Peep Show: Series 1

Peep Show: Series 1


Reviewed by: Keith Dudhnath

Mark (David Mitchell) and Jeremy (Robert Webb) are flatmates. Mark is a straight-laced office worker, low on self-confidence and high on neuroses. Were he ever to pluck up the courage to ask someone out, he'd be petrified what they'd think of his abnormally large testicles. Jeremy is an unemployed slacker, who likes to think he's the best musician ever, but clearly isn't. Despite being friends, both look down on each other somewhat and yet secretly wish they had aspects of the other's personality.

The first thing that strikes the viewer when watching Peep Show is that it's filmed from the point of view of the characters and from time to time has internal voice-overs to let you know what Mark or Jeremy are thinking. On first viewing, there is the fear that these will be nothing more than distracting and irritating gimmicks, but within seconds the jokes kick in. The only times you ever consciously notice the different style is when it's used in a joke.

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If a comedy show isn't funny, all the style in the world isn't going to save it. Peep Show is as funny as they come. Even after just one short series, it is up there as one of my favourite sitcoms ever.

It won't be to everyone's taste, however, as it makes fun of subjects such as drugs, cancer, death, sex, sexuality, religion and "the bad thing". In its defence, the jokes are always funny and never unpleasantly malicious, as they're more concerned with people's anxieties than mocking the subjects themselves.

Jeremy and Mark's experiences of, and thoughts on when to eat brown and white toast, being allowed to change gears for your new friend when a passenger in his car, first pressings of olive oil and ironing socks are treated in exactly the same way as the stronger subjects and with as much humour. This balance tempers any possible offence. The exceptionally and consistently high level of humour means that it will be appreciated by many who otherwise might have been wary of it.

There isn't a single weak link in Peep Show. Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong's scripts are spot on. Olivia Colman and Elizabeth Marmur, as Mark and Jeremy's prospective girlfriends, play their parts wonderfully and Matt King, as Jeremy's band mate Super Hans, has to be seen to be believed.

Mitchell and Webb have been a double act for quite some time and this is apparent in their inspired interplay. I imagine Peep Show was written specifically with them in mind, as their performances seem so natural. It is unfair to pick out one person for special praise, but Mitchell just edges it for me as the star of the show. Who else could deliver a line such as, "Do women wear socks? ...Well, 'yes, sometimes' is the answer to that one," and make it as funny as he does?

When aired on Channel Four last year, Peep Show didn't even attract enough attention to be called a cult show. Those who did watch it, loved it. Hopefully with a DVD release and a new series airing in the pipeline, it will attract the number of fans it so richly deserves.

As highly recommended as they come. Buy it now!

Reviewed on: 11 Nov 2004
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Peep Show: Series 1 packshot
Classic odd couple flatmates TV sitcom, with tried and tested stand-up double act.
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Director: Jeremy Wooding

Writer: Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain

Starring: Robert Webb, David Mitchell, Olivia Colman, Elizabeth Marmur, Matt King

Year: 2003

Runtime: 150 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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If you like this, try:

Peep Show: The Complete Second Series