Richard Ayoade

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Richard Ayoade
Ayoade facing the camera
Ayoade in 2011
Born Richard Ellef Ayoade
(1977-06-12) 12 June 1977 (age 41)
Hammersmith, London, England
Residence East Dulwich, London, England
Alma mater St Catharine's College, Cambridge
Occupation
  • Actor
  • comedian
  • writer
  • director
  • television presenter
Years active 2000–present
Spouse(s) Lydia Fox (m. 2007)
Children 3[1]

Richard Ellef Ayoade (/.ˈɑːdi/, born 12 June 1977) is a British actor, comedian, writer, director and television presenter. He is best known for his role as the socially awkward IT technician Maurice Moss in Channel 4 sitcom The IT Crowd (2006–2013), for which he won the 2014 BAFTA for Best Male Comedy Performance. He has often worked alongside Noel Fielding, Julian Barratt, Matt Berry, Matthew Holness and Rich Fulcher.

Born in Hammersmith, Ayoade served as the president of Footlights at St Catharine's College, Cambridge. Ayoade and Matthew Holness debuted their respective characters Dean Learner and Garth Marenghi at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2000, bringing the characters to television with Garth Marenghi's Darkplace (2004) and Man to Man with Dean Learner (2006). Ayoade appeared in the comedy shows The Mighty Boosh (2004–2007) and Nathan Barley (2007), before gaining exposure and recognition for his role in The IT Crowd. After directing music videos for Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Kasabian, Ayoade wrote and directed the comedy-drama film Submarine in 2010. He co-starred in the American science fiction comedy film The Watch in 2012 and his second film, the black comedy The Double, premiered in 2013.

Ayoade has frequently appeared on panel shows, mostly prominently on The Big Fat Quiz of the Year and served as a team captain on Was It Something I Said? in 2013. Ayoade presents the factual shows Gadget Man (2013–2015), its spin-off Travel Man (2015–present) and the 2017 revival of The Crystal Maze. Ayoade has provided his voice to a number of animated projects, including the films The Boxtrolls (2014) and Early Man (2018), and the television shows Strange Hill High (2013–2014) and Apple & Onion (2018–present). Ayoade has written two comedic books centring around film, Ayoade on Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey (2014) and The Grip of Film (2017).

Early life and education

The ADC Theatre in Cambridge, the home of Footlights

Ayoade was born in Hammersmith,[2] the son of a Nigerian father and a Norwegian mother.[3] His father was an electrical engineer. The family moved to Ipswich, Suffolk when he was young.[4] At fifteen, Ayoade developed an interest for film "beyond Star Wars and Back to the Future", and began exploring the works of Woody Allen, Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini.[5]

Ayoade studied at St Joseph's College, Ipswich[6] and later read law at St Catharine's College, Cambridge (1995–1998), where he won the Martin Steele Prize for play production[7] and was president of the amateur theatrical club Footlights from 1997 to 1998.[8] He and Footlights vice-president John Oliver wrote and performed in several productions together, appearing in both Footlights' 1997 and 1998 touring shows: Emotional Baggage and Between a Rock and a Hard Place (directed by Cal McCrystal).[9] He says that his parents would not approve of studies considered to be of the "Regency era",[10] adding that "a non-vocational degree seemed such an outlandish indulgence".[11] Ayoade states that his degree in law is no longer a viable "fallback" for him and that he would need to "go back to square one".[12]

Career

2000–2006: Garth Marenghi shows and The Mighty Boosh

Ayoade co-wrote the stage show Garth Marenghi's Fright Knight with Matthew Holness, whom he also met at the Footlights, appearing in the show with Holness at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2000 where it was nominated for a Perrier Award.[10] The show saw the debut of Holness' character Garth Marenghi, a fictional horror writer, and Ayoade's character Dean Learner, Marenghi's publisher.[13] In 2001, he won the Perrier Comedy Award for co-writing and performing in Garth Marenghi's Netherhead, the sequel to Fright Knight.[14] In 2004, Ayoade and Holness took the Marenghi character to Channel 4, creating the spoof horror comedy series Garth Marenghi's Darkplace. Ayoade wrote, directed and appeared in the series, which saw Marenghi and Learner star in a 1980s television drama that was never broadcast. Learner played Thornton Reed, a hospital administrator.[15] Along with Matt Berry, Ayoade directed, co-wrote and co-starred in AD/BC: A Rock Opera, which parodies life-of-Christ rock operas and aired on BBC Three in December 2004.[16] Ayoade was also a writer on the sketch show Bruiser in 2000, which starred former Footlights president David Mitchell and Robert Webb, and featured Holness.[17] Ayoade was featured in a bit-part as a reporter in the HBO television film The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004).[18]

After appearing in Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding's radio series The Boosh, Ayoade was part of the original cast of Barratt and Fielding's The Mighty Boosh television show. He was originally selected to play the role of dangerous villain Dixon Bainbridge. However, by the time the radio series transferred to television he was under contract by Channel 4 and was only able to act in the pilot before leaving The Boosh. The part was taken by fellow Darkplace actor and eventual IT Crowd co-star Matt Berry. He later returned in the second series in 2005, to play the part of the belligerent shaman Saboo.[10] Ayoade continued his association with The Mighty Boosh in the third series, reprising his role and acting as script editor.[19] In 2005, he played the role of Ned Smanks in Chris Morris' and Charlie Brooker's sitcom Nathan Barley.[20] Ayoade's Dean Learner character was resurrected in 2006 to host a comedy chat show, Man to Man with Dean Learner, on Channel 4. The different guests were played each week by Holness.[21] Ayoade appeared in the satirical comedy series Time Trumpet in 2006, which is set in the year 2031 and saw Ayoade and other celebrities reminiscing about the year 2007 onwards.[22]

2006–2010: The IT Crowd, music videos and Submarine

In February 2006, Ayoade began playing the technically brilliant but socially awkward IT technician Maurice Moss in the sitcom The IT Crowd on Channel 4, appearing alongside Chris O'Dowd, Katherine Parkinson and Matt Berry. The series' creator Graham Linehan wrote the part specifically for Ayoade to play.[23] In 2008, he won the award for an outstanding actor in a television comedy series at the Monte-Carlo Television Festival for his performance.[24] In 2009, Ayoade co-starred with Joel McHale in the pilot for an American remake, reprising his role with the same appearance and personality; no series was commissioned, and the pilot never aired.[25] The IT Crowd ran for four seasons until 2010, with a special airing in 2013, for which Ayoade won a BAFTA for Best Male Comedy Performance.[26][27] In 2007, Ayoade directed the music videos for the songs "Fluorescent Adolescent" by Arctic Monkeys and Super Furry Animals's "Run-Away", which starred Matt Berry. The former received a UK Music Video Award nomination, attributed by Ayoade only to the song being "so good".[4] Ayoade has frequently appeared as a panelist on the quiz show The Big Fat Quiz of the Year, often with Noel Fielding, making his first appearance in The Big Fat Anniversary Quiz in 2007, which marked Channel 4's 25th anniversary.[28] In 2008, Ayoade directed the music videos for two Vampire Weekend singles – "Oxford Comma", filmed in one long take,[4] and "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa".[29] In the same year, he also directed the videos for The Last Shadow Puppets songs "Standing Next to Me" and "My Mistakes Were Made for You", the latter of which was inspired by Federico Fellini's Toby Dammit.[4][30] He directed a live Arctic Monkeys DVD entitled At the Apollo (2008), which was recorded at the Manchester Apollo on super 16mm film. It was previewed at Vue cinemas across the UK during October 2008 and was released on DVD the following month.[31] He was featured in Paul King's film, Bunny and the Bull (2009), playing the role of an extremely boring museum tour guide.[32] He also directed two music videos for the Arctic Monkeys – "Crying Lightning" and "Cornerstone" – and another for Kasabian's "Vlad the Impaler", starring Noel Fielding, and "Heads Will Roll" by Yeah Yeah Yeahs.[30][33][34]

In 2010, Ayoade made his debut directorial feature, Submarine, a coming-of-age comedy-drama adapted by Ayoade from the 2008 novel of the same name by Joe Dunthorne. The film stars newcomers Craig Roberts and Yasmin Paige with Sally Hawkins, Noah Taylor and Paddy Considine. It follows Welsh teenager Oliver Tate (Roberts) as he becomes infatuated with a classmate (Paige) and the turmoil of his parent's failing relationship.[35] Produced by Warp Films and Film4, the film premiered at the 35th Toronto International Film Festival in September 2010 and went on general release in the UK in March 2011 and was released in June in the US after being picked up by the Weinstein Company for a North American release.[36][37] Arctic Monkeys and The Last Shadow Puppets frontman Alex Turner contributed five original songs to the soundtrack, inspired by Simon & Garfunkel's music being featured in The Graduate (1967).[30] The film was positively received by critics, with The Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw calling Ayoade a "tremendous new voice in British film".[38] Ayoade was nominated for a BAFTA for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer at the 65th British Academy Film Awards.[39]

2011–present: Mainstream cinema and television presenting

In March 2011, Ayoade directed the Community episode "Critical Film Studies" in the show's second season. The episode pays homage to the 1981 film My Dinner with Andre and was named the "most brilliant half-hour of TV to arrive in this century" by Rolling Stone writer Rob Sheffield.[40] Ayoade then directed a performance of comedian Tommy Tiernan's world stand-up tour, Crooked Man, which was released in November 2011.[41] Ayoade provided his voice to the main cast of Channel 4's ill-received animated sitcom Full English, which aired for just five episodes in 2012 before being cancelled.[42] Ayoade starred opposite Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill in the science fiction comedy The Watch as a neighbourhood watch group who uncover alien forces threatening the world. The film was not well received by critics, although Ayoade's performance was praised. Keith Phipps of The A.V. Club felt the film's "brightest spots" came courtesy of Ayoade, while Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune felt Ayoade was "the reason it's not entirely lame".[43][44] Also in 2012, Ayoade began voicing Todd Lagoona, an anthropomorphic hammerhead shark who was a recurring character in Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy.[45]

Ayoade at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival

From 2013 to 2014, Ayoade voiced Templeton, the class nerd, in the CBBC animated series Strange Hill High.[46] Ayoade replaced Stephen Fry as presenter in the second series of Channel 4's Gadget Man in September 2013 and also presented a third and fourth season.[47] The series featured Ayoade presenting a variety of innovative products and gadgets. He is also the host of the spin-off series Travel Man, which sees Ayoade spend 48 hours in a different location each episode with a celebrity guest.[48] Ayoade was a team captain on the Channel 4 panel show Was It Something I Said?, which began airing October 2013 and co-starred David Mitchell as host and Micky Flanagan as fellow team captain.[49] Also in 2013, Ayoade read Roald Dahl's children book The Twits for Penguin Audio's audiobook collection and Virgin Media launched an advertising campaign starring the Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, featuring the voice of Ayoade.[50][51] He again lent his voice to an advertising campaign when provided provide the voice-over for Apple's iPhone 6 campaign with Chris O'Dowd in 2014.[52]

Ayoade's second feature film, the black comedy thriller The Double, was based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky's 1846 novella The Double and written by Ayoade and Avi Korine.[53] It stars Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska. The story concerns a timid man who becomes frustrated by the appearance of his charming doppelgänger, both of whom are played by Eisenberg.[53] The Double was released in April 2014 to generally positive reviews.[54] The film drew comparisons to Terry Gilliam's Brazil (1985), both in its visuals and narrative.[55] In the stop-motion animated fantasy film The Boxtrolls (2014), Ayoade voiced Mr. Pickles, a henchman to the film's antagonist Snatcher (voiced by Ben Kingsley).[56]

Ayoade's first book Ayoade on Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey was published by Faber and Faber on 2 October 2014. It satirises the nature of interviews and books that document and analyse the careers of iconic film directors (e.g. Orson Welles and Martin Scorsese). The book parodies Faber's Directors on Directors series, in which critically celebrated filmmakers discuss their work, and sees Ayoade conduct several interviews with himself in which he discusses his work and enthusiasm for the world of cinema.[57] Ayoade voiced a villainous snowman in several episodes the 2015 reboot of the animated series Danger Mouse.[58] Ayoade directed a short music video for the Radiohead song "Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief" in June 2016, as part of a series of video vignettes to promote their album A Moon Shaped Pool (2016).[59]

In January 2017, it was announced that Ayoade would present 20 hour-long episodes of the game show The Crystal Maze, following the success of a celebrity special for Stand Up to Cancer in October 2016 hosted by Stephen Merchant.[60] The show also features comedians Jessica Hynes and Adam Buxton.[61] It premiered in June 2017.[62] Ayoade made a cameo appearance in the comedy sequel Paddington 2 as a forensic investigator and was amongst the voice cast for Vampire Weekend Ezra Koenig's animated series Neo Yokio in the same year.[63][64] His second book, The Grip Of Film, was published in October 2017. Written in the perspective of clueless film fanatic Gordy LaSure, in its canon is an A-Z of films and what makes them good with footnotes by Ayoade.[65] He guest hosted an episode of the panel show Have I Got News for You in late 2017.[66] Ayoade starred in an advertisement for HSBC in 2018, which addressed other countries' cultural impact on the United Kingdom ahead of Brexit.[67] Ayoade voiced Treebor, a Stone Age caveman, in the Aardman Animations stop-motion comedy Early Man (2018).[68] Since February 2018, Ayoade has voiced Onion, one of the title characters in the Cartoon Network animated series Apple & Onion.[69] Ayoade will be featured in a supporting role in Joanna Hogg's two-part romantic mystery film The Souvenir (2018), starring Robert Pattinson in the lead role.[70]

Influences

In an interview with Rotten Tomatoes, Ayoade cited his favourite films as being Zazie dans le Métro (1960), Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), Persona (1966), Days of Heaven (1978) and Taxi Driver (1976).[71] Ayoade is a fan of French New Wave cinema and said in an interview with The Guardian that Louis Malle's Zazie dans le Métro was the film that sparked his interest in filmmaking.[72] His favourite filmmakers include Malle, Woody Allen, Ingmar Bergman, Orson Welles, Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Melville and Paul Thomas Anderson.[1][73]

Personal life

Ayoade married actress Lydia Fox in 2007. They have three children and reside in East Dulwich in the London Borough of Southwark in England.[1][74]

Filmography

Films

Year Title Role Notes
2003 Hello Friend Computer Man Short film
2004 The Life and Death of Peter Sellers Wedding Photographer
2005 Festival Dwight Swan
2008 At the Apollo Concert film; director
2009 Bunny and the Bull Museum Curator
2010 Submarine Director and writer British Independent Film Award for Best Screenplay
Palm Springs International Film Festival Directors to Watch Award
Giffoni Film Festival Award for Best Film
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer
Nominated—London Film Critics' Circle Award for Breakthrough British Filmmaker
Nominated—Evening Standard British Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer
Nominated—Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award for Best Film Screenplay
2012 The Watch Jamarcus
2013 The Double Director and writer Nominated—London Film Festival Award for Best Film
Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Foreign Film
Nominated—Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival Grand Prize
Nominated—Tokyo International Film Festival Grand Prix
2014 The Boxtrolls Mr. Pickles (voice)
2017 Paddington 2 Forensic Investigator
2018 Early Man Treebor (voice)
2018 The Souvenir: Part I TBA Post production

Television

Year Title Role Notes
2000 Bruiser Additional material writer
2004 Garth Marenghi's Darkplace Dean Learner / Thornton Reed 6 episodes; also co-creator, writer and director
2004 AD/BC: A Rock Opera Joseph Television special; also writer and director
2004–2007 The Mighty Boosh Saboo 5 episodes; also script editor and wrote episode: "The Chokes"
2005 Nathan Barley Ned Smanks 6 episodes
2006 Man to Man with Dean Learner Dean Learner 6 episodes; also co-creator, writer, director and executive producer
2006 Time Trumpet Himself 6 episodes
2006 Snuff Box Music Show Host 2 episodes
2006–2010
2013
The IT Crowd Maurice Moss 25 episodes
British Academy Television Award for Best Male Comedy Performance (2014)
2007–present The Big Fat Quiz of the Year Himself 9 episodes
2011 Community Directed episode: "Critical Film Studies"
2011 Crooked Man Stand-up special; director
2012 Full English Edgar (voice) 6 episodes
2012–2014 Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy Various Characters 6 episodes
2013 Was It Something I Said? Himself 8 episodes
2013–2014 Strange Hill High Templeton (voice) 26 episodes
2013–2015 Gadget Man Himself (host) 19 episodes
2015 The Vicar of Dibley Bernard Episode: "The Bishop of Dibley"
2015–2016 Danger Mouse The Snowman (voice) 4 episodes
2015–present Travel Man Himself (host) 26 Episodes
2017 Neo Yokio Various characters (voice) 3 episodes
2017–present The Crystal Maze Himself (host) 21 episodes[75]
2018 Apple & Onion Onion (voice)
2019 Moominvalley The Ghost (voice)

Music videos directed

Year Artist Song
2007 Arctic Monkeys "Fluorescent Adolescent"
2007 Super Furry Animals "Run Away"
2008 Vampire Weekend "Oxford Comma"
2008 The Last Shadow Puppets "Standing Next to Me"
2008 The Last Shadow Puppets "My Mistakes Were Made for You"
2008 Vampire Weekend "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"
2009 Kasabian "Vlad the Impaler"
2009 Arctic Monkeys "Crying Lightning"
2009 Arctic Monkeys "Cornerstone"
2009 Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Heads Will Roll"
2016 Radiohead "Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief"
Short video vignette

Bibliography

Year Title
2014 Ayoade on Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey
2017 The Grip of Film

References

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External links

  • Richard Ayoade on IMDb
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