Born in 1979, Simon Amstell is a British comedian best known for his work on the BBC.
His big break came with the Channel 4 show Popworld. Amstell became famous for his left-field, ironic and surreal brand of comedy – something which did not sit well with some of the guests on that particular programme.
Never Mind the Buzzcocks was the perfect vehicle for his brand of humour, however. He appeared on the comedy music quiz as both a guest and a guest host prior to his appointment as permanent host in 2006. He left the show in 2009. He was also the co-writer and star of the BBC2 sitcom Grandma’s House, which ran for two series.
He has also performed stand-up to great acclaim, having appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on a number of occasions. He has performed to sell-out crowds during his tours of both the UK and abroad.
Vegans know Amstell best for his 2017 BBC film Carnage. The i-Player satire was set in the year 2067 when the whole of the UK is vegan. The older generations suffer pangs of guilt over their meat-eating past and reminisce about how the country came to embrace veganism. Young people cannot believe that people ever ate meat as the story documents the rise of veganism and how the world is a more joyful place because of it.
Labelled by some as a “mockumentary”, Carnage caused a huge stir on social media prior to its release, with many vegans showering it with praise once they had seen it. The pre-show publicity labelled it the “world’s first pro-vegan comedy”. Amstell simply said:
I have written and directed a film about veganism. I’m sorry.
Amstell narrates the film, which also features Jme as himself, Joanna Lumley as herself and further appearances from the likes of Lorraine Kelly and Venessa Feltz. The positive reaction to such an intelligent and genuinely funny production immediately cemented Amstell in the hearts of the UK’s vegan community.
He told the Vice website his reasons for making Carnage:
I watched a film called Earthlings years ago and it helped to upset me into veganism, so I thought what I could do was direct a film that was funny about the same subject so that people could watch it and feel wildly entertained as well as feeling mildly upset.
Earthlings has, of course, been credited with turning many people vegan and like Carnage it was free to view online – taking the message to many more people.