Since he made his name with Not the Nine O'Clock News, Mel Smith has taken the position of one of the most important figures in UK television.
After becoming one of the four success stories at the front end of Not The Nine O'Clock News, Smith formed a lasting relationship with co-performer Griff Rhys Jones, with whom he made Alas Smith and Jones and other sketch shows.
He also set up Talkback Productions, one of the biggest independent production companies and talent agencies.
Known for playing bullish, aggressive characters in Not, Smith's best work as a solo comedy actor was in Colin's Sandwich, one of the least-regarded but best sitcoms of the decade, where he completely overturned this image, playing a literary, philosophical rail complaints officer yearning to be a novelist.
Smith had been a director since university, and is now best known to the public for helming films such as Bean, The Tall Guy and Blackball.
Though he and Jones sold Talkback in 1999 to Freemantle (making it Talkback Thames), Smith remains one of the key figures in UK comedy, and has become active as a stage performer in the last couple of years.
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