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Alison Steadman was born in Liverpool in 1946, the youngest of George & Marjorie Steadman's three daughters. From an early age Ali
she enjoyed mimicking others and, after appearing in a school play when she was nine, heard her drama teacher tell her mother, "She's very good, she could be an actress."
George & Marjorie Steadman
Alison aged nine
Later, at Liverpool's Childwall Valley School, she closely observed comedians like Beryl Reid and Hylda Baker on TV, and practiced her talent at every opportunity. After leaving school, she became a clerical assistant for the Probation Service, attending Liverpool Youth Theatre whenever she could.
Aged 20, she auditioned for the East-15 Acting School, in Essex, winning a place with her improvised impersonation of Cassius Clay! There, she met Mike Leigh, a young director who was doing improvisation work with the students. During her final year at East-15, she made her professional stage debut playing Sandie in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie at Lincolnís Theatre Royal.
Alison in a student production
After leaving drama school, Alison spent four years doing 'seasons' in various repertory theatres round the country. Whilst at the Liverpool Everyman
Alison as WPC Bayliss in Z Cars
Myra Frances & Alison Steadman in Girl
British TV's first lesbian kiss in 1974
Everyman theatre in 1973, she again met Leigh who offered her the part of Veronica in Hard Labour (1973), which he was directing for the BBC series Play for Today. She jumped. year
jumped at the chance - and they were married later that year. Their marriage also began a fruitful professional relationship as Alison got a role in the popular TV series Z Cars (1973) and also the part of Jackie in Girl (1974) in wkiss
which she kissed Myra Frances - the first lesbian kiss on British TV!
Then came the Play for Today roles of Candice Marie (oneo
(one of Alison's favourite parts) in Mike Leigh's improvised drama Nuts in May (1976), followed by Beverly in the famous Abigailís Party (1977). This play had originated as a stag
Alison Steadman as Beverly in the stage
version of Abigail's Party
Alison as Candice Marie in Nuts in May
stage version at London's Hampstead Theatre.
(left) Alison with Tim Stern in Abigail's Party
(above) Alison as Beverly in Abigail's Party
After appearing alongside Kenneth Branagh and Helen Mirren in the TV movie Coming Through (1985), with its D H Lawrence associations, Alison courted controversy with her role as Mrs Marlow in Denis Potter's The Singing Detective (1986). Its sex scene in the woods (with Mrs Marlow's son watching from a tree branch above) really angered campaigner Mary Whitehouse, who claimed that Potter had a warped mind.
As Mrs Marlow in The Singing Detective
As Kate in Coming Through
As Pauline Mole in
Since then there have been plentiful TV parts, the most memorable being Mrs Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (1995); Evelyn Hamilton in 10 episodes of the BBC war drama No Bananas (1996); Madame dep
As Mrs Bennet in Pride and Prejudice
Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years
de Plonge in the French & Saunders French Revolution comedy Let Them Eat Cake (1999); Pauline Mole in Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years (2001); Betty Simpson in all 25 ep
episodes of the series Fat Friends (2005), for which she was BAFTA-nominated in 2001, and Angela Cook in 17 episodes of the comedy series The Worst Week of My Life (2004-2006) with Ben Miller and Sarah Alexander.
Other roles have included Mrs Brown in the costume drama series Fanny Hill (2007) and Jenny Evans in the TV movie Who Gets the Dog? (2007). Her most recent success has beeen
With Barrie Rutter in
Let Them Eat Cake
As Madame de Plonge in
As Mrs Brown in Fanny Hill
As Pam in Gavin and Stacey
Alison Steadman & Kevin Whately in
Who Gets the Dog?
Geoffrey Whitehead & Alison Steadman in
The Worst Week of my Life
Much less prolific in comparison to her TV work, Alison's film credits have included the horse racing movie Champions (1984); the school farce Clockwise (1986); the comedy Shirley Valentine (1
(1989) and the 'mockumentary' Confetti (2006) along with the Mike Leigh-directed films Life Is Sweet (1990) and the lavish Gilbert & Sullivan success Topsy-Turvy (1999).
Alison as jockey Bob Champion's sister
As Sam's Mum in Confetti
Christopher Cazenove, Alison Steadman &
Alan Ayckbourn at Brighton in 1979
Pete Postlethwaite & Alison Steadman
in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice
Other successful stage roles include Teresa in The Memory of Water (1998); Kath in Joe Orton's Entertaining Mr. Sloane (20000
During the past thirty years, Al
Alison Steadman has built an enviable reputation for her stage work. For her National Theatre role as Mari in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (1992) she won an Olivier Award.
Mary Hussey in Champions
As Maria in When we are Married
Griff Rhys Jones & Alison Steadman in
Horse and Carriage
Alison Steadman & Michael Atwell in
The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband
Alison Steadman as Kath in
Entertaining Mr Sloane
As Lady Fancyfull in The Provok'd Wife
Alison Steadman & David Troughton in Enjoy
(2000); Hilary in The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband (2002); Sheila in Losing Louis (2005) and Connie ('Mam) in Alan Bennett's Enjoy (2010) which I saw at Nottingham's Theatre Royal.
On radio, Alison's character voices have been heard to good effect in shows like the long-running current affairs sketch show Week Ending (1970-98) where her impromptu impressions of Margaret Thatcher were particularly noteworthy.
Alison was awarded the OBE in the Millennium Honour
Honours List for her services to drama and has also received honorary degrees from the University of Essex in 1997 and Liverpool John Moores University in 2006.
Alison Steadman and Mike Leigh separated
separated in 1995 and divorced in 2001. They have two sons, Toby (b.1979) who is an illustrator and Leo (b.1981) who is a cinema
Alison has an honorary degree
from theUniversity of Essex
Alison has an honorary degree
from John Moores University
Alison Steadman OBE
Michael Elwyn & Alison Steadman
Alison has signed my Enjoy programme
Cinematographer. The prolific TV actor Michael Elwyn is Alison's present partner.
Alison has signed this photo to me
With Alison Steadman after seeing her in Enjoy at Nottingham's Theatre Royal in March 2010
I went to see Alan Bennett's play Enjoy at Nottingham's Theatre Royal, in March 2010. It was very good, and starred Alison Steadman and David Troughton, both of whom I met afterwards.
Alison signed a photograph for me and also my programme from the show.
She was so friendly, and happy to let me have some photos taken with her.
been as 'Essex girl' Pam in 20 episodes of the award-winning comedy series Gavin and Stacey (2007-2010).