Are David Mitchell and Robert Webb anything like their hapless Peep Show characters?
The actors reveal their dating tips and mishaps, first kisses, romantic gestures and how they knew they'd met "the one"
How would you describe your Peep Show character’s love life?
Robert Webb: Jeremy’s is a bit like the British weather – cloudy and drizzly with occasional sunny intervals.
David Mitchell: Mark’s love life is more of a battle. He can’t enjoy relationships because he’s either in perpetual fear that he doesn’t feel strongly enough for that person or that he’s about to be dumped.
How would you describe your own?
RW: Secure but still thrilling and exciting [Webb is married to writer/comedian Abigail Burdess and they have two children].
DM: Completely fulfilling. I’ve met someone I can’t live without [Only Connect’s Victoria Coren] and the great news is, I don’t have to.
Do you resemble your character in any way?
RW: I try not to be quite as deluded, talentless, stupid, feckless, unsavoury and generally badly behaved as Jeremy.
DM: Physically and vocally we’re quite similar. But also, Mark’s cynical conservatism and rejection of novelty as doomed to failure is my own knee-jerk response to most things.
Are you envious of your character in any way?
RW: No. Jeremy’s had some cracking girlfriends, but then, so have I.
DM: I’m really not. They’re both unhappy, unfulfilled and are on the outside of a fun world miserably looking in.
What dating tip would you offer your character?
RW: Grow up. And try to imagine these women as human beings. But Jeremy doesn’t need advice because he’s willing to have sex with almost anyone and makes that abundantly clear, which is sometimes all you need.
DM: Mark could do with some of Jeremy’s confidence. He’s very down on existence.
Who was your first crush?
RW: Probably Lee Majors as the Six Million Dollar Man. I also found watching Sally James on Tiswas quite compelling in a way that I didn’t fully understand.
DM: I remember watching a Madonna video when I was 11 or 12 and finding that sexy in a way that I was very new to understanding. And also being quite annoyed by that sensation.
RW: To be fair, her Like a Prayer video made a lot of people very annoyed.
Can you remember your first kiss?
RW: My first proper kiss was from Cara Shucksmith when I was 13 or 14 at her birthday party. Her sister Kerry Shucksmith formally announced, “Cara would like a slow dance with you.” And during it, Cara Shucksmith kissed me. It was a very big night indeed.
DM: I sort of kissed a girl for the first time in a sixth-form play. I don’t know if it counts because it was artistically justified. But our lips definitely touched.
What romantic advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
RW: I’d say, it’s going to be OK. I grew up in Lincolnshire, trying to get the daughters of farmers and policemen to like me. It didn’t go well until I got to college where suddenly there were different sorts of humans. So I’d tell myself, don’t panic, you’re just in a pretty bad place – geographically as well as emotionally.
DM: I’d say, if you fancy someone, you are allowed to ask them out for a coffee. But at 16 I found that idea too horrifying to even contemplate. So my advice to teenagers in general is that it’s horrible being a teenager – just get through it. And to teenagers having a lovely time being a teenager – you’re weird and you’re going to have disappointing lives.
What’s the best relationship advice you’ve ever been given?
RW: I don’t recall talking to anyone about relationship problems. Not even teachers. Apart from those that I slept with, obviously.
DM: I seldom solicited any relationship advice. In fact, if anyone started giving me advice, I’d have said, “Er, what’s happening with this conversation? Have I not been coming across as sufficiently repressed and buttoned-up?”
What’s been your biggest romantic mishap?
RW: I remember kissing a girl at the end of our very pleasant date only for her to say, “I think you should know I’ve got a boyfriend.” This was after I’d just bought her a Pizza Express dinner. So I said, “Oh, can I have my tenner back?”
DM: Surprisingly, my very limited formal dating encounters all went OK. I never had a knockback like that – I was always left with hope at least.
Have you ever cooked a meal to sweep a woman off her feet?
RW: The only thing I’ve cooked while entertaining is stir-fry. I say stir-fry, it’s more like pasta and s***, or rice and s***. Sometimes it’s noodles and s***.
DM: I can’t cook but I have baked a couple of cakes. And opened some crisps.
Have you ever used a chat-up line?
RW: I ended up going out with someone for eight years, but our first exchange at the end of a cast party was her saying, “Now, the thing is…” And me interrupting, “I know. Get your coat.”
DM: No. And I find it difficult to believe that anyone really does. I think the chat-up line is an urban myth.
Ever used a mate as a “wingman”?
RW: That only ever happened in Top Gun, surely.
DM: So we’re imagining women as the enemy air force, is that right?
RW: I think so. They work as a sort of team. So you walk into a karaoke bar and your wingman will grab the mic so you can embarrassingly sing ‘You’ve lost that loving feeling’ at a woman who for some reason doesn’t immediately glass you.
What’s the most romantic gesture you’ve ever made?
RW: I proposed to my wife on Brighton beach and she said yes. That’s pretty romantic. Even though I forgot to go down on one knee because I was too busy trying to compose the question.
DM: Mine is also proposing. I was amazed that Victoria was surprised, given the bunch of flowers and my general nervousness. I think she thought I was about to apologise for failing to book the restaurant.
What’s your perfect date?
RW: Just down the local pub with my wife.
DM: Taking my fiancée on a little tour of Croydon and showing her all the Peep Show landmarks where we filmed the first two series.
How did you know you had met “the one”?
RW: It didn’t happen instantly. Some people fall in love and then have sex. We had sex and then gradually fell in love. I say gradually, but it took only a few days.
DM: It was immediate with me, although it took us a while to get together. We met at a party and I was instantly smitten. I knew that the prospect of it not working out was truly awful.
What’s the best thing about being married or engaged?
RW: Every day you get to talk to and stand next to someone you’re completely crazy about. And that she stood up in the face of God and promised loads of people that she was going to put up with me. For ever!
DM: I feel totally different about everything. Everything is more upbeat and less frightening when you have the support of someone you love.