Peep Show is surely one of the greatest British sitcoms of all time, encapsulating the dry cynicism so often associated with our national sense of humour.


However, there does come a point when that approach is too much to bear.

Despite being a diehard Peep Show fan, there are some episodes that I can't help but skip when they pop up on my ever-repeating Netflix queue.

These chapters see Mark Corrigan (David Mitchell) and Jeremy Usborne (Robert Webb) make such misguided decisions that it becomes genuinely hard to watch.

As the show celebrates its 20th anniversary, here are five such examples. To paraphrase Super Hans (Matt King), it "goes beyond fun and actually gets really, really nasty". You have been warned.

5. Shrooming (season 3 episode 3)

Jeremy's attempt to hold a magic mushroom party goes spectacularly awry when Mark, who was expected to be absent, stays home with gastric flu.

Meanwhile, Super Hans makes short work of the El Dude Brothers' bathroom door, prompting Jeremy to hire "Big Mad Andy" (Liam Noble) for a quick fix job.

These two storylines converge in the most disastrous way when Mark suffers a toilet emergency as Johnson (Paterson Joseph), Jeremy and his guests watch through the open doorway in stunned horror.

A nightmare scenario, if ever there was one.

Bonus cringe points for Jeremy's arrogant attempt to befriend Big Mad Andy, which is quickly exposed as bogus when he screams: "Just do it now! I'm the boss, you're the worker!" You can only watch through your fingers.

4. Burgling (season 5 episode 1)

A rare occasion where I actually find myself sympathising with Mark Corrigan.

Anyone who's ever been burgled will tell you what a horrible, violating experience it is, so there's a genuine thirst for justice when he apprehends the individual responsible.

Alas, Jeremy – despite losing far less in the theft than Mark did – refuses to weather the siege when a gang of youths come to rescue their trapped associate.

He's far more concerned about having sex with Big Suze (Sophie Winkleman) before she can find out he may have chlamydia.

Fortunately, she gets a lucky escape when Mark intervenes, but he can't stop the burglars from taking what little valuables were left in the flat. That final "clean shirt" insult is salt in a severe wound.

3. Wedding (season 2 episode 6)

The wedding between Sophie and Mark doesn't rank here on account of how obviously doomed it was from the start – they basically spend an entire season telegraphing that disaster.

The nuptials of Jeremy and Nancy (Rachel Blanchard), however, could have been a life-changing moment for both of them.

While initially proposed as a green card marriage, the two do have genuine love and affection for each other, with Nancy ultimately coming round to the idea of taking their union seriously.

Unfortunately, by that point, Jeremy has already had an affair with the next-door neighbour, Toni (Elizabeth Marmur).

This first wedding episode represents a moment in which Jeremy could have escaped his purgatorial existence and it's tough to see it get snatched away. Of course, he has no one to blame but himself.

2. Gym (season 4 episode 3)

As his doomed wedding to Sophie (Olivia Colman) approaches, Mark decides to get in shape with help from South London's premier personal trainer, Matt Townsend (James Carlton).

To be fair, Matt is a somewhat dubious character himself, barking commands at Mark that drift away from motivation and into outright fat-shaming – but that's no justification for what comes next.

Yes, this is the episode in which Mark (with strong encouragement from Jeremy) makes a false accusation of sexual assault against Matt in a scene so uncomfortable that you couldn't be blamed skipping over it.

Even Mark admits via internal monologue: "This is all so horrible. Maybe it would have been simpler just to kill him."

1. Seasonal Beatings (season 7 episode 5)

Leave it up to Peep Show to create the most depressing festive sitcom special of all time.

Although this episode holds a place in the hearts of fans solely for Mark's eviscerating tirade at Jeremy ("NO TURKEY?!"), the unbridled misery that follows makes it really hard to sit through.

Props to actor Clive Merrison for his nerve-shredding performance as arguably Peep Show's most unlikeable figure – Mark's father, Dan Corrigan – whose utter disdain for his wife, Pam, and two children is grim enough.

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But his malice reaches new heights as he turns his attention to kind-hearted Dobby (Isy Suttie), who is disrespected in brutal fashion and receives no support from her supposedly loving partner, Mark.

Between that and the kitchen tongs, she never should have given him another chance.

Peep Show is available to stream on BritBox and Netflix. Sign up for Netflix from £4.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.

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