Lee Mack

Lee Mack

Real name: Lee Gordon McKillop
Born in Blackburn and raised in Southport, Lee Mack started in comedy after a series of casual jobs, including stableboy and working in a bingo hall. His first taste of stand-up came as a Pontin's bluecoat.

His frist experience of the wider circuit came in 1994, when he did his first open mike slot while a student at Brunel University, West London. Within 18 months, he had won the So You Think You're Funny new act competition at the 1995 Edinburgh Fringe and become a full-time comedian.

In 1996, he returned to the festival as part of an ensemble show, Gagging For It, and the following year he performed the solo show Return Of The Mack. He had some level of fame by then, having hosted the Channel 4 stand-up show Gas, but found the experience of performing alone disheartening.

So in 1999, he teamed up with Catherine Tate and Dan Antopolski for the Fringe sketch show Lee Mack's Bits, and the 2000 follow-up was nominated for the Perrier. On the strength of that, Mack became one of the key players in ITV's The Sketch Show, which ran from 2001 to 2003. He was the only member of the UK cast to feature in the short-lived American remake, introduced by Kelsey Grammer, in 2004.

The following year he landed the job of host on BBC One sports quiz They Think It's All Over, taking over from Nick Hancock. But the programme was cancelled after one series with Mack in the chair.

He then moved to sitcom, premiering the traditional studio-based Not Going Out on BBC One in October 2006, at a time when that style was thought to be dead. The show returned for a second series in September 2007 and a third in January 2009. It has won Rose d'Or and Royal Television Society awards.

Mack is also a team captain on the BBC One panel show Would I Lie To You?

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BBC picks up Lee Mack's real-time sitcom

Full series for Semi-Detached

Lee Mack is to star in a BBC Two sitcom that unfolds in real-time, Chortle can reveal.

Mack plays Stuart in Semi-Detached, a hapless wedding DJ living opposite his ex-wife, which has been picked up following a pilot earlier this year.

Six 30-minute episodes have now been ordered of the sitcom, written by former character comic Oliver Maltman and writer-actor David Crow.

The comedy is 'exactly like 24, except instead of following a government agent as he saves the planet, the series follows a perennial loser called Stuart as his life goes down the pan in a suburban cul-de-sac' say producers. 'Each episode of Semi-Detached will give viewers an incredibly fast moving, half-hour window into Stuart’s world.'

The commission comes after the pilot, which aired in January as part of BBC Two's New on Two strand, co-starred Samantha Spiro as Stuart's former spouse and Ellie White as his pregnant girlfriend. Both will return for the series.

Neil Fitzmaurice, Clive Russell, Sarah Hoare and The Office's Patrick Baladi, who also appeared in the pilot, are returning too

Semi-Detached is made by Happy Tramp North, which previously made the sitcom Sun Trap and Morgana Robinson's sketch show The Agency for the BBC. 

Executive producer Neil Webster said: 'David Crow and Oliver Maltman have not only written the funniest scripts I have ever read, they’ve also effortlessly managed to make the whole series play out in real time. And with an incredibly funny cast headed up by Lee Mack, we’re confident that Semi-Detached is going to be a genuinely laugh out loud series. Or your money back.'

Gregor Sharp, commissioning editor for the BBC said: 'Semi-Detached stands out from the crowd with its combination of intricate plotting and sustained comic action and we’re knocked out by the amazing cast that have come on board to bring David and Oliver’s sparkling scripts to life.'

Mack, who is currently touring with his Would I Lie To You? collaborators Rob Brydon and David Mitchell, already stars in the long-running family sitcom Not Going Out for the BBC. Returning for an eleventh series next year, it has been commissioned for a further two series until 2022.

The topic of divorce has some relevance for the comic, as his parents split when he was 12. And he has speculated that: 'I don’t know the statistics, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that a disproportionate number of comics come from broken homes.'

Reviews of the Semi-Detached pilot were mixed but broadly positive. Read Chortle's three-star review here.

- by Jay Richardson

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Published: 5 Oct 2019

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