It’s the end of an era. Peep Show, which began in 2003 and has the distinction of being Channel 4’s longest-running comedy, begins its final series on Wednesday (November 11).
It’s nearly three years since we last saw the dysfunctional flatmates, uptight Mark (David Mitchell) and lazy wannabe musician Jeremy (Robert Webb). And when the new series begins, we find Mark with a new flatmate, Jerry…
We caught up with Mitchell, 41, and Webb, 43, during filming to find out more about the new series, which sees the return of several familiar faces, including Paterson Joseph as Johnson, Matt King as Super Hans and, for one episode, Olivia Colman as Sophie…
It’s been a while since the last series. Was it hard to become Mark and Jeremy again?
David Mitchell: “No, not at all. I had to shave my beard off – that was it.”
Robert Webb: “I didn’t even have to do that. No, we’ve played the characters for so long it’s like second nature.”
Did you ever imagine that the show would last this long?
Webb: “We thought it was funny and it’s always had nice reviews and picked up a few awards, but it’s never done massively in terms of viewing figures, so we never assumed at the end of each series that it would come back.”
Mitchell: “Oddly, the only time we knew there would be another series was after the last series in 2012, so even though it’s been our longest gap between series, that’s the only time we’ve known that we would be back.”
Why do you think it’s been so popular?
MitchelI: “I think it’s what a good sitcom should be, which is about life not changing. It’s about people who are stuck in a situation and hope for better lives, but things don’t change for them. People have identified with Jeremy and Mark’s problems but also perhaps thought, ‘At least our lives aren’t quite…’”
Webb: “‘… as bad as Mark and Jeremy’s!’”
Why is it the right time to stop?
Mitchell: “We’re stopping because we feel it’s a show about young men and we’re not young men now. But I think one day we might go back and see what Mark and Jeremy are doing in their old age.”
Webb: “And they’d be exactly the same, otherwise it wouldn’t be Peep Show.”
Why has Mark kept Jeremy as a flatmate for so long?
Mitchell: “He hasn’t really got any other friends, has he?”
Webb: “It’s inertia as well. It’s just too much effort to get rid of him.”
Mitchell: “They both actually find it difficult to make friends. Mark initially finds it difficult, while Jeremy falls out with everyone. The fact they have not fallen out with each other is based on the fact that they both despise each other, so they get a lot of comfort from looking at the other one and thinking, ‘Whatever’s wrong with my life I’m not as bad as him’.”
Have you ever had people come up to you and say ‘I’m just like Jeremy’ or ‘I’m just like Mark’?
Webb: “A bit. I’ve had people say, ‘I’m like Jeremy except I am going to make it and I am a talented musician, and my blog is going to go mad.’”
Mitchell: “A lot of people pick up on Mark’s relentless self-analysis, but they forget the number of unpleasant things Mark has done. He is really deeply selfish and has done things that are borderline evil a few times.”
Webb: “Yes, on paper they’re a real couple of sh**s sometimes. The job is to play them in a way that makes people want to carry on watching and that’s part of the fun.”