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Dara Ó Briain

Dara Ó Briain
Ó Briain at the 2011 BAFTA awards.
Born (1972-02-04) 4 February 1972
Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland
Medium Stand-up, Television
Nationality Irish
Years active 1994 - present
Genres Observational comedy
Influences Eddie Izzard
Paul Merton
Lewis Black[1]
Spouse Susan (m. 2006)
Notable works and roles Echo Island
Don't Feed The Gondolas (1998-2000)
The Panel (2003-06)
Mock the Week (2005—)
Turn Back Time (2006)
The Apprentice: You're Fired! (2010-14)
Stargazing Live (2011—)
School of Hard Sums (2012—14)
Dara Ó Briain's Science Club (2012—13)
Dara & Ed's Big Adventure (2015)
Website Official website
Dara Ó Briain's voice
Recorded April 2012 from the BBC Radio 4 programme Front Row

Dara Ó Briain (; Irish pronunciation: ; born 4 February 1972) is an Irish comedian and television presenter in the United Kingdom and Ireland. He is noted for hosting topical panel shows such as Mock the Week, The Panel, and The Apprentice: You're Fired!. His TV work also includes starring in and writing of television comedy and documentary series. Ó Briain has also been a newspaper columnist, with pieces published in national papers in both Britain and Ireland.

In 2009, the Irish Independent described Ó Briain as Britain's "favourite Irishman"[2] and in 2010, Ó Briain was voted the 16th greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups.


  • Early life 1
  • After college 2
  • Stand-up comedy 3
  • Panel shows 4
  • Chat shows, television programmes and writing 5
  • Film work 6
  • Personal life 7
  • Stand-up DVDs 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Early life

Ó Briain was born in 1972 in Bray, County Wicklow, and attended Coláiste Eoin secondary school, a Gaelcholáiste (Irish-medium school) on Dublin's southside. He attended University College Dublin (UCD), where he studied mathematics and theoretical physics. In 2008, he remarked: "I haven't written it into my act, but it occasionally comes through. I could come on with a chalkboard and say: 'Now you're all going to pay attention.'"[3]

While a student at UCD, he was both the auditor of the Literary and Historical Society (the university's oldest debating society) and the co-founder and co-editor of The University Observer college newspaper. In 1994, he won the Irish Times National Debating Championship and The Irish Times/Gael Linn National Irish language debating championship; he is fluent in Irish, and speaks to his father only in that language.[4]

After college

After leaving college, Ó Briain began working at RTÉ as a children's TV presenter. At this time, he also began performing his first stand-up gigs on the Irish comedy circuit.[5] He admitted, "I did the trip from Dublin to Donegal to play to six people; then I turned round and drove home again. I did about three or four years playing to a lot of bad rooms, but learning as I went. It's not bad when someone gives you £40 for standing up and telling jokes. I remember thinking: 'This is the life.'"[3] Ó Briain spent three years as a presenter on the bilingual (Irish and English) language children's programme Echo Island but came to prominence as a team captain on the topical panel show Don't Feed The Gondolas (1998–2000) hosted by Seán Moncrieff. Ó Briain also hosted RTÉ family entertainment gameshow It's A Family Affair.[6]

Ironically, Dara would successfully persuade Paul Merton to ban children's television presenters into Room 101 on the television talk show of that name.

Stand-up comedy

Ó Briain's stand up international career took off around this time as he began to tour heavily, performing across Europe, Asia, Australia and North America, with gigs in Dubai, Paris, Adelaide, Shanghai and New York City. He was a regular at the Kilkenny Cat Laughs and the Edinburgh Festival, as well as making one notable appearance at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal in 2002, where he was offered a prestigious gala show because of his performances at the Irish showcase. Around this time, Ó Briain presented the weekend game show It's a Family Affair on RTÉ. It was the first time he worked with former Channel 4 commissioning editor Séamus Cassidy. They later set up the production company Happy Endings Productions, and together they produced (and Ó Briain presented) the chat show Buried Alive (2003) and most famously in Ireland The Panel (2003–2006).

In 2005, Ó Briain's show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was the biggest selling solo comedy show of the festival.[7]

In early 2006, Ó Briain conducted his third tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland. This included shows at the Theatre Royal, in London as well as nine nights in Dublin at Vicar Street. His second night in the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in London was recorded for his first live DVD. His fourth multinational tour followed in late 2007, which as he says in his routine has "no title" but was almost entitled "You Had to Be There".

He performed new tours across the UK and Ireland in 2008, 2010 and 2012. His 2010 tour played for 150 dates, to over 225,000 people, including 37 nights in Vicar St. in Dublin, 9 nights at the Hammersmith Apollo in London and a first date in Dubai. Each of those three tours were recorded for DVD, and the 2012 tour, entitled 'Craic Dealer', was similarly recorded during his shows at the Edinburgh Playhouse in May 2012. 2015 sees Dara on tour again with Crowd Tickler.

On 12 March 2011, Ó Briain, Jack Whitehall and Jon Richardson set a new Guinness World Records title for hosting the 'highest stand-up comedy gig in the world', on a British Airways flight in support of Comic Relief.[8][9]

In 2011, Ó Briain took part in two shows of the 16-date Uncaged Monkeys tour with Professor Brian Cox, Robin Ince, Ben Goldacre, Simon Singh and Chris Addison.

Panel shows

The Panel was hosted by Ó Briain. Three times nominated for the Best Entertainment show IFTA (Irish Film and Television Awards) the show has a rotating cast of panellists, usually drawn from the world of Irish comedy, discussing the events of the week and interviewing guests. The most regular panellists have been Colin Murphy, Ed Byrne, Neil Delamere, Andrew Maxwell and Mairéad Farrell.

Around 2002, with his profile rising in the UK due to his one-man shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Ó Briain began making appearances on UK television shows such as Bring Me the Head of Light Entertainment (a Channel 5 production) and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. In early 2003, he hosted the second series of BBC Scotland's Live Floor Show.[10] His big break in UK television came in 2003, when he appeared as a guest panellist on news quiz, Have I Got News for You, subsequently making several appearances as guest host of the show.[11]

In 2003, Ó Briain was nominated at the Chortle Comedy Awards for Live Comedy in the categories Best Compère and Best Headline Act (which he would go on to win). In 2004, he won the Best Headliner award again, as well as being nominated for Best Full-length Show. Since 2005, he has been the host of the comedy panel show Mock the Week on BBC Two, a blend between Have I Got News for You and Whose Line Is It Anyway?. He is a relatively frequent panellist on QI and wrote about Ireland in the QI series E annual, and appears occasionally on Just a Minute on BBC Radio 4. He has also appeared in and hosted the stand-up show Live at the Apollo.

Ó Briain has appeared several times in the BBC Radio science / comedy show The Infinite Monkey Cage which premiered on 30 November 2009 on Radio 4.[12]

In 2010, Ó Briain replaced Adrian Chiles as the presenter of The Apprentice: You're Fired!. After five years, he quit following the 2014 series.[13]

Chat shows, television programmes and writing

Since 2006, Ó Briain has starred in the BBC's Three Men in a Boat series, with Griff Rhys Jones and Rory McGrath. The series has included the trio rowing the River Thames, as in the 1889 novel of the same name, sailing from London to the Isle of Wight for a sail boat race, borrowing numerous vessels to make their way from Plymouth to the Isles of Scilly. In 2009, the three took to the Irish canals and rivers on a trip from Dublin to Limerick. In 2010, they explored the Isles of Scotland. Other notable television work includes hosting the BBC sitcom writing competition "Last Laugh".

On 14 September 2005, Ó Briain appeared as a guest on Room 101, where he got rid of children's television presenters (following his work as a presenter on Echo Island) and once-in-a-lifetime experiences (he was given a once-in-a-lifetime experience on the show by being the second guest to pull the lever that opens the chute to Room 101 – the first had been former host Nick Hancock). He also got rid of banter, Gillian McKeith and magicians.

Ó Briain has also been an extensive newspaper columnist, with pieces published in many national papers in both the UK and Ireland, from The Sunday Times to The Daily Telegraph. On 9 August 2006, he hosted the first edition of his chat show Turn Back Time.[5]

On 1 October 2009, Ó Briain released his first book entitled Tickling the English, about what he considers it means to be English. As part of its promotion, he has stated that he is enthusiastic about English culture and a student of English history, his favourite events being the Gin Craze and the civil war.[14] In a review of Tickling the English Ó Briain was described as Sir Terry Wogan's heir apparent as Britain's "favourite Irishman".[2]

Ó Briain has hosted the British Academy Video Games Awards in 2009, 2010 and again in 2011 and once more in 2012, when highlights were also shown on Challenge.[15][16]

From 3 to 5 January 2011, Ó Briain and Brian Cox presented Stargazing Live on BBC Two, three programmes based at the Jodrell Bank Observatory, scheduled to coincide with the conjunction of Jupiter and Uranus, a partial solar eclipse, and the Quadrantid meteor shower.[17] The two presenters hosted a second series of three-hour-long programmes, plus follow-up 30-minute shows called Stargazing Live: Back to Earth, from 16 to 18 January 2012. From 8 to 10 January 2013, they presented the third series, again accompanied by Back to Earth.[18]

From 16 April 2012, Ó Briain presented an eight-episode series of School of Hard Sums with co-host Marcus du Sautoy on Dave. Each episode was themed and Ó Briain along with a guest attempted to solve various conundrums posted by du Sautoy. Series 2 began on 1 May 2013. On 6 November 2012, Ó Briain began presenting a series called Dara Ó Briain's Science Club, in which he and other celebrities discuss science issues. The first edition of this programme features Ed Byrne talking about how closely related he is to the Neanderthals. Each episode in the series includes a short animated history that has been created by the UK animation and illustration agency 12Foot6.[19]

In 2013, Ó Briain joined Jack Dee, Chelsee Healey, Greg James, Melanie C and Philips Idowu in Through Hell and High Water, a Comic Relief challenge which involved British celebrities canoeing the most difficult rapids of the Zambezi River. They raised over £1 million for the charity.

In June 2015, 'Dara Ó Briain Meets Stephen Hawking', in which Ó Briain travels to Cambridge for a series of interviews with theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, aired on BBC One.

Film work

Ó Briain had a cameo role as a generalised alternative comedian in the 2013 British film The Look of Love directed by Michael Winterbottom.

Personal life

Ó Briain married his wife Susan, a surgeon, in 2006;[20] they live in West London with their two children.[21] He was best man at his best friend Ed Byrne's wedding; Byrne later returned the favour.[22] He describes himself as looking like "one of Tony Soprano's henchmen", and admits that, "living in London I probably only get recognised about once a day. And that's okay by me. I'm not a celebrity. And I certainly don't see myself as one."[23]

Ó Briain has said he sees himself as an atheist, but "ethnically Catholic": "I'm staunchly atheist, I simply don't believe in God. But I'm still Catholic, of course.[24] Catholicism has a much broader reach than just the religion. I'm technically Catholic, it's the box you have to tick on the census form: 'Don't believe in God, but I do still hate Rangers.'"[25]

His surname is the original Irish form of O'Brien. He said, "My dad was involved in the Irish language movement and changed it. Even Irish people are now confused by it".[23]

Ó Briain is a keen Arsenal F.C. fan,[26] and he is also a fan of Gaelic games. When his tweet congratulating London on knocking Sligo out of the 2013 Football Championship was read out on The Sunday Game, Ó Briain expressed amazement and vowed to try to have one read out every week.[27][28] Ó Briain has also expressed an interest in Irish cricket, and has written about the subject for the Guardian newspaper.[29] Ó Briain was one of fifteen members of a racing greyhound syndicate for several years.[30] The December 2009 transmission of Three Men Go to Ireland featured their dog Snip Nua who, by the time of transmission, had been put down following injuries sustained in a race. Ó Briain was so upset about the death that he and his fellow syndicate members immediately disbanded the syndicate permanently.[30] In early 2010 a series of small demonstrations were held outside some of Ó Briain's tour venues, urging him to publicly denounce the sport of greyhound racing due to the dog's death.[31][32]

Stand-up DVDs

Title Released Venue
Live at the Theatre Royal 13 November 2006 Theatre Royal, London
Dara Ó Briain Talks Funny – Live in London 17 November 2008 HMV Hammersmith Apollo, London
This Is the Show 22 November 2010 HMV Hammersmith Apollo, London
Craic Dealer 12 November 2012 The Playhouse, Edinburgh
Crowd Tickler 23 November 2015

See also


  1. ^ "Ditzy Boomhaha answers your questions". Chortle: The UK Comedy Guide. 4 December 2006. Retrieved 27 July 2007. 
  2. ^ a b "Dara the Irishman".  
  3. ^ a b Carroll, Su (6 May 2008). "Time has come for stand-up guy Dara".  
  4. ^ "Friday Night with Jonathan Ross". BBC. 
  5. ^ a b Kelleher, Lynne (30 July 2006). "Funnyman Dara O Briain lands his own BBC chat show".  
  6. ^ "Green Inc. – It's A Family Affair". 
  7. ^ "Live Brum: Events on 17 March 2008". Live Brum, 17 March 2008. Retrieved on 28 May 2008.
  8. ^ "British Airways Announces Smile High Gig, Sets New Guinness World Record". redOrbit. 17 March 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  9. ^ British Airways and Comic Relief 'Flying Start' - Gig in the Sky Highlights on YouTube
  10. ^ Dessau, Bruce. "Dara O Briain". The Evening Standard. Retrieved on 4 February 2008.
  11. ^ "Dara Ó Briain". Paramount UK. Retrieved on 25 May 2008.
  12. ^ "BBC Radio 4 – The Infinite Monkey Cage, Series 1, Episode 1". BBC. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  13. ^ Alexander, Susannah (10 January 2015). "Dara Ó Briain quits as host of The Apprentice spinoff You're Fired".  
  14. ^ Dara Ó Briain Interview, National Theatre, 23 October 2009
  15. ^ "GAME BAFTA Video Games Awards Host Announced". BAFTA. 26 January 2010. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  16. ^ "GAME British Academy Video Games Awards Winners in 2011". BAFTA. 16 March 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  17. ^ "Stargazing Live". 23 December 2010. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  18. ^ Radio Times 5–11 January 2013
  19. ^ "UK animation and illustration agency 12Foot6". Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  20. ^ doesn't discriminate against women."Mock the Week"Interview: Dara Ó Briain tells Andrew Pettie that . The Daily Telegraph (London). 2 July 2009. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  21. ^ Dugan, Emily (15 April 2012). "Dara Ó Briain: Can nothing stop this man's takeover of our TV screens?". The Independent. 
  22. ^ Mock the Week, Series 10 Episode 12
  23. ^ a b Taylor, Richie. "I'll never be a famous face. I'm an ugly bloke!". Irish Independent, 15 February 2008. Retrieved on 15 November 2008.
  24. ^ "Dara O'Briain and Frankie Boyle on religion and creationism". YouTube. Retrieved 27 October 2008. 
  25. ^ "Only in Ireland". Eircom. Retrieved on 12 November 2008.
  26. ^ Ó Briain, Dara (15 August 2009). "Every week there'll be a new 'Crisis' to mock".  
  27. ^ . Will definitely be trying to achieve that every week."The Sunday Game"I didn't know there was a chance of getting a tweet on . 26 May 2013. Retrieved 26 May 2013. 
  28. ^ Nolan, Sean (27 May 2013). "Monday Morning Corner Back: O'Hara tears into Walsh, O'Briain on the Sunday Game and prediction woes". JOE. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  29. ^ Ó Briain, Dara (8 May 2010). "Ask England's Twenty20 team: only weather can rein in Irish cricket". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  30. ^ a b after she was put down; Comedian too upset to talk about death of his greyhound Snip Nua"Three Men"Dara's dog starred in . 31 January 2010. Retrieved 21 February 2010. 
  31. ^ Boyle, Darren (25 April 2010). "It's a dog's life Dara; Activists target comic after his greyhound dies". Sunday Mirror). Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  32. ^ Peters, Tony (21 April 2010). "Greyhound death demo greets Dara". UK Indymedia. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 

External links

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