Jesse Armstrong
SuccessionBFI280523 (18 of 20) (52935333250) (cropped).jpg
Jesse David Armstrong

(1970-12-13) 13 December 1970 (age 52)
EducationUniversity of Manchester
Occupation(s)Screenwriter, producer
Years active2000–present

Jesse David Armstrong (born 13 December 1970[1]) is a British screenwriter and producer. He is a co-creator of the Channel 4 comedy series Peep Show (2003–2015) and Fresh Meat (2011–2016), and the creator of the HBO satirical drama series Succession (2018–2023).

Armstrong has received many nominations and awards, including a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for co-writing the film In the Loop (2009), and three wins for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for writing the season finales of the first, second and third seasons of Succession.

Early life

Armstrong was born in Oswestry in Shropshire, England.[2] His father was a further education teacher who became a crime novelist in the 1990s, while his mother worked in nursery schools. He attended a comprehensive school in Oswestry before studying American Studies at the University of Manchester, spending a year abroad in Massachusetts.[3] In 1995, he began to work as a researcher for the Labour MP Doug Henderson, initially without payment.[4] At the same time, he acted as a consultant on politics for Rory Bremner's production company. He subsequently worked as a painter and decorator.[5]


Collaborations with Sam Bain

Armstrong met his writing partner Sam Bain while at the University of Manchester,[6] living with him in his final year. They began writing together after they graduated, when they had both moved to London.[5]

At the beginning of their writing career, Armstrong and Bain wrote for the Channel 4 sketch show Smack the Pony and the children's shows The Queen's Nose and My Parents Are Aliens.[7] They went on to create and write Peep Show, BBC One sitcom The Old Guys, and Channel 4 comedy dramas Fresh Meat and Babylon. They also wrote for the BBC Radio 4 sketch show That Mitchell and Webb Sound, starring Peep Show's two main actors David Mitchell and Robert Webb, and its BBC Two adaptation That Mitchell and Webb Look. Peep Show has won several writing awards,[8] including a BAFTA for Best Situation Comedy in 2008.[9]

To date, Armstrong and Bain have written two films together – the 2007 comedy Magicians, and, alongside Chris Morris, the 2010 terrorism satire Four Lions.

Armstrong and Bain received the Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award at the British Comedy Awards 2010. In 2012 both Armstrong and Bain were featured on the TV industry journal Broadcast's 'Hot 100' list, highlighting the most successful people in UK television.[10]

In 2012, Armstrong and Bain wrote the Channel 4 comedy pilot Bad Sugar, a spoof of Dynasty-style soap operas, which stars Olivia Colman, Julia Davis and Sharon Horgan, all of whom also co-conceived the show.[11]

In 2014 Armstrong, with Danny Boyle, Robert Jones and Sam Bain, co-created the Channel 4 comedy drama Babylon. Armstrong wrote the first and last of the six initial episodes and co-wrote the pilot with Sam Bain.

Other writing

Alongside Armando Iannucci, Simon Blackwell and Tony Roche, Armstrong wrote for the first three series[12] of the BAFTA-winning BBC Four comedy The Thick of It, and its 2009 film spin-off In the Loop. In The Loop was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2009, and won Best British Screenplay at the 2009 Evening Standard British Film Awards. Alongside The Thick of It's writing team, Armstrong wrote one episode of the first season of HBO comedy series Veep, set in the office of the American vice-president.

In the run-up to the 2010 UK general election, Armstrong wrote a column in The Guardian – 'Malcolm Tucker's election briefing – as dictated to Jesse Armstrong'.[13] He previously wrote a similar column for New Statesman, entitled 'Tactical Briefing'.[14]

In 2010, Armstrong's currently-unproduced screenplay Murdoch, a drama in which Rupert Murdoch and his family disagree over who should have control of his company, received attention after it appeared on The Black List, a list of unproduced screenplays most liked by Hollywood industry figures.[15] In the wake of the 2011 phone hacking scandal involving newspapers owned by Murdoch it was rumoured[16][17] that the script was being developed by Channel 4, but Armstrong dismissed these claims.[18]

In 2010 it was reported that Armstrong was developing a biopic of the Republican Party strategist Lee Atwater, with Chris Henchy and Adam McKay.[19][20]

In October 2011 it was reported that Armstrong's film adaptation of Richard DiLello's book The Longest Cocktail Party, charting the founding of The Beatles' record company Apple Records and the recording of their final album Let It Be,[21] was to be directed by Michael Winterbottom.[22] In February 2016 it was reported that Winterbottom had withdrawn from the project and the film's future was uncertain.[citation needed]

Armstrong wrote one episode of Charlie Brooker's anthology series Black Mirror, entitled "The Entire History of You". Robert Downey Jr. has since bought the rights to adapt the script for a forthcoming film.[23]

Armstrong's first novel, Love, Sex and Other Foreign Policy Goals, was released in April 2015.[24]

In 2017, Armstrong's American drama series Succession executive produced by Adam McKay and Will Ferrell was picked up to series by HBO.[25]

Personal life

Armstrong is married and has two children. His wife works for the National Health Service.[5]



Year Title Director Writer Notes
2007 Magicians Yes Also associate producer
2009 In the Loop Yes
2010 Four Lions Yes
2013 No Kaddish in Carmarthen Yes Yes Short film
2019 The Day Shall Come Yes
2020 Downhill Yes
TBA Jonty Yes


Year Title Writer Executive
Creator Notes
2000 My Parents Are Aliens Yes Episode: "El Presidente"
2000–2001 Smack the Pony Yes Additional material
2001 2DTV Yes
2001–2002 TV to Go Yes
2001–2003 The Queen's Nose Yes 6 episodes
2002 Seriously Weird Yes
Ed Stone Is Dead Yes
2003 The Story of Tracy Beaker Yes 2 episodes
Bedsitcom Yes
2003–2015 Peep Show Yes Yes Yes
2005–2009 The Thick of It Yes 15 episodes
2006 The Secret Policeman's Ball Yes TV special
2006–2009 That Mitchell and Webb Look Yes 6 episodes
2007 Dogface Yes 5 episodes
2009–2010 The Old Guys Yes Yes Yes
2011 Black Mirror Yes Episode "The Entire History of You"
2011–2016 Fresh Meat Yes Yes Yes
2012 Veep Yes Episode "Tears"
Bad Sugar Yes TV pilot
2014 Babylon Yes Yes Yes
2018–2023 Succession Yes Yes Yes

Other credits

Year Title Role Notes
2015 Christmas University Challenge Contestant 2 episodes[26]
2017 Back Story consultant




  1. ^ "Jesse David Armstrong – Personal Appointments". Companies House. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Where you're smiling". The Guardian. 19 November 2005. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  3. ^ "Sex, slugs and showers that caught fire: Fresh Meat's writers relive their toga-party student days". The Guardian. 22 February 2016. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  4. ^ "The Commons touch". The Guardian. 19 May 2005. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  5. ^ a b c "Jesse Armstrong on power, politics and the return of Succession". New Statesman. 29 September 2021. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  6. ^ "Interview: Fresh Meat writers Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong". The Sunday Telegraph. 21 September 2011. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  7. ^ "The secret of good comedy writing". The Independent. 6 November 2006. Archived from the original on 8 June 2022. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  8. ^ Peep Show (British TV series)#Awards and honours
  9. ^ "Television Awards 2008". 26 April 2008. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  10. ^ "Benedict Cumberbatch, Reggie Yates make 'Broadcast' Hot 100 list". Digital Spy. 5 July 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  11. ^ "Channel 4 commissions Bad Sugar by Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong". 1 December 2011. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  12. ^ "The Thick of It returns to BBC Two for new series". BBC Media Centre. 12 July 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012. Armstrong is not listed among the writers for the fourth series.
  13. ^ "Malcolm Tucker's election briefing". The Guardian. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  14. ^ "Articles by Jesse Armstrong". New Statesman. 18 December 2008. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  15. ^ "Hollywood's 'Black List' of best unproduced scripts". The Guardian. 14 December 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  16. ^ "Channel 4 lines up drama about Murdoch family crisis". The Guardian. 7 July 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  17. ^ "Rupert Murdoch drama planned by Channel 4". Digital Spy. 7 July 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  18. ^ "Peep Show creator denies Channel 4 Rupert Murdoch drama". Digital Spy. 9 July 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  19. ^ "Interview – Adam McKay". The A.V. Club. 5 August 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  20. ^ "Mr. Beaks Talks THE OTHER GUYS, ANCHORMAN 2 And Little River Band With Adam McKay". Ain't It Cool News. 5 August 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  21. ^ "Michael Winterbottom Planning To Direct Beatles Movie 'The Longest Cocktail Party'". indieWIRE. 12 October 2011. Archived from the original on 15 December 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  22. ^ "Michael Winterbottom to direct Beatles film". BBC News Online. 14 October 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  23. ^ "Robert Downey Jr to make movie based on Charlie Brooker's 'Black Mirror'". Digital Spy. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  24. ^ "Love, Sex and Other Foreign Policy Goals". 2 April 2015. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  25. ^ Holloway, Daniel (8 February 2017). "Will Ferrell-Adam McKay Political Drama 'Succession' Ordered by HBO". Variety. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  26. ^ "University Challenge, Christmas 2015: 3. Manchester v UEA". BBC iPlayer. Retrieved 28 December 2015.