Tim Key

Last updated

Tim Key
Tim Key Horne Section.jpg
Key performing in 2010
Timothy David Key

September 1976 (age 4546)
  • Poet
  • comedian
  • actor
  • screenwriter
  • radio personality
Years active2001–present
Website timkey.co.uk

Timothy David Key (born September 1976) is an English poet, comedian, actor, screenwriter and radio personality. He is best known for playing Alan Partridge's sidekick Simon in Mid Morning Matters , Alpha Papa , and This Time , as well as his work as a member of the comedy group Cowards and his extensive list of performances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In 2009, he won the Edinburgh Comedy Award and was nominated for the Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality.


Early life

Timothy David Key was born in September 1976, [1] in Cambridgeshire. [2] He was educated in the intertwined villages of Histon and Impington 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. 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. [3] 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. [4] 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. [5] The play then transferred to The Old Vic in 2015. [6] 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. [7]

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. [8]


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. [9] 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. Five series of the show have been broadcast as of 2020. [10]


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.

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. [11] 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 , 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, [12] with one journalist calling him "an unsung hero of British comedy". [13] 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 , 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.


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 [14]

Key reprised his role as Sidekick Simon for the 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 Steve Coogan in Greed , playing the character of Sam.


Key has written a total of five 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.


Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tim Brooke-Taylor</span> English actor and comedian (1940–2020)

Timothy Julian Brooke-Taylor OBE was an English actor and comedian best known as a member of The Goodies.

Alan Partridge British comedy character

Alan Gordon Partridge is a comedy character portrayed by the English actor Steve Coogan. A parody of British television personalities, Partridge is a tactless and inept broadcaster with an inflated sense of celebrity. Since his debut in 1991, he has appeared in media including radio and television series, books, podcasts and a feature film.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Steve Coogan</span> English actor and comedian

Stephen John Coogan is an English actor, comedian, producer and screenwriter. He began his career in the 1980s as a voice actor on the satirical puppet show Spitting Image and providing voice-overs for television advertisements. In the 1990s, he began creating original characters. In 1999, he co-founded the production company Baby Cow Productions with Henry Normal.

Peter Baynham is a Welsh screenwriter and performer. He is best known for appearing in a series of comedic Pot Noodle television adverts in the 1990s. His work largely represents collaborations with comedy figures such as Armando Iannucci, Steve Coogan, Chris Morris, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Sarah Smith. Born in Cardiff, Baynham served the Merchant Navy after leaving school and later pursued a career in comedy — first in stand-up, and then as a writer and performer for various news and sketch comedies in radio and television while enjoying personal fame starring in Pot Noodle adverts. He then became a writer in feature film.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ben Miller</span> English comedian, actor, director, and author

Bennet Evan Miller is an English comedian and actor. He rose to fame as one half of the comedy duo Armstrong and Miller. Miller is also known for playing the lead role of DI Richard Poole in the first two series of the BBC crime drama Death in Paradise, and for portraying James Lester in the ITV science-fiction series Primeval.

Baby Cow Productions Ltd is a British comedy television production company based in London and Manchester, founded by Steve Coogan and Henry Normal. Since its establishment it has diversified into radio, animation and film. According to their website, Baby Cow "produces bold, high-quality scripted entertainment across all genres for television, film and radio." The company's name is a reference to Coogan's early characters Paul and Pauline Calf.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alex Horne</span> British comedian and musician

Alexander James Jeffery Horne is a British comedian. Horne is the creator of BAFTA award-winning TV series Taskmaster, in which he also performs as the Taskmaster's assistant. He is the host and bandleader of The Horne Section, a comedic band. Horne runs the band's eponymous podcast and has appeared with them on their music variety show on BBC Radio 4 and TV channel Dave.

Cowards are a British four-man comedy act, composed of Tim Key, Stefan Golaszewski, Tom Basden and Lloyd Woolf. The group has created eponymous radio and TV series of their sketch comedy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mark Watson</span> British comedian and writer

Mark Andrew Watson is a British comedian and novelist.

Mark Watson Makes the World Substantially Better is a radio comedy programme starring Mark Watson. It started on BBC Radio 4 on 13 February 2007. The show is recorded in front of a live audience and has the format of stand-up comedy from Watson interspersed with songs and poetry.

Thomas William Basden is an English actor, comedy writer, and a member of the British four-man sketch group Cowards. He has written and performed extensively for comedy shows on the BBC and Channel 4 and often collaborates in two-man shows with fellow Cowards member Tim Key.

Stefan Golaszewski is a British writer, performer and director. He is part of the comedy troupe Cowards and is the writer and creator of BAFTA winning sitcoms Him & Her and Mum.

Lloyd Woolf is a British comedy actor and writer.

Jonny Sweet is a British comedian and the recipient of the 2009 Edinburgh Comedy Award for best newcomer.

<i>Tim Key. With a String Quartet. On a Boat.</i> 2010 studio album by Tim Key

Tim Key. With a String Quartet. On a Boat. is a comedic poetry album written by and starring Tim Key and co-starring Tom Basden. The album is intended to be Key reading out his poems with the accompaniment of a string quartet, but actually it primarily features Key and Basden, who is nicknamed "Lord", constantly arguing with each other.

Mid Morning Matters is a British digital radio show parody written by Steve Coogan, Neil Gibbons, Rob Gibbons and Armando Iannucci, produced by Baby Cow Productions and funded by the British arm of Australian lager company Foster's, starring Coogan as fictional radio DJ Alan Partridge. The first of twelve 15-minute episodes was uploaded to the Foster's Funny website on 5 November 2010, and then available on YouTube. Six 30-minute episodes titled Alan Partridge Mid Morning Matters: Special Edition, edited from the web series, began airing on Sky Atlantic in July 2012 as part of a deal between producers Baby Cow and BSkyB. A second series consisting of six episodes premiered in February 2016.

<i>Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa</i> 2013 British comedy film

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa is a 2013 British comedy film starring Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge, a fictional presenter he has played on various BBC radio and television shows since 1991. It was directed by Declan Lowney and written by Coogan, Armando Iannucci, Peter Baynham and Neil and Rob Gibbons. Colm Meaney co-starred as Pat Farrell, a DJ who takes hostages after he is fired from Partridge's radio station; Partridge is enlisted as a negotiator.

Liam Williams is an English comedian, actor and writer, known for his wry poetic presentation style. He was nominated for Best Newcomer at the 2013 Edinburgh Comedy Awards and for Best Show at the 2014 awards.

<i>This Time with Alan Partridge</i> BBC comedy series

This Time with Alan Partridge is a British television comedy first broadcast in 2019 on BBC One. It stars Steve Coogan as the inept broadcaster Alan Partridge in a spoof of current affairs programmes such as The One Show and Good Morning Britain.

Jamie Demetriou is an English actor, comedian and screenwriter. He is best known for his role in Fleabag and for creating, co-writing, and starring in Stath Lets Flats. For the latter, he won Best Male Actor in a Comedy, Best Writer of a Comedy, and Best Scripted Comedy at the 2020 BAFTA Awards.


  1. "Timothy David KEY personal appointments". Companies House. GOV.UK. Retrieved 5 August 2022.
  2. "An Interview with Tim Key". The Humourdor. 18 July 2011. Archived from the original on 8 November 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  3. Guide, British Comedy. "Cambridge Footlights: Far Too Happy". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 7 January 2022.
  4. "Tim Key loses the bullying, wins comedy". London Is Funny. 29 August 2009. Archived from the original on 28 April 2010. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
  5. "Royal Exchange Tree". Manchester Royal Exchange.
  6. "Tree". Oldvictheatre.com. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  7. "Art". Oldvictheatre.com. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  8. Solutions, Powder Blue Internet Business. "MICF: Tim Key – Megadate : Reviews 2018 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". www.chortle.co.uk. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  9. "Party | Comedy review". the Guardian. 11 March 2010. Retrieved 7 January 2022.
  10. Guide, British Comedy. "Tim Key's Late Night Poetry Programme Series 5, Episode 4 - Labour". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 7 January 2022.
  11. "Tim Key: A man of his words" . The Independent. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022.
  12. Dean, Will (5 February 2014). "Inside No 9, TV review: A top-drawer cast puts these twisted tales in a league of their own" . The Independent . Archived from the original on 7 May 2022. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  13. Watson, Keith (6 February 2014). "Inside No 9 matched Tales of the Unexpected for entertaining weirdness". Metro . Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  14. British Film Institute. "16 short films greenlit through BFI Shorts 2012". Bfi.org.uk. Retrieved 21 August 2013.