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"If I want to act relaxed, it's going to take all my cunning, skill, and concentration."
Played By: David Mitchell
"I suppose doing things you hate is just the price you pay to avoid loneliness."
Awkward and socially inept, Mark often has trouble understanding the functions of the modern world. He is cynical and pessimistic, but still arguably possesses a stronger moral character than Jeremy. This isn’t saying much.
- A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Several major Yank the Dog's Chain moments are caused by his impulsiveness, as well as a lot of awkward moments.
- Born in the Wrong Century
- British Stuffiness
- But Not Too Bi/If It's You, It's Okay: Has a thing for Johnson but otherwise is completely heterosexual
- Butt Monkey
- The Chew Toy: The first ever episode shows him being bullied by a smallish gang of pre-pubescent boys. At the end of the episode, he chases them with an iron pipe on impulse.
- Closet Geek: Hinted at throughout the series, but only really made clear once he gets together with Dobby.
- Deadpan Snarker: Mostly in his head, but sometimes in person.
- Dirty Coward: Too many times to count, but most of all the way he ends up hiding on his wedding day because he hasn't got the guts to break it off.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Jeremy.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: His father is a bigoted, bullying control freak who was instilling the fear of God in Mark when he wasn’t neglecting him. His time at school was.... not fun either.
- Hidden Depths: When his love of history gets the chance to shine, you get the feeling he really should have pursued that instead of working for a finance company. It's shown a few times over the series that he regrets taking business management over ancient history at university.
- Jerk Ass Woobie
- Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places
- Manipulative Bastard: He certainly has his moments.
- Neat Freak: at least compared to Jeremy.
- No Social Skills: one of his defining character traits.
- Not So Different: Will take any opportunity to stab Jeremy in the back if it benefits him and despite often taking the moral high ground isn't any more moral than Jez is.
- Papa Wolf: Claims he'd even stab Jeremy to protect his baby.
- Stalking Is Love: Is very good at temporarily deluding himself into thinking so.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Has this kind of complex regarding Johnson and Jeremy's stepfather, among others. Probably owing to the Hilariously Abusive Childhood above.
- White Collar Worker
Jeremy ‘Jez’ Usborne
"Your dream is just everybody, grey, on the omnibus, eating grey sludge. That's your dream isn't it?"
"God, this is such a mess. It's fantastic."
An unemployed musician with even less to brag about than Mark, but still manages to brag anyway. A whole lot.
- Anything That Moves: Jeremy once told Mark that he was aroused by chairs.
- Bi the Way: The 'bad thing' with Super Hans. And then there's this,
Sophie: And have I lived enough? I mean, I've only slept with four men. Is that enough?
Jez: Four?... Oh... Yeah. Jesus. I've had sex with more men than that, and I basically only sleep with women.
- There's also that time he thought about sleeping with another man to make Elena jealous, after getting jealous, seeing her talking to another guy.
Jez: Yeah sure, talk to a guy. Why not? Maybe, I'll shag a guy too. How would you like that? Hm?!
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Jez sent dog shit in the post, peppersprayed, tried to punch and possibly subconsciously tried to murder the men - and in one case a woman - who he considered rivals for whatever woman - Toni, Nancy, Big Suze, Elena etc - he was currently infatuated with. In one episode he got so clingy he was threatened by his girlfriend showing kindness to a homeless man.
- Casanova Wannabe
- Comedic Sociopath: Oh so very much.
- Deadpan Snarker: At times.
- Dirty Coward: to a lesser degree than Mark, though.
- The Ditz: he's clueless about even the commonest things.
Jez: Potatoes aren't veg, are they? I mean they kind of are... but not really. I mean tomatoes are fruit but potatoes are like... bread?
- Dreadful Musician
- Even Evil Has Standards: Refuses to have sex with Sara on Christmas, given his love of the holiday.
- Foil: To Mark. He's an idiotic party-animal slacker. Mark's an up-tight history nerd/buff who has trouble letting loose.
- Giftedly Bad
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Mark.
Jez: I'm his one.
- Hypocritical Humour: We're talking World Amateur Champion level here.
- It's All About Me: "Can't I have everything I want, all the time? I mean, isn't that what Democracy is all about?".
- Karma Houdini: From time to time. He does tend to get away with some pretty awful shit.
- Kavorka Man
- Man Child: Even more so in the episode his mother comes to visit.
- Men Are Uncultured
- Men Can't Keep House
- Never My Fault: He could market books and lectures on shifting blame and not taking responsibility for actions.
- Pet the Dog: Fakes this a lot but does have some genuine moments of kindness.
- Serial Romeo: he tends to fall in love (or, well, lust, which, in his words, "is basically the same thing when you get rid of all the Valentine cards and bullshit") ridiculously fast and ridiculously often. Of course, he's also game for dumping a woman immediately after having sex with her.
- The Slacker: Jeremy is intentionally a slacker, and rather proud of it, seeing it as being a cool, pop culture lifestyle choice. He does have moments of clarity on occasion.
- Small Name, Big Ego
- Too Dumb to Live: "They wouldn't put a bad idea in a film, they'd get sued."
- Wide-Eyed Idealist
Mark: "At some point he's going to find out what goes in sausages."
- Wrong Genre Savvy: He often tricks himself into thinking he’s in some kind of movie.
Jez (on getting paid by Johnson for sex with Big Suze):
Is this a terrible idea? No, it can't be, it's in a film
. They couldn't put a terrible idea in a film, they'd get sued.
"Of course, obviously, it'd be really great if you were happy, but it's not the most pressing thing."
Played By: Olivia Colman
Mark’s love interest for much of the series. She starts off as a distant crush, then over the seasons they progress into a relationship, a marriage, a divorce and now have a child together.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: She goes for Jeff at first, even lampshading it with, 'I always go for arseholes'.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: While viewer opinion varies as to who was more at fault in her relationship with Mark, we definitely see a less pleasant side of her from season 5 onwards.
- Broken Pedestal: Mark's rose-tinted view of her doesn't long survive their actually getting together.
- Inelegant Blubbering: During that wedding. This is a speciality of Oliva Colman. Not many do it better.
- Manipulative Bitch: Not all the time but definitely when she manipulates Mark into getting her pregnant.
- My Biological Clock Is Ticking: In series 5.
- Satellite Love Interest: How she started off, likely because we only ever saw her through Mark's limited viewpoint.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Started off as a fairly pleasant and bland love interest and straight woman to Mark until after a couple of series Olivia Colman made the writers realise that she wasn't really such a nice girl when you look at how she treats him. This led to her character being developed in other directions in series 3 and 4 and she really turns into a bitch after their ill-fated wedding.. Although after the humiliation Mark subjected her to her behaviour is unsurprising.
"What this department needs is a kick up the arse so hard, my foot'll go right up your digestive tract and wiggle out your mouth like a little leather tongue."
Played By: Paterson Joseph
"In business, Jeremy, you learn that every man has his price, and I judge yours to be... £530."
Mark’s highly charismatic boss who also happens to be utterly insane.
- The Alcoholic: Recovered, then relapsed in the series 7 finale.
- Bad Boss: He's perfectly willing to throw his employees under the bus if he thinks it'll elevate him even slightly.
- Badass Moustache: In one episode Mark even tries to grow one to emulate him.
- Broken Pedestal: Mark's view switches from idolization to disdain in a few seasons. He never completely sheds his sense of admiration, though.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Despite going semi-insane after his fall from power, he still manages to nail a contract for the management-consultant business him and Mark set up and by the end of Series 7 has enough money to buy another house.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Especially in later seasons.
- Even the Guys Want Him: Well, Mark wants him.
- Large Ham: Johnson is expressive and very charismatic.
- Jerk Jock: To a certain extent. He's certainly a top dog and can be thoughtlessly aggressive.
- Pet the Dog: Mentoring and community work, according to Big Suze. Also, sticking up for Mark when Sophie begins her post-break-up-post-wedding-humiliation campaign of bullying and vilification.
- Pointy-Haired Boss: Debateable. He’s competent and doesn’t suffer fools, but he’s also highly aggressive, willing to throw innocent employees to the wolves to save himself, and Mark not inaccurately describes him as part of a group of, ‘literally the worst men in the world’.
- Sanity Slippage: After JLB goes under, he hops off the edge of reason.
- Stupid Sexy Flanders: Has this effect on Mark at least.
- Villainous Breakdown: The recession is...not good for his sanity.
- Neither is throwing a house party on the same night as him.
"So basically, man is programmed to do two things: kill and knob."
Played By: Neil Fitzmaurice
Mark’s rival for the affections of Sophie; he’s a cruel bully who believes that men are made to ‘kill and knob’.
- The Bully: Takes every opportunity to tease, belittle and sneer at Mark.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Hidden Depths: In season six, he helps Sophie with her pregnancy and was very upset about the break up originally. Of course, even when helping Sophie he takes shots at Mark and is relieved to find out he isn't the child's father.
- Jerk Jock: We only see him being good at a sport once (bowling), but it's very easy to imagine him being one of the football-playing, tougher lads at school who picked on nerds like Mark (although they didn't go to school together)
- Kick the Dog: He goes from an office bully into a full-fledged sadistic bastard when he gives Mark a nasty little speech about how he doesn't see him as a threat to his relationship. 'You could have your cock in her. You still wouldn't have the balls to fuck.' Overlaps with Jerkass Has a Point considering that this sums up Mark's entire problem in two succinct if vulgar sentences.
- Oop North: A Scouser.
- Romantic False Lead
- Smug Smiler
- Smug Snake: Whenever he's going out with Sophie.
- Your Cheating Heart
Played By: Jim Howick
Mark’s rival for Dobby’s affection. He’s a nice, nerdy fellow with ongoing health problems.
Played By: Isy Suttie
A nerdy co-worker who just might be the one girl that likes Mark for the neurotic mess that he is.
Played By: Elizabeth Marmur
The unhinged next-door neighbour who serves as an unhealthy object of lust during the first and second season. She’s disappeared after getting remarried to her husband.
Played By: Vera Filatova
A bisexual, marijuana-dealing Russian émigré who lives in the same block of flats as Mark and Jeremy.
Played By: Emily Bruni
Elena's girlfriend and Jeremys love rival in series 6. Completely devoted to Elena who does not show the same level of devotion back though she always choses her over Jez. She appears again in series 8 when she campaigns to be chairman of the freehold committee in Apollo House.
- All Gays Are Promiscuous: Averted. She appears to be completely faithful to Elena
- Brainy Brunette: A member of MENSA who runs her own business.
- Ice Queen: Borders on this at times.
- Informed Ability: Her intelligence. Possibly intentional, as Jeremy makes fun of her inability to spot that he's having an affair with her girlfriend.
- Sorry, I'm Gay: When she thinks Mark's hitting on her "I'm in a relationship. And its a same-sex relationship. And I don't find you attractive. Even speaking objectively" Ouch!
Friends & Family
Played By: Eliza L Bennett
Mark's sister who has an on and off again relationship with Jez.
"Tell you what, that crack is really more-ish."
"People like Coldplay and voting for the Nazis. You can't trust people, Jeremy."
A friend of Jeremy’s and a musician. He’s a slightly more successful (and psychotic) version of Jeremy, and influences him in a variety of negative ways.
Played By: Rachel Blanchard
A kooky, ‘liberated’ small-town American girl who Jeremy falls in love with. She later marries him for visa reasons, and is in general something of a hypocritical free-spirit.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Depending on how you view her.
- Brainless Beauty: She's beautiful, and she is intelligent in some ways but certainly not in others.
- Citizenship Marriage: With Jeremy.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: She adheres to a bizarre, hippie-esque religion that seems to be some mix of Christianity and every single cult in the 60s.
- Granola Girl: Very much so, but also (by her word anyway) a devout Christian.
- Hypocrite: Acts like a devout Christian...and is also too kinky for Jeremy. It's probably in keeping with her own, self-styled religion.
- Ms. Fanservice: In a DVD commentary, Mitchell & Webb and Armstrong & Bain comment about the novelty of a sexy Hollywood actress coming over to do a low-budget British sitcom in "shitty Croydon".
- The Pollyanna: To an extent that gets rather creepy, given that she chirps about family crises and year-long spells of drug addiction as brightly as anything else.
Big Suze (Sophie Winkleman)
"This is quite a weird date, Jeremy. It's even weirder than when you took me to Laser Quest and tried to hump me in the dark."
Played By: Sophie Winkleman
Posh, a little stupid, very attractive and very sweet, Big Suze is Jeremy’s ex-girlfriend. He’s still in love with her, and has an excellent plan to ‘get her high and put my hand up her jumper’.
Played By: Paul Clayton
Sophie's quietly bitter, self-loathing father.
- The Alcoholic: Ian has started to self-medicate with alcohol.
- Ax-Crazy: Burns down his neighbour's barn when he suspects him of sleeping with his wife.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: See Ax-Crazy.
- Deadpan Snarker: He has a very dry, self-deprecating wit that comes from a combination of being the Only Sane Man and a Grumpy Old Man.
Jeremy: So, I like your barn, Ian.
Ian: It's full of crap no one has any use for. Maybe that's why I feel so at home here. Ha.
- Even Evil Has Standards: As he himself admits, he may be a homophobe...but he's no badger baiter.
- Grumpy Old Man: Being in a loveless marriage will do that to a man.
- Papa Wolf: He doesn't care about anything but Sophie's happiness.
- Happy Marriage Charade: With Penny. They put on a facade, but both of them are deeply miserable.
- Only Sane Man: He's very aware of the fact that he's in a loveless marriage and everyone around him acts in their own selfish interests.
Played By: Cheryl Campbell
Sophie's friendly yet adulterous mother.
Played By: Camilla Beeput
A pretentious young woman who Jeremy constantly tries to get close to.
- Feigning Intelligence: At first, she seems quite clever. With each passing episode, it becomes clearer that she bases intelligence on 'refined' subjects and is merely better at faking it than Jeremy.
- Hipster: With her big glasses and feigned interest in arty subjects.
- Meganekko: When she dons her specs.
- Men Are Uncultured: Averted. She's just as uncultured as everyone else, merely better at hiding it.