Louis Theroux

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L1

If this look is directed towards you, you are probably an American

“Um... okay then”
~ Louis Theroux on America
“His skin... so smooth... so... young”
~ Jimmy Savile on Louis Theroux's appearance in 2000

Louis Sebastian Theroux (born 20 May 1970) is an English presenter best known for his film reviews for the Grapevine magazine, written when he attended Magdalen College, Oxford. His career started off in journalism and ended up right down the back of the garden, behind the roses. No one thought to look for it there and it took all day to find.

Early life and beginnings of career

Little louis

Theroux (right, pictured holding a list of probing questions for Jimmy Carr, also pictured) has been capable of interviewing people from a young age. Note Carr's expression, which reflects his feelings towards the impudence of said questions

Therouxinclass

Above: Theroux (right) studying modern history at Magdalen College, Oxford. His history professor (top) often checked his students for lice during class

Theroux is a French-Canadian/Italian/British hybrid born in Singapore and raised in the UK. Despite this, he is still better adjusted than most of the Americans he comes across in his documentaries.

Theroux was educated for a couple of years at Allfarthing Primary School then moved to Westminster School and travelled to America after graduating. Five minutes after arrival, he renounced his previous desire to become a drainpipe cleaner in favour of becoming a documentary filmmaker.

Documentaries

Louis Theroux’s Weekends that Gravitate Towards the Strange and/or Unusual

In Louis Theroux’s Weekends that Gravitate Towards the Strange and/or Unusual (1998-2000), Theroux followed Americans around for two days while they acted strangely. Theroux memorably selected random Americans to follow around. On this, Theroux is quoted as saying “Given that they were Americans, they were bound to do weird shit eventually”

Despite much call for a complete DVD set of the series, only selected episodes have ever been available for purchase, due to the BBC’s insistence that VHS is the superior format.


Episodes include:

  • “Porn”- This episode offers insight into the porn industry at the time. Or, at least it would, rather, if Theroux’s timidness didn’t completely consume him during filming.
  • “Hypnosis”- Theroux meets a Las Vegas hypnotist who claims he can make dreams come true, even for people who are in different countries to him. Unconvinced, Theroux asks him to demonstrate this ability. The interview is interrupted when Theroux receives a call from the BBC informing him that they have caved in to Jimmy Savile’s unrelenting requests to be interviewed by him.
Louisandjimmy

Yeah... that's nice

When Louis Met...

In When Louis Met... (2000-02), Theroux accompanied a different British celebrity in each programme as they went about their day-to-day business, interviewing them about their lives and experiences as he did so. Despite following the successful formula of Weekends, it quickly became obvious that the programme was not nearly as interesting. This was because the people he was following, for whatever reason, did not do the “weird shit” Weekends was famous for. Except for Jimmy Savile.

Episodes include:

  • “When Louis Met... Jimmy”- Louis stays with the then 73-year-old Jimmy Savile (pictured), and earnestly attempts in vain to hide his rather boyish looks. Particularly famous for Theroux declaring "I'm Theroux with this" when Savile offered to show him the inside of his van, ending filming.
  • “When Louis Met... Chris Eubank”- Louis joins the ex-boxer on a trip to buy jodphurs. Eubank attempts a tongue-twister. This is the only recorded instance of a person being objectively more boring than Theroux in his company.
Americancitizens

Louis Theroux would like to speak with these people

BBC Two specials

In these special programmes, beginning in 2003, Theroux filmed primarily in the United States, and again applied the formula of accompanying people in the hope that their behaviour would be unusual. This had not always worked for Theroux in the past, and it is not clear what the key variable is between Theroux documentaries where the formula works and where it doesn’t. Fortunately, it was immediately very clear that it was successful in these programmes.

Episodes include:

  • “Louis and the Brothel”- Wishing to capitalise on Theroux’s trademark timidness in uncomfortable situations, the BBC decided to force Louis to make a documentary on the everyday activities of an American brothel. Hilarity ensued.
  • “Under the Knife”- In California, where you can be whatever and whomever you want at the flick of knife and a few thousand dollars, Louis attempts to get UNDER THE SKIN of extreme plastic surgery. Sorry.
  • “A Place for Paedophiles”- As per the traditions of those employed by the BBC, Louis actively tries to cover up Jimmy Savile’s more questionable activites, before “certain allegations” (in Theroux’s words) come to light. Specifically, he travels to America in search of a local jurisdiction that will have no qualms about harbouring Savile for cash. Theroux’s search was unsuccessful. Fortunately for the BBC, however, it is has become no longer necessary to fund such searches due to Savile’s death, and the "allegations" have been conveniently and effectively swept under the rug; thus they will never surface in the media. The BBC can sure sleep easy now.
  • “Twilight of the Porn Stars”- Fifteen years after attempting to document the world of pornographic actors in Los Angeles, Theroux returns an older, more mature person, probably able to at least ask a few people that are in some way involved in the porn industry a few questions before assuming the foetal position. Unfortunately, Theroux was again unable to provide an insight into the industry. It should be noted, however, that this was not due to Theroux’s disposition, but rather because of the fact that the porn industry effectively no longer exists due to the deluge of free porn online.
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