Stephen Merchant, comedy giant.
|Date of Birth
|24 November 1974
|Place of Birth
|University of Warwick
|Actor, Writer, and Director
|Ron Merchant, Elaine Merchant
Stephen Merchant (born 24 November 1974 in Bristol, England) is co-writer and co-director with Ricky Gervais of the The Office and Extras, and also co-starred in Extras as incompetent agent Darren Lamb. He was a co-host on Xfm London and The Ricky Gervais Show podcasts, and hosted a radio show on BBC 6Music. He has also toured around the nation performing stand-up comedy. He lives in Hampstead, North London.
Steve was born and raised in Bristol. His parents are Ron (who made a few brief appearances in The Office) and Elaine Merchant. He has a younger sister Alex who served as the art director on The Office.
During his childhood, Stephen was shy and tended to focus on school work rather than sport. He usually kept his glasses on during gym class, greatly hindering his athletic performance. Stephen has also confessed that he was very awkward around girls, and often developed an infatuation for them before formally speaking.
"Lanky, Goggle-eyed Freak"
Steve is 6 feet, 7 inches tall and has quite large, bulging eyes. Stephen's shoe size is UK 14 (US 15). His unusual appearance is the source of much discussion on both the Xfm shows and the podcasts, largely because Karl can never resist an opportunity to make fun of him. Karl was mildly disturbed by Steve's looks when they first met, but he "got used to" him over time. People often stare at Steve in the street, Karl once pointed out, but it's a "stare of fear" rather than recognition. When Karl mentioned something he'd read about a monkey whose eyes protrude 1.6 centimetres out of its head, he asked Ricky to get a ruler to gauge how Steve's eyes compared. Karl also once relayed a story about a woman who was disturbed by Steve's picture on the train -- an anecdote that seemed to make Steve genuinely upset.
Once, at a New Year's Eve party in Bristol, Steve was holding some balloons and two girls approached him. They asked him if he would be at the party for a while and Steve excitedly said yes. The girls replied, "Good, because we are planning to meet back at you in an hour".
Steve claims his height should be considered a disability as he is forced to buy larger and more expensive items, such as cars, furniture, clothes and shoes.
Troubles With Women
Steve has a long history of unrequited love affairs, and has told many self-deprecating stories about his bad luck with the ladies. Perhaps the most well-known of these is the "Volvo and The Pig" story. Around the age of 16, Steve borrowed his parent's Volvo to go to a party. During the festivities, his friends suggested that they leave to "go pick up Vera." He agreed to drive them because a girl he liked was coming along. Unfortunately, another boy whom the girl apparently fancied also joined them. They directed Steve to a field and then ran off to grab Vera, a Vietnamese potbellied pig. Not wanting to appear uptight in front of his crush, he let his friends put the pig in the car. On the way back, he wedged the Volvo horizontally in a country lane. Steve began to panic, and soon started to cry. The situation was rectified when Steve's rival got into the driving seat and freed the car, leaving him tear-soaked and emasculated in the backseat.
While in sixth form, Steve became infatuated with a girl he met while performing in a school play. He started reading the philosophical novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance during rehearsals in an attempt to impress her. His plan proved unsuccessful, however, as the girl he fancied eventually wound up with Martin Wells, who liked to dance around without his trousers on.
Other instances include a trip to Rio that caused him much frustration because the beautiful women there ignored him; the time a girl recognized him on the street only to tell him that her boyfriend was a big fan of his; and a Pygmalion-esque infatuation with a homeless girl.
Steve is a graduate of the University of Warwick where he was a film reviewer on the student radio station, Radio Warwick. The school'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 Rosemary 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.
- As a teenager, Steve wore a bow tie for about 6 months to be appear sophisticated. He says this made him feel like a P.G. Wodehouse character.
- He is notoriously "careful" with his money. He was gutted when he discovered he could have saved 20 pounds on a video game system he had just purchased. He asked Ricky to give him 20 pounds to make him feel better.
- Steve refuses to mosh at concerts for fear of losing his glasses. Steve also admits that if he were ever in a fight, the other person only needs to remove his glasses to win.
- He admitted to once hiding in his garage because there was a gang of teens outside his flat.
- Steve will not relieve himself in the ocean while wearing his swimming trunks.
- He is, with no reason in his understanding, barred from all casinos in London.
- In 1997, Steve was hired by London radio station Xfm as the assistant to the "Head of Speech" Ricky Gervais. Soon they were given their own slot on Sunday evenings. In 1998, Steve and Ricky took voluntary redundancy after the Capital Radio Group bought out Xfm.
- In 2001, Steve and Ricky were rehired by Xfm to present a two hour show on Saturday afternoons. It was through this show they discovered the unique "talents" of their producer Karl Pilkington.
- After taking voluntary redundancy from Xfm, Steve enrolled in a production course at the BBC. To complete part of the course, Steve enlisted Ricky to act in a short film called 'Seedy Boss'. This 30 minute film became the impetus for 'The Office', with much of Ricky's improvisation making it into the script.
- In Summer 2001, the first series of The Office was broadcast on BBC 2. Though a co-writer and co-director, Steve didn't appear on screen, cameoing only briefly as a character named Paul whose phone message David Brent listens to. However, Steve did appear in the second series as the minor character Oggy (also known as "The Oggmonster"). Steve's father Ron Merchant also appears as a character named Gordon, an office caretaker who becomes transfixed by the documentary cameras whenever he walks into shot.
- On 6th February 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.
- Merchant and Gervais are credited as Executive Producers for the American version of The Office, which stars Steve Carell.
- Steve and Ricky also co-wrote and co-directed Extras. In Extras, Steve's role was bumped up as he appears in most episodes as Andy Millman's (Ricky Gervais) hapless agent Darren Lamb. Darren works part-time at the Carphone Warehouse and did not notice when the phone at the agency was unplugged for two days.
The Last Chancers
- In 2002 Merchant directed a one-off comedy called The Last Chancers for Channel 4's Comedy Lab strand.
Garth Marenghi's Darkplace
- In 2003, he had a recurring role in Garth Marenghi's Darkplace as a Chef.
- Merchant voiced the gym teacher, Mr. Phillips on the short lived Channel 4 cartoon, "Bromwell High".
- In 2004, he worked as a Script Associate on the Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker sitcom Nathan Barley (4 foot beds), and had a cameo in Green Wing.
- In 2005, Merchant starred as a radio football sports commentator in the sitcom pilot No Skillz. Steve's real-life flatmate and friend Dan Warren acted as the co-commentator.
- In 2005/2006, Merchant partnered with Gervais and Pilkington in a series of episodes of their podcasts. The podcasts are a follow-up to their award-winning radio shows on Xfm, and were ranked the #1 most downloaded podcast in the world. Following the success of the first 12 shows, Steve, Ricky and Karl continued to produce the programme as an audiobook.
6 Music Radio Show
- See The Steve Show's Wiki Page for more info.
Life's Too Short
- In 2010, Merchant and Gervais began work on their third television series starring Warwick Davis as a showbiz dwarf.
- In 2007, the film Hot Fuzz was released, featuring an appearance by Merchant who plays "Peter Ian Staker" (P.I.Staker - Piss taker), whose swan has run away. Later that year, he made a further cameo in "Run, Fatboy, Run", another Simon Pegg movie.
- Merchant has a prominent role in the film Tooth Fairy starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. The film was released in January 2010.
- In 2009, Merchant filmed Cemetery Junction, which was co-written and co-directed by Gervais. It is their first feature film together and Merchant's directorial debut. The film was released in the UK on 14 April 2010 and went straight to DVD in the US on 17 August 2010.
- In 2011, Stephen was the voice of Paris in the children's film Gnomeo & Juliet. Later that year, Merchant appeared in a supporting role in the Farrelly brothers' Hall Pass. Stephen will be appearing in their next film, currently titled 'Movie 43', due to be released in 2012.
- In 2011, Stephen returned to his stand-up roots with a nationwide tour entitled 'Hello Ladies', mainly under the assumption that the tour would help him find a wife. It didn't, but the tour was a success and has since been released on DVD.
- Since 2009, Stephen Merchant has been the voice of the Barclays adverts.
- In the video game Portal 2 (2011), Stephen was the voice of Wheatley. It took about 16 hours of recording time, including various ad-libs he had to perform.
- In 2013, Stephen returned to television (without Ricky Gervais) to produce, direct, write and star in his own sitcom for American television channel HBO. The show, entitled Hello Ladies, is loosely based on the stand-up tour of the same name.
- Merchant is a BAFTA, Emmy, and Golden Globe winning writer, director and actor. For a full list of his awards and nominations see Awards: Stephen Merchant
- Stephen Merchant's official website
- Complete credits for Stephen Merchant, including Writing, Directing, Performance and Radio Credits
- Curriculum Vitae of Stephen Merchant
- A google Knol on Steven Merchant
- Xfm: Stephen Merchant Biography
- 6 Music homepage
- RaW: Radio Warwick
- Tall man, taller success story - interview in The Daily Telegraph - August 8, 2005
- Stephen Merchant at the Internet Movie Database
- Man Alive! The Stephen Merchant Love Page
- Smerch picture collection on Flickr
- Merchant stars as a radio football sports commentator in comedy sitcom 'No Skillz'
- Stephen Merchant talks about his 'exhausting Portal 2 performance'