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Richard Ellef Ayoade (pronounced eye-oh-ah-day) was born 1977 in Whipps Cross, London and is an English comedian, actor, writer and director best known for his role as Maurice Moss in The IT Crowd.
Ayoade was born an only child to a Norwegian mother and a Nigerian father. Ayoade studied at St. Joseph's College in Ipswich, Suffolk and later studied law at St Catharine's College, Cambridge (1995-1998) where he won the Martin Steele Prize for play production and became president of the prestigious Footlights during 1997 -1998.
While in Footlights, Ayoade acted in and wrote many shows. He and Footlights vice-president John Oliver wrote two pantomimes together: Sleeping Beauty, and Grimm Fairy Tales. Ayoade acted in both Footlights' 1997 and 1998 touring shows: Emotional Baggage and Between a Rock and a Hard Place (directed by Cal McCrystal).
On 8 September 2007 he married the actress Lydia Fox, who is the daughter of James Fox, and the sister of Laurence Fox.
Ayoade co-wrote the stage show Garth Marenghi's Fright Knight with Matthew Holness, appearing in the show at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2000 where it was nominated for a Perrier Award. In 2001 he won the Perrier Comedy Award for co-writing and performing in the sequel to Fright Knight, Garth Marenghi's Netherhead.
In 2004 Ayoade and Holness took the Marenghi character to Channel 4, creating the spoof horror comedy series Garth Marenghi's Darkplace. He directed and also appeared as Dean Learner, Garth's publisher, who plays Thornton Reed, a camp hospital administrator who bears a trademark shotgun and answers to Hospital boss "Won Ton".
Ayoade's Darkplace character, Dean Learner, was resurrected in 2006 to host a comedy chat show, Man to Man with Dean Learner, on Channel 4. The different guests were played each week by Holness.
In The Boosh radio series Richard played the part of Tommy Nookah in the second episode, Jungle, originally aired on 23 October 2001. Ayoade was part of the original cast of Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding's The Mighty Boosh: he was selected to play the role of dangerous villain Dixon Bainbridge. However, by the time the radio series transferred to television he was under contract by Channel 4 and was only able to act in the pilot before leaving the Boosh. The part was taken by fellow Darkplace actor and eventual "IT Crowd" costar Matt Berry. He later returned in the second series, to play the part of the belligerent shaman Saboo, where he improvised the line 'an erotic adventurer of the most deranged kind' when describing Noel Fielding's nephew, who was also in the scene. Ayoade continued his association with The Mighty Boosh in the third series, acting as script editor and also reprising his role of Saboo in the episodes "Eels", "The Strange Tale of the Crack Fox" and "Party".
Ayoade is now a recognisable face in Britain due to his role as the technically brilliant but socially awkward Maurice Moss in Channel 4's The IT Crowd. In 2008 he won the award for an outstanding actor in a television comedy series at Monte-Carlo Television Festival for his performance. Ayoade was also going to reprise his character on the American version of The IT Crowd and shot a pilot episode but the series wasn't picked up.
Ayoade has directed videos for the Arctic Monkeys ("Fluorescent Adolescent" and "Crying Lightning"), Super Furry Animals ("Run Away", which has Matt Berry in the lead role, The Last Shadow Puppets ("Standing Next to Me" and "My Mistakes Were Made For You"), Vampire Weekend ("Oxford Comma" and "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"), as well as videos for Kasabian ("Vlad the Impaler", which starred Noel Fielding), and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs ("Heads Will Roll").
In 2007 he directed the a live Arctic Monkeys DVD entitled At the Apollo, which was recorded in Manchester. It was previewed at Vue cinemas across the UK during October 2008 and was released on DVD the following month, winning the "Best DVD" title at the NME Awards that year.
In 2005, he played the role of Ned Smanks in Chris Morris' and Charlie Brooker's Nathan Barley.
Ayoade also directed, co-wrote and co-starred (with fellow Darkplace cast member Matt Berry) in AD/BC: A Rock Opera, and has appeared on T4.
He was a stand-up comedian for a short time performing on The Stand Up Show on BBC1 amongst others. His stand-up segment from BBC Radio 4 programme 4 At The Store in London's Comedy Store is now available on CD along with other comedians performing. He was quite successful in stand-up before moving onto comedy acting.
He helped write The Mighty Book of Boosh, along with Noel Fielding, Julian Barratt, Rich Fulcher, Dave Brown and Michael Fielding.
Ayoade is currently working on a film adaptation of Joe Dunthorne's book Submarine, for which he wrote the screenplay. Ayoade will also direct this film and start filming in October 2009. The cast currently includes Michael Sheen and Paddy Considine.
He also features in Paul King's upcoming film, Bunny and the Bull, where he plays the role of an extremely boring museum tour guide.