Doh! Weren't you in….

That’s the question that viewers often ask when watching British comedy on public television. It’s not unusual to see your favorite British comedy actor or actress step out tennantof the roles that we have become friends with over the years and stretch themselves using their formal training in period drama, contemporary drama, hit movies, American “sitcoms” or even regional theatre and West End stage performances. Can’t say that I can say the same is true with their American counterparts. Somehow, Bill Murray in Razor’s Edge comes to mind. That said, Bill Murray in Lost in Translation is genius as was Rushmore.

Sometimes heard, but not seen

With the recent release of Nine (with Dame Judi Dench wonderfully lending her voice to the part of Lilli), I’m reminded also of how many British stars lend their voices to the silver screen.

routledgeIn many cases, it’s a treat to see the likes of Richard Briers or Patricia Routledge in a dramatic role. The acting talents of these and other stars of the Britcoms allow one to immediately divorce yourself from the character that you’ve come to know and love over the years and immerse yourself in the new character. Next time your at a video store, in need of that next fix from Netflix or channel surfing at 12midnight, check out these and treat yourself to some time well spent viewing.


Dame Judi Dench – “M” in recent James Bond movies, Cranford, Pride & Prejudice, Shakespeare in Love (Queen Elizabeth), Mrs. Brown (Queen Victoria), Room with a View, Chocolat and the previously mentioned Nine

Geoffrey PalmerDoctor Who, Ashes to Ashes, Mrs. Brown, Agatha Christie’s Poirot and The Madness of King George. Look for Geoffrey in single episodes of Blackadder, Fawlty Towers, Absolute Power and Fall & Rise of Reginald Perrin

thorntonforumFrank ThorntonGosford Park and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (with Zero Mostel)

Patricia RoutledgeHetty Wainthropp Investigates

Clive SwiftBorn and Bred, Peak Practice, Doctor Who and Heartbeat

hughesGeoffrey HughesHeartbeat, Doctor Who, The Royle Family and, believe it or not, Geoffrey was also the voice of Paul McCartney in Yellow Submarine

frenchDawn FrenchLark Rise to Candleford, Harry Potter (the Fat Lady in the Picture) and Murder Most Horrid

John CleeseThe Day the Earth Stood Still (remake), James Bond films, Shrek 2, Shrek the Third (voice of King Harold), Harry Potter (Nearly Headless Nick) and who can forget classic appearances on Will & Grace and 3rd Rock from the Sun. Also, you have to check out Romance with a Double Bass if you haven’t seen.

Richard BriersMonarch of the Glen, New Tricks and Torchwood

kendalFelicity KendalRosemary & Thyme

Penelope KeithThe Avengers

David TennantCasanova and Hamlet

Any Britcom star sightings you’ve particularly enjoyed over the years outside the roles they are known for? If so, share.

In: Actors/Actresses,Odds & Sods

  • I recently watched the BBC’s “Persuasion” and was happy to recognize Judy Cornwell from “Keeping Up Appearances”, as well as a fellow who I knew I recognized, but couldn’t place until I looked him up- Samuel West, who had an appearance on an episode of “As Time Goes By”.

    Thanks for starting this blog up! I love Britcoms and am very appreciative to KERA for the introduction.

    • @Jessica: Another recent find was Jack Davenport (Steve in Coupling) not only in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies but can be seen in the upcoming Richard Curtis film, Pirate Radio. If you happen to catch any others, send them on. Thanks for the kind words.

  • Bill, Jack Davenport is also in Flash Forward on ABC. That show has a fair number of actors from the UK.

    • @Julie: Noticed also that Gina Bellman (Jane in Coupling) was in a series called Leverage on TNT.

  • Oh, yeah, my mom and I call it “the spot the actor game” tho’ we don’t keep score. Zoe Wanamaker, Michael Kitchen, and Barbara Flynn have all been in several things on PBS, including, respectively, “Doctor Who” (Ninth and Tenth Doctors)/”David Copperfield”/”Inspector Morse,” “Reckless”/”Oliver Twist/”Foyle’s War,” and “Open All Hours”/”Chandler and Company,” and “The Forsyte Saga.”
    Sometimes if we can’t place someone I’ll look up the show on the Internet Movie Database and find out who’s who and what other shows the actor’s been in.
    British tv is more fun than American tv ’cause the quality is better and how you can spot people from show to show to show.