Stephen Merchant

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Stephen Merchant <tr><td colspan="2" style="text-align: center;">Image:Stephenmerchant large.jpg
Stephen Merchant appearing at Robin Ince's Book Club</td></tr>
Born: November 24, 1974
Bristol, England
Occupation: Writer/Actor/Director/Comedian

Stephen Merchant (born November 24, 1974 in Bristol, England) is a Emmy and three-time BAFTA writer, director and comedic actor. He is best known for his work with his friend Ricky Gervais in the popular British sitcoms The Office and Extras, as well on Xfm London.

Merchant's height is 6 feet 7 inches tall (2.00m) and he lives in Swiss Cottage, London.

[edit] Background

As he has described in Xfm shows and podcasts, Merchant was a very shy child, tending to focus more on school work as opposed to sports; his school yearbook predicted that he would enjoy success. Merchant has also described his relatively normal childhood, which is often contrasted with that of his associate Karl Pilkington. Steven once appeared on Blockbusters and began his career as a stand up comedian at Bristol's Comedy Box; "The first week I did really well,’ he remembers. ‘The second week I died on my arse. I realised that stand-up was not that easy after all’". He got to be a finalist at the 1998 Daily Telegraph Open Mic awards before joining Radio Caroline as a breakfast DJ.

Merchant is a graduate of the University of Warwick in Coventry and a former film reviewer on the student radio station, Radio Warwick where he began his broadcasting career. The station's 1995/96 yearbook tipped him for great things:

Merchant, Steve: The man behind the funniest show on W963, the "Steve Show", highlights of which included an inspired take-off of the IRN news ('we spoke to Gerry Adams...'), an advert for Coventry Library ('Coventry Library makes no claims to be infinite'), attempting to give away an Aerosmith video to people on the toilet in Rootes [hall of residence], telephoning the library bridge security post to ask if they had seen a lost ball, as well as a series of snippets entitled 'At home with Rose and Fred West'. This show stood out from the crowd, as it was actually genuinely good. It's only a matter of time before Steve and his posse follow in the footsteps of Newman and Baddiel.

He graduated with a degree in Film and Literature in 1996.

[edit] Professional career

Stephen Merchant, along with long-time collaborator Ricky Gervais, made Golden Years, a Comedy Lab pilot for Channel 4 about a manager with a mid-life crisis who decides to go on Stars In Your Eyes as David Bowie, a hero of Gervais’s. The show wasn’t a hit, but with the benefit of hindsight the seeds for The Office were apparently sown here. Nonetheless, it was enough to bring Gervais a slot on the Eleven O’Clock Show – and the rest of his history has been televised. In 1997, Merchant was hired by London radio station Xfm to work with the "Head of Speech", Gervais. In 1998, Merchant left Xfm to start a production course at the BBC before Xfm was bought out by the Capital Radio Group.

Merchant as "The Oggmonster"

In summer 2001, the first series of The Office was broadcast on BBC 2. Also in 2001, Merchant and Gervais were rehired by Xfm and soon discovered the unique "talents" of Karl Pilkington.

Merchant made a cameo appearance as Oggy (also known as "The Oggmonster", although his real name is Nathan), a friend of Gareth Keenan, in the second series of The Office in 2002. His father, Ron Merchant, also appears as a character named "Gordon", an office handyman who becomes transfixed by the pseudo-documentary cameras whenever he walks into shot.

In 2002 Merchant directed a one-off comedy called The Last Chancers for Channel 4's Comedy Lab strand. In 2003, he had a recurring role in Garth Marenghi's Darkplace as a chef. In 2004, he worked as a Script Associate on the Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker sitcom Nathan Barley, and had a cameo in Green Wing. Merchant is also an executive producer for the American version of The Office, which stars Steve Carell.

The most recent Merchant-Gervais sitcom, Extras, premiered on BBC2 on July 21 2005. Merchant stars as Darren Lamb, the incompetent agent of Andy Millman (Gervais).

Merchant's latest and most current work involves partnering Ricky Gervais in the new series of episodes of their podcasts, assisted also by Karl Pilkington. The podcasts are a follow-up to their award-winning radio shows on Xfm, and have lately been rated the #1 most downloaded podcast in the world. Following the success of the first 12 shows - which were offered for free - the trio went on to produce two more series. At the end of the third series Gervais announced that they would be taking a break from podcasts, only to renege on this within weeks by announcing three more, free, podcasts.

On February 6 2006, it was announced that Merchant and Gervais were returning to The Office to script an episode for the third season of the US version of the programme [1].

Merchant has recently filmed a cameo in the US series '24' which debuts January 2007

On 14 November 2006 it was announced that Merchant and Gervais were each nominated for the award of the Best TV Comedy Actor, in the British Comedy Awards 2006. [2]

On 30 November 2006 it was announced that Merchant will begin a music show on BBC 6 Music starting 14 January 2007, running Sundays from 3-5pm.

[edit] External links

Stephen Merchant

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