Mark Heap is often seen in roles that are creepy, ranging from the slightly odd Brian Topp who lives in the flat downstairs to the nosy neighbor Jim who likes to rub his face on stuffed rabbits. But did you know he started off as a professional juggler? Let’s have a look at a few of his more creepy roles.
The Nosy Neighbor
Jim Bell – Friday Night Dinner (2011-2016)
Jim is the socially inept neighbor nobody wants to hear from. Constantly inviting himself to Friday night dinner and trying desperately to learn Jewish customs in hopes of winning Jackie’s love (or at least of stealing a kiss), it’s a wonder that they’re always surprised to see him every time the doorbell rings. He also has a bath made of elm.
Dr. Alan Statham – Green Wing (2004-2006)
Dr. Statham is the consulting radiologist at the hospital. He takes his job teaching the med students very seriously, but is frequently bullied by one student in particular and is forced to upturn his lessons. He follows the head of HR around because she’s the only woman who will have him, and in her battle against aging, she fears he’s the only man who will have her. His antics are absurd, from playing the fife naked to using shit and vodka to power his stolen RV. Yes, he’s the one on the DVD cover in the tutu.
Brian Topp – Spaced (1999-2001)
Brian Topp is the artist who rents downstairs (not a euphemism for being gay). He has a deal with the lonely, divorced landlady Marsha that allows him to stay when he can’t pay the rent if he gives her some attention, but that’s mostly cut short once he starts dating Daisy’s best pal, Twist, a birdlike fashion diva whose closest brush with the fashion industry is working the dry cleaners. His mother thinks that he’s a lawyer, so whenever she comes around, he puts on a suit. You can also see Heap in the third Cornetto film, The World’s End.
Various – JAM (2000)
Chris Morris’ JAM ran for one season on TV (three on the radio), and one of the six members of this disturbing horror sketch show was Mark Heap. One of Heap’s reoccurring characters was Mr. Ventham, a man who is to minor dilemmas what a hypochondriac is to minor aches. Every time he misplaces his keys or has any other minuscule quandary, he pays a visit to his psychiatrist (David Cann). Probably my favorite JAM role for Heap, though, is Mr. Lizard, the counterfeit TV repairman. Heap later went on to be in other renowned sketch shows like Big Train, which shared much of the same cast, and Brass Eye, Chris Morris’ next project, but JAM was by far the creepiest.
Tertius – Stardust (2007)
Neil Gaiman readers will be thrilled to learn that Mark Heap plays one of the royal brothers in the film adaptation of Stardust. He almost makes it to kinghood, too, but gets poisoned by his throne-grabbing brother. He spends the rest of the film as a translucent ghost watching the story unfold with his brothers like unruly sports fans.
Pickup Driver – The Comedian’s Guide to Survival (2016)
In James Mullinger’s auto-bio-pic, Mullinger (played by James Buckley) gets picked up by a truck driver while on assignment in California. Heap’s truck driver is just about as creepy as it gets. In fact, I dare suggest that it is Heap’s creepiest ever role, however brief. Why this movie’s version of Los Angeles is filled with redneck hicks I don’t know, but Heap certainly plays one American stereotype spot on. The driver leaves poor Mullinger drugged with no clothes or wallet on the side of the road.