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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'Some comedians' celebrity status outweighs their comedy'

Lee Mack speaks up about the trends in stand-up

Lee Mack has spoken out about comedians ‘whose celebrity status outweighs their comedy’.

The Not Going Out star says that undermines stand-ups’ traditional role as the low-status outsider a the bottom of the showbusiness pecking order.

‘Over the last 10 years or so, you can see comedians whose celebrity status outweighs their comedy,’ he told the new edition of Radio Times. ‘And it never used to be like that.

‘Comics were always the lowest rung on the ladder, front of cloth at the Royal Variety Performance. What that means is you’re only there so Take That can set up behind the curtains.

‘I’ve done it a few times and I like it because it means you’re the underdog, so it feels easier to mock everything in a good-humoured way.’

He also said that alternative comedy not only swept away sexism and homophobia – but its focus on the intellectual ‘meant a lot of physical comedy was lost’.

Although very physical acts such as Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson and Alexei Sayle were at the vanguard of that movement, Mack said there are fewer people in comedy these days ‘who know how to use their bodies’.

‘Neck-down comedy was no longer valid after the 1980s alternative comedy revolution,’ he claimed. ‘The body got thrown out with the bathwater’.

Mack also said the explosion of people doing comedy has taken some of the mystique out of the job. ‘I used to tell people I was a comic and they’d be fascinated, he said. ‘ Now all you get is, "Oh yeah, my cousin Steve’s a comic’."

Speaking to promote his role in the new family comedy film Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans, Mack also shares a story that shows how celebrities fall out of fashion.

He said that his Not Going Out co-star Bobby Ball was chatting to an young hotel receptionist when his manager told her that he used to be part of one of Britain’s most popular double acts. 

‘Oh God,’ the young woman replied. ‘Were you in Laurel and Hardy?’

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Published: 16 Jul 2019

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