"I am stunningly happy. I'm happy because mainly I'm so irritable and I earn a living from it. But I can't think of anyone's life that's better than mine."

Born into a working class Swindon family with three elder sisters, Mark passed five O'Levels and dropped out of school at 17. He was plucked from obscurity after writing a poem ('I'm the James Dean of the dole queue', published in 1987).

Though he was an instant hit when he started his career at The Comedy Store one chilly winter evening in 1985, no one could have predicted that the rise and rise of Mark Lamarr would be quite so meteoric or that such a multi-faceted performing future awaited Swindon's first, great stand-up star.

He presented The Word - wrecking and then re-drawing the boundaries of good taste, and defining the art form of high-tack trash TV.

But (surprisingly) it was Lamarr rather than his incisive co-host Terry Christian, who would later move on to more rarefied intellectual pastures, as presenter of BBC2's Edinburgh Nights , getting to grips with the high culture, low comedy and sophisticated cross-fire of the Edinburgh Festival arts scene.

Sometime host of Top of the Pops , The Big Breakfast and Planet Showbiz , he's famed for the surly contempt he's extended to Reeves and Mortimer as Ulrika's adversary in Shooting Stars , and for controlling the inappropriate behaviour of two comics (Phill Jupitus and Bill Bailey - previously Sean Hughes), a succession of old rockers, and (preferably) a smattering of glamorous young superstars, in his role as the no-nonsense chairman of the six series of Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

On radio, his Shake Rattle and Roll or Radio 2 won the Bronze for Best Music Broadcaster in 2003 and 2002, and the Music Broadcast Award and the Special Interest Music Award at the 1999 Sony Radio Awards. His Beginners Guide to Reggaeshow also won a Sony Award. Live, Mark has toured nationally for the last 15 years playing everywhere from the Comedy Store to the Royal Albert Hall. Given this diverse highbrow and lowbrow experience, some commentators believe that it's merely a matter of time before Mark is appointed as lead presenter on Panorama...

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