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Moran, Dylan (1971-)

Actor, Writer

Main image of Moran, Dylan (1971-)

Like many Irish comedians (Dave Allen springs to mind), Dylan Moran has perfected an on-screen and on-stage persona, in his case a chaotic, misanthropic figure prone to bluster and wild exaggeration, interspersed with fitful but genuine charm. He was born in Navan, County Meath on the 3rd November 1971, and began a stand-up career after leaving school without any qualifications, firstly winning the Channel 4 award 'So You Think You're Funny' in 1993, and then the prestigious Perrier award in 1996, narrowly beating future co-star Bill Bailey. His first television appearance was as a hapless photographer in Simon Nye's underrated sitcom How Do You Want Me? (BBC, 1998-9), showing a warmth and humanity that has been largely absent from his work since. He also had a small but memorable cameo as a would-be book thief in Notting Hill (UK/US, d. Roger Michell, 1999).

He returned to a similar location for his big break, the sitcom Black Books (Channel 4, 2000-4), which he co-wrote and starred in, as the wild-haired, disorganised, and borderline sociopathic bookshop owner Bernard Black, whose idea of happiness is to be left completely alone, preferably with large amounts of red wine. Given Moran's reputation for performing live with a glass or two to hand, the general assumption was that Bernard was at least partially autobiographical. With strong support from Bill Bailey and Tamsin Greig as Bernard's unlikely sidekicks, Black Books was a huge critical hit and cult audience favourite, winning Moran two BAFTAs for Situation Comedy, in 2001 and 2005.

His first starring film role came in Conor McPherson's frantic but ineffective comedy The Actors (Ireland/Germany/UK, 2003), in which Moran and Michael Caine played a pair of thespians involved with unlikely crime schemes and increasingly absurd disguises. He also had a small part in Simon Pegg's zombie comedy Shaun Of The Dead (UK/France, d. Edgar Wright, 2004), cast against type as a smug know-it-all. He appeared briefly in the dual role of Dr Slop and himself in A Cock And Bull Story (d. Michael Winterbottom, 2005), with one of the comic highlights being Gillian Anderson (as herself) asking him, in passing, "So, how much do you drink every day?" Throughout all this, he has continued his acclaimed stand-up comedy career, though he has surprisingly shunned guest appearances on British panel shows and chat programmes, opting, typically quixotically, for Swedish and Norwegian shows instead.

Alexander Larman

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Thumbnail image of Cock and Bull Story, A (2005)Cock and Bull Story, A (2005)

Surprisingly effective adaptation of a supposedly unfilmable novel

Thumbnail image of Black Books (2000-04)Black Books (2000-04)

Cult sitcom about a grumpy, alcoholic Irish bookseller

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