That Mitchell and Webb Look

David Mitchell and Robert Webb – who returned to BBC Two recently with the latest run of their comedy sketch show That Mitchell and Webb Look – have remarkably axed their own sitcom before it was even seen on TV.

The erudite comedy duo – also well-known for their starring roles in Channel 4’s groundbreaking comedy Peep Show – had been working on the sitcom called Playing Shop for some time, and the pilot had even been recorded before a live audience and approved by BBC comedy bosses to be developed into a full series.

However Mitchell and Webb decided the put the project on hold while they reworked the idea.
It seems that the main stumbling block was the characters. In Playing Shop they play Eric and Jamie, two men made redundant who brush themselves down and decide to set up business run from the potting shed.

It’s in the shed that most of the dialogue takes place, with Eric and Jamie working to keep themselves in lager and snacks in what is certainly a realistic look at the steps so many people are taking these days to escape from the day to day grind of 9 to 5 working.

Playing Shop is expected to see the light of day eventually however, with Mitchell and Webb redeveloping the characters away from the “scuzzy and low-rent losers” in the original version which were reminiscent of Mark and Jeremy from Channel 4’s Peep Show.

Once revisions have been written, rehearsed and a new pilot recorded, Playing Shop is expected to hit screens in 2010.

Robert Webb and David Mitchell returned with a third series of That Mitchell and Webb Look this week with a new set characters and some great new sketches.

Among the highlights of the return of this much-loved duo was a bizarre game show from a post-apocalyptic future, a spoof of The Apprentice that managed to cover new ground in its mirroring of Sir Alan Sugar as a bit vague and two wonderful new ways of doing things.

The first was Robert Webb’s sketch alter-ego inventing a replacement for the doorbell, and running it by David Mitchell’s sketch alter-ego (as per sketch show convention, these characters are called Robert and David but are caricatures that play on their worst traits; they’re quite like the characters from Peep Show.) Mitchell sensibly judges that tying a note to a dog and catapulting it through someone’s window isn’t a suitable replacement for the doorbell, and Webb’s reaction is superb.

Also of quality was the Austrian (Webb) who patents both the habit of tapping your hands on your thighs while looking for something on a shelf, and the making scissor movements with your fingers when looking for scissors.

My own personal favourite however was Robert Webb at a party as an obnoxious brain surgeon who is more than happy to announce that what he does is more important and demanding than say an accountant or a charity worker.  The sketch which was beautifully rounded up – with the punchline delivered a good 30 seconds after it was clearly signposted, but performed with such perfect timing from David Mitchell – watch it below.

Possibly Britain’s most popular comedy duo, David Mitchell and Robert Webb return to our screens this week with a new third series of That Mitchell and Webb Look.

Mitchell and WebbMuch is expected from this hard-working double act, so much so that a fourth series has already been commissioned.

It’s not clear if previous favourites such as impenetrable quiz show Numberwang will return, or even the Helivets or the sketch where a hostage negotiator and an adult movie scriptwriter share an office – but we do know that Devils Gallop-humming Sir Digby Chicken-Ceasar will return, still believing himself to be a classical detective hero rather than the meths-soaked tramp that he is.

Captain Todger is a new character meanwhile, described as the least politically correct superhero on Earth, while The Quiz Broadcast combines a Survivors like post-apocalyptic “Event” with a quiz show, where the prizes are oil, food and water!

“Get Me Hennimore” harkens back to 1970s TV cop shows and features a policeman with a boss David Mitchell describes as “a terrifying man in the mould of CJ from Reginald Perrin” (presumably the classic 1970s version).

Mitchell and Webb are regarded as highly for their one-off sketches, which this time around include a look at the mysterious futuristic cult of Vectron, a religion that accidentally began following a misunderstanding as well as a JML/Innovations catalogue pastiche called Jan Hankl’s Flank Pat™, an innovative new way to find books on a shelf.

As ever they’re joined by Olivia Colman, James Bachman and Paterson Joseph in a variety of straight roles throughout the sketches, while writing duties are shared between Mitchell and webb and a small team that also features Peep Show writers Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain.

That Mitchell and Webb Look airs this Thursday, June 11th on BBC Two at 10pm.

That Mitchell and Webb Look

The comic duo are back in June with a new series of That Mitchell and Webb Look on BBC Two, reuniting viewers with their bizarre comedy world and unique creations such as conspiracy fighting drunk Sir Digby Chicken-Caesar, the Helivets and of course the parody game show Numberwang!

As with previous years, That Mitchell and Webb Look is likely to air around the same time as the duo’s starring roles in Peep Show on Channel Four – a show that shares several of their guests such as Olivia Colman and Paterson Joseph with their BBC sketch show. It’s quite a rarity to see such a closely associated set of actors spanning networks like a mini theatre company.

David Mitchell and Robert Webb have grown in prominence thanks to these two shows as well as a series of adverts for Apple – and thanks to Comic Relief Robert Webb has become even more recognised thanks to his “Flashdance” tribute which won the 2009 Let’s Dance for Comic Relief celebrity dance competition.

Mitchell meanwhile has continued doing the voiceover work, most notably for National Express railways and the dog in the government’s anti drugs campaign (FRANK).

Eminently quotable, That Mitchell and Webb Look is possibly the best sketch show on British TV since the halcyon days of A Bit of Fry and Laurie, and the material performed by the duo certainly at times harks back to the bets of Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, taking in intellectual word play, class and “off-stage” discussions in which the duo appear to have a fractious relationship.

Look out for That Mitchell and Webb Look from mid June.

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