"The last thing I want to find is my inner being. No way. I suspect it would be a really ugly version of Dorian Gray."
Mark Lamarr is probably best known for his stint as the 50's throwback team leader on Shooting Stars, where Vic and Bob used to tease him because of his brylcreamed quiff. These days he can be seen, minus the quiff due to a charity fundraising stunt, as the host of Never Mind the Buzzcocks.
Lamarr was born into a working class family on 7th January 1967 in Swindon, England. His mother, a cleaner, and his father, a maintenance man in cake factory, named him Mark Jones. Lamarr is the youngest of four siblings with three older sisters.
Educated at Park South Infant School and Oakfield School, he had a happy childhood. There were low times though, such as his first day at secondary school when a fellow pupil was stabbed. He still doesn't think highly of his home town.
"I think people who live in Swindon probably haven't got that much enthusiasm for life generally."
Lamarr was very good at English at school, however, when he mentioned to his careers officer that he wanted a job in journalism, he was told that he was aiming too high and they could probably find him a vacancy at the local Honda factory.
"I just wanted to write for a living but I couldn't think of any other way of doing it. I'm still angry about that. I'd love to meet that person today and spit in their eye."
After passing 5 O' Levels, Mark left school at the age of 17.
Stand Up Comedy
In 1985, while Lamarr was still at school, he submitted a poem about life on the dole called Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Work to publishers Faber and Faber which they published in an anthology. An appearance at the Royal Court at a young writer's festival quickly followed. By this time Lamarr was living on the dole in London, which was followed by the occasional appearance on the comedy circuit where he worked his way up to become a headline act, and as compere at The Comedy Store in London.
"Stand-up is what I've done my entire adult life, so it's not even a case of where I feel most comfortable. It's a case of, well, that's what I do."
Channel 4 gave Lamarr his first big break on television in 1990 when he was asked to be a host on their late-night yoof television show. The show itself was famous for its vulgarity and its close to the bone content.
"It was a show that conferred immediate celebrity status, but none of the presenters, except Katie Puckrik, was good enough to carry it off."
"The worst thing for me is to be called a presenter. It has the connotation of celebrity; it has the connotation of you're just on, just around, you don't do the work."
Despite being a late night show, The Word managed to hit the headlines many times, and was a much talked about programme due to its shock value. Lamarr himself hit the headlines after losing his temper at Shabba Ranks. During an interview with Ranks, Ranks made anti-homosexual remarks about a part of the Bible which he believed said that all homosexuals should be killed which annoyed Lamarr. Lamarr argued with Ranks by saying "That's bollocks and you know it." This led to Lamarr receiving numerous death threats.
The Big Breakfast
By 1992, Lamarr was spotted on the comedy circuit for a job as the On The Road presenter on The Big Breakfast which he did for a total of 4 years. In this job, Lamarr travelled the length and breadth of the UK, and at around 7:30am he would knock on the front door of numerous people, general public and celebrities, to wake them up and interview them. The people he woke up didn't know that he was going to visit them, which led to some highly emotional situations.
"I kept thinking I was doing the shittest job anyone had ever done. I’d put in lines and nothing! I was really on the verge of leaving, just another person on the telly talking shit, but then people would start saying ‘ I really liked that bit you did,’ and it’s just kind of improved from there."
As well as working the early shift on The Big Breakfast, Lamarr started work on Shooting Stars with Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer in 1993. Lamarr was one of the team captains, the other being Ulrika Jonsson. Lamarr was constantly taunted about his quiffed hairstyle, and was frequently called a 50's throwback by the rest of the Shooting Stars team, but mainly by Reeves and Mortimer. Lamarr appeared in a tour of the show throughout 1996, and on Shooting Stars Unreleased and Nude on video. Shooting Stars carried on succesfully with Lamarr until 1997. Later series of the show have Lamarr replaced with Will Self.
Never Mind the Buzzcocks
1996 was the year that Lamarr started presenting Never Mind the Buzzcocks on BBC2. This shows Lamarr's sharp wit with precision delivery perfectly, as well as incorporating Lamarr's love of music. He discovered music at the age of 11 when he was a rockabilly fan. He is also a fan of ska, reggae and soul, with a particular fondness for Public Enemy.
Lamarr's interest in music is also evident by his work as a DJ on Radio 2, a role for which he was once named Music Broadcaster of the Year. His Radio 2 rock'n'roll show, entitled Shake, Rattle and Roll, won an award in a category for special interest music programmes, as did his radio show specialising in reggae music.
In the past Radio 2 has been called the Radio Grim Reaper due to the age of its audience, however, with them giving more time to younger disc jockeys such as Lamarr and Jools Holland, it has gained a significant number of younger fans.
Now, in 2002, Lamarr lives in Chiswick, West London on his own. There was a time when he attended many drug-fuelled parties, but he has slowed down a little nowadays.
"I enjoyed doing them until they stopped being enjoyable and then I stopped. I don't have that sort of constitution. I can't drink for two days in a row. I can't do anything for two days in a row."
He has problems sleeping
, and because of this, he reads many books, mainly pulp novels
and American histories
"I really am shocked I've made my living in television for seven or eight years now. It's not even beyond my wildest dreams. I never had those dreams. To me, the biggest feat was just earning a living. I couldn't be more pleased with the way things have turned out and I really don't want to change any of it."