Ruby Wax

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Ruby Wax
Ruby Wax.jpg
At the 2007 BAFTA awards
Birth name Ruby Wachs[1]
Born (1953-04-19) 19 April 1953 (age 61)
Evanston, Illinois, USA
Nationality British
Years active 1970s to present
Genres Alternative comedy
Spouse Ed Bye
Children Max Bye
Madeleine Bye
Marina Bye

Ruby Wax (born Ruby Wachs, 19 April 1953)[2] is an American born, naturalised British comedian.

A classically trained actress, she came to prominence as a comic interviewer, playing up to British perceptions of the strident American style, which she replicated in the TV sitcom Girls on Top. She also appeared in Absolutely Fabulous, where she doubled as script editor.

Wax has since been in steady demand as an interviewer of celebrities, a game show contestant, and a supporter of Comic Relief and other charities. Her memoirs, How Do You Want Me?, reached the Sunday Times best-seller list.

Early life[edit]

Wax is the daughter of Jewish parents who left Austria in 1939 because of the Nazi threat.[3] Her father became wealthy as a sausage manufacturer[4] and her mother qualified as an accountant. Wax was brought up in Evanston, Illinois, in the 1950s and 60s. Wax elected to major in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.


Early career[edit]

Wax came to the UK and studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. She started her acting career as a straight actress at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, where she began a long-standing writing and directing partnership with Alan Rickman, who later was to direct most of her stage comedy shows.[5] In 1978, she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, working alongside Juliet Stevenson in Measure for Measure, as Jaquenetta opposite Michael Hordern in Love's Labours Lost, replacing Zoë Wanamaker as Jane in The Way of the World[5] and appearing in the Howard Brenton three-hander Sore Throats.[6] While at the RSC, Wax also met and befriended Ian Charleson, and later contributed a chapter to the 1990 book, For Ian Charleson: A Tribute.[7]

Wax made a one-off appearance in a 1980 episode of The Professionals, Bloodsports, playing Lonnie, an American student. In 1981, she appeared in the follow up to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, called Shock Treatment. In the film, Wax portrays Betty Hapschatt, who got married to Ralph Hapschatt in the first film. Wax also appeared briefly as a secretary in Omen III: The Final Conflict.

Comedy work[edit]

Her popularity in terms of comedy came from her interviewing technique: she was always forthright, brash and loud, conforming to the British stereotype of an American. Her physical appearance matched this image, with black hair and blood-red lipstick. She cemented this trademark image in 1985, when she starred as loud-mouthed American actress Shelley DuPont on the British sitcom Girls on Top. According to a BBC Arena documentary narrated by Dawn French it was Wax's role as backstage interviewer at Amnesty International's 1987 benefit show The Secret Policeman's Third Ball that eventually boosted her career to a higher level.[citation needed]

Many of her early television shows involved her being put into a situation where she simply met and interviewed people, mostly extraordinary members of the general public (including a memorable visit to Boris Yeltsin prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union). In 1987, Wax was given her own comedy chat show Don't Miss Wax, on Channel 4. She was also hired as a radio presenter by the Superstation, an overnight sustaining service for commercial radio in the UK.[8]

In December 1989, she appeared in the Red Dwarf episode "Timeslides" as an American reporter.

Wax began work with the BBC in 1991 in a variety of television documentaries and interview programmes, similar in tone to her 1980s work on the UK's Channel 4. Programs on alternative health and primetime interviews culminated in the mid-1990s with Wax's 1996 series Ruby Wax Meets, for the BBC in which she interviewed public figures such as Imelda Marcos and Pamela Anderson.[9] Wax was nominated in 1996 for a BAFTA award for her interview with Sarah, Duchess of York, an interview which attracted an audience of over 14 million viewers.[10]

She also made several guest appearances in Absolutely Fabulous, a programme on which she served as script editor throughout the run of the series.[11]

From November 2001 to June 2002 Wax presented a TV quiz show broadcast on BBC1 called The Waiting Game.[9] Her final BBC interview series aired in 2003.

In 2005 Wax appeared as a cleaner in the music video to McFly's Comic Relief song All About You.

Writing, academia, corporate training and returns to television and stage[edit]

In 2002 Wax wrote her memoir, How Do You Want Me?, which became a best-seller according to the Sunday Times best-seller list.

In March 2003, Wax was one of the celebrity contestants on Comic Relief does Fame Academy, which was a spin-off from the BBC's Fame Academy with all proceeds donated to Comic Relief. Although not a good singer, Wax made it to the final, taking runner-up position to Will Mellor.[12]

Wax appeared in a supporting role opposite Olivia Williams and Andie MacDowell in the 2005 film Tara Road. In September and October 2005, she appeared as a celebrity contestant in Ant & Dec's Gameshow Marathon, progressing through to Sale of the Century before getting knocked out. In summer 2006, she was a celebrity showjumper in the BBC's Sport Relief event Only Fools on Horses. She presented Cirque de Celebrité on Sky One in 2006. Wax also appeared in an episode of Jackass where she participated in the Gumball 3000. While the race was stopped at the Latvian border she was wrestled by Jackass Personality Chris Pontius.

In March 2009, Wax returned to Comic Relief to take part in Comic Relief Does The Apprentice. Wax appeared in the 2010 Comic Relief in Comic Relief Does Master Chef in which Wax prepared an appetiser for the Prime Minister, David Cameron.

On 1 April 2009, Ruby Wax Goes Dutch premiered on Dutch television network Net5.

Wax's 2010 stand-up show Losing It deals with her experience of clinical depression.[13] The show played in London at the Duchess Theatre in 2011. Wax founded a mental health website in 2011 in response to the audience reaction from her theatre show.[14]

In addition, Wax teaches business communication in both the public and private sector. Clients include Deutsche Bank, the UK Home Office and Skype.[15]

In September 2013, Wax graduated from Kellogg College at Oxford University with a master's degree in mindfulness based cognitive therapy.[16] She previously earned a postgraduate certificate in psychotherapy and counselling from Regents College in London.[17]

In 2013, Ruby Wax published a book called "Sane New World", which became a number 1 best-seller. Two years later, in 2015, Wax announced that her third book would be published in January 2016 called "Wake The F ** K Up - A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled".



In 2004, the BBC planned to show a cartoon series called Popetown, which poked fun at the Roman Catholic Church. In it, Wax portrayed the Pope as a spoiled child. After protests, the BBC chose not to show the series.[18]

Slander case[edit]

In February 2004, Irish broadcaster Patricia Danaher reached an out-of-court settlement with Wax, who had falsely claimed that Danaher had made "racist" and "anti-Semitic" remarks about her in an interview for Ulster Television. Wax's legal team apologised in court, accepted that Danaher had not made any racist or anti-Semitic statements and announced that there had been a financial settlement.[19]

Opposition to disabled-access ramp[edit]

In November 2005, Wax was criticised by the Daily Mail columnist Richard Kay for opposing a proposed disabled-access ramp for the nearby Couper Collection charitable art gallery. The UK Sunday newspaper The Observer also reported the controversy,[20] as did the act "I, Ludicrous" in "The Ruby Wax Song", from their Dirty Washing 2008 EP.

Personal life[edit]

Wax is married to television producer and director Ed Bye, who produces some of the series of her long-time friends and working partners Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. Wax and Bye have three children, Max (1988), Madeleine (1990) and Marina (1993). Wax has also been very open about her own struggle with depression. She went on to make an online series on various mental health issues for the BBC and has worked with various mental health charities.[21]

Interview programmes & documentaries[edit]

  • Don't Miss Wax, Channel 4, 1987–1988
  • Miami Memoirs, Channel 4, 1988
  • East Meets Wax, Channel 4, 1988
  • Class of '69, Channel 4 1989
  • Wax on Wheels, Channel 4, 1988–1989
  • Ruby Takes a Trip, BBC, 1991
  • The Full Wax, BBC, 1991–1993
  • Ruby Wax Meets..., BBC, 1994–1998
  • Ruby's American Pie, BBC, 1999
  • Ruby Gets Streetwise, BBC, 2000
  • Ruby, BBC 1997–2002
  • The Ruby Wax Show, BBC, 2002
  • Ruby Wax With..., BBC, 2003
  • Ruby Wax's Mad Confessions, Channel 4, 2012


  1. ^ Greenstreet, Rosanna (14 December 2002). "Comedian Ruby Wax". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  2. ^ Who's Who. Oxford, England: A & C Black. December 2009. 
  3. ^; BBC Radio 4 – Factual – Desert Island Discs- Ruby Wax
  4. ^ " - The Age -". Retrieved 27 December 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Trowbridge, Simon (2008). "Ruby Wax". Stratfordians, a dictionary of the RSC. Oxford, England: Editions Albert Creed. p. 509. ISBN 978-0-9559830-1-6. 
  6. ^ Howard Brenton: Plays One, Methuen, 1986 ISBN 978-0-413-40430-5
  7. ^ Ian McKellen, Alan Bates, Hugh Hudson, et al. For Ian Charleson: A Tribute. London: Constable and Company, 1990. pp. 55–61.
  8. ^ Team Member
  9. ^ a b IMDB
  10. ^ "'I thought you could have it all'". The Evening Standard. Retrieved 27 December 2014. 
  11. ^ Presenters: James Martin (4 June 2011). "Saturday Kitchen". 10:33 minutes in. BBC. BBC One. 
  12. ^; CBBC Newsround TV FILM; Will beats Ruby in Celeb Fame Academy
  13. ^ Video on YouTube
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Comic Ruby Wax runs workshops for Home Office staff". The Guardian (London). 22 March 2010. 
  16. ^ "Hats off to comic Ruby". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 27 December 2014. 
  17. ^ "Training and Education". Retrieved 27 December 2014. 
  18. ^ BBC's banned satire on Vatican released Guardian Online
  19. ^ Staff (13 February 2004). "Ruby Wax apology over 'racist' claims". The Stage. Retrieved 16 December 2008. 
  20. ^ It's Wax versus Max in battle of the art barges | UK news The Observer
  21. ^ How we met: Ruby Wax and Ed Bye The Independent

External links[edit]