A comedy legend, a gay icon and a self-confessed lover of wine, comedienne, actress, broadcaster and writer, Helen Lederer has been charming and disarming the British public with her unique brand of self depreciating and slyly subversive humour for more decades than she cares to remember.
A member of the 80s London Comedy Store wave of emerging stand-ups, she first tapped the public’s funnybone with her ‘sloaney-girl-at-the-bar’ creation in the BBC comedy sketch show NAKED VIDEO. Then came SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, THE YOUNG ONES, FRENCH & SAUNDERS and BOTTOM, before we all fell in love with Catriona, the menopausal magazine editor she played in six series of TV comedy ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS – reprising the role in the 2016 film. A younger generation know her as Aunt Ruby from the HORRID HENRY movie and from CELEBRITY BIG BROTHER, where she was saved by the public vote three times and dubbed a ‘national treasure’.
The comedy art of surviving the business as well as her own, well-documented self-doubts, has always set her apart and inspired the critically acclaimed novel LOSING IT. Published in 2015 by Pan Macmillan and described by Stephen Fry as ‘desperately funny’, it was nominated for the PG Wodehouse Comedy Literary Prize. She has also written and presented BBC Radio 4’s PICK OF THE WEEK, as well as writing and starring in two Radio 4 comedies, ALL CHANGE and LIFE WITH LEDERER.
Her “divine wit” and endearing personality has been put to good use on THE NEWS QUIZ, LOOSE WOMEN, QUOTE UNQUOTE, COME DINE WITH ME, CELEBRITY MASTERCHEF, ROOM 101, JUST A MINUTE and ITV’s THE REAL FULL MONTY. Helen also has a BBC podcast, KNOCK KNOCK, where she turns up at various locations to chat to some of the UK’s some of the UK’s funniest new comedy talent. And her hilarious TEENAGE DIARY episode for Radio 4 with Rufus Hound is one of the most listened to on BBC iPlayer.
In 2018, after an absence of fourteen years, she returned to The Edinburgh Fringe with her acclaimed confessional stand-up show I MIGHT AS WELL SAY IT, a “searingly candid” biographical journey that reminded everyone how “cleverly insane” she is. When Helen finished her comedy novel, Losing It, she rather hopefully looked around for a female comedy literary prize to win and discovered there weren't any - which is why she set up the COMEDY WOMEN IN PRINT PRIZE. CWIP recognises burgeoning female comedy fiction writers in various categories as well as presenting a lifetime achievement award. With judges including Marian Keyes, Katy Brand, Jenny Éclair and Kathy Lette, CWIP enjoyed its inaugural launch in July 2019 and preparations are well underway for the 2020 event.
Helen has always worked a lot with charities including ambassadorships for Eve Cancer, WaterAid and The Princes Trust and is a trustee for Trent Park Museum. On a personal note, her Czech heritage involves a love of food and wine as well as an obsession with fabrics and cushions. Always one to dive into the deep end (with or without Tom Daly) Helen is currently working on her comedy memoir. We have been warned…
'A true comedy heroine'
*****- Entertainment Focus