We've been treated to a number of exceedingly funny women over the years, from Joyce Grenfell to Jennifer Saunders, Catherine Tate to Miranda Hart, who recently won Best Acress and the People's Choice awards at the British Comedy Awards. In honour of Miranda's show moving to BBC1, we decided it's time to celebrate the long list of funny women that have worked with us down the years.
We start with Joyce Grenfell, who started her career performing for troops during World War II before becoming a writer for the BBC. Joyce was also a noted film actor, appearing in the St Trinian's films, as well as writing and performing her one woman shows and monologues, including the classic harassed nursery teacher.
Written by Carla Lane, who also penned BBC comedies The Liver Birds and Bread, Butterfliesconcerned Ria, a put upon housewife who yearns for more. Ria was played to perfection by Wendy Craig over four series, and the show's title, Butterflies, was often cited as a metaphor for Ria needing to spread her wings.
Although Basil Fawlty is often regarded as the most memorable character in Fawlty Towers, it is Connie Booth's character Polly Sherman who anchors the show and tries to keep Basil out of trouble and the hotel ticking over. Cleese and Booth wrote both series together and the strength of the female characters is a testament to Booth's writing.
Despite the show running for four series and set over several hundred years, the character of Queenie, despite only appearing in Blackadder II in 1986, really stood out, and it would be hard to imagine anyone but the award winning Miranda Richardson playing the character.
Miriam Margoyles' turn as the puritanical Lady Whiteadder was something of a departure from her earlier appearance as the Spanish Infanta in series one but no less memorable. Miriam made a hat trick of appearances on the show in 1988 when she returned as Queen Victoria in Blackadder's Christmas Carol.
Joanna Lumley was once a model and a Bond girl but that didn't stop her turning sophistication on its head as Patsy Stone in Absolutely Fabulous. The show ran for five series, numerous specials, and also starred Jennifer Saunders who created and wrote the show. Jennifer is also known as one half of comedy duo French and Saunders, with Dawn French, whose comedy sketch show first aired on the BBC in 1987. Dawn French also starred in The Vicar of Dibley.
Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet), the snobbish social climber, provides many of the finest comedy moments in Keeping Up Appearances as she desperately attempts to cover for her less than well to do family and impress the neighbours. The show ran for five years from 1990 and this clip features a typically pompous moment for Mrs Bucket...sorry, Bouquet.
With a one woman show at the Edinburgh festival, roles in Big Train, Wild West, and performances with the RSC and National Theatre it was only a matter of time before Catherine Tate starred in her own show, which she also wrote. The show featured many quotable moments, but none entered the national lexicon quite like the phrase 'bovvered'.
Kathy Burke is a woman of many talents. Both an award winning comic and serious actor, who has also turned her hand to directing. She starred in Gimme Gimme Gimme and Harry and Chums, and her portrayal of teenage boy Perry is unforgettable.
Having starred in some of the best comedy shows of the past decade, including Big Train, I'm Alan Partridge, Human Remains and Ideal, Julia Davies is perhaps best known for writing and starring in dark BBC Three comedy Nighty Night, which first broadcast in 2004. Nighty Night co star Ruth Jones then returned the favour when she wrote Gavin and Stacey, which featured Julia as Dawn Sutcliffe.
Jo Brand is perhaps best known for her stand up which began when she was persuaded to give it a go in the '80s. Fast forward over 20 years and the former psychiatric nurse is now regarded as one of the premier female comics on the circuit. On top of that, she co-wrote and starred in the BBC Four sitcom Getting On.
Goodness Gracious Me began life as a Radio comedy before moving to TV in 1998. The show had a plethora of memorable characters including the Competitive Mothers as seen in this clip. Meera Syal has since gained further prominence as screenwriter of Bhaji On The Beach, had a Comic Relief number one hit single and starred in The Kumars at No. 42. She was also the recipient of an MBE in 1997.
Julia Walters and Victoria Wood's paths have crossed numerous times during their careers, most notably with their collaborations on Acorn Antiques and Dinner Ladies,which were both written by Wood. Julie Walters has also enjoyed several BAFTA wins, a Golden Globe, two Oscar nominations and a CBE. She's a novelist too. Meanwhile, Victoria Wood is also a recipient of a CBE and a BAFTA winner. She has written and starred in sellout stand up shows and composed the music, lyrics and book accompaniment to Acorn Antiques the Musical.
The Mrs Merton Show was a mock chat show which ran from 1994 to 1998 and starred Caroline Ahern as the eponymous Mrs Merton. Caroline Ahern co wrote the show with a number of writers including Craig Cash, who she subsequently wrote and starred with in The Royle Family.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.