26 August 1946 |
(m. 1973–2001, divorced)
Alison Steadman, OBE (born 26 August 1946) is an English actor. She established her career with roles such as Beverley in Abigail's Party and Candice Marie in Nuts in May for the director Mike Leigh, to whom she was once married. In addition to her stage and radio work, she has had lead roles in The Singing Detective, Pride and Prejudice and Gavin & Stacey. In 1992 she won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress for her role as Mari in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice.
Steadman was born in Liverpool, Merseyside, England, the youngest of three sisters, the daughter of Marjorie (née Evans), who died of cancer, and George Percival Steadman, who worked for Plessey, an electronics firm, as a production controller.
Steadman was educated at Childwall Valley High School for Girls, a state grammar school in the Liverpool suburb of Childwall, followed by East 15 Acting School, to which she secured a place in the autumn of 1966, where she first met Mike Leigh, during her second year.
Life and career
Having left the East 15 Acting School in Loughton, Steadman worked in various regional repertory theatres, starting at Lincoln, where her first role was that of the seductive schoolgirl Sandy in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. She created the role of the monstrous Beverly in Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party, which she reprised with the original cast on television. Steadman also appeared in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Entertaining Mr Sloane, Hotel Paradiso, and others in locations as diverse as the Royal Court, the Theatre Royal,[disambiguation needed] the Old Vic, the Hampstead Theatre, the Nottingham Playhouse, the Everyman Liverpool and the National Theatre. She starred as Elmire in the 1983 RSC production of Molière's Tartuffe, which was adapted for BBC television. In 2010, Steadman was cast as Madame Arcati in a revival of Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit, which was scheduled for a national tour from November 2010 to March 2011.
Steadman has appeared in many films, including Shirley Valentine, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Confetti, Clockwise, P'tang, Yang, Kipperbang, Wilt, A Private Function, Life Is Sweet and Topsy Turvy.
Steadman's television work includes Fat Friends as Betty, Grumpy Old Women, Stressed Eric, Let Them Eat Cake, The Singing Detective, No Bananas, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years as Pauline Mole, opposite James Bolam in the television film The Missing Postman and Pride and Prejudice as Mrs. Bennet. In 1991 she also appeared as Lauren Patterson in Gone to the Dogs, which was then followed up by Gone to Seed.
Television productions directed by Leigh in which she has appeared include Nuts in May, Hard Labour and Abigail's Party. She also appeared in the BBC comedy The Worst Week of My Life. In 2007 she featured in the BBC Wales programme Coming Home about her Welsh family history, with roots in Trefarclawdd & Ruabon.
On radio, Steadman's talent for mimicry and character voices was given full rein in shows such as Week Ending, Castle's on the Air and The Worst Show on the Wireless, in both the latter of which she played the over-protective mother to Eli Woods' long-suffering Bunty/Precious. From 1982 to 1984 she joined Eli Woods and Eddie Braben (Morecambe and Wise's scriptwriter) in the UK radio show The Show with No Name for the 13 episodes, in what can be described as an updated version of Round the Horne comedy sketch show. More recently, since 2002, she has starred as Mrs Naughtie in the series Hamish and Dougal. In December 2009, she starred in the late Mike Stott's 'My Mad Grandad' on BBC Radio 4.
In 1972, and in Manchester to shoot his television film Hard Labour, director Mike Leigh drove over to Liverpool to see Ted Whitehead's play The Foursome, (Steadman was in the Liverpool Everyman cast), and asked Steadman to be in his film. "During the preparation of the film, Mike and Alison, as they both say, 'got together.' " They married in 1973 and had two sons, Toby in February 1978 and Leo in August 1981. They separated in 1995 and divorced in 2001.
Awards and recognition
- Invested as Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1999
- Nominated for Best Actress by BAFTA for Fat Friends in 2001
- Nominated for Best Actress by BAFTA for The Singing Detective in 1987
- Awarded Best Actress by the US National Society of Film Critics for Life Is Sweet in 1992
- Awarded the Olivier for Best Actress for The Rise and Fall of Little Voice in 1993
- Nominated for the Olivier for Best Actress for The Memory of Water in 1998
- "Alison Steadman" Liverpool John Moores University Honorary Fellowship Award speech July 2010. Retrieved 7 June 2011
- Marie Curie Cancer Care advertisement, broadcast February 2011
- Film Reference bio
- Michael Coveney, The World according to Mike Leigh, p.90
- Bamigboye, Baz (16 July 2010). "From Spooks to a seance". Daily Mail (Associated Newspapers).
- "Alison Steadman: Britain's lady-in-waiting", The Sunday Times, 30 November 2008
- "My Mad Grandad", BBC, 28 December 2009
- Coveney, p.90
- Michael Coveney, p.18
- Alison Steadman. "The Alison Steadman Page". Pandp2.home.comcast.net. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
- [dead link]