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Comp'ere without compare; Comedian Mark Olver tells Dave Owens why he likes to box clever as warm-up man on Deal Or No Deal.

AT 4.15pm each weekday on Channel 4, the opening titles run on one of the UK's most popular TV shows.

As a camera swings past an appreciative crowd, loud applause and a smattering of enthusiastic cheers signal it's time to reveal those boxes for another edition of Deal Or No Deal.

The vociferousness or otherwise of the show's audience is down to one man - Mark Olver.

Bristol-based comedian Os lver is generally thought of as one of the best compres in the country. It's a role that he's carried out with some aplomb since taking his first tentative steps in the stand up arena in the late 90s.

Being such a reliable performer, and a master of the compring craft, has led to a lucrative sideline as a TV warm-up man.

And as Deal Or No Deal's behind camera ringmaster-in-chief he's excelled in his role since the Noel Edmonds-fronted TV phenomena hit our TV screens back in 2005. Olver has been there since the beginning and reveals that for a stand-up comedian it's the perfect gig.

"It takes up a large chunk of the year - we film for 100 days from October to June, two weeks on and one week off usually," he says.

"The best thing is that it's a daytime schedule and rather bizarrely for a stand up comedian I work from 9am to 5pm. Plus they feed me, I get to sit behind the scenes and watch the show being made, and chat with my mates, book my own shows and then I have time to gig in the evening."

It was a case of being in the right place at the right time for the comedian.

Deal Or No Deal is filmed in Bristol and local boy Olver was invited to take the warm-up role on the back of glowing reports from those who had seen him live fronting his own shows staged at pubs in the city.

"They liked what I did, I was local and possibly more importantly I was cheap," he laughs.

Mark's role involves making sure everyone knows how the format of the show and the filming flows and chatting to the audience to put the smiles on their faces before Edmonds weaves his on screen magic. It's not an easy task given the crowd invariably ranges from teenagers to pensioners.

"Yes, the crowd is a mix so you do have to be careful how you pitch it," he explains.

"I've also done warm-up for TV shows like Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet of Crisps, so you can imagine I would approach that in a completely different way.

"There are lots of old ladies in the crowd at Deal, but we also attract a younger crowd of students who love the show. We also get a lot of regulars who are there all the time. They're the interesting ones!" What? They're the disturbed ones I suggest.

"I couldn't possibly say," chirps Mark.

When the comedian talks about Deal Or No Deal he does so warmly using 'we' rather than 'I' when speaking about the show. It's clear he's become part of the family.

"Being a stand up can be a solitary existence," he admits.

"You are usually on your own on the road and don't have much human contact. I play football with the production team during the week, so yes they have become like a family to me.

"To be honest I'm saving to put the deposit down on a mortgage so having the regular income the show brings has been a godsend.

"When we first started doing it we weren't sure how long it was going to last, but here we are five years later and it's still going strong."

Mark Olver plays The Phoenix Comedy Club at O'Neills, Trinity Street, Cardiff, tomorrow. Tickets are pounds 5 on the door. He's also at The Glee Club in Cardiff from April 15-17. Tickets priced pounds 13.50 can be booked on 0871 472 0400.

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Mark Olver and below left, Deal Or No Deal host Noel Edmonds
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 10, 2010
Words:680
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