Jesse Armstrong

Jesse Armstrong is a British comedy writer, best known for the Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show and the BBC political satire The Thick of It. He is from Oswestry in Shropshire,[1] and attended a comprehensive school there[2] before reading American Studies at the University of Manchester,[3] where he met his writing partner Sam Bain.[4] Before going into comedy writing in the late 1990s, Armstrong worked as a researcher for the Labour MP Doug Henderson.[5]


Collaborations with Sam Bain

At the beginning of their writing career, Armstrong and Bain wrote for the Channel 4 sketch show Smack the Pony and the children's shows The Queen's Nose and My Parents Are Aliens.[6] They went on to create and write Peep Show, BBC One sitcom The Old Guys, and most recently Channel 4 comedy-dramas Fresh Meat and Babylon. They also wrote for the Radio Four sketch show That Mitchell and Webb Sound, starring Peep Show's two main actors David Mitchell and Robert Webb, and its BBC Two adaptation That Mitchell and Webb Look. Peep Show has won several writing awards,[7] including a BAFTA for Best Situation Comedy in 2008.[8]

To date, Armstrong and Bain have written two films together – the 2007 comedy Magicians, and, alongside Chris Morris, the 2010 terrorism satire Four Lions.

Armstrong and Bain received the Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award at the British Comedy Awards 2010. In 2012 both Armstrong and Bain were featured on the TV industry journal Broadcast's 'Hot 100' list, highlighting the most successful people in UK television.[9]

In 2012, Armstrong and Bain wrote the Channel 4 comedy pilot Bad Sugar, a spoof of Dynasty-style soap operas, which stars Olivia Colman, Julia Davis and Sharon Horgan, all of whom also co-conceived the show.[10]

In 2014 Armstrong, with Danny Boyle, Robert Jones and Sam Bain, co-created the Channel 4 comedy-drama Babylon. Armstrong wrote the first and last of the 6 initial episodes and co-wrote the pilot with Sam Bain.

Other writing

Alongside Armando Iannucci, Simon Blackwell and Tony Roche, Armstrong wrote for the first three series[11] of the BAFTA-winning BBC Four comedy The Thick of It, and its 2009 film spin-off In the Loop. In The Loop was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2009, and won Best British Screenplay at the 2009 Evening Standard British Film Awards. Alongside the The Thick of It's writing team, Armstrong wrote one episode of the first season of HBO comedy series Veep, set in the office of the American vice-president.

In the run-up to the 2010 UK general election, Armstrong wrote a column in The Guardian – 'Malcolm Tucker's election briefing – as dictated to Jesse Armstrong'.[12] He previously wrote a similar column for New Statesman, entitled 'Tactical Briefing'.[13]

In 2010, Armstrong's currently-unproduced screenplay Murdoch, a drama in which Rupert Murdoch and his family disagree over who should have control of his company, received attention after it appeared on The Black List, a list of unproduced screenplays most liked by Hollywood industry figures.[14] In the wake of the 2011 phone hacking scandal involving newspapers owned by Murdoch it was rumoured[15][16] that the script was being developed by Channel 4, but Armstrong dismissed these claims.[17]

Armstrong is reportedly developing a biopic of the Republican Party strategist Lee Atwater, with Chris Henchy and Adam McKay.[18][19]

In October 2011 it was reported that Armstrong's film adaptation of Richard DiLello's book The Longest Cocktail Party, charting the founding of The Beatles' record company Apple Records and the recording of their final album Let It Be,[20] was to be directed by Michael Winterbottom.[21] In February 2016 it was reported that Winterbottom had withdrawn from the project and the film's future was uncertain.[22]

Armstrong wrote one episode of Charlie Brooker's anthology series Black Mirror, entitled "The Entire History of You". Robert Downey, Jr. has since bought the rights to adapt the script for a forthcoming film.[23]

Armstrong's first novel, Love, Sex and Other Foreign Policy Goals, was released in April 2015.[24]

External links


  1. "Where you're smiling". The Guardian. 19 November 2005. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  2. "Sex, slugs and showers that caught fire: Fresh Meat's writers relive their toga-party student days". The Guardian. 2016-02-22. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-02-23.
  3. "University Challenge, Christmas 2015: 3. Manchester v UEA". BBC iPlayer. Retrieved 2015-12-28.
  4. "Interview: Fresh Meat writers Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong". The Sunday Telegraph. 21 September 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  5. "The Commons touch". The Guardian. 19 May 2005. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  6. "The secret of good comedy writing". The Independent. 6 November 2006. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  7. Peep Show (TV series)#Awards and honours
  8. "Television Awards 2008". 26 April 2008. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  9. "Benedict Cumberbatch, Reggie Yates make 'Broadcast' Hot 100 list". Digital Spy. 5 July 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  10. "Channel 4 commissions Bad Sugar by Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong". 1 December 2011. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  11. "The Thick of It returns to BBC Two for new series". BBC Media Centre. 12 July 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012. Armstrong is not listed among the writers for the fourth series.
  12. "Malcolm Tucker's election briefing". The Guardian. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  13. "Articles by Jesse Armstrong". New Statesman. 18 December 2008. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  14. "Hollywood's 'Black List' of best unproduced scripts". The Guardian. 14 December 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  15. "Channel 4 lines up drama about Murdoch family crisis". The Guardian. 7 July 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  16. "Rupert Murdoch drama planned by Channel 4". Digital Spy. 7 July 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  17. "Peep Show creator denies Channel 4 Rupert Murdoch drama". Digital Spy. 9 July 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  18. "Interview – Adam McKay". The AV Club. 5 August 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  19. "Mr. Beaks Talks THE OTHER GUYS, ANCHORMAN 2 And Little River Band With Adam McKay". Ain't It Cool News. 5 August 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  20. "Michael Winterbottom Planning To Direct Beatles Movie 'The Longest Cocktail Party'". indieWIRE. 12 October 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  21. "Michael Winterbottom to direct Beatles film". BBC News Online. 14 October 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  22. "Liam Gallagher's Beatles movie fails to Get Backing". The Sun. 1 February 2016. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  23. "Robert Downey Jr to make movie based on Charlie Brooker's 'Black Mirror'". Digital Spy. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  24. "Love, Sex and Other Foreign Policy Goals". 2 April 2015. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
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