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TV Quickfire: Dara Ó Briain on saying goodbye to Mock The Week

As Mock The Week draws to a close, Dara O'Briain tells us about what he will miss, and discusses plans for his future in comedy...

Mock the Week: Hugh Dennis and Dara Ó Briain
Gemma Dunn

HOW DID YOU FEEL TO LEARN THIS WOULD BE YOUR LAST SERIES?

I FOUND out last November, but until there's a point where it stops happening, only then there might be a time of going, "Oh, yeah, that thing I used to do". It's a show that basically took 11 evenings out of my year; it was great, but it was broadcast far more often than it was recorded.

So while it's a pity that I won't get to work with a bunch of comedians that I really like – as a touring comic, most of my year is spent on my own – that's probably the greatest thing that I'll miss about it. It's very nice to check in every so often, plus fool myself that I'm part of a young, vibrant generation of comedians.

CAN YOU TELL US HOW THE FINALE WILL WORK?

There will be six main episodes and two extras that will be compilations of the 22 series. So, from the first 11 to the second 11, you'll go from tense, over-testosterone-fuelled footage one week to happy and collaborative, where all the nastiness has gone, in the second week.

WHAT WERE YOUR INITIAL THOUGHTS ON THE SHOW 17 YEARS AGO?

I didn't think it would fly. I thought there was too much going on. There were nine rounds during the early shows, until it settled down into the thing they actually wanted to do. Really brief rounds, there was so much going on the only thing I was doing was pressing a buzzer and handing out points.

There used to be a lot of what I call 'traffic cop', where there would be lots of talking and I would have to stop one person from talking to let somebody else in. Now, comedians do podcasts, so they know when to speak and not talk over each other. It became more relaxed – and more enjoyable to do.

HAS THERE BEEN MUCH RIVALRY AMONG THE GUESTS?

It's a two-and-a-half hour record, so everybody got a chance to speak. There was the odd (rivalry) but you'll have to wait for the memoirs, the working title for which is: It's Over, So Let's Burn Those Bridges.

Contrary to expectations, we wanted to be a friendly show, other shows not so much. I always made a point of being welcoming. Sometimes it didn't work – people were too new, too young and didn't have anything to say, but you try and give them the best of chances.

ARE YOU SURPRISED MOCK THE WEEK LASTED SO LONG?

It surprises me considering how much grief we've got over the years. It's quite sweet to see all the nice comments being made, now that it's coming to an end, after all the stick we've taken. It's been a bit like attending one's own funeral, seeing all these clips of yourself and hearing people saying nice things.

YOU'RE CURRENTLY ON TOUR, BUT DO YOU HAVE MORE TV AMBITIONS?

I would love to do more TV because it's fun to do a collaborative thing. But I'm literally 54 dates into a 150-date tour – that was always the day job. I've never made a big secret of the fact that TV was very much my side hustle.

As for what I would do next? God only knows. It's so random, TV. I've done everything from fighting robots to travel documentaries. I have a fairly broad spectrum of experience. But stage is always a bigger deal.

:: Mock the Week returns to BBC Two on Friday September 16.

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