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In May 2011, by chance, I read a tweet posted by the actor & comedian Eddie Izzard who wrote that he was seeing a show at Nottingham's Theatre Royal that evening. I went there and met him as the audience were leaving, and he signed a DVD cover for me. We went out into the street so that I could have a photograph taken with him.
Edward John Izzard was born in Aden, Yemen in 1962. His English parents both worked for BP (British Petroleum) at the refinery there. His father, John, was as an accountant and his mother, Ella, a nurse and midwife at the refinery hospital. Eddie has an older brother Mark.
In 1963, the family moved to Northern Ireland for four years before another move to Skewen in South Wales. Sadly, when Ed
when Eddie was six, his mother died of cancer.
Eddie then went to boarding schools in Eastbourne, firstly St Bede's preparatory school, and then to Eastbourne College. It was here that he decided he wanted to become an actor, and auditioned for roles in several school plays before he played the jailer in Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors when he was fifteen.
Eddie aged about two, with his mother
St Bede's Prep school, Eastbourne
Eddie (left) with his father & brother
Eddie left Eastbourne for Sheffield University in 1980 to study as an accountant. He, and a friend, Rob Ballard, began to experiment with comedy, staging shows at the University, before abandoning their courses and leaving for London. They became street performers around Covent Garden, riding unicycles and escaping from chains.
Eddie Izzard's street performances in Covent Garden
In 1981 they took their first comedy-sketch show to the Edinburgh Fringe, and appeared there again several times during the 1980s. Eddie was keen
to pursue a solo career but, struggling to find a way to turn professional, he drifted for a couple of years. During this time, he came out as a straight transvestite. In a later article in The New Yorker in 1998 he said, "I'm a male transvestite, and I fancy women. I don't know why. I'm open for fancying men, but I can't get my head around that." Eddie
Eddie Izzard, the straight transvestite in
Dress to Kill
By 1988, Eddie was performing as a stand-up comedian, and gaining recognitio
Eddie had known that he was different from a very young age, and remembers liking to wear a dress when he was fouryea
four. At 15 he was caught stealing make-up, but lied saying it was for a girlfriend in France.
Eddie Izzard in 1988
Eddie Izzard performs at the Raging Bull
With ten years experience in sketch comedy, street performing and stand-up skills,
recognition at some of the London clubs including The Comedy Store, and his own club Raging Bull in Soho. With
skills, he eventually found himself appearing at some of the larger
Eddie Izzard in 1991
larger theatres around London. In 1993, he was in London's West End with his sell-out one-man show Eddie Izzard: Live at theAmba
the Ambassadors, later nominated for an Oliv
Olivier Award. He was back at the West End's Albert Theatre in 1994 with his second sell-out one-man show, Eddie Izzard: Unrepeatable.
Live at the Ambassadors
only released on video
Eddie continued to be one of Britain's most popular stand-up comedians during the 90s, with his one-man shows Eddie Izzard: Definite Article (1996); Eddie Izzard: Glorious (1997) and Eddie Izzard: Dress to Kill (1998).
In 1999 he also took America by storm when Eddie Izzard: Dress to Kill was released there. It was broadcast on the cable TV network Home Box Office (HBO), and went onto
Eddie Izzard: Dress to Kill
on to earn him two Emmy Awards. Eddie Izzard's book Dress to Kill (published in 1998) is a series of conversations
conversations with David Quantick. It provides a mixture of opinion and autobiography, with photo
photographs by Steve Double.
He later took two more stand-up specials Eddie Izzard: Circle (2002) and Eddie Izzard: Sexie (2003) on tour to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Ireland. He also performed in Paris, doing his shows
In the theatre, Eddie Izzard's West End debut was at the Ambassadors Theatre in David Mamet's
shows in French, which he speaks fluently. Later stand-up comedy shows featured on dvd are Eddie Izzard: Stripped (2008) and Eddie Izzard: Live from Wembley (2009).
Eddie Izzard in Sexie
Mamet's play The Cryptogram (1994). Other parts in Beaird's 900 Oneonta (1994) and Marlowe's Edward II (1995) established Izzard as a serious stage actor.
Eddie Izzard in
Eddie Izzard as Lenny Bruce
Eddie Izzard & Victoria Hamilton in
A Day in the Death of Joe Egg
A later stage role was that of Lenny Bruce in Julian Barry's adult play Lenny
Lenny (1999), directed by Sir Peter Hall at the Queen's
Queen's Theatre in the West End. Playing this outrageous American comedian required Izzard to appear fully naked on stage. Bri in Peter Nichols' A Day in the Death of Joe Egg atthe
Eddie Izzard as Tony in
As Mr Kite in Across the Universe
Eddie Izzard and Uma Thurman in
Eddie Izzard and Susan Sarandon in
With Geoffrey Rush in Mystery Men
As General Erich Fellgiebel in Valkyrie
in The Day of the Triffids
Izzard as Vladimir in The Secret Agent
at the Comedy Theatre in 2001 and on Broadway in 2003 was another stage success for Izzard and his co-star Victoria Hamilton. A TV movie version, produced by the BBC with the same cast, was broadcast in 2002.
Other roles include Tony Pompadour the evil disco king
With Kirsten Dunst in The Cat's Meow
Eddie Izzard has appeared in many films since his big-screen debut in The Secret Agent (1996). He has layed
All the Queen's Men
portrayed real-life individuals - actor Gustav von Wangenheim in Shadow of the Vampire (2000); Charlie Chaplin in The Cat's Meow (2001) and General Erich Fellgiebel in Valkyrie (2008).
Eddie izzard as Prosit in Blueberry
king in the comedy Mystery Men (1999); Lussurioso inRevengers
in Revengers Tragedy (2002), criminal expert Roman Nagel in Ocean's Twelve (2004) and Tiny in Rage (2009). He has appeared opposite Susan Sarandon in the romantic musical Romance and Cigarettes (2005) and Uma Thurman in the My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006).
Romance and Cigarettes
My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Eddie Izzard as Roman Nagel in
On TV, Eddie has played Ralph Outen in the series 40 (2003); Wayne Molloy in 20 episodes of the series The Riches (2007-08); and Dr Hattarras in 12 episodes of United
United States of Tara (2011). Torrence
He was particularly effective as Torrence, the megalomaniacal leader
Eddie Izzard in United States of Tara
With Minnie Driver in The Riches
leader of the sinister street army in the BBC's latest version of John Wyndham's Day of the Triffids (2009). This production won a BAFTA for its visual effects, but also drew much criticism for its adaptation, which many thought bore little resemblance to the original novel.
Eddie Izzard has signed my dvd cover for The Day of the Triffids
Outside of acting and entertainment, Eddie Izzard has a strong interest in politics.
Eddie Izzard as Torrence
politics. He is pro-European and a supporter of the single currency. He is an active supporter of the Labour party, donating large sums of money to their election campaigns and appearing in their party political broadcasts. In 2011 he supported the 'yes' vote for a change to the voting system for electing MPs.
Eddie Izzard as Tiny Diamonds in Rage
July 2009, saw Eddie Izzard unexpectedly take on the challenge of running 43 marathons in 51 days - one every
Eddie Izzard on the road during
Speaking at the Labour Conference
every day (except Sundays) for seven weeks to raise money for Sport Relief. With no history of running, and just five weeks training, he ran from London to Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh and back to London (finishing in Downing Street) - a distance of more than 1,100 miles.
one of his marathons in England
The marathons finished in Downing Street
Eddie at Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh
Eddie Izzard keeps his private
private life very private although, for a while, he dated actress and musician Sarah Townsend whom he met at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1989, and who composes the music for his shows. itwas
The Sunday Times has called Eddie "the greatest British stand-up comedian of his generation.
It was she who wrote & directed the Emmy-nominated documentary film Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story, which was released in 2009 and mixes interviews, home movies and performance footage from Eddie's shows.
Eddie Izzard has an honorary degree
Eddie Izzard, who is dyslexic, received an honorary degree from the University of Sheffield in 2006, 25 years after originally attending there.
from Sheffield University