26 August 1946 |
Liverpool, Lancashire, England, UK
(m. 1973–2001, divorced)
Steadman made her professional stage debut in 1968 at Lincoln's Theatre Royal. She established her career on television with roles such as Candice Marie in Nuts in May in 1976 and Beverley in Abigail's Party in 1977, a role she had originated on stage earlier the same year. Both were directed by Mike Leigh, to whom she was once married. In 1993, she won the Olivier Award for Best Actress for her role as Mari in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice.
She has twice been nominated for the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress, for the 1986 TV film The Singing Detective and the 2000-2005 TV series Fat Friends. Other television roles include Pride and Prejudice (1995) and Gavin & Stacey (2007-2010). She won the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress for the 1990 Mike Leigh film Life Is Sweet. Her other films include A Private Function (1984), Clockwise (1986) Shirley Valentine (1989), Topsy Turvy (1999) and The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004).
Steadman was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, 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. She won an Olivier Award for The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, and also appeared in 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.
Steadman starred with Myra Frances in Girl, a 1974 BBC play in the Second City Firsts series, performing the first lesbian kiss on British television. In 2014, she will appear in an episode of The Secrets.
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.
Steadman was one of the celebrities, including Tom Hiddleston, Jo Brand, E. L. James and Rachel Riley, to design and sign her own card for the UK-based charity Thomas Coram Foundation for Children. The campaign was launched by crafting company Stampin’ Up! UK and the cards were auctioned off on eBay during May 2014.
Awards and recognition
- 1987Nominated for Best Actress by BAFTA for The Singing Detective –
- 1992Awarded Best Actress by the US National Society of Film Critics for Life Is Sweet –
- 1993Awarded the Olivier for Best Actress for The Rise and Fall of Little Voice –
- 1998Nominated for the Olivier for Best Actress for The Memory of Water –
- 2000Invested as Officer of the Order of the British Empire –
- 2001Nominated for Best Actress by BAFTA for Fat Friends –
- "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]
- Rebecca Pocklington (6 May 2014). "Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Jo Brand and more celebrities design and sign cards for UK's first children's charity". Mirror Online. Retrieved 7 May 2014.