Stephen Merchant

Stephen Merchant

Date of birth: 24-11-1974
Stephen Merchant was born into a middle-class family in Bristol, the son of a nursery nurse and an insurance salesman. He studied film and literature at the University of Warwick, where he began his radio career in 1995, hosting a comedy show on the student station.

He began stand-up at Bristol's Comedy Box club, recalling: ‘The first week I did really well. The second week I died on my arse.’ But her perservered, and made it to the finals of the 1998 Daily Telegraph Open Mic awards.

He continued to work in radio, at first as a breakfast DJ on Radio Caroline before joining XFM, where he started working with Ricky Gervais. He left in 1998 to join a production course with the BBC, but rejoined for a while following the success of The Office.

In 1999, he and Gervais made a Comedy Lab pilot for Channel 4 called Golden Years, about a fame-hungry office manager who goes on Stars In Your Eyes as David Bowie – an obvious precursor to The Office.

But it would take two more years before The Office hit BBC Two screens. As well as co-writing and co-directing it, Merchant appeared in the second of two series, in 2002, as Oggy, a friend of Gareth Keenan. The show won a ridiculous number of awards, including three best sitcom Baftas, a British Comedy Award for best new comedy and a Golden Globe for best comedy.

When The Office was sold to America's NBC network, Gervais and Merchant retained executive producer credits, and wrote a new episode, The Convict, which aired in November 2006.

The duo followed up The Office with Extras, which ran for two series and a Christmas special from 2005 and 2007. As well as co-writing the show, Merchant starred as incompetent agent Darren Lamb, which won him the British Comedy Award for Best TV Actor in 2006 and a Bafta for best comedy performance in 2008.

Alongside this, they recorded a series of podcasts with sidekick Karl Pilkington. The first series, which was free, broke all records for downloads. They then decided to start charging, which hit listening figures, but proved to be one of the few successful attempts to make any revenue from podcasts.

Other acting roles include the chef in Garth Marenghis's Darkplace in 2003, and cameo roles as a computer analyist in 24 and as a man who loses his swan in the 2007 film Hot Fuzz.

In 2002 Merchant directed another Comedy Lab called The Last Chancers, and in 2004, worked as a script associate on the Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker sitcom Nathan Barley.

In January 2007, he began a Sunday afternoon radio show on BBC 6 Music.

Read More

BBC orders a second series of Stephen Merchant's The Offenders

Both seasons now shooting back-to-back

The BBC has ordered a second series of Stephen Merchant comedy-drama The Offenders before the first has even aired.

This six-part series – whose stars include Christopher Walken, Darren Boyd and Poldark’s Eleanor Tomlinson – revolves around seven strangers forced together to complete their community service sentences.

Shooting on the first series, set in Merchant’s native Bristol, was halted after just 12 days because of coronavirus – but now both seasons are being shot back-to-back now production has resumed.

Kenton Allen, boss of production company Big Talk, revealed the news in an interview with Deadline.

He told the website that the BBC asked if Merchant would write the second series during the hiatus ‘We said, "We’ll write Season 2 if you commission Season 2",’ Allen recalls. 

They said yes, and Allen explained:  ‘We were able to rewrite Season 1 to reflect what we know is going to happen to the characters in Season 2. We were able to deepen it and layer it.’

Allen also revealed that Channel 4 has commissioned a 90-minute documentary about Friday Night Dinner to mark its 10th anniversary next month.

And he said there were plans to pilot a US version of  Timewasters, Daniel Lawrence Taylor’s comedy about a  time-traveling jazz band, in the spring.

Read More

Published: 13 Jan 2021

Skip to page

Comments

Products

DVD (2013)
I Give It a Year

DVD (2010)
An Idiot Abroad

DVD (2010)
Cemetary Junction

DVD (2008)
Extras: The Special

Past Shows

Misc live shows

Stand Up Get Down


Agent

We do not currently hold contact details for Stephen Merchant's agent. If you are a comic or agent wanting your details to appear on Chortle, click here.

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.