Helen Lederer

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Helen Lederer
Lederer in 2014
Born Helen Margaret Lederer
(1954-09-24) 24 September 1954 (age 62)
Carmarthen, Wales
Residence London, England
Children Hannah Lederer-Alton
Website http://www.helenlederer.co.uk/

Helen Margaret Lederer (born 24 September 1954[1]) is an English[2][3] comedian, writer and actress who emerged as part of the alternative comedy boom at the beginning of the 1980s. Among her television credits are the BBC Two sketch series Naked Video and BBC One's Absolutely Fabulous, in which she played the role of Catriona.

In 2015 her comedy novel Losing It was published by Pan Macmillan. It was nominated for the P. G. Wodehouse Comedy Literary Award and the Edinburgh Book Festival First Book Award.

Early life[edit]

Born in Carmarthen[4] to an English mother and Czech father, Lederer grew up in Eltham, south east London[5] and was educated at Blackheath High School (then a direct grant grammar school) and the Central School of Speech and Drama. She also studied at University of Hertfordshire.[6]

She has a BA in applied social science and received a doctorate from Middlesex University.


Helen was the only woman to write and perform in BBC Radio 4 ‘In One Ear’ Produced by Jamie Rix with Clive Mantle and Nick Wilton, it won the Sony Award for best comedy and progressed to the TV version called Hello Mum.

Lederer established a stand-up act at the Comedy Store in London and then won minor parts in episodes of The Young Ones, which had been written by her Comedy Store contemporaries Ben Elton and Rik Mayall. She would be linked with this scene for the rest of the 1980s, with a supporting role as housemaid Flossie in Happy Families and numerous appearances in related shows and live performances.

Lederer broke from the Comedy Store wing of the alternative scene in 1986 to take part in the BBC2 sketch show Naked Video, which had originated without Lederer on the radio in Scotland. Lederer played various roles, including that of a newsreader linking spoof headlines into clips which acted as punchlines, and a drunk Sloane who performed a monologue in each episode from a wine bar.

In the 1990s, Lederer was recruited by her old contemporaries Mayall and Adrian Edmondson to play supporting roles in two episodes of their sitcom Bottom, including a memorable part as a fallen millionairess on the make. Simultaneously, she played Catriona in Absolutely Fabulous, joining forces again with Jennifer Saunders. She had previously worked with Saunders and her comedy partner Dawn French in their sketch show French and Saunders, as well as Happy Families and the ITV sitcom Girls on Top. She also guest-acted in the Gregor Fisher sitcom The Baldy Man.

Lederer has always been a guest or supporting actress on programmes devised by or starring her alternative comedy contemporaries and as such has made a good, consistent career. She was one of the first female stand-up comedians to feature on ITV's Saturday Night Live with her own stand up set. She then took part in The Vagina Monologues on the West End stage. Following ‘The House of Blue leaves’ at the Lilian Baylis Theatre with the late Denis Quilley. ‘Having a Ball’ by Alan Bleasdale at the Comedy Theatre, she then appeared in The Killing of Sister George at the Arts Theatres and Calendar Girls with Kelly Brook at the Wyndham's Theatre.

As a presenter, Lederer has hosted and voiced lifestyle, religious and children's programmes. She has appeared on numerous radio panel games including Quote Unquote, The News Quiz and Just a Minute and writes columns for newspapers and magazines.

She has written and starred in radio shows Life with Lederer and All Change at BBC Radio 4.

In December 2009, Lederer appeared on Eggheads and went head-to-head against Kevin Ashman.

Lederer was one of eight celebrities who spent a week learning Welsh in an eco-friendly chic campsite in Pembrokeshire for the S4C television series cariad@iaith:love4language shown in July 2011.

She appeared in the 2011 British live-action 3D family comedy film Horrid Henry: The Movie, as the title character's aunt Rich Aunt Ruby.

In 2013, Lederer played Miss Bowline-Hitch in the children's television series Old Jack's Boat on the CBeebies channel. This role was alongside veteran actor Bernard Cribbins, playing the role of Jack, and supporting actors Freema Agyeman and Janine Duvitski.[7]

In January 2013 she was a contestant on ITV celebrity diving show Splash!, but was eliminated in the first round.

In October 2013, she played the midwife Mariam in Hollyoaks who was responsible for a baby-swap scandal, a role she reprised in 2015 before being killed off by the "Gloved Hand Killer".[8]

In February 2015 Lederer appeared, as grieving widow Safia, in the BBC soap series Doctors.[9]

She also appeared on Celebrity MasterChef, Loose Women and Countdown.

She competed in Celebrity Big Brother 20, eventually becoming the 7th housemate to be evicted.


  • Celebrity Big Brother (2017)
  • Ab Fab: The Movie (2016)
  • Hollyoaks (Mariam) 2013, 2015
  • Old Jack's Boat (TV series) 2013, 2014
  • Absolutely Fabulous (TV series) 1992–2012
  • Horrid Henry: The Movie (film) 2011
  • Agatha Christie: Miss Marple (TV film) 2009
  • Hotel Trubble
  • Big Brother’s Bit on the Side
  • Casualty (TV series) 1992–2011
  • Love Soup
  • Girls On Top
  • The New Statesman with Rik Mayall
  • Naked Video (series) 1986
  • Sooty
  • French & Saunders (TV series) 1988–1998
  • Heart Beat
  • Virtual Murder
  • Filthy Rich and Catflap
  • Saturday Night Live
  • One Foot in the Grave (TV series) 1993
  • Bottom (TV Series) 1991–1992
  • Jack Dee Show
  • Fat Slags (film)
  • Henry Enfield's Television Programme (TV series) 1992
  • Happy Families (TV series) 1985
  • The Young Ones (TV series) 1984
  • The Kid (film) 2010
  • Murder Most Horrid

Personal life[edit]

Helen's father was born in 1926 in Teplice, Czechoslovakia; many of her relatives were murdered in the Holocaust.[10]

Lederer has married twice and has a daughter, Hannah Lederer-Alton, with her first husband, journalist and The Observer editor Roger Alton. Her second husband is Chris Browne, a GP.[11] Helen Lederer is an ambassador for the Prince's Trust and the Eve Appeal Gynecological Cancer Charity.

Her daughter Hannah Lederer played the lead Abi (Jason Donavon’s daughter) in Echo Beach.


External links[edit]