Brian Conley

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Brian Conley
Born Brian Paul Conley
(1961-08-07) 7 August 1961 (age 52)
Paddington, London, England
Nationality British
Occupation Comedian, singer, actor
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Spouse(s) Anne-Marie
(1996 - present)
Children 2 daughters
Website
Official website

Brian Conley (born 7 August 1961) is an English comedian, television presenter, singer and actor. At the peak of his television career, he was the highest-paid male television personality in the UK.[1] Outside of television, he is best known for his frequent portrayals of Buttons in pantomime versions of Cinderella.

Early life[edit]

Brian Paul Conley was born in Paddington, London. His father was a taxicab driver.[1] He was brought up in West London and studied Performing Arts at the Barbara Speake Stage School.[1] As a teenager, Conley had a few minor television appearances, including an advert for hot dogs and a small role in a 1977 episode of the science fiction series Survivors.[1] At the age of 16, by lying about his age, Conley started work as a Pontin's Bluecoat.[1]

Career[edit]

Conley's first major show business success was fronting a comedy showband called Tomfoolery, who performed in pubs and clubs across England and Wales, sometimes as a support act for artists such as Johnny Mathis and the Nolans.[1] Although the group broke up due to internal disputes when Conley was 19, his work with the band led to him being talent spotted by agent Bob Voice.[1] As a result of this, Conley started working as a warm-up man for television personalities such as the Krankies, Kenny Everett and Terry Wogan.[1]

Conley's career was then advanced by TVS casting director Bill Hatterley, who secured him onscreen appearances on comedy shows such as Make Me Laugh (1982), The Laughter Show (1984-1985), Live from Her Majesty's (1984–87) and Five Alive (1987).[1] In 1989, with the support of London Weekend Television (LWT)'s light entertainment controller, Conley starred in his own comedy sketch show, Brian Conley: This Way Up.[1] This programme was popular, but not hugely successful.[1]

After two series of the show, Conley made his first appearance in the West End, playing the lead role of Bill Snibson in a production of Me & My Girl.[1]

In 1992, LWT offered him another opportunity to star in his own comedy programme, with The Brian Conley Show. At the suggestion of producer and director Nigel Lythgoe, this new show had a variety format rather than being purely sketches.[1] This different format proved popular, and the show became Britain's most-watched light entertainment programme.[1] Conley's next success was a sitcom entitled Time After Time, in which he played the lead role. The show was named 'Best ITV Sitcom' at the 1994 British Comedy Awards.

He then went on to play the hugely popular Doug 'Dynamo' Digby, starring opposite Amanda Holden, Nigel Planer and Noddy Holder in The Grimleys. He was also given two "An Audience with..." shows.

Conley recorded a live show in 1996 titled "Brian Conley: Alive and Dangerous", which was televised and featured stand-up plus special Nick Frisby/Larry the Loafer and Dangerous Brian sketches. The show was put on VHS and later on DVD.

Around 2000, Conley was given a new show for ITV consisting of chat and music called, once again, The Brian Conley Show. The show lasted for three series. The show's guests included some major Hollywood names like Kathleen Turner and Leslie Nielsen.

Conley also worked at the BBC for a couple of shows. His first being We've Got Your Number, a game show part of a long series of National Lottery game shows. Conley would later return to the BBC to present Let Me Entertain You in 2006.

He has done much stage work, including the parts of Buttons in Cinderella and Caractacus Pott in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

In 2003, he starred in the film Equilibrium.

In 2006, Conley returned to television, hosting a daytime variety show called Let Me Entertain You, a Lion TV production for BBC Two where 13-year-old operatic baritone Matthew Crane was the first series champion. On 1 December of the same year, he appeared as a guest presenter on The New Paul O'Grady Show on Channel 4, where Larry the Loafer made an appearance in the beginning, and Brian referred himself to "Dangerous Brian" as he was about to enter the "Tank of Doom" as part of a Bushtucker trial.

Later in 2007, Conley presented a second series of Let Me Entertain You on BBC Two, and presented a gameshow, Dirty Rotten Cheater for the BBC. Twenty shows were recorded in May at the Maidstone Studios in Kent.

Conley presented the Midweek Lottery show on BBC One in 2008. On 24 April 2008, Brian took over from ill presenter Paul O'Grady on The Paul O'Grady Show on Channel 4, where he starred once again as 'Dangerous Brian' and he contested against 'Nearly Dangerous Joyce'. Larry the Loafer also made an appearance. On 22 June 2008, Brian performed a cameo role in Last of the Summer Wine as "Boothroyd", Barry's fitness mad neighbour.

Brian appeared as part of Team Ant on Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, and took over from Michael Ball in the musical Hairspray playing the role of Edna Turnblad at London's Shaftesbury Theatre. He also played the same role in the UK Tour of Hairspray, sharing the role with Michael Ball and actor Michael Starke, at selected UK venues. He has also partaken in his own live show, "The Best of Brian Conley", which showcases 'the best' of Brian's material from his past shows, interspersed with occasional showreels of either Larry the Loafer, Dangerous Brian (depending on who Brian is about to come on stage as) or a generic showreel of his work. Like the Brian Conley Show, the stage show invites guests to perform on stage alongside Brian. In 2010, the show went on tour again, covering more areas of the country.

He recently finished playing Fagin in Cameron Mackintosh's Oliver! and also finished a West End run as Edna Turnblad in Olivier Award-winning Hairspray. His recent stage career has included lead roles in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Music Man at the Chichester Festival, Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show (directed and choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood) and Olivier Award-winning Jolson, in which he played Al Jolson.

On 7 November 2012, ITV confirmed that Conley would feature in the 2012 series of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!. On 19 November 2012, Brian left the jungle on medical grounds.[2]

In April 2014, Conley was a contestant on CBBC's 'Driving Academy'.

Personal life[edit]

Conley married Anne-Marie on 4 August 1996, in a ceremony at a Stoke Poges chapel, Buckinghamshire.[3] Conley had proposed eight months earlier, while wearing a suit of armour.[3] The wedding day itself also had comic elements, causing celebrity guest Linda Lusardi to remark that it was "the funniest wedding I've been to" — Conley made several memorable quips during the event, and the couple left the church in the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car.[3] The couple have two daughters.

Television, film and theatre credits[edit]

Television[edit]

As title star[edit]

As presenter[edit]

As actor[edit]

As guest/performer[edit]

Conley's appearances on chat shows include Aspel & Company (1993), This Morning (1993 & 2005), Open House with Gloria Hunniford (1998), The New Paul O'Grady Show (2005 & 2009), GMTV (2005), Breakfast (2008), The Alan Titchmarsh Show (2009), The One Show (2009), The 5 O'Clock Show (2010), The Michael Ball Show (2010) and Loose Women (2007–11, various episodes).

Additionally, Conley has appeared as a talking head on many compilation shows and documentaries including: The 100 Greatest Musicals (2003), Bob Monkhouse's Comedy Heroes (2004), Who Killed Saturday Night TV? (2004), The Story of Light Entertainment (2006), 100 Greatest Stand-Ups (2007), 50 Greatest Comedy Catchphrases (2008) and The Nolans: In the Mood for Dancing (2009).

Film[edit]

Theatre[edit]

Pantomime appearances[edit]

Other roles[edit]

Discography[edit]

  • Stage to Stage (Telstar, 1996)
  • Songs from the Shows (2002)
  • Brian Conley Sings (Sony, 2002)
  • Let the Good Times Roll (Universal, 2002)

Videography[edit]

  • Brian Conley: Alive + Extra Dangerous (Universal, 1996)

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awards
Nominations
  • 1996 Olivier Award for Best Musical Actor (for Jolson)
  • 2000 National Television Awards, Most Popular Comedy Performer

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Leedham, Robert (31 October 1993). "The laugh of Brian: Brian Conley". The Sunday Times. 
  2. ^ http://www.itv.com/imacelebrity/celebrities/
  3. ^ a b c Parker, Nick; Kandohla, Tracey (5 August 1996). "When she said `I will' it reminded me of our first date! - Laugh a minute as comic Brain weds". The Sun. 
  1. ^ Temporarily replacing Jason Donovan for 14 weeks beginning 15 March.
  2. ^ From 27 July 2009 to 24 October 2009 and from 2 February 2010 to 28 March 2010. Also played by Michael Ball and Phill Jupitus.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Jason Donovan
Actor to portray Caractacus Potts
2005
Succeeded by
Jason Donovan
Preceded by
Tim Flavin
Actor to portray Caractacus Potts
2006
Succeeded by
Gary Wilmot