Stephen Merchant

Stephen Merchant

Infobox Actor
name = Stephen Merchant

birthdate = birth date and age|1974|11|24|df=y
location = Bristol, England
baftaawards = Situation Comedy Award
2002-2004 "The Office"
emmyawards = Outstanding Comedy Series
2006 "The Office (U.S.)"
goldenglobeawards = Best Series - Musical or Comedy
2004 "The Office"
2008 "Extras"
awards = Rose d'Or: Best Sitcom 2006: "Extras"
British Comedy Award: Best Comedy Actor 2006: "Extras"

Stephen James Merchant (born 24 November 1974) is a British Comedy Award-, BAFTA-, Emmy- and Golden Globe-award winning British writer, director, and comic actor. He is best known for his work with his friend Ricky Gervais in the popular British sitcoms "The Office" and "Extras", as well as "The Ricky Gervais Show" in its radio and podcast forms.


Merchant was born in Bristol, England, the son of Jane Elaine (Hibbs), a nursery nurse, and Ronald John Merchant, an insurance representative and attended Hanham High School [ [ Family detective: Stephen Merchant - Telegraph] ] . As he has described in Xfm London shows and podcasts, Merchant was a very shy child, tending to focus more on school work as opposed to sport. 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.

Merchant is a graduate of the University of Warwick 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:Cquote|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.Members of Steve's posse included film critic James King, Dan Warren, and Geraint the Welshman. He graduated with a 1st class degree in Film and Literature in 1996.

Steve has a long term girlfriend, digital advertising producer Claire Jones.

Professional career

Early days

Stephen once appeared on "Blockbusters". He 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 and long-time collaborator-friend 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". 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.

"The Office" and "Extras"

In mid-2001, the first series of "The Office" was broadcast on BBC 2. Also in 2001, Merchant and Gervais were rehired by Xfm and discovered 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.

Merchant is also an executive producer for the American version of "The Office". On 6 February 2006 it was announced that Merchant and Gervais were returning to "The Office" to write an episode for the third season of the American version of the programme. [ [ Gervais to write US office episode] ] Entitled "The Convict", it premiered on 30 November 2006.

The most recent Merchant-Gervais sitcom, "Extras", premiered on BBC2 on 21 July 2005. Merchant stars as Darren Lamb, the incompetent agent of Andy Millman (Gervais), a role for which he won a British Comedy Award in 2006 for Best TV Actor. [ [,,1971460,00.html Tate and Merchant win comedy awards | Media | The Guardian ] ]

Other roles

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". In 2005 Merchant starred as a radio football sports commentator in the sitcom "No Skillz". In winter 2006, Merchant had a cameo role in the Fox series "24". He had a non-speaking 4-second role as an analyst sitting at a computer in the sixth season opener.

He also had small roles in 2007 films "Hot Fuzz" as Peter Ian Staker (P. I. Staker - Piss taker), a man who loses his swan and in "Run Fat Boy Run" as a man with a broken leg.


In 2006, Merchant and long-time comedy partner Ricky Gervais recorded a series of episodes of their [ podcasts] , assisted by Karl Pilkington. The podcasts were a follow-up to their award-winning radio shows on Xfm, and were rated the #1 most downloaded podcast of all time. Following the success of the first 12 shows, 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 return weeks later, announcing three more free podcasts. Those aired at Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas 2006.

Merchant also interviewed Jimmy Fallon and Chevy Chase for the Amnesty International Secret Policeman's Ball podcasts in October 2006. [ [ Latest balls] , Amnesty International, accessed 10 January 2008]

In August 2008, Ricky Gervais, Merchant and Karl Pilkington recorded a final set of audiobooks running over 2 hours, which were released on the 16th of September.

6 Music show

Starting 14 January 2007, Merchant began a radio show on BBC 6 music, running Sundays from 3-5pm. [ [ Stephen Merchant presents new show for BBC 6 Music] ] The show focuses not on comedy but on music and particularly on "new music," which Steve defines as "Music you've not heard before." Steve also regularly plays classic hip-hop, which he refers to as "hippity hop". Presenters and listeners suggest songs to play which Merchant then may add to his playlist for future shows. Currently featured on the show are long-time friends of Steve's, including his former housemate Dan Warren (a friend since university), Harry (a friend from youth in Bristol), and posh actor Rufus Gerrard-Wright (who appeared in an episode of "Extras"). After a spring search process, Merchant and his mates selected former "Byker Grove" actor Sammy T. Dobson [ [] ] to join them on air as their "She-J".


Merchant's considerable height "(6ft 7ins or 2.01 m tall)" [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Stephen Merchant: A giant of comedy | work = | publisher = The Independent | date = 2007-03-25 | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2007-12-26] has been a source of humour and teasing throughout his career. He even made a cameo appearance in The Office, playing a character called the "Ogg-Monster", who David Brent called "a lanky goggle-eyed freak" because of his size. [cite episode | title = Episode Five | episodelink = Episode Five (The Office, Series Two) | series = The Office | serieslink = The Office (UK TV series) | airdate = 2002-10-28 | season = 2 | number = 5] His height, and also dance moves, have attracted comments from several sources. The "Daily Mail" newspaper described him as a "giant albatross hopping on stilts",cite episode | title = Part 2 | episodelink = The Ricky Gervais Show#Season three | series = The Ricky Gervais Show | serieslink = The Ricky Gervais Show | airdate = 2006-08-22 | season = 3 | number = 2] as he danced in a London pub (although Merchant refuted this claim during an episode of the Ricky Gervais Show, stating that he did not take to the dance floor on that occasion). Friend and collaborator Ricky Gervais has likened him to an "upright lizard being given electro-shock treatment" a "stick insect with glasses" or "Beaker" from the muppets. [The Ricky Gervais Show - The Early Years/Part 3 ] Radio producer and co-host of Merchant, Karl Pilkington, has described his moves as a "bit of weird art" in the past, while British comic and broadcaster Russell Brand has likened him to a "graceful grasshopper". [ BBC Podcast - The Russell Brand Show] Merchant has commented that he prefers to liken himself to fellow tall man and English football player, Peter Crouch who is also six foot seven inches. Merchant impersonated Crouch in a sketch performed with Gervais before the 2006 World Cup.


External links

* [ Stephen Merchant] at the Internet Movie Database
* [ Steve's BBC 6Music site]
* [ Stephen interviewed on BBC Radio Five Live]
* [ Stephen Merchant Wiki and Forum] - Pilkipedia
* [ 6Music homepage]
* [ Xfm: Stephen Merchant Biography]
* [ RaW: Radio Warwick]
*" [ Tall man, taller success story] " - interview in The Telegraph - 8 August 2005
* [,,1937381,00.html Interview with Barbara Ellen] in The Observer Magazine - 5 November 2006
* [ Radar Online interview] - 11 January 2007
* [ Merchant stars as a radio football sports commentator in comedy sitcom 'No Skillz']
* [ Stephen Merchant on Danny Baker's All Day Breakfast Show podcast]

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