Tim Key

Last updated

Tim Key
Tim Key Horne Section (cropped).jpg
Key performing in 2010
Born (1976-09-02) 2 September 1976 (age 47)
Cambridgeshire, England
Alma mater University of Sheffield (BA)
  • Actor
  • comedian
  • poet
  • radio personality
  • screenwriter
Years active2001–present
Website timkey.co.uk

Tim Key (born 2 September 1976) is an English poet, comedian, actor and screenwriter. He has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, both as a solo act and as part of the comedy group Cowards, and plays Alan Partridge's sidekick Simon in film and television. In 2009, he won the Edinburgh Comedy Award and was nominated for the Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality.


Early life

Key was born on 2 September 1976, [1] in Cambridgeshire. [2] He grew up in Impington, Cambridgeshire, [3] was educated at Impington Village College before moving on to Hills Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge and then the University of Sheffield, where he studied Russian. Following graduation, he returned to Cambridge and joined the Cambridge Footlights, despite not being a student of Cambridge University. [4] [5] There he met Tom Basden, Stefan Golaszewski, and Lloyd Woolf, with whom he formed the sketch group Cowards.



Key's first appearance with the Footlights was in the stage production Far Too Happy in 2001. [6] The cast, which included Mark Watson and Sophie Winkleman, took the show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and were nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Newcomer. Key has regularly attended Edinburgh ever since, performing in solo shows and collaborations.

In 2009, Key's solo poetry show The Slutcracker won the Edinburgh Comedy Award and was nominated for the Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality. [7] He took the show to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival the following year.

Key co-starred in Daniel Kitson's play Tree when it premiered in September 2013 at the Royal Exchange, Manchester. [8] The play then transferred to The Old Vic in 2015. [9] He appeared alongside Paul Ritter and Rufus Sewell in Yasmina Reza's Art at The Old Vic, directed by Matthew Warchus, from December 2016 to February 2017. [10]

Key's comedy show Megadate toured from 2017 to 2018. Like The Slutcracker, it featured Key reading "deliberately bad" poetry interspersed with black-and-white films. [11]

In 2023, Key toured his sell-out show Mulberry around the UK and Ireland, [12] as well as a run at the SoHo Playhouse in New York City. [13] The show was centred around Key's experience of COVID-19 in the UK.


Key has regularly been heard on BBC Radio 4 since 2006, when the station commissioned All Bar Luke, a series based on his earlier stage show Luke & Stella. It aired from 2006 to 2008, with a Christmas special in 2009. Key's prior radio projects included Cowards and Mark Watson Makes the World Substantially Better .

In 2010, Key was heard as Duncan in the radio sitcom Party , created by Tom Basden and based on the stage show of the same name. [14] In 2012, he reunited with Basden for Tim Key's Late Night Poetry Programme, a series that features Key reading poetry and Basden providing musical accompaniment, intercut with dialogue between the two. Six series of the show have been broadcast as of 2024. [15]


Key's first album, Tim Key. With a String Quartet. On a Boat. was released by The Invisible Dot Ltd / Angular Records in November 2010. It features Key reading poetry backed by a string quartet, with interjections from Basden.


Key first appeared on television in 2006's satirical comedy Time Trumpet , as an Eastenders special effects supervisor. The next year, he appeared as himself in Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe , reading poetry. He also appeared in an episode of Saxondale alongside future Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge co-star Steve Coogan.

In 2009, Key (along with Mark Watson and Alex Horne) co-created We Need Answers for BBC Four, a comedic quiz show in which celebrities answer questions posed by question-answering text services. It was hosted by Watson, with Horne providing technical support and Key reading questions. [16] As part of the show's bonus online content, the BBC uploaded videos of Key and Watson playing No More Women, a parlour game they had invented several years earlier, with Horne supplying narration. The three reunited in 2020 to play the game as a trio, renaming it No More Jockeys .

In November 2010, Key appeared as "Sidekick Simon" alongside Steve Coogan on Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge , an online series based on Coogan's Alan Partridge character. The series was also broadcast on Sky Atlantic in 2012. Key would appear again as Simon in the 2013 film Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa and the BBC series This Time with Alan Partridge.

In 2013, Key played Greg in the E4 comedy-drama series Gap Year . In 2014, he played Ian in the Inside No. 9 episode "Sardines". His performance was praised, [17] with one journalist calling him "an unsung hero of British comedy". [18] The following year, he was a panellist on the first series of Taskmaster and has been credited as a "Task Consultant" since the show's second series.

Key has also had minor roles in shows such as Skins , Plebs , Life's Too Short , Stag , Peep Show , Brassic (TV Series) and The End of the F***ing World . He has also appeared on panel shows Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Richard Osman's House of Games.

In 2022, Key starred in the BBC Two comedy series The Witchfinder . That year he also appeared as Ray, nemesis and old archery teammate of Paul (Jim Howick) in an episode of friend Tom Basden's BBC1 sitcom, Here We Go.

He appeared on the Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up to Cancer in 2023, opening up about his experience of being diagnosed with a melanoma. [19]


Key and Basden collaborated on short film The One and Only Herb McGwyer Plays Wallis Island in 2007. The film won Best UK Short at the 2007 Edinburgh Film Festival and was nominated for a 2008 BAFTA in the category of Best Short Film. In 2012, Key collaborated with director J. van Tulleken on one of 16 short films to have won production funding through BFI Shorts. The resultant film was a black comedy entitled Anthony, starring Key and Basden, in which Key played Santa Claus. [20]

Key reprised his role as Sidekick Simon for Steve Coogan's Alan Partridge film Alpha Papa , released in August 2013. Also in 2013, he appeared in the Richard Ayoade film The Double . In 2019, he again starred alongside Coogan in Greed , playing the character of Sam. In 2022, he played Commissioner Harrold Scott in See How They Run .


Key has written six books. The first, Instructions, Guidelines, Tutelage, Suggestions, Other Suggestions and Examples Etc.: An Attempted Book by Tim Key. (And Conversations / Descriptions / A Piece About a Moth), was published in 2009. The second, 25 Poems, 3 Recipes and 32 Other Suggestions (An Inventory) was published in 2011. The third, The Incomplete Tim Key, was published by Canongate Books in 2011.

In 2020, Key collaborated with designer Emily Juniper to create He Used Thought As a Wife (An Anthology of Poems and Conversations from Inside). This book, published by Utter and Press, chronicles Key's experiences during the UK's first COVID-19 lockdown. A sequel, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (An Anthology of Poems and Conversations from Outside), was released in 2022.

Key released a new poetry anthology, "Chapters", in February 2024. [21]



2007The One and Only Herb McGwyer Plays Wallis IslandCharlesShort film
Christmas at the RivieraGaryTV movie
2009The TransactionThe PoetShort film
2010The Honeymoon SuiteSamuelShort film
2011 One Day Customer
2013 I Give It a Year Alan
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa 'Sidekick' Simon Denton
The Double Care Worker
The Harry Hill Movie Toilet Attendant
Very Few FishJimboTV movie
2014AnthonySantaShort film
Two Films About LonelinessJonathan Smallman (voice)Short film
Not now Keith!KeithShort film
2017The OvercoatThe NarratorShort film
2018WonderdateManTV short
2019 Days of the Bagnold Summer Dale
Greed Sam
2020 Love Wedding Repeat Sidney
Talk RadioDanny MallardShort film
2022 See How They Run Commissioner Harold Scott


2002 Britain's Worst Driver Himself (series 1); "Timid Tim"Winner of series 1
2006 Saxondale Promotions GuyEpisode: "Mice"
Time Trumpet Special Effects Crew - EastendersEpisode: "Witness to a Wedding"
2007 Annually Retentive KimEpisode: "Episode #2.5"
Angelo's SteveEpisode: "Episode #1.4"
2009 Cowards Also writer
2010-2016 Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge
2011 Life's Too Short News ReporterEpisode: "Episode #1.2"
2012 Skins Dr. O'DwyerEpisode: "Mini and Franky"
Games OnDanEpisode: "Tent"
A Young Doctor's Notebook Pyotr the PatientEpisode: "Episode Three"
8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown Guest in the Dictionary CornerEpisode: "Episode #1.1"
2013 Chickens ThomasEpisode: "Men on Leave"
2014 Inside No. 9 IanEpisode: "Sardines"
Playhouse Presents JonahEpisode: "The Dog Thrower"
Plebs MushkiEpisode: "The New Slave"
2015 Cradle to Grave Stutely2 episodes
Together Joseph the Policeman4 episodes
Peep Show Jerry3 episodes
2015-present Taskmaster Himself (series 1); Task consultant (series 2-)6 episodes (as Himself)
2016 Stag AitkenEpisode: "Episode 1"
Year FriendsPeter Priest3 episodes
2016-2017 Drunk History: UK Various Characters5 episodes
2017-2021 Pls Like James Wirm
2017 Gap Year Greg
Comedy Playhouse The Sheriff of NottinghamEpisode: "Tim Vine Travels in Time"
Zapped SextusEpisode: "Showtime"
Detectorists Tim3 episodes
Random ActsRegularEpisode: "Episode #4.3"
2018 Trust GavinEpisode: "John, Chapter 11"
2019-2021 This Time with Alan Partridge 'Sidekick' Simon Denton
2019 Brassic Vortex2 episodes
The Reluctant Landlord TommyEpisode: "Love Is in the Air"
The End of the F***ing World Gus2 episodes
2021 The Irregulars Gregson2 episodes
Stath Lets Flats HowardEpisode: "Here Comes The Steven"
CryptidsEpisode: "Owlman"
2022 After Life Rude DateEpisode: "Episode #3.4"
The Witchfinder Gideon Bannister
Richard Osman's House of Games HimselfEpisode: "Episodes #6.46 to #6.50
Here We Go RayEpisode: "Dad's Bronze Medal"
The Train
2023 The Great Stand Up to Cancer Bake Off Himself / ContestantCharity special [22]


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