Alumni: Comedy, clowns and pantomime

Patsy Byrne (Nursie in Blackadder)

Patsy Byrne as Nursie in Blackadder

An English actress, best known for her role as "Nursie" in Blackadder II as well as Malcolm's domineering mother in the ITV comedy series Watching (see Emma Wray, below).
Patsy sadly passed away in 2014  Tributes to Patsy 

Russell Deathridge 
Played the pool-attendant Tim in the comedy The Brittas empire (1991-97).
"with its surprisingly dark humour, tremendously flawed characters and chaotic set pieces, there's no reason why it shouldn't still be held up as one of the decade's great comedies"


A full cast re-union took place on 28th January 2020: Reunion

Cast of The Brittas empire
Russell (as Tim Whistler) is character in centre, back row.

Jo Eaton-Kent and Claire Rushbrook 
Don't Forget the Driver is a 2019 BBC Two comedy series, co-created and co-written by Tim Crouch and Toby Jones. Jo plays Bradley and Claire plays Fran.
BBC iPlayer - Dont Forget the Driver - Series 1: Episode 6 (available for 7 months)

Elaine Glover (Whoops!)

Serial killers are no laughing matter. In the case of Whoops!, you can make an exception.
Elaine plays accidental serial killer Rose Clements. From clipboards to a high-heeled shoe to the face, Rose’s murders manage to be daft and gory in equal measure, accompanied by an increasingly bewildered stare from Elaine Glover. 
Watch on Vimeo on Demand
Behind the scenes: meet Rose Clements.


Beth Goddard 
Known for playing Suze Littlewood in the BBC sitcom Gimme, Gimme, Gimme which ran from 1999 to 2001. It starred Kathy Burke (as Linda La Hughes)  and James Dreyfus (Tom Farrell, a looking-for-work actor), with Beth Goddard and Brian Bovell as their middle-class, horny married couple neighbours.

Kerry Godliman - Live at the Apollo
The charmingly straight-talking, quick-witted Kerry Godliman is one of the country’s best performers.  Both an incredibly talented comedian and a phenomenal actor, Kerry is best known for her appearances on Mock the WeekLive at the ApolloMichael McIntyre's Big Show, Taskmaster, Hypothetical, Ultimate worrierThe Jonathan Ross Show and  8 out of 10 Cats. Also a regular on BBC Radio 4, Kerry has appearances on the esteemed News Quiz, The now show and Just a minute as well as her own series Kerry’s List and starring in the hit series The Wilson save the world alongside Marcus Brigstocke.  Kerry will also make her Royal Variety Performance debut this December.

 

Nerys Hughes (Kerfoot-Hughes)

Nerys Hughes and Polly James in The Liver birds

Best known for the role of Sandra Hutchinson in the enormously successful BBC TV series The Liver Birds which ran from 1969 to 1978 with a brief revival in 1996. Her main co-stars were Mollie Sugden and Polly James.

Shazia Mirza  
About a year into her comedy career, after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Mirza performed a routine which began "My name is Shazia Mirza. At least, that's what it says on my pilot's licence". The routine was widely commented upon, and she was profiled as a ground breaking comedian on CBS's 60 Minutes and interviewed by Ed Bradley. She is best known for her stand up comedy The Kardashians Made Me Do It, a satire on Isis.

An interview on France 24 discussing her comedy routine. Interview

Donna Preston (Fully Blown)
Donna’s bold sense of humour and extraordinary personality saw her shortlisted for the Funny Women Awards 2020. In 2019, Donna won the hearts of the nation when she took a lead role in Michael McIntyre’s Big Show executing hilarious pranks with flawless improvisation skills. Donna wrote and co-produced Fully Blown for BBC Three’s Comedy Threesomes which was nominated for a Broadcast Digital Award 2020 and is currently being developed as a series pilot with the BBC. It is a sitcom about two best mates who want to become famous music stars.

Donna Preston and Verona Rose
Two best mates Vanessa (Donna Preston) and Demi (Verona Rose) rise above their boring, sometimes painful lives by creating superstar rap personas - Starz and Gap C. These Southampton girls know you’ve gotta fake it ‘til you make it - and then fake it some more. But will their success ever catch up with their ambition?

Sheila Reid 
Known for playing Madge Harvey in the ITV sitcom Benidorm (2007–2016).
Article On actress Sheila Reid


 

Vikki Stone
In August 2011 she performed her Edinburgh debut show Big Neon Letters, and received highly favourable reviews. She has appeared as a comedian on numerous  TV programmes, and narrated the second series of Impractical Jokers UK for BBC Three in 2014. She appeared in BBC2's The Hilary Devey Story, performing as Hilary and plays the character Miss Dotty in the CBBC show Titch & Ted
Singing about her name: Live at the Edinburgh Festival, 2019
Singing The Brian Cox song - stay with it and wait for the surprise at the end!
Musical comedy: singing The drinks cabinet
 

Emma Wray (with Patsy Byrne)
Watching was a British Television sitcom produced for Granada which aired between 1987 and 1993 telling the bittersweet story of a mismatched couple Brenda Wilson (Emma Wray) and Malcolm Stoneway (Paul Brown). Patsy Byrne also featured in the series as Marjorie Stoneway (Paul's mother).

Sarah White 
Her exhilarating performances as mad-cap Bev in Brookside prompted viewers to vote her Best Comedy Actress, and won her the British Soap Award for best comedy actress (2001).

Rob Falconer & David Hearn (Mischief Theatre)
Mischief Theatre, also fictitiously known as The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, is a British theatre company specialising in comedy. They have produced the 'Goes Wrong Shows'. Members include Dave Hearn and Rob Falconer. The play that goes wrong won Best New Comedy at the 2015 Laurence Olivier Awards and Best New Comedy at the  WhatsOnStage.com Awards in 2014.
[Incidentally The play that goes wrong won the Drama Desk Award, the Tony Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award for scenic design for Nigel Hook].

At the Royal Variety Performance, 2015:

Chris Harris 
Pantomime (chrisharrisproductions.co.uk)

Chris Harris as a pantomime dame
"Chris Harris is the funniest dame I ever saw"
With his wide range of skills and background studies on this unique form of British theatre, Chris Harris has become an authority on the subject. As a performer, director and workshop leader, his knowledge of 'how to do it' is in great demand. He has worked in both commercial theatre in pantomimes with Bernie Cribbins, Adam Woodyat, Anita Harris, Eric Sykes, Andrew Sachs, Janet Dibley, Leslie Crowther, Anne Charleston, Ruth Madoc, Sid Owen, Richard McCourt and also in regional theatre where the show is more story based. He co-wrote nine pantomimes for the Bristol Old Vic and the short book Chris Harris' alphabet of pantomime.

Janet Dibley

1996 pantomime handbills  1991 pantomime handbills

As well as appearing in pantomime, Janet starred alongside Nicholas Lyndhurst in the sitcom The two of us, as Ashley and Elaine, an unmarried couple living together, at a time when this was becoming increasingly common in Britain, but still considered slightly controversial in some circles.

Head shot of Jeremy Stroughair Jeremy Stroughair 
His first professional job was at Nottingham's Roundabout Theatre Company playing the Wolf in Hood in the wood an adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood. More recently for Roundabout he was the bully in Roger Watkins' Bully for you and the Cheshire Cat in Alice. He has many previous pantomime credits at Nottingham Playhouse and for Pocket Panto.

Jeremy Stroughair and a couple of pantomime cast members
Pocket Panto's Darren Johnson, Jeremy Stroughair (far left) and Rebecca Little, who all met performing in pantomime at the Nottingham Playhouse around seven years ago, spent a week in Cheshire for their fourth annual pantomime workshop, which culminated in a performance of Dick Whittington, devised by the twenty seven- to sixteen-year-olds with whom they worked. Pantomime has a strong oral tradition and it is great to hear that the pantomime practitioners of today are inspiring and educating those of tomorrow.

Ian Marr
A celebrated pantomime dame at the Corn Exchange, King's Lynn.
2017 - Jack and the Beanstalk King's Lynn Corn Exchange
2018 - Sleeping Beauty Christmas panto 
2019 - Lights, love and laughter brings a Twist to Aladdin
2021 - Stage is set for popular panto 

 Cast of pantomime, includign Ian Marr Beauty and the beast poster featuring Ian Marr as pantomime dame

 

Mr Blobby Barry Killerby
A classically trained Shakespearean actor, graduating from Rose Bruford in 1983. Between 1992 and 1999 he served as the bulbous pink figure covered with yellow spots known as Mr Blobby. His popularity in the nineties saw him achieve a self-titled Christmas number one - beating Take That and Meatloaf to top spot in 1993. 

Madcap Coalition logo

Rankine MacFarlane  
Arrived from New Zealand in 1976, ended up in Deptford in 1979 and graduated from Rose Bruford in 1985. He helped form Madcap Coalition and created his clown character Dr Burnheart Gloss and since then has worked in all aspects of theatre from street theatre here and abroad, plays and cabaret to workshops and set construction. He toured his one man show to critical acclaim in Edinburgh, London, Poland and New Zealand. Over the last twenty years he has taken part in the changing fortunes of every Deptford Festival and community history play in Deptford.

Head shot of Sean Kempton Sean Kempton 
An international performer, director and teacher who specializes in contemporary clown, circus and ensemble based theatre. He has had a hugely successful circus career being a long time clown for Cirque du Soleil (Varekai, Kooza, Quidam), creating work for Franco Dragone's Le reve in Las Vegas and throwing himself around at great heights at the Millennium Dome.

 Sean Kempton Sean Kempton in Quidam

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