Frank Skinner

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Frank Skinner
Frank Skinner.jpg
Skinner at Wembley Stadium in 2008
Birth nameChristopher Graham Collins
Born (1957-01-28) 28 January 1957 (age 64)
West Bromwich, Staffordshire , England
Medium Stand-up, television, radio
Years active1990–present
Genres Observational comedy, blue comedy, musical comedy

Christopher Graham Collins (born 28 January 1957), professionally known as Frank Skinner, is an English writer, comedian, TV and radio presenter, and actor. At the 2001 British Comedy Awards, he was awarded the Best Comedy Entertainment Personality. [1]


He presented or co-presented Fantasy Football League from 1994 to 2004, The Frank Skinner Show from 1995 to 2005, Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned from 2000 to 2005 and Room 101 from 2012 to 2018. Since 2009 he has hosted The Frank Skinner Show on Absolute Radio, broadcast live on Saturdays and later released as a podcast.

Along with David Baddiel, he provided vocals and wrote the lyric for "Three Lions", the official song in collaboration with Liverpudlian indie band The Lightning Seeds, to mark the England football team's participation in the 1996 European Championships (which was hosted in England); he also reprised his role to release two subsequent versions of the song for the England team's involvement in the 1998 FIFA World Cup and 2010 FIFA World Cup. The 1996 version is the only song ever to have four separate stints at number one in the UK singles chart with the same artists, the most recent coming in July 2018 following England reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. [2]

Early life

Skinner was born in West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England, and grew up in a council house in neighbouring Oldbury.[ citation needed ] He was the youngest of four children born to John Collins (1918–1990) and his wife Doris (1919–1989). He has two older brothers, Keith and Terrence, and an older sister, Nora.[ citation needed ]

Skinner wrote in his autobiography that his father, who was born in West Cornforth, County Durham, played for Spennymoor United before the Second World War, and met his mother in a local pub after Spennymoor had played West Bromwich Albion in an FA Cup game in 1937. However, club officials and historians could not find his father in their records. [3]

Skinner attended Moat Farm Infant School from 1961 to 1964, St. Hubert's Roman Catholic Junior School from 1964 to 1968, and then Oldbury Technical Secondary School from 1968 to 1973. He passed two O-levels in summer 1973 and took A-levels in English language and art, along with several O-level resits, at Oldbury Technical School Sixth Form. He subsequently took 4 A-levels (including English language and literature) at Warley College of Technology and graduated from Birmingham Polytechnic (now Birmingham City University) in 1981 with a degree in English. This was followed by a Master’s degree in English literature at the University of Warwick in Coventry the following year. [4]

Despite his given first name of Christopher, his parents called him by his middle name Graham; [5] all his friends referred to him, and some still do, as Chris. [6] Skinner once explained that whenever someone called at his house to ask if "Chris" was there, his mother would say yes, only to then turn around and shout for "Graham". [5] He adopted the stage name Frank Skinner when the actors' union Equity told him there was already a singer from Burnley on their books called Chris Collins. [5] [7] He took the name from a member of his late father's dominoes team. [8]


After graduating, he spent three-and-a-half years on unemployment benefit before finding work as a lecturer in English at Halesowen College. In 1987, he decided to give stand-up comedy a try on the side. Skinner performed his first stand-up gig in 1987 and made his television debut a year later. In 1990, he co-wrote and starred in the comedy variety show Packet of Three on Channel 4 but continued to see his reputation as a stand-up grow. Before becoming a full-time performer in 1989, he suffered a bout of influenza in September 1986 that made him give up drinking, and he remains a high-profile recovering alcoholic. [9]

Skinner won the 1991 Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe, beating Jack Dee and Eddie Izzard. He has worked with David Baddiel, notably on the popular late-night entertainment show Fantasy Football League , from 1994 to 2004, and on Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned from 2000 to 2005. The duo also co-wrote and performed the football song "Three Lions" with the Lightning Seeds and the England national football team for Euro 1996, and re-recorded it for the 1998 World Cup. The song reached #1 in the UK charts both times. In 2001, he released his autobiography Frank Skinner by Frank Skinner, which became a bestseller. The accompanying TV show, Frank Skinner on Frank Skinner, in which Skinner showed where he lived as a child and interviews with Skinner, his friends and family members, was recorded and shown on ITV in 2001. In July 2018, "Three Lions" re-entered the charts at number 1. Fans were celebrating the progress of England at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, [10] with the phrase "it's coming home" featuring heavily on social media and television. [11] [12]

In 1998, he took part in a documentary titled A Little Bit of Elvis. He paid over £11,000 at auction for a shirt which he believed was worn by Elvis Presley at his famous 1956 Tupelo concert. Skinner visited the US to find out if the shirt was the genuine article. After a slightly awkward conversation with Dave Hebler, Presley's bodyguard, it appeared the shirt did once belong to Presley, but it was not worn at the concert. Skinner is a lifelong fan of Elvis and used to buy the Elvis Monthly magazine. [13]

From 1995 to 1998, Skinner had his own chat show on BBC One, which ended when the BBC refused to meet pay demands of a reported £20 million. [14] After a short break, the show found a new home at ITV in 1999, where it ran until late 2005. He has appeared in a number of self-written sitcoms, including Blue Heaven (1994) and Shane (2004). [15]

In 2000, he appeared as Buttons in the ITV Panto adaptation of Cinderella. In 2003, he was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy. [16] In 2005, Skinner announced he was going to leave behind his television work in favour of returning to the stand-up comedy circuit. A second series of Shane had been made, but never shown.

In February 2006, he received an honorary degree from the University of Central England (now Birmingham City University). [17] Skinner and David Baddiel covered the 2006 FIFA World Cup by podcast for The Times . The podcasts received a nomination for the 2007 Sony Radio Academy Awards.

In 2007, he performed a new live stand-up tour, his first for 10 years, starting at a warm-up gig at the Swindon Arts Centre, continuing through to the Edinburgh Festival for 2 weeks at The Pleasance, the venue where he won the Perrier Award, and a 69 date national tour including three sold-out homecoming performances at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham in the autumn.

In November 2008 and in the light of senior broadcasting figures such as ITV boss Michael Grade and Sir Terry Wogan calling for TV to reduce its use of vulgar language, Skinner decided to experiment with removing swear words altogether from his stand up live act although stated that it would be a shame if 'clever swearing' was lost. [18] He also stood in for an ill Paul Merton as a team captain on 21 November edition of Have I Got News for You . [19]

From March 2009, Skinner started to present the Saturday Morning Breakfast Show on Absolute Radio with his co-hosts Emily Dean and Gareth Richards (who was succeeded by Alun Cochrane in June 2011). The show is produced by Avalon Television. After an initial 12-week stint proved very popular with the listeners, Skinner's contract was extended until summer 2010. [20] The show is still running with both Emily Dean and Alun Cochrane. [21] [22]

Skinner playing with the George Formby Society in 2018 The George Formby Society (cropped).jpg
Skinner playing with the George Formby Society in 2018

Skinner plays the banjo ukulele and in 2010, he contributed ukulele parts to a song by Fairport Convention called "Ukulele Central" which featured on their album Festival Bell . A great admirer of George Formby, he hosted a BBC Four TV documentary, Frank Skinner on George Formby, which aired on 27 October 2011.

In 2011, he wrote and performed a Radio 4 comedy series, Don't Start, with Katherine Parkinson. Each episode was based on an argument between Skinner's character Neil and Neil's girlfriend Kim. Skinner said each episode was only 15 minutes as it was 'too intense' to be any longer. Don't Start returned for a second series in 2012.

Skinner performing at the Soho Theatre in 2017. FSkinnerSoho081117-6 (24410637888) (cropped).jpg
Skinner performing at the Soho Theatre in 2017.

From 2012 to 2018, Skinner was the host of BBC show Room 101 . [23] In August 2013, he was a team captain on the BBC comedy show I Love My Country .

A longtime fan of Doctor Who, Skinner appeared alongside Peter Capaldi’s Doctor in the 2014 episode Mummy on the Orient Express . [24] [25] He subsequently featured in the 2019 Big Finish Productions audio release The Sinestran Kill, the first episode of Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures, Season 8. [26]

Personal life

Skinner and his longtime partner, Cath Mason, have a son, Buzz Cody (b. 2012). [27] [28] Raised Roman Catholic, Skinner reconnected with the faith in his 20s, and remains a practising Roman Catholic. He is also a supporter of West Bromwich Albion, and regularly attends games. [29]

He was a victim of the credit crunch in the late 2000s after investing in AIG, losing millions of pounds as a result. [30] He eventually got most of the money back. [31]

Skinner stopped drinking alcohol at age 29, having become concerned when he changed from having sherry for breakfast to Pernod. [32] He started performing stand-up comedy shortly afterwards. [33] He has said that he has never been able to replace the "white heat of joy" he got from alcohol and that his social life has never recovered from stopping drinking. [34]



In October 2001, Skinner's autobiography, Frank Skinner by Frank Skinner, was published. [35] In August 2009, he released a book centred on his comedy career - Frank Skinner on the Road: Love, Stand-up Comedy and the Queen of the Night. [36] In September 2011, The Collected Wisdom of Frank Skinner; Dispatches from the Sofa was published. [37] It consists of his weekly columns for The Times, written from 2009 to 2011. Skinner, who is a practising Christian, released a book of prayers, A Comedian’s Prayer Book, in 2021. [38]

Stand-up VHS and DVDs

Live5 October 1992Live at London's Bloomsbury Theatre
Live at the Apollo4 November 1995Live at London's Hammersmith Apollo
Live at the Palladium14 October 1996Live at London's Palladium Theatre
Live in Birmingham16 November 1998Live at Birmingham's Hippodrome Theatre
Stand-Up! Live from Birmingham's National Indoor Arena10 November 2008Live at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena
Live - Man in a Suit1 December 2014Live at London's Leicester Square Theatre

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  1. "Past Winners". British Comedy Awards. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  2. "Three Lions comes home to Number 1, sets new chart record". 13 July 2018. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  3. "To be Frank, it's all a bit of a mystery".
  4. 1 2 3 Gordon, Bryony (2 January 2013). "Frank Skinner: 'I'd like to go through a dark night of the soul'". The Daily Telegraph . Retrieved 6 June 2018. To wit: his name isn't even Frank Skinner. It is Christopher Graham Collins. His parents still call him Graham, but when he was getting into stand-up comedy there was already a Chris Collins registered with Equity, a man who happened to be a singer from Burnley, so the comedian from the West Midlands had to change his name.line feed character in |quote= at position 50 (help)
  5. Roberts, Jo (5 November 2014). "Frank Skinner's Man In A Suit tour comes to Tunbridge Wells and Margate, November 2014". Kent Online. Retrieved 6 June 2018. There's a few friends who still call me Chris, but even some of those have started calling me Frank. I became Frank in about 1988 and now, if anybody asks me my name, I'd say 'Frank'. That is how I think of myself, 99% of the people I know call me that.
  6. "He's so puerile and so proud of it". The Herald . 13 January 2001. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  7. Clayton, Emma (24 October 2014). "Life on tour still appeals as Frank Skinner returns to stand-up". Telegraph & Argus . Retrieved 25 September 2018.
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  12. "Elvis Presley: The Sun Years by Frank Skinner - Uncut". 2 March 2012.
  13. Jane Robins and Paul McCann (2 September 1999). "Skinner makes a sky-high demand so BBC walks out". The Independent . London.
  14. Guide, British Comedy (20 December 2006). "Shane gets an American re-make - British Comedy Guide".
  15. "The A-Z of laughter (part two)". The Observer. 7 December 2003. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
  16. "Honour for comic Skinner". Birmingham Mail . 22 February 2006.
  17. "Frank Skinner defends 'eloquent' swearing". BBC News. 17 November 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  18. Fletcher, Alex (21 November 2008). "Merton misses 'Have I Got News' with illness". Digital Spy . Retrieved 21 November 2008.
  19. Plunkett, John (16 June 2009). "Frank Skinner extends contract at Absolute Radio". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 16 June 2009.
  20. Sturges, fiona (14 May 2014). "The Week in Radio: Why waking up with Frank Skinner is an absolute joy". The Independent. London. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  21. "Frank Skinner show". Absolute radio. 18 May 2016.
  22. "Frank Skinner to host Room 101 on BBC One". BBC Media Centre. 5 January 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
  23. "Frank Skinner to star in Doctor Who - BBC News". 16 May 2014. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  24. "BBC One - Doctor Who, Series 8, Mummy on the Orient Express" . Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  25. "Doctor Who - The Fourth Doctor Adventures 8.1. Doctor Who: The Sinestran Kill" . Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  26. "Frank Skinner to be a dad". 28 January 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  27. "Frank Skinner is a dad at 55... and his son is named Buzz Cody". Daily Mirror. 27 May 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
  28. Frank Skinner profile,; accessed 26 December 2014.
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  30. Frank Skinner I thought I had lost millions,; accessed 12 December 2019.
  31. "My body & soul: Frank Skinner, comedian, 51". The Guardian. 23 November 2008.
  32. Smith, Julia Llewellyn (25 September 2018). "Frank Skinner interview: 'Turning 60 was great. It was turning 30 that I found traumatic'" via
  33. Whitworth, Damian (21 August 2018). "What's wrong with 100 units a week? Adrian Chiles on life as a middle‑class drinker" via
  34. ASIN   0099426870
  35. ASIN   0099458039
  36. ASIN   B005NAD5X6
  37. Stanford, Peter (26 March 2021). "Frank Skinner: 'It's easier to come out as an alcoholic than a Christian'". The Telegraph.