Alison Steadman

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Alison Steadman

You'll Have Had Your Tea - Alison Steadman.jpg
Steadman during a recording of You'll Have Had Your Tea for BBC Radio 4 in 2006
Born (1946-08-26) 26 August 1946 (age 74)
Years active1968–present
(m. 1973;div. 2001)
Partner(s) Michael Elwyn

Alison Steadman, OBE (born 26 August 1946) is an English actress. She was nominated for the 1991 National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress for the Mike Leigh film Life Is Sweet , and the 1993 Olivier Award for Best Actress for her role as Mari in the original production of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice . In a 2007 Channel 4 poll, the "50 Greatest Actors" voted for by other actors, she was ranked No. 42. [1]


Steadman made her professional stage debut in 1968 and went on to establish her career in Mike Leigh's 1970s TV plays Nuts in May (1976) and Abigail's Party (1977). [2] She received BAFTA TV Award nominations for the 1986 BBC serial The Singing Detective , and in 2001 for the ITV drama series Fat Friends (2000–2005). Other television roles include Pride and Prejudice (1995), Gavin & Stacey (2007–2010, 2019) and Orphan Black (2015–2016). Her other film appearances include A Private Function (1984), Topsy-Turvy (1999), The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004) and Dad's Army (2016).

Early life and education

Steadman was born in Liverpool, the youngest of three sisters born to Marjorie (née Evans) and George Percival Steadman, [3] who worked as a production controller for Plessey, an electronics firm.

Steadman was educated at Childwall Valley High School for Girls, a state grammar school in the Liverpool suburb of Childwall, followed by East 15 Acting School, to which she secured a place in the autumn of 1966 and where she met Mike Leigh during her second year. [4]

Life and career

Stage work

Having left the East 15 Acting School in Loughton, Essex, Steadman worked in various regional repertory theatres, starting at Lincoln in 1968, where her first role was that of the seductive schoolgirl Sandy in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie . She created the role of the monstrous Beverly in Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party , which she reprised with the original cast on television. She won an Olivier Award for The Rise and Fall of Little Voice , and also appeared in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof , Entertaining Mr Sloane , Hotel Paradiso, and others in locations as diverse as the Royal Court, the Theatre Royal, the Old Vic, the Hampstead Theatre, the Nottingham Playhouse, the Everyman Liverpool and the National Theatre. She starred as Elmire in the 1983 RSC production of Molière's Tartuffe , which was adapted for BBC television. [ citation needed ] In 2010, Steadman was cast as Madame Arcati in a revival of Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit .[ citation needed ] In 2014, Steadman appeared as Madame Raquin in Helen Edmundson's adaptation of Emile Zola's Therese Raquin . [5] [6]


Steadman has appeared in many films, including P'tang, Yang, Kipperbang (1982), Champions (1983), A Private Function (1984), Number One (1985), Clockwise (1986), Stormy Monday (1988), The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), Shirley Valentine (1989), Wilt (1989), Life Is Sweet (1990), Blame It on the Bellboy (1992), Secrets & Lies (1996), Topsy-Turvy (1999), The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004), Confetti (2006) Burn Burn Burn (2015) and 23 Walks (2020).


Steadman's television work includes Fat Friends as Betty, Grumpy Old Women , Stressed Eric , Let Them Eat Cake , The Singing Detective , No Bananas , The Caucasian Chalk Circle , Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years as Pauline Mole, opposite James Bolam in the television film The Missing Postman , and Pride and Prejudice as Mrs. Bennet. In 1991, she also appeared as Edda Göring in Selling Hitler and as Lauren Patterson in Gone to the Dogs , which was then followed up by Gone to Seed.

Television productions directed by Leigh in which she has appeared include Nuts in May , Hard Labour and Abigail's Party . She also appeared in the BBC comedy The Worst Week of My Life . In 2007 she featured in the BBC Wales programme Coming Home about her Welsh family history, with roots in Trefarclawdd and Ruabon.

In October 2007, Steadman appeared in Fanny Hill on BBC Four.

From May 2007 to January 2010, Steadman starred in the BBC comedy Gavin & Stacey as Pam Shipman. She returned in the role in the 2019 Christmas special. She appeared in Lewis as the Reverend Martha Steadman in “Intelligent Design” in 2013.

Steadman starred with Myra Frances in Girl, a 1974 BBC play in the Second City Firsts series, performing the first lesbian kiss on British television. [7]

In 2014 Steadman starred in the first series of the BBC comedy Boomers as Joyce. The show returned with a Christmas Special in 2015 and a second series in 2016. In 2016, she presented the three part series Little British Islands with Alison Steadman on Channel 4. The series visited Gigha, Jura, Colonsay and Oronsay in episode 1, Jersey, Alderney and Sark in episode 2, and the Isles of Scilly in episode 3. In 2016 she appeared as Abigail in Midsomer Murders “The incident at Cooper Hill”.

In 2018, Steadman made a return to BBC1 with John Cleese in Hold the Sunset. On 9 December 2018 Steadman appeared in the BBC1 Drama "Care" and played the role of Mary.


On radio, Steadman's talent for mimicry and character voices was given full rein in shows such as Week Ending , Castle's on the Air and The Worst Show on the Wireless, in both the latter of which she played the over-protective mother to Eli Woods' long-suffering Bunty/Precious. From 1982 to 1984, she joined Eli Woods and Eddie Braben ( Morecambe and Wise's scriptwriter) in the UK radio show The Show with No Name for thirteen episodes, in what can be described as an updated version of Round the Horne comedy sketch show. Later, from 2002, she starred as Mrs Naughtie in the series Hamish and Dougal . Steadman had a spell in Roy Hudd's long running comedy show The News Huddlines in the early to mid 1980s. In December 2009, she starred in the late Mike Stott's My Mad Grandad on BBC Radio 4. [8] From 2012 she played "Ginny Fox", a parody of Virginia Woolf, in the sitcom Gloomsbury . In 2018 she made a guest appearance in Radio 4's the Archers, as a lady called Olwen, a friend of Jill Archer.

Personal life

In Manchester in 1972, shooting his television film Hard Labour , director Mike Leigh drove over to Liverpool to see Ted Whitehead's play The Foursome, (Steadman was in the Liverpool Everyman cast). He asked Steadman to be in his film. "During the preparation of the film, Mike and Alison, as they both say, 'got together.'" [9] They married in 1973 and had two sons; Toby (b. 1978) and Leo (b. 1981). [10] The couple separated in 1995 and divorced in 2001.

Steadman's partner is actor Michael Elwyn; [11] the couple live in Highgate, London. [12]

She is a birdwatcher, [13] and in November 2016 became an ambassador for London Wildlife Trust. [14]



1980Moving PicturesMrs. ArnolfiniTV film
1982 P'tang, Yang, Kipperbang Miss LandTV film
1983 Tartuffe, or the Impostor ElmireTV film
1984 Champions Mary Hussey
A Private Function Mrs. Allardyce
Number OneDoreenTV film
1985 The Caucasian Chalk Circle Kato/Natella/AnikoTV film
1986 Clockwise Gwenda Stimpson
1987The FindingMumTV film
1988Coming ThroughKateTV film
Stormy Monday Mayor
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen Daisy
1989 Shirley Valentine Jane
Wilt Eva Wilt
1990 Life Is Sweet Wendy
1992 Blame It on the Bellboy Rosemary Horton
1996 Secrets & Lies Dog Owner
The Snow Queen's Revenge PearlVoice role
1997 The Missing Postman Christine PeacockTV film
The Ugly Duckling The HenVoice role
1999 Topsy-Turvy Madame Leon
2001Chunky MonkeyBeryl
Happy Now? Bronwyn Race
2003 Philip Larkin: Love and Death in Hull NarratorVoice role
Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairytale Mrs. Meisling
2004Bosom PalsJoanTV film, voice role
The Life and Death of Peter Sellers Casting AgentTV film
2006 Confetti Sam's Mum
Loony in the WoodsCrazy Butcher
2007The Dinner PartyJulietTV film
Who Gets the Dog? Jenny EvansTV film
2010Come Rain Come ShineDora MitchellTV film
2014PetermanAuntie Jean
2015 Burn Burn Burn Diana
2016 Dad's Army Mrs. Fox
2017We Can Be HeroesGranny Evans
2018CareMaryTV film
2020 23 Walks Fern
Roald & Beatrix: The Tail of the Curious Mouse DoraTV film
2021 The King's Man TBAPost-production


1971Bel AmiFencerEpisode: "Madeleine"
1973 Z-Cars WPC Bayliss2 episodes
1973–1974Frost's WeeklyVarious rolesSeries regular
1973–1981 Play for Today Various rolesSeries regular
1974 Crown Court Mary ChathamEpisode: "Good and Faithful Friends: Part 1"
Second City Firsts JackieEpisode: "Girl"
1975HelenEpisode: "Early to Bed"
Tarbuck and All That! Series regular
Oil Strike North Paula WebberEpisode: "First Lion"
The WackersBernadette ClarksonSeries regular
1976 Crown Court Cheryl BakerEpisode: "Scard: Part 1"
Red Letter DayMargaret HudsonEpisode: "Bag of Yeast"
1977 Esther Waters Sarah3 episodes
1978 ITV Playhouse Norma HardyEpisode: "Ten Days That Shook the Branch"
1979 Two's Company PamelaEpisode: "The Silence"
1986 The Singing Detective Mrs. Lili MarlowMini-series
In Sickness and in Health MotherEpisode: "Christmas Special"
1989 Screen Two Brenda OgdonEpisode: "Virtuoso"
The Jim Henson Hour PerriwinkleEpisode: "Monster Maker"
Screenplay MarjorieEpisode: "A Small Mourning"
1990 Screen One Jackie JohnsEpisode: "News Hounds"
1991 Selling Hitler Edda GoeringMini-series
Gone to the Dogs Lauren PattersonMini-series
1992Gone to SeedHildaSeries regular, 6 episodes
1994 The Wimbledon Poisoner Elinor FarrMini-series, 2 episodes
1995 Kavanagh QC Evelyn Marie KendallEpisode: "Nothing But the Truth"
Pride and Prejudice Mrs. BennetMini-series, 6 episodes
Coogan's Run AnnetteEpisode: "The Curator"
1995–1998 Crapston Villas Marge StensonSeries regular
1996 Karaoke Mrs. Haynes2 episodes
Cold Lazarus Mrs. Haynes1 episode
No Bananas Evelyn HamiltonSeries regular
1998–2000 Stressed Eric Mrs. PerfectSeries regular, voice role
1999 Let Them Eat Cake Madame de Plonge4 episodes
2000–2005 Fat Friends Betty SimpsonSeries regular
2001 Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years Pauline MoleSeries regular
2002CelebGrandmaEpisode: "The Love Child"
2003 Lenny Henry in Pieces 4 episodes
2004 Dalziel and Pascoe Marion MattisEpisode: "Soft Touch"
2004–2005 The Lenny Henry Show Mrs. Twelvetrees2 episodes
2004–2006 The Worst Week of My Life Angela CookSeries regular, 17 episodes
2005 Twisted Tales Margery FavershamEpisode: "Fruitcake of the Living Dead"
Bob the Builder The MayoressEpisode: "Bob's Big Plan"
2007 The Last Detective Karen HornerEpisode: "The Man from Montevideo"
Agatha Christie's Marple Kirsten LindstromEpisode: "Ordeal by Innocence"
Fanny Hill Mrs. Brown2 episodes
The Omid Djalili Show Mrs. Dashett1 episode
2007–2019 Gavin & Stacey Pamela ShipmanSeries regular
2012 Playhouse Presents TinaEpisode: "King of the Teds"
Inspector George Gently Esther DunwoodyEpisode: "The Lost Child"
Little Crackers 2 episodes
2013 Lewis Rev. Martha SeagerEpisode: "Intelligent Design"
The Syndicate Rose WilsonSeries regular
Love and Marriage Pauline ParadiseSeries regular
2014The Great War: The People's StoryHallie Miles3 episodes, documentary
The Secrets AngelaEpisode: "The Dilemma"
2014–2016 Boomers JoyceSeries regular
2015 Inside No. 9 Madam TalbotEpisode: "Seance Time"
2015–2016 Orphan Black Kendall Malone5 episodes
2016 Midsomer Murders Abigail TonevEpisode: "The Incident at Cooper Hill"
Yonderland Barbara MaddoxEpisode: "It's The Thought That Counts"
Comedy Playhouse BrendaEpisode: "Broken Biscuits"
2017CathEpisode: "Static"
We Have Been Watching NarratorSeries regular
2018 Butterfly BarbaraMiniseries
The Reluctant Landlord DebbieEpisode: "Mama's Boy"
2018–2019 Hold the Sunset EdithSeries regular
2019 Moominvalley Emma the Stage RatVoice; 2 episodes
2020 Life Gail ReynoldsSeries regular
2020 Roald & Beatrix: The Tail of the Curious Mouse Dora
2020 Pandemonium Sue

Awards and nominations

1987 The Singing Detective BAFTA TV Award Best Actress Nominated
1991 Life Is Sweet Taormina International Film Festival Golden Mask Won
1992 Life Is Sweet National Society of Film Critics Awards Best Actress Won
1993 The Rise and Fall of Little Voice Olivier Award Best Actress Won
1996 Pride and Prejudice CableACE Award Supporting Actress in a Movie or MiniseriesNominated
1998 The Memory of Water Olivier Award Best Actress Nominated
2001 Fat Friends BAFTA TV Award Best Actress Nominated
2016N/A British Independent Film Award Richard Harris AwardWon

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  2. "Alison Steadman" Liverpool John Moores University Honorary Fellowship Award speech July 2010 Archived 16 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine . Retrieved 7 June 2011
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  4. Michael Coveney, The World according to Mike Leigh, p.90
  5. "Theatre Royal Bath - Main House". Theatre Royal Bath. Archived from the original on 23 February 2017. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
  6. Cavendish, Dominic (8 August 2014). "Thérèse Raquin, Theatre Royal Bath, review: 'rudimentary'". The Daily Telegraph.
  7. "Alison Steadman: Britain's lady-in-waiting", The Sunday Times , 30 November 2008
  8. "My Mad Grandad", BBC , 28 December 2009
  9. Coveney, p.90
  10. Michael Coveney, p.18
  11. Alison Steadman. "The Alison Steadman Page". Archived from the original on 16 July 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  12. Woods, Judith (23 October 2016). "Alison Steadman: How my mum was mistreated by the NHS". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN   0307-1235 . Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  13. Kellaway, Kate (22 November 2009). "'To a birdwatcher, one glimpse, one moment is happiness enough'". The Observer. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  14. "Actress Alison Steadman is standing up for London's wildlife as our latest ambassador".