Kermode in May 2018
Mark James Patrick Fairey
2 July 1963
|Education||Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School|
|Alma mater||University of Manchester|
|Occupation||Film critic, presenter, writer, musician|
|Television||The Film Review|
The Culture Show
Mark James Patrick Kermode (, KUR-moh-d;né Fairey; born 2 July 1963) is an English film critic and musician. He is the chief film critic for The Observer, contributes to the magazine Sight & Sound, presents the BBC Four documentary series Mark Kermode's Secrets of Cinema, co-presents the BBC Radio 5 Live show Kermode and Mayo's Film Review, and previously co-presented the BBC Two arts programme The Culture Show. Kermode is a member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Kermode is a founding member of the skiffle band the Dodge Brothers, for which he plays double bass.
Kermode was born in Barnet, Hertfordshire. He was educated at The Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School, a private boys' school in Elstree, Hertfordshire, a few years ahead of comedians Sacha Baron Cohen and David Baddiel and in the same year as actor Jason Isaacs.
He was raised as a Methodist, and later became a member of the Church of England. His parents divorced when he was in his early 20s and he subsequently changed his surname to his mother's maiden name by deed poll. He earned his PhD in English at the University of Manchester in 1991, writing a thesis on horror fiction.
Kermode began his film career as a print journalist, writing for Manchester's City Life, and then Time Out and the NME in London. He has also written for The Independent, Vox, Empire, Flicks, Fangoria and Neon.
Kermode began working as a film reviewer for BBC Radio 1 in 1993, on a regular Thursday night slot called Cult Film Corner on Mark Radcliffe's Graveyard Shift session. He later moved to Simon Mayo's BBC Radio 1 morning show. He also hosted a movie review show with Mary Anne Hobbs on Radio 1 on Tuesday nights called Cling Film. Between February 1992 and October 1993, he was the resident film reviewer on BBC Radio 5's Morning Edition with Danny Baker.
Since 2001, Kermode has reviewed and debates new film releases with Mayo on the BBC Radio 5 Live show Kermode and Mayo's Film Review. The programme won Gold in the Speech Award category at the 2009 Sony Radio Academy Awards on 11 May 2009.
Kermode is a visiting fellow at the University of Southampton. He has also contributed to Fangoria magazine, and worked on film-related documentaries like The Fear of God; 25 Years of the Exorcist, Hell on Earth: The Desecration and Resurrection of Ken Russell's The Devils, The Edge of Blade Runner, and The Cult of The Wicker Man.
Until September 2005, Kermode reviewed films each week for the New Statesman. Since 2009 Kermode has written "Mark Kermode's DVD round-up" for The Observer, a weekly review of the latest releases. He sometimes writes for the British Film Institute's Sight and Sound magazine. Kermode is a film critic and presenter for Film4 and Channel 4, presenting the weekly Extreme Cinema strand. He also writes and presents documentaries for Channel 4, and co-presents The Film Review with Gavin Esler, for BBC News at Five. As a host of BBC Two's The Culture Show, Kermode presents an annual "Kermode Awards" episode which presents statuettes to actors and directors not nominated for Academy Awards that year.
In 2002, Kermode was critical of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the censor for film in the UK, for its cuts to the 1972 film The Last House on the Left . In 2008, the BBFC allowed the film to be re-released uncut. He has also stated that the BBFC do a good job in an impossible situation and expressed his approval of their decisions.
In a 2012 Sight & Sound poll of cinema's greatest films, Kermode indicated his ten favourites, a list later published in order of preference in his book Hatchet Job, as The Exorcist, A Matter of Life and Death, The Devils, It's a Wonderful Life, Don't Look Now, Pan's Labyrinth, Mary Poppins, Brazil, Eyes Without a Face and The Seventh Seal.
Kermode produces an annual "best-of-the-year" movie list, thereby providing an overview of his critical preferences. His top choices were:
In February 2010, Random House released his autobiography, It's Only a Movie, which he describes as being "inspired by real events". Its publication was accompanied by a UK tour. In September 2011 he released a follow-up book entitled The Good, the Bad and the Multiplex, in which he puts forth his opinion on the good and bad of modern films, and vehemently criticizes the modern multiplex experience and the 3D film craze that had grown in the years immediately preceding the book's publication. In 2013 Picador published "Hatchet Job: Love Movies, Hate Critics" in which he examines the need for professional "traditional" film critics in a culture of ever increasing online bloggers and amateur critics.
In 2017, he collaborated with his idol William Friedkin on the feature documentary The Devil and Father Amorth, as a writer. The film had its first showing at the Venice Film Festival on 31 August 2017.
Kermode has been a regular presenter on BBC Two's The Culture Show. He has appeared regularly on Newsnight Review. It was during a 2006 interview with Kermode for The Culture Show in Los Angeles that Werner Herzog was shot with an air rifle. Herzog appeared unflustered, later stating "It was not a significant bullet. I am not afraid".
In April 2008, Kermode started a twice-weekly video blog hosted on the BBC website, in which he discussed films and recounts anecdotes. He retired the podcast for its 10th anniversary at the close of 2018, with special episodes on his most and least favourite movies of the previous decade.
Kermode has recorded DVD audio commentaries for Tommy, The Devils, The Ninth Configuration, The Wicker Man and (with Peter O'Toole) Becket. He also appears in the DVD extras of Lost in La Mancha, interviewing Terry Gilliam and Pan's Labyrinth where he interviews Guillermo del Toro about the film, which he has called a masterpiece. Kermode has written books, published by the BFI in its Modern Classics series, on The Exorcist and The Shawshank Redemption and his documentary for Channel 4, Shawshank: The Redeeming Feature, is on the film's 10th anniversary special edition DVD.
Kermode's strong family connections with the Isle of Man has led to him playing an active role in Manx culture and the arts. Part of this has seen him host various talks on the island including; An Evening with Mark Kermode at the Ballakermeen High School. He is also heavily involved with the annual Isle of Man Film Festival.
On 10 November 2019 it was announced that Mark Kermode would be patron of the Sir John Hurt Film Trust. 
Kermode played double bass for a skiffle/rockabilly band called The Railtown Bottlers in the early 1990s. The Railtown Bottlers were also the house band on the BBC show Danny Baker After All for a series, starting in 1993, where he performed with Madness lead singer, Suggs. In 2001 he formed The Dodge Brothers, playing double bass in the skiffle quartet.
Kermode is married to Linda Ruth Williams, a professor who lectures on film at the University of Exeter. From October to November 2004, they jointly curated a History of the Horror Film season and exhibition at the National Film Theatre in London. Kermode and Williams have two children.
Kermode has been described as "a feminist, a near vegetarian (he eats fish), a churchgoer and a straight-arrow spouse who just happens to enjoy seeing people's heads explode across a cinema screen".
In the mid-1980s, Kermode was an "affiliate" of the Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) and was involved in the Viraj Mendis Defence Campaign, against the deportation of one of the group's members to Sri Lanka. This developed into a high-profile national campaign involving people from left-wing groups such as the RCG, local residents of Manchester, and extending to church leaders and Labour Party Members of Parliament. Kermode describes himself in this period as "a red-flag waving bolshie bore with a subscription to Fight Racism Fight Imperialism and no sense of humour."
|2010||Sony Radio Academy Awards||Best Specialist Contributor of the Year||Gold |
|2009||Sony Radio Academy Awards||Speech Award||Gold |
Kermode is a patron of the charitable trust of the Phoenix Cinema in North London, which was his favourite cinema during his childhood in East Finchley. The tenth anniversary episode of Kermode and Mayo's Film Review was broadcast from the venue as part of its relaunch celebrations in 2010.
Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School ... [produced] quite a vintage crop in [Isaacs'] time: fellow pupils included Sacha Baron Cohen, David Baddiel and Matt Lucas. 'I've seen Baddiel a few times', Isaacs says, and he sees the others occasionally at awards ceremonies. ... [N]ot all the Habs stars of the time were Jewish, though, and Isaacs has a lot of time for another alumnus, the BBC's film critic, Mark Kermode: 'He is always incredibly lovely and says hello on his Radio 5 podcasts, which I've listened to in Auschwitz and many other strange places. He's said I was too cool [at school], but he was at the epicentre of the in-crowd.'