series three

This series 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. Other developments include Jeremy seducing Mark's sister while Mark falls for Big Suze, and Jeremy and Super Hans attempting 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.

[edit] Series four

As the series begins, Mark and Sophie are still engaged, and picking out items for their wedding list. They visit Sophie's parents in the country, along with Jeremy, who is ostensibly joining them to spend time with Sophie's younger brother, but ultimately has sex with her mother. Big Suze breaks up with Jeremy after he accepts an "indecent proposal" from Johnson (which ironically drives her into Johnson's arms) and Mark claims to be dying from a brain tumour after failing to adequately prepare for a particularly stressful work presentation. In an attempt to get away from Sophie, Mark joins a gym, and discovers that Nancy is working there. Jeremy then gets a job there so he can meet with her and try to win her back. Sophie leaves on a foreign business trip, leaving a jealous Mark to consider a fling with a woman from his school reunion. Jeremy finds some highly-paid handyman work for one of his musical heroes, Russell (aka The Orgazoid), 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. He attempts to secure a job there as a means of escaping his impending wedding but the plan falls apart when it emerges that Jeremy accidentally killed, and subsequently chewed on, the businessman's daughters' beloved dog. In the final episode, Mark prepares to marry Sophie, while struggling with his worries about the wedding. 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, Mark ends up marrying Sophie, who is in tears at the altar and runs out on him after the ceremony, claiming that she will seek a divorce or annulment because Mark is "horrible".

[edit] Series five

Following Mark and Sophie's disastrous wedding, Mark resumes his search for "the one". He asks out the new IT girl Dobby to a club called the Fuck Bunker where Jeremy and Super Hans are performing, although the date ends badly when they find a dishevelled Sophie in the toilets, who reveals to Dobby that she is Mark's wife. Dobby remains interested however, and asks Mark if she can be his date for his upcoming birthday party. Unfortunately, Mark is forced to turn her down in favour of an Australian he met while speed-dating, who is pretending to like him so she can get somewhere to live after Jeremy is temporarily evicted.

Jeremy runs out of money, having finally exhausted all the funds his mother had given him and is forced to ask Big Suze if he can stay with her and Johnson. She declines, but Jeremy steals Johnson's credit card. At the party, Johnson catches Jeremy, and Mark is forced to pay to avoid Johnson calling the police, while his speed-dating date ends up with Jeff. Jeremy next tries to obtain money from his mother after his great-aunt dies, despite her leaving a sizeable inheritance. Jeremy's 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 technically 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 before 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 his child. In the series' closing moments, it is revealed that Jeremy too has recently slept with Sophie and that her baby may, potentially, be his.

[edit] Series six

On 15 May 2008, a sixth series of Peep Show was commissioned. It was announced during the first broadcast of the fifth series.[7] On 31 October 2008, Olivia Colman, on the BBC's Breakfast Show, revealed that the series was in post-production, and is expected to air in the summer of 2009.[citation needed]

[edit] Series seven

On 18 March 2009, Channel 4 commissioned a seventh series of Peep Show, before the sixth series was broadcast. It has been heralded for 2010.[8]

[edit] Reception

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.[9][10] However, due to the large DVD revenues of the previous series, a fourth series was commissioned.[11]

The premiere of the fourth series showed no improvement on the ratings of the previous, continuing to attract its core audience of 1.2 million (7.7% of viewers).[12] 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 the high DVD sales of the previous series (400,000 to date),[13] the continued high quality of the show itself,[14] 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,[15] and their feature film Magicians. The fifth series showed no improvement with 1.1 million viewers[16], despite the show's continued critical acclaim and the BAFTA award at the beginning of 2008.

The British Sitcom Guide voted the show the "Best Returning British Sitcom of 2007".[17] The following year, when the site became "The British Comedy Guide", it was voted the "Comedy of the Year" for 2008. It nearly won the award for "Best Returning British TV Sitcom", but lost to Outnumbered by six votes.[18] The Guardian newspaper described it as "the best comedy of the decade".[19]

[edit] Awards

Peep Show has won several awards.

  • In 2004, it won the Rose d'Or for "Best European Sitcom."[1]
  • At the end of 2006, following the third series, Peep Show was honoured with the British Comedy Award for best TV comedy.[20]
  • It won the same award in 2007 and Mitchell also won "Best TV comedy actor" in the same ceremony.[21]
  • Mitchell and Webb both won the "Comedy performance" award in the 2007 Royal Television Society awards.[22]
  • The fourth series won the 2008 BAFTA for "Best situation comedy".[23]
  • In 2009, Bain and Armstrong won the Royal Television Society award for "Writer - Comedy".[24]

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b "British Sitcom Guide — Peep Show". British Sitcom Guide. 2007. Retrieved on 2007-02-01. 
  2. ^ a b c "News — Peep Show to be re-made in America". British Sitcom Guide. 2007-05-04. 
  3. ^ "US producers 'to make Peep Show'". BBC News. Retrieved on 2008-09-30. 
  4. ^ Peep Show minisite on
  5. ^ "Brand 'rejected for Peep Show role'". BBC Newsbeat. 2008-04-16. Retrieved on 2008-04-16. 
  6. ^ DVD commentary to the series three episode "Quantocking"
  7. ^ "News — Peep Show gets a 6th series". British Sitcom Guide. 2008-05-15. Retrieved on 2008-05-15. 
  8. ^ Parker, Robin (2009-03-18). "Peep Show to return for seventh series". Broadcast. Retrieved on 2009-03-18. 
  9. ^ "That's all, Peeps". BBC. 2007-05-20. Retrieved on 2007-06-21. 
  10. ^ Neil Wilkes (2006-01-29). "Fourth series of 'Peep Show' "unlikely"". Digital Spy. Retrieved on 2007-06-21. 
  11. ^ Neil Wilkes (2006-03-01). "New series for 'Peep Show', 'IT Crowd'". Digital Spy. Retrieved on 2007-06-21. 
  12. ^ "Ruddy Hell! 4.7m watch Harry & Paul". 2007-05-19. Retrieved on 2007-06-21. 
  13. ^ "Eureka!: Peep Show — a real-life Beavis and Butthead". 2007-05-19. 
  14. ^ "News — Peep Show gets a 5th series". British Sitcom Guide. 2007-03-21. 
  15. ^ "How the tide turned for Mitchell and Webb". The Times. 2007-05-19. 
  16. ^ "TV ratings — May 16: Travel insurance show claims 4m viewers". The Guardian. 2008-05-19. 
  17. ^ "The British Sitcom Guide Awards 2007". British Sitcom Guide. 2008-01-21. Retrieved on 2008-02-04. 
  18. ^ "British Comedy Guide Awards 2008". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved on 2009-01-19. 
  19. ^ "Peep Show is the best comedy of the decade". The Guardian. 2007-04-16. Retrieved on 2008-02-17. 
  20. ^ "Merchant takes top comedy honour". BBC. 14 December 2006. Retrieved on 2006-12-14. 
  21. ^ "News — British Comedy Awards — full results". British Sitcom Guide. 2007-12-05. Retrieved on 2008-02-06. 
  22. ^ "Programme Awards 2007: Winners". Royal Television Society. 2008-03-19. Retrieved on 2008-03-20. 
  23. ^ "Bafta TV Awards 2008: The winners". BBC. 2008-04-20. Retrieved on 2008-05-11. 
  24. ^ "RTS Programme Awards winners 2009 in full". The Guardian. 2009-03-18. Retrieved on 2009-03-18. 

[edit] External links

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