It has been a long time coming but, at last, BAFTA award-winning, Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show will be returning this week for its ninth, and final series. Robert Webb and David Mitchell reprise their roles as Jez and Mark three years since series eight ended ambiguously, with the two engaged in a love war over the affections of Dobby (Isy Suttie). Fans of the show were left waiting, with no suggestion of another series by writers Sam Bain, Jesse Armstrong and Andrew O’Connor. Until earlier this year, when it was confirmed that the cast and crew were back together working on series nine.
Despite fairly lukewarm ratings, Peep Show has been held in critical acclaim, with particular praise for the performances of Webb and Mitchell. Viewership peaked at just over a million, but the sitcom has enjoyed something of a cult following since its debut 12 years ago, with a worldwide fan-base. The show has swept several awards as one of the most popular British comedies of the 21st century, including BAFTAs, a Rose d’Or and a British Comedy Award. The rise of Netflix and 4oD further increased its popularity, generating a younger audience.
Questions have been asked about the cast and who is likely to feature. Preciously little information has been released besides a teaser advert confirming the reappearances of Super Hans (Matt King), Dobby (Isy Suttie) and Mark’s alpha-male boss Alan Johnson (Paterson Joseph). It is yet to be confirmed whether Olivia Colman will reprise her role as Sophie Chapman, Mark’s ex-wife, who was one of the central characters and reasons for the show’s success, although she publicly voiced her personal willingness to rejoin the cast recently. Her relationship with Mark dominated several series, producing some of the most hilarious quotes: “It’s okay if you don’t really love someone. Charles didn’t really love Diana, and they were alright – sort of.” Mark’s bad luck with the opposite sex juxtaposed Jez’s sheer disregard for the feelings of others, particularly his girlfriends. Until, that is, they left him heartbroken, as was the case with Big Suze (Sophie Winkleman). Despite at times locking horns, the one uniting factor of the two flatmates is that they are the ‘El Dude Brothers’: friends since university, a bond that will always last even at the worst of times.
One of the characteristic features of Peep Show is the Being Caprice-style of filming which has become synonymous with it, greatly complementing Mark’s extreme social awkwardness and Jez’s overconfidence as viewers can enjoy an insight into their inner thoughts. One could get to know the two and their amusing behaviourisms very quickly through this point-of-view style. Fans of the show often claim to find elements of the two in themselves, particularly Mark’s extreme insecurities in social situations.
One ponders how the writers will keep the sitcom fresh or how they will end the series, given how big an occasion it is. Much was made of Mark’s private life, enduring an annulled marriage and illegitimate child with Sophie, which could be traumatic enough for Mark. Many would probably be satisfied enough to see him find happiness and let go of his “fusty, sweater-wearing, spirit-crushing no-fly-zone with ten foot carrot up his arse” personality. It is possible, then, that the onus may switch and focus on Jeremy finding a long-term partner, as he only seems to drift in and out of relationships which end in calamitous circumstances.
While many will be sad to see Peep Show come to an end, one can see how the writers intend to end it on a high, to find a sense of closure. Since 2012, virtually nothing was said and most presumed the show had reached its conclusion, albeit without occasion. Fans will be grateful Channel 4 has kept faith in the sitcom as, for one last time, they can enter the world of Jez and Mark and revel in their surreal, but typically ordinary, lives.
Image: Laura Thorne