Mark Watson

Mark Andrew Watson (born 13 February 1980) is a British comedian and novelist.[1]

Mark Watson
Watson roaming Edinburgh book launch for Eleven in 2012
Birth nameMark Andrew Watson
Born (1980-02-13) 13 February 1980
Bristol, England
MediumStand-up, television, radio, author
Years active1999–present
GenresSatire, observational comedy, character comedy
Subject(s)Everyday life, family, politics, stereotypes, current events
Notable works and rolesThe Mad Bad Ad Show
Mark Watson Makes the World Substantially Better

Early life

Watson was born in Bristol to a Welsh mother and English father.[2][3] He has younger twin sisters called Emma and Lucy and a brother, Paul. He attended Henleaze Junior school and then Bristol Grammar School, an independent day school where he won the prize of 'Gabbler of the Year', before going to Queens' College, Cambridge, where he studied English, graduating with first class honours.[4][5] At university he was a member of the Footlights and contemporary of Stefan Golaszewski, Tim Key and Dan Stevens.[6] He was part of the revue which was nominated for the Best Newcomer category in the Perrier Comedy Awards at the 2001 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and also co-directed a revue with Key.



Although not born in Wales, Watson used to deliver his act with a common Welsh accent which is not quite his own. He adopted it when he started stand-up comedy saying that it made him "more comfortable to be talking in a voice that I didn't quite recognise as my own".[7] He has since reverted to his own accent.

Watson has appeared regularly at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, winning the first ever Panel Prize at the if.comeddies in 2006 and being nominated for Best Newcomer at the 2005 Perrier Comedy Awards. His other awards include the Time Out Critic's Choice Award 2006 and a Barry Award nomination for best show at the Melbourne Comedy Festival 2006.

Watson has performed several unusual shows at the Edinburgh Fringe and Melbourne Festivals, including marathon shows lasting 24 hours and more. The first of these shows was performed at the 2004 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which lasted 24 hours. At the end of the show he proposed to his girlfriend Emily Howes, who accepted. These shows have also featured guest appearances from other performers such as Tim Key, Tim Minchin, Adam Hills, Daniel Kitson, David O'Doherty, Brendon Burns and John Dorney as the balladeer.

At the 2006 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Watson hosted a literary workshop-cum-interactive comedy show entitled Mark Watson, And His Audience, Write A Novel. The aim was to write, by the end of August, a novel begun from scratch and woven entirely from audience suggestions, with another 2,000 words or so added each day. The novel was not finished within the month.

At the 2007 Fringe, Watson hosted a panel show We Need Answers with Alex Horne and Tim Key. This saw 16 comedians take part in a knock out quiz where all the questions and answers came from text service Any Question Answered. Paul Sinha won the competition, beating Josie Long in the final. We Need Answers returned in 2008 with fewer rounds, Josie Long emerged as winner, beating Sinha in the semi-final and Kristen Schaal in the final.

Watson performed his final 24-hour show at the 2009 Fringe along with his "Earth Summit" and his "Edit". The Earth Summit was Watson's version of the Al Gore talk about world pollution and global warming and the Edit was a compilation of Watson's fringe shows to date, made particularly for those who had not seen him perform there. Watson's debut DVD, titled The Mark Watson Edit was initially due for release on 15 November 2010.[8] However, Watson was forced to shelve the project and a new DVD recording was released on 28 November 2011, entitled Mark Watson Live.

Live shows

Show name Notes
2001 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Far too Happy Cambridge Footlights revue with Edward Jaspers, Tim Key, Day Macaskill, James Morris and Sophie Winkleman. Perrier Comedy Award nomination
2004 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Stereocomics With Rhod Gilbert
Mark Watson's Overambitious 24-Hour Show
2005 Edinburgh Festival Fringe 50 Years Before Death and the Awful Prospect of Eternity Perrier Best Newcomer Award nomination[9]
2005 Years in 2005 Minutes
2006 Edinburgh Festival Fringe I'm Worried That I'm Starting To Hate Almost Everyone in the World
Mark Watson's Seemingly Impossible 36-Hour Circuit of the World Won if.comeddie award Panel Prize[10]
Mark Watson, And His Audience, Write A Novel
2007 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Can I Briefly Talk To You About The Point of Life? Followed by UK tour
Mark Watson's 24 Hour Jamboree To Save The Planet
We Need Answers Gameshow. With Tim Key and Alex Horne. Later transferred to BBC Four
Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2008 Mark Watson (And Friends) Take Control of the World in 24 Hours
2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe All The Thoughts I've Had Since I Was Born Followed by UK tour
We Need Answers With Tim Key and Alex Horne
2009 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Mark Watson's Last Ever 24-Hour Show
2011 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Mark Watson's First Ever Week Long Show
2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Mark Watson: the information
The Mark Watson Edit
The Hotel Comedic theatre show written and directed by Mark Watson.[11]
2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Flaws
2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe I'm Not Here
2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe The Infinite Show Followed by UK tour
How You Can Almost Win (Work In Progress show) Based on his experiences on Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls


We Need Answers

A three-episode run of We Need Answers began on BBC Four on 12 February 2009, based on the Edinburgh Fringe show of the same name. As with the live show, Watson co-hosted with Tim Key and Alex Horne. A further 13 episodes were broadcast later in 2009. Guests for the series included Germaine Greer, Michael Rosen and Jilly Goolden.

Mark Watson Kicks Off

In 2010 ITV4 commissioned Mark Watson Kicks Off, a sports panel show, hosted by Watson, where each week with three celebrities taking part in numerous rounds including "Beat the Best" where Watson takes on a sporting champion but with a twist and "I'm not a successful sports star but I'm related to someone who is" where the three celebrities ask questions to a guest who is related to a sports star.

Improvisation My Dear Mark Watson

Watson hosted a pilot for an improvisational comedy show entitled Improvisation My Dear Mark Watson. The one-off episode was commissioned and broadcast by Dave, who chose not to create a full series. The pilot aired on 9 July.[12]

The Mad Bad Ad Show

In 2012, Watson starred with Micky Flanagan and host Mark Dolan as a captain in the Channel 4 panel programme The Mad Bad Ad Show.[13]

Guest appearances

Watson has made occasional appearances on BBC Two's comedy panel show Mock The Week; he has also been a panellist on BBC music quiz show Never Mind The Buzzcocks four times—once as guest captain and once as presenter—in addition to appearing on current affairs panel show Have I Got News for You. He has appeared on the popular BBC panel show Would I Lie to You? and also made appearances on panel show debate programme Argumental.

Watson appeared as a talking head in Armando Iannucci's spoof documentary series Time Trumpet.

In Australia, Watson has been seen on Rove, Good News Week, Spicks and Specks and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, all aired in April 2007.

Watson performed stand up on episode one of Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow, aired 7 June 2009.

In 2010, Watson took part in Channel 4's Comedy Gala, a benefit show held in aid of Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, filmed live at the O2 Arena in London on 30 March.

On 6 May 2011, he appeared on New Zealand comedy panel show 7 Days.

In 2017, he competed in series 5 of Taskmaster against Bob Mortimer, Sally Phillips, Nish Kumar and Aisling Bea.

Also in 2017 Mark appeared on Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls alongside Iwan Thomas, Jordan Stephens, Lucy Mecklenburgh, Melody Thornton, RJ Mitte, Ryan Thomas, Sharron Davies and Shazia Mirza. Mark left on doctors orders after suffering from severe chest pains and insomnia in the final episode.


Mark Watson Makes the World Substantially Better aired on BBC Radio 4 in February 2007, followed by a second series in August 2008. Both series featured poems by Tim Key and music, performed by Tim Minchin in the first series and Tom Basden in the second. In August 2009, Watson hosted a three-episode series on BBC Radio 5 Live called 100 Million or Bust, where a panel of guests attempted to spend £100 million on transfers as managers of an English Premier League team.

Another collaboration with Basden and Key, Mark Watson's Live Address to the Nation, was broadcast as a pilot in February 2011, and the BBC have commissioned another six episodes. These are planned for the last quarter of 2011.[14]

A similar series entitled Mark Watson Talks About Life, again featuring Basden and Key, was broadcast in autumn 2014.[15]

Guest appearances

Watson has made regular appearances on the BBC Radio 5 Live show Fighting Talk where he took part in the infamous "pen Gate" against Tom Watt,[16] and got into a verbal fracas with John Rawling on his début appearance;[17] he also boasted about of his show-biz meetings with Cameron Jerome and Ricardo Fuller.


Watson has written six novels: Bullet Points (2004), A Light-Hearted Look At Murder (2007), Eleven (2011), The Knot (2012), Hotel Alpha (2015), and The Place That Didn't Exist (2016). In addition, he has written the non-fiction book Crap at the Environment (2008), following his own efforts to halve his carbon footprint over the course of one year. In 2015, he released a graphic novel, Dan and Sam, with illustrations by Oliver Harud.

Other work

In 2009, Watson appeared in adverts for Magners Pear Cider, which became the subject of an extended routine by fellow comic Stewart Lee as part of his 2009, "If You Prefer A Milder Comedian, Please Ask For One" live show. Watson provided the voice over for a rabbit in an Innocent Smoothies advert in 2010.

On 25 February, Watson presented the 2009 NME Awards at Brixton Academy. At the start of the 2009/2010 season, Watson writes a regular article in the Bristol City official matchday programme Well Red.

In December 2009, Watson's television drama A Child's Christmases in Wales starring Ruth Jones was broadcast as part of the Christmas 2009 season on BBC Four; it was described as peeping into the Christmases of a South Wales family during the 1980s.

He has his own production company Impatient Productions that produces his own radio shows as well as for others such as Angela Barnes[18]

From 2018, Watson appears in TUI commercials alongside fellow comedian, Zoe Lyons on Sky One.[19]

Personal life

Watson was married to Emily Watson Howes, a fellow writer-performer and theatre director, and in 2019 they divorced. They have a son called Kit (born 2010) and a daughter called Rose (born 2014).[20][21] Tim Key was Watson's best man.[22]

Watson is a lifelong supporter of Bristol City Football Club.[23]

Stand-up DVDs

  • Mark Watson Live (28 November 2011)
  • Flaws (2014)


  1. "England fans are such losers". New Statesman. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  2. Updated 9 August 2013 (22 January 2007). "Preview: Mark Watson". WalesOnline. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  3. Logan, Brian (15 August 2006). "Mark Watson: The busiest comic in Edinburgh". The Guardian. London.
  4. "Congregations of the Regent House on 28, 29, and 30 June 2001". Cambridge University Reporter.
  5. "Interview: Mark Watson". Varsity. 29 October 2012.
  6. "Footlights Alumni: 2000–2009". Footlights. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012.
  7. Monahan, Mark (19 January 2008). "Mark Watson: So, there was this English Welshman..." The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  8. " – The Mark Watson Edit". Archived from the original on 15 May 2010.
  9. "The Perrier Comedy Award 2005". Archived from the original on 25 December 2006.
  10. "Phil Nichol wins top comedy award". BBC News. 27 August 2006.
  11. The Hotel Press Release – Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  12. "Improvisation My Dear Mark Watson : Dave". UKTV.
  13. "The Mad Bad Ad Show, coming soon to Channel 4". 14 July 2011. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  14. "Mark Watson's live Radio 4 show given full series". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
  15. Fighting Talk: 10 January 2009 Archived 25 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  16. Fighting Talk: 19 November 2005
  17. "Angela Barnes gets Radio 4 stand-up series". British Comedy Guide. 8 June 2015.
  18. "Behind-the-scenes of our Sky One footage". TUI. 21 March 2018.
  19. Harriet Gibsone (7 August 2014). "Edinburgh festival 2014: 10 questions for Mark Watson". The Guardian.
  20. Adam Jacques (22 January 2012). "Watson & Alex Horne". The Independent.
  21. Jones, Alice (16 December 2009). "Tim Key: A man of his words". The Independent. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  22. Vittles, Jack (5 June 2017). "Comedian and Bristol City fan Mark Watson talks about the club's guts and Ashton Gate". Bristol Post. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
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