Dara Ó Briain
Ó Briain hosting Mock The Week.


4 February 1972 (age 42)
Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland


Stand-up and television



Years active

1998 - Present




Eddie Izzard
Paul Merton
Lewis Black


Susan (2006-present)

Notable works & roles

Don't Feed The Gondolas (1998-2000)
The Panel (2003-2006)
Mock The Week (2005-present)
Turn Back Time (2006)

Dara Ó Briain (born 4 February 1972) is an award-winning Irish comedian and television presenter, currently most famous for hosting topical panel show Mock The Week. Ó Briain has hosted and appeared on a number of successful panel shows including The Panel, Don't Feed the Gondolas, Mock The Week , Have I Got News For You and QI. Writing for the The Evening Standard, Bruce Dessau noted that "If you don’t laugh at Ó Briain, check your pulse, you must be dead."

The comedian has been described as Terry Wogan's heir apparent as Britain's favourite Irish man.

Early lifeEdit

Ó Briain was born in Bray, County Wicklow and attended Coláiste Eoin, a Gaelcholáiste on Dublin's southside. He attended University College, Dublin, where he studied maths 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.'" While a student there, 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.


Early careerEdit

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. He admitted, "I did the trip from Donegal to Dublin 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.'" 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.

Stand-up comedyEdit

Ó Briain's stand up career internationally took off around this time as he began to tour heavily, performing across Europe, Asia, Australia and North America, with gigs in Dubai, Boston, Adelaide, Shanghai and New York. 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 mainstream game show It's a Family Affair for 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).

Panel showsEdit

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

Around 2002, with his profile rising in the UK due to his one-man shows at the Edinburgh fringe festival, Ó Briain began to make appearances on UK television shows such as Bring Me the Head of Light Entertainment (a Channel 5 production) and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. At the start of 2003 he hosted the second series of BBC Scotland's Live Floor Show. His big break in UK television came in 2003 when he made an appearance as guest and, ultimately, made several appearances as guest host of the popular news quiz, Have I Got News for You.

He was nominated in 2003 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 game Mock the Week on BBC television, a blend between Have I Got News for You and Whose Line Is It Anyway?. He is a relatively frequent panelist 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.

Dara stars in the new BBC Radio show about "the world according to science". Episode 1 of "Infinite Monkey Cage" began on 30 November 2009 on Radio 4 at 16:30 GMT.

In 2010, Dara will star in the Sky1 show, A League of Their Own.

Tours, chat shows and writingEdit

Other notable television work includes hosting the BBC sitcom writing competition "Last Laugh", and three documentaries which re-created the British comedy novel Three Men in a Boat. For this, Ó Briain rowed up the River Thames with Griff Rhys Jones and Rory McGrath. A sequel, Three Men in Another Boat, in which they raced from the Tower Bridge to the Isle of Wight, was first aired in January 2008, and the third in the series, Three Men in More Than One Boat, was broadcast in January 2009. A further series, Three Men go to Ireland, was first broadcast at Christmas 2009.

In 2005, Ó Briain's show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was the biggest selling solo comedy show of the festival. On 14 September 2005, he appeared as a guest on Room 101, where he got rid of children's television presenters (originating from his co-presenters 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, the first being former host Nick Hancock, to pull the lever that opens the chute to Room 101), banter, Gillian McKeith (host of You Are What You Eat) and magicians.

Ó Briain conducted his third and largest multinational tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland in early 2006. This included 66 shows across London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast, as well as 9 nights in Dublin. 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". 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 episode of his new celebrity chat show, Turn Back Time.

Ó Briain released his first book on 1 October 2009, the book is entitled Tickling the English and is about what he perceives it means to be English. As part of its promotion he has stated that he is a great fan of English culture and a student of English history, his favourite periods being the Gin Craze and the civil war. His favourite historical Englishman is Oliver Cromwell. In a review of 'Tickling the English' O'Briain was described as Terry Wogan's heir apparent as Britain's 'favourite Irishman'.

Personal lifeEdit

Ó Briain married his wife Susan, a doctor, in 2006 and they have a daughter, born in 2008. 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."

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. 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.’

His surname is the original Irish form of O'Brien, indicating his descent from King Brian Boru (c. 941-1014). He admitted, "My dad was involved in the Irish language movement and changed it. Even Irish people are now confused by it".

He is a keen Arsenal F.C. fan

Ó Briain was one one of fifteen members of a racing greyhound syndicate for several years. 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.


DVD releasesEdit

External linksEdit

Mock the WeekThe Regulars
Dara Ó Briain (Series 1–) · Hugh Dennis (Series 1–) · Andy Parsons (Series 3–) · Russell Howard (Series 4–) · Rory Bremner (Series 1–2) · Frankie Boyle (Series 1–7)
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