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Robert Patrick Webb (born 29 September 1972) is an English comedian, actor and writer, and one half of the double act Mitchell and Webb, alongside David Mitchell. The two men are best known for starring in the Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show and the sketch comedy programme That Mitchell and Webb Look.

Early lifeEdit

Born in Boston, Lincolnshire, Webb grew up in Woodhall Spa near Horncastle as the youngest of three brothers.[1] He was educated at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School in Horncastle.[2] Having grown up watching The Young Ones and Blackadder, he became interested in drama and poetry while in school and began writing parodies.[3] While Webb was in the lower sixth form preparing for his A-levels, his mother died of breast cancer,[4] and he moved in with his father and re-sat his A-levels.

At the age of 20, Webb attended Robinson College, Cambridge, where he studied English and became vice-president of the Footlights.[5] Webb and Mitchell met at an audition for a Footlights production of Cinderella in 1993.[1]

CareerEdit

Mitchell and WebbEdit

The two put together their first project, Innocent Millions Dead or Dying - A Wry Look at the Post-Apocalyptic Age (With Songs), in January 1995, a show about World War I.[6][7] Webb later described it as being "fucking terrible".[6]

From this, the duo were given the chance to write for Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller and for series two of Big Train.[8] After minor work on The Jack Docherty Show and Comedy Nation, their first break into television acting was in 2000, on the short-lived BBC sketch show Bruiser, which they primarily wrote, and starred in.[9]

In 2001, the duo was commissioned for a sketch show of their own, entitled The Mitchell and Webb Situation, which ran for six episodes on the now defunct channel Play UK.[8] Mitchell and Webb's next project came in 2003, with starring roles in the Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show, as flatmates Mark Corrigan and Jeremy "Jez" Usbourne respectively.[10] The pair shared the 2007 Royal Television Society Award for "Comedy Performance",[11] and were jointly nominated for Best Television Comedy Actor at the 2006 British Comedy Awards.[12] Webb was nominated for the Best Television Comedy Actor award again, this time without Mitchell, in 2009.[13] Peep Show has aired nine series, making it the longest-running sitcom in Channel 4 history.[14]

After the success of Peep Show Mitchell and Webb returned to sketch comedy with their BBC Radio 4 sketch show That Mitchell and Webb Sound, which ran for four series. The show was adapted for television and became That Mitchell and Webb Look, producer Gareth Edwards described it as "the shortest pitch (he had) ever written".[6] Towards the end of 2006 the pair made their first tour, with a show called The Two Faces of Mitchell and Webb. The tour was criticised as just "a succession of largely unrelated scenes" by The GuardianTemplate:'s Brian Logan, who gave it a rating of two stars.[15]

That Mitchell and Webb Look won them the BAFTA for "Best Comedy Programme or Series" at the 2007 awards,[16] and they earned a further nomination for it in 2009.[17] It was nominated for two British Comedy awards in 2006: "Britain's Best New TV Comedy" and the "Highland Spring People's Choice".[12] Their stage tour The Two Faces of Mitchell and Webb was nominated for the British Comedy Award for "Best Stage Comedy",[12] and That Mitchell and Webb Sound won a Sony Silver Award.[18] Their first film, Magicians was released on 18 May 2007. It was directed by Andrew O'Connor and written by Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain.[19] Webb played the role of modern magician Karl.[20]

They filmed Playing Shop, a comedy television pilot for BBC2 about two men who operate a business out of their shed, which they also wrote.[21] Although the BBC were happy with it, Mitchell and Webb scrapped it themselves, as they felt it was too similar to Peep Show. A new pilot had been commissioned,[22] but the plan was later shelved.[23]

The duo fronted the campaign of the UK version of Apple Inc.'s Get a Mac adverts, with Mitchell playing a PC.[24] The adverts proved controversial. Writing in The Guardian, Charlie Brooker claimed that the use of Mitchell and Webb in the adverts was a curious choice. He compared the characters of PC and Mac in the adverts to those of Mark and Jeremy in Peep Show, stating that "when you see the ads, you think, 'PCs are a bit rubbish yet ultimately lovable, whereas Macs are just smug, preening tossers.'"[25] The British Sitcom Guide criticised the pair for "selling their souls".[26] One journalist called the adverts "worse than not funny", and accused Mitchell and Webb of "an act of grave betrayal" for taking corporate work.[27] In an interview with The Telegraph, Webb responded to the critics of the Apple adverts, stating that "when someone asks, 'Do you want to do some funny ads for not many days in the year and be paid more than you would be for an entire series of Peep Show?' the answer, obviously, is, 'Yeah, that's fine'".[27] In the same interview, Mitchell also said "I don't see what is morally inconsistent with a comedian doing an advert. It's alright to sell computers, isn't it? Unless you think that capitalism is evil – which I don't. It's not like we're helping to flog a baby-killing machine".[27]

Solo workEdit

Webb has appeared in two series of the BBC Three sitcom The Smoking Room (2004) and the Radio 4 sketch show Concrete Cow. In 2005 he appeared in the Ben Elton-scripted BBC One sitcom Blessed as Ardal O'Hanlon's 'perfect' counterpart.[8]

He and Olivia Colman also featured as a naturist couple in Confetti, a 2006 film about a competition for the most original wedding. Webb has since said that he believed that his genitals would be pixellated out but only discovered at the screening of the film that they were not.[28][29] Also in 2008, Webb made his West End stage debut in the UK premiere of Neil LaBute's Fat Pig.[30]

Webb won the 2009 series Let's Dance for the charity Comic Relief, parodying the audition sequence from the film Flashdance.[31] He narrated the series Young, Dumb and Living Off Mum.[32] He hosted a 2010 Channel 4 series looking at the week's online news, Robert's Web.[14]

He has appeared on several panel shows, including The Bubble, Have I Got News For You, Never Mind The Buzzcocks and QI. In January 2011, Webb appeared on a celebrity version of BBC quiz Mastermind,[33] answering nine questions correctly on his specialist subject (the novels of Ian McEwan) and 11 correctly on the general knowledge round.[34] In 2011 Webb played Dan, a geology lecturer, in the Channel 4 series Fresh Meat. Later that year, he was cast in the costume comedy The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff, a parody of Charles Dickens' works. Since 2011, Webb has replaced Rufus Hound as team captain on the BBC comedy panel show Argumental.[35]

Webb is the narrator of Channel 5's anti-nostalgia series 10 Things I Hate About, which began on 16 April 2012. In each episode, Webb presents his opinion on the awful aspects of a particular year is: 1995 (16 April), 1990 (23 April), 1987 (30 April), 1999 (7 May).[29]

In 2011 Webb presented "Groundbreaking Gags" on BBC Three, in which he looked at the significant gags that the animated show Family Guy has been recognised for.[36]

As of December 2012, Webb stars in adverts for comparethemarket.com, as its founder Maurice Wigglethorpe-Throom.[37]

WritingEdit

Together with Mitchell, Webb published his first comedy book This Mitchell and Webb Book, which was released in the UK and the US in 2009 by HarperCollins imprint Fourth Estate.[38][39] An abridged edition of highlights from This Mitchell and Webb Book, entitled How to Cope with Mitchell and Webb, was released only in the UK on 1 October 2009.[40] The pair signed a two-book deal with Fourth Estate but, as of November 2013, a second book remains unpublished.[41]

Prior to being fired, Webb wrote articles for the comments pages of the Telegraph newspaper between 2009 and 2011.[42] He criticised those who commented on the online versions of his articles in a New Statesman piece.[43][44] In a 2013 interview, Webb explained his experience with the publication:

I wasn't particularly busy at the time, so what I should have been doing in three hours, I was taking a day and a half to do, while getting drunk. I'd sit in the garden, drinking and talking to myself, then go back upstairs, write another sentence, go, 'Oh, this isn't right.' I'd make such a meal of it. If I'd been more professional, I'd have just done it and got on with my life.[29]

Webb thinks it is harmful for men to 'keep a stiff upper lip' and bottle up their feelings.[45]

Personal lifeEdit

Webb married fellow comedy performer Abigail Burdess in 2007, after meeting her on the set of a radio sketch show—Mitchell was the best man at the wedding ceremony.[1] They live in Kilburn, London, and the couple have two daughters.[29][46]

Webb stated that he was a supporter of the Labour Party,[44] and rejoined the political party in 2013, in protest at Russell Brand's interview on Newsnight, in which he suggested people should not vote as a form of protest.[47] In August 2014, Webb was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian expressing their hope that Scotland would vote to remain part of the United Kingdom in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.[48]

In November 2015, he announced on Twitter that he was leaving the Labour Party, citing his lack of confidence in the party's leader, Jeremy Corbyn.[49] In a series of Twitter posts, he also expressed his disdain at the appointment of Guardian journalist Seumas Milne as Labour's press secretary. He was quoted as saying that paying his party subscription with Milne in post made him "feel sick".[50] However, in May 2017, Webb nevertheless endorsed the Labour Party in the 2017 UK general election.[51]

In a 2008 Independent piece, Webb explained that he was a "swaggering atheist" prior to the death of his mother, as the loss led to the commencement of his praying. However, upon reflection, Webb states that the temporary departure from atheism was a coping mechanism for the loss, and after he learned to "co-exist" with his mother's death, he returned to atheism: "... I've returned to total non-belief. I don't know how long it'll last, but God, it's good to be back!"[4]

Following the "sell-out" criticism both Webb and Mitchell received for appearing in an advertisement for Apple Inc.[4] Webb stated in 2008:

I'm not a sell-out ... The problem is that that presupposes a set of principles we don't actually hold. We never said comedians shouldn't do ads, or that we somehow operate outside the mixed market economy ... really we're just doing a job.[4]

FilmographyEdit

FilmEdit

Year Title Role
2006 Confetti Michael
2007 Magicians Karl
2012 The Wedding Video Tim
2016 Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Nick

TelevisionEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1997 The Jack Docherty Show Various characters Writer
1998 Comedy Nation Various characters
2000 Meaningful Sex Lisa
2000 Bruiser Various characters Writer
2001 Fun at the Funeral Parlour Packham Episode 1.4: "The Mountains of Doom"
2001 The Mitchell and Webb Situation Various characters Writer
2001 People Like Us Tom Wolfson Episode 2.5: "The Bank Manager"
2002 The Gist Paul Ashdown
2003 My Family Arvo Episode 4.14: "Sixty Feet Under"
2003–2015[10] Peep Show Jeremy Usborne
2004 55 Degrees North Dog handler Episode 1.3
2004–2005 The Smoking Room Robin 17 episodes
2005 Twisted Tales Colin Writer
Episode 1.9: "Nothing to Fear"
2005 Britain's 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches Host
2005 Blessed Bill Hathaway 8 episodes
2005 Have I Got News for You Panellist
2006 Friday Night with Jonathan Ross Himself
2006 Rob Brydon's Annually Retentive
2006 Imagine Himself 1 episode
2006 Best of the Worst
2006–2010 That Mitchell and Webb Look Various characters Writer
BAFTA for Best Comedy Programme or Series
British Comedy Award nominations
2007 The Graham Norton Show Himself
2007 Stephen Fry: 50 Not Out Himself
2007 Time Shift Himself
2008 The Law of the Playground Himself 8 episodes
2008 Never Mind the Buzzcocks Panellist
2008 Lily Allen and Friends Himself
2008 Saturday Kitchen Himself
2008 Would I Lie to You? Contestant
2009 Friday Night with Jonathan Ross Himself
2009 The One Show Himself
2009 The Graham Norton Show Himself
2009 Let's Dance for Comic Relief Himself Winner of first series
2009 My Life in Verse Himself
2009–2011 Young, Dumb and Living Off Mum Host
2010 This Morning Himself
2010 All Star Mr. and Mrs. Himself
2010 Great Movie Mistakes Host
2010 You Have Been Watching
2010 Great TV Mistakes Host
2010 BBC Breakfast Himself
2010 Robert's Web Presenter
2010 You Have Been Watching
2010 Cushelle advert Narrator
2010 Let's Dance for Sport Relief Judge
2010 Cutting Edge
2010 The Real Hustle: Around the World Host
2010 History of Now: The Story of the Noughties Host
2010 Peep Show & Tell Himself
2010 Have I Got News for You Host
2010 Never Mind the Buzzcocks Host
2010 Mad and Bad: 60 Years of Science on TV
2010 The Bubble
2010 BBC Breakfast Himself
2011 Great Movie Mistakes 2: The Sequel Host
2011 Great Movie Mistakes 3: Not in 3D Host
2011 Alexander Armstrong's Big Ask Himself
2011 QI Panellist
2011 The Sex Researchers Narrator
2011 Family Guy: Ground Breaking Gags Host
2011 Would I Lie to You? Contestant
2011 24 Hour Panel People Panellist
2011 Celebrity Mastermind Contestant
2011 Argumental Team captain
2011 EastEnders: Greatest Exits Host
2011 Pop's Greatest Dance Crazes Host
2011–2012 Fresh Meat Dan
2011–2012 The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff Jedrington Secret-Past
2012 The One Show Himself
2012 Room 101 Himself
2012 Doctor Who Robot Episode 7.2 "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship"
2012 Threesome Colin Episode 2.3 "Alice's Friend"
2012 Tales of Friendship with Winnie the Pooh Narrator
2013 Great Movie Mistakes – IV: May the Fourth Be with You Cutdowns Host
2013 The Matt Lucas Awards Himself
2013 Ambassadors Neil Tilly
2013 Was It Something I Said? Himself
2013-2014 You Saw them Here First Narrator
2013 Agatha Christie's Marple Tim Kendall Season 6, Episode 1 "A Caribbean Mystery"
2015 Lego Dimensions Various characters Video game
2016 Horrible Histories Christopher Wren
2016 Cold Feet Grant
2017 Back Andrew Also executive producer

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

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