WHO ARE MITCHELL & WEBB? Odd Couple: Buttoned Up David Mitchell (Left) and Laid-Back Robert Webb

Daily Mail (London), October 26, 2007 | Go to article overview

WHO ARE MITCHELL & WEBB? Odd Couple: Buttoned Up David Mitchell (Left) and Laid-Back Robert Webb


Byline: Jane Fryer

First they created Peep Show, then they were the guys in that annoyingcomputer ad. Now this unlikely pair of grammar school lad and public schoolboyare set to become British comedy's next megastars

DAVID Mitchell and Robert Webb are bickering. Not about their sketch show, ortheir award winning sitcom Peep Show, or who's the funniest, or even whether ornot it was a good idea to star in the recent Apple Mac adverts that caused sucha furore in the Press.

No. Britain's favourite comedians are arguing over who was the thinnest whenthey first met at Cambridge, 14 years ago.

'I was a second year and on the Footlights committee, so I was terribly cooland experienced,' says Rob, now 35, of the famous university comedy group,which launched the careers of John Cleese, Stephen Fry, Sacha Baron Cohen andEmma Thompson. 'And David was just a wee tiny first yearvery green and naive and desperate to go mad and get drunk and...

'Very, very thin,' cuts in David, 33.

'Thin-ner. ' says Rob.

'No, thin. Not thinner. I was properly thin.

Skinny even.' 'Yeah, but not as skinny as I was. I looked like I was dying, forGod's sake. If we were having a skinny-off, I'd have trounced you.

You could barely see me.' Whatever. It's not something they need worry abouttoday. Not because either of them is massively fatthough David is nicely padded ('I like to consider myself plump'), but becauseunless you've had your head in a tub of sand for the last year or so, you can'tfail to have noticed them.

They're everywhere. On tellythey've just recorded the fourth series of Peep Show. On tour and DVDwith the Bafta-winning That Mitchell and Webb Look, which they writethemselves. At the movies starring in their first feature film, Magicians.

They're even in the ad breaks, for God' sake, pretending to be computers.

And on top of all that, David pops up cheerily on countless quiz shows and Roblikes taking his clothes off ('I've been a bit of a freelance nudist') mostnotably as a naturist in British comedy Confetti.

As laid-back Rob puts it with a big happy smile: 'Things have gone ratherlovely' on the career front of late.

'Yes, which leaves us with the constant nervous fear that it's all going to gopearshaped and we'll be those blokes who used to be on the telly,' chips inDavid, characteristically downbeat.

It all kicked off with Peep Showwritten specially for them by Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bainwhich follows the sad lives of dysfunctional flatmates Mark, a neurotic,prematurely middle-aged loan manager, who looks like he's been dressed by hismaiden aunt, and Jeremy, or Jez, a selfish, self-obsessed serial womaniser whothinks he's cool, but isn't.

It won a British Comedy Award, has been heralded the best thing on televisionby Ricky Gervais and a fifth series is in the pipeline.

'I think the reason it works has a lot 'I think the reason it works has a lotto do with just being honest about what your life is like,' says David, 'soit's quite consoling if you feel ever so slightly isolated, or not quite in themainstream, or a complete loser... to see Mark and Jeremy doing considerablyworse.' It is also oddly claustrophobic to watchshot from each character's point of view, complete with internal dialogueand very fiddly to film.

Which can have it's upsides.

'The sex scenes are easier because you're normally having sex with a cameraor, actually, a nice and very hardworking cameraman called Nick,' says Rob.

'So it's much less embarrassing than kissing an actor,' says David.

'Or actress...' adds Rob, helpfully.

Rob and David are the classic Odd Couple, on and off screen. The characters arebased on themselves, although in massive exaggeration.

Which means that in the flesh they are oddly familiarso David/Mark is all very clean, neatly parted hair, crisp slacks and anxietiesand Rob/Jez is lolling about in his chair, rolling his eyes a lot and shootingoutside for a fag. …

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