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Hugh Dennis

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Hugh Dennis
Dennis in December 2017
Birth namePeter Hugh Dennis
Born (1962-02-13) 13 February 1962 (age 62)
Kettering, Northamptonshire, England
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
Years active1989–present
GenresPolitical satire, impressionism, improvisational comedy, insult comedy
Subject(s)British politics, family, current events
  • Miranda Carroll
    (m. 1987; div. 1993)
  • Kate Abbot-Anderson
    (m. 1996; div. 2015)
Partner(s)Claire Skinner
Parent(s)John Dennis (father)
Relative(s)John Dennis Jr. (brother)

Peter Hugh Dennis FRGS (born 13 February 1962) is an English comedian, presenter, actor, impressionist and writer. He was a panellist in every episode of the comedy show Mock the Week (2005–2022).

He has also appeared in the comedy double act Punt and Dennis with Steve Punt and played Dr Piers Crispin in the sitcom My Hero (2000–2006), Pete Brockman in the sitcom Outnumbered (2007–2016, 2024), Toby in the sitcom Not Going Out (2014–present), and the Bank Manager in the first season of the comedy-drama series Fleabag (2016). He presents the community archaeology television show The Great British Dig (2020–present).

Early life[edit]

Peter Hugh Dennis was born in Kettering on 13 February 1962,[1] the son of schoolteacher Dorothy Mary (née Hinnels)[2] and Anglican priest John Dennis.[3] His older brother, John Jr., is a diplomat who has served as the British Ambassador to Angola[4][5] and the British Representative to Taiwan.[6] He grew up in the Mill Hill suburb of London as his father was appointed vicar of the local John Keble Church soon after his birth.[7] His father later became the Bishop of Knaresborough and then the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.[8]

Dennis was educated at private University College School in London. During his time at UCS, he played rugby with Will Self and was head boy in his final year.[9] He went on to read for the Geographical Tripos as an exhibitioner at St John's College, Cambridge. His thesis was titled "The Spatial Distribution of Elementary Education in 19th-century Wakefield".[10] He also joined the Footlights, where he first met Steve Punt and club president Nick Hancock, and the trio collaborated on a number of projects besides the annual revue.[citation needed] In 2016, Dennis said that he was approached by MI5 agents whilst at Cambridge University and attended a preliminary interview to join them; he decided that he did not want to take the option any further, particularly after being told during the interview that the job would require him to "do people over".[11]

After graduating with a first class honours degree,[8][12] Dennis worked for Unilever for six years in the marketing department while performing comedy with Punt at venues including The Comedy Store in London at weekends.[13][14] Whilst at Unilever, Dennis became a brand manager of Lynx deodorant. His time at Unilever came to an end when he and Punt had their BBC Radio 1 show The Mary Whitehouse Experience, which they had created alongside David Baddiel and Rob Newman, commissioned for BBC Two. Dennis was put on sabbatical by Unilever, as rehearsals for the show were to take place on a weekday, but he never returned to the company and instead chose to pursue comedy full-time as a result of the show's success.[15]

Dennis uses his middle name Hugh as his stage name because the actor Peter Dennis was already a member of the performing arts union Equity.[16]


Dennis during a recording of The Now Show, 2005

As an impressionist, Dennis did voices for Spitting Image[17] and appeared with Punt as resident support comics on two TV series hosted on the BBC by Jasper Carrott.[18][19] Dennis also appeared twice as a contestant on the topical panel show Have I Got News for You, including one opposite former schoolmate Self.

Punt and Dennis's radio career includes over a decade of performing Punt and Dennis, It's Been a Bad Week, The Party Line and the satirical radio comedy show, The Now Show. On The Now Show, Dennis was originally in a line-up including Punt, Mitch Benn, Laura Shavin, Jon Holmes and Marcus Brigstocke. He is friends with Chris Morris and has had cameos on Brass Eye as well as doing the narration for the CBBC show Sam and Mark's Guide to Dodging Disaster.[citation needed]

In December 2009, Dennis joined Oz Clarke in presenting the 60-minute Christmas special Oz and Hugh Drink to Christmas broadcast on BBC Two.[20] In December 2010 the pair returned for a four-part series called Oz and Hugh Raise the Bar, which puts them in a competition to create a bar featuring only local British food and drinks.[21]

Dennis has starred in a number of sitcoms, including My Hero, in which he played obnoxious GP Piers Crispin. From 2007 to 2014, he starred in Outnumbered, a semi-improvised sitcom based around family life[22] and won a BAFTA nomination in the comedy category for the 2009 Christmas special.[23] On Radio 4 he also featured in the sitcom Revolting People which, like Outnumbered, was co-written by Andy Hamilton.

Besides his regular television work, Dennis was a panellist on Mock the Week and appeared in every episode since its premiere in 2005, with the exception of a special episode of the programme that was broadcast as part of David Walliams' 24 Hour Panel People.[24] He is a regular guest on various BBC-broadcast comedy panel game shows such as They Think It's All Over, Would I Lie To You?, QI and has guest hosted Have I Got News for You. In 2011, Dennis hosted the short-lived improvisational comedy series Fast and Loose.

Beginning on 16 February 2012, Dennis and Julia Bradbury hosted a four-part BBC One documentary series The Great British Countryside.[10] From October 2014, Dennis has started appearing in the sitcom Not Going Out as Toby.

In 2016, Dennis appeared as the Bank Manager in the BBC Three series Fleabag, acting alongside Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the first, fourth, and final episodes of series 1.[25]

In February 2021, Dennis started presenting The Great British Dig on More 4.[26]

In the September 2021, Bond film No Time to Die, Dennis cameoed as a scientist in an MI6 laboratory.[27]

Personal life[edit]

Dennis lives in London, having previously lived near Chichester.[28] He married Miranda Carroll in 1987 and they divorced in 1993. He married Catherine Abbot-Anderson in 1996, and they had a son and a daughter before divorcing in 2015.[8][29][30] In June 2018, it was confirmed that he was in a relationship with his Outnumbered co-star Claire Skinner.[31]

Dennis is a supporter of Arsenal FC,[32] and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.[33] He took part in the 2007 L'Étape du Tour, cycling an open stage of the Tour de France for amateurs which was held in the mountains two weeks before the main event, and completed it in 11 hours and 7 minutes.[34]

In 2008, Dennis received an Honorary fellowship from the University of Northampton.[35]

In 2011, Dennis completed the Great South Run in Portsmouth for the Alzheimer's Society.[36]


Year Show Role Notes
1989–1991 Spitting Image Various characters Voice only
1991–1992 The Mary Whitehouse Experience Various characters Co-creator/writer
1992 Me, You and Him Harry Dunstan Co-creator
A Word in Your Era Prince John 1 episode
Springing Lenin Peter TV Short
1994 The Easter Stories Gardener 1 episode
1994–1995 The Imaginatively Titled Punt & Dennis Show Various characters 12 episodes
1996 The Detectives Seth 1 episode
1997 Brass Eye Dr Balb Kubrox 1 episode
2000 Doctors Nick Browning 1 episode
Jack Dee's Happy Hour Jed Cake Voice only; 8 episodes
2000–2006 My Hero Dr Piers Crispin
2002 TV to Go Various characters Series 2
2005–2022 Mock the Week Himself, regular panellist
2007–2014, 2016, 2024 Outnumbered Pete Brockman Series Regular
2009 New Tricks Tony Granville 1 episode
Hotel Babylon Jim Doody 1 episode
2009, 2010 QI Himself, guest panellist 2 episodes
2011 Fast and Loose Himself Host
2013 Agatha Christie's Marple Major Phillpot "Endless Night"[37]
2014–present Over to Bill[38] Bill Onion
Not Going Out Toby Also portrayed Captain Morris in 1 episode
2015 Ballot Monkeys Martin Frost
2016 Drunk History Napoleon/Richard III 2 episodes
Midsomer Murders Milo Craven Episode 19.1 "The Village That Rose from the Dead"
Britain's Classroom Heroes Presenter
2016, 2017 Insert Name Here Guest panellist 2 episodes
2016–2019 Fleabag Bank Manager 4 episodes
2017 The Red Nose African Convoy Himself One-off special
Taskmaster Contestant 8 episodes
The Zoo Narrator 15 episodes[39]
Possibly... The Best Adverts in the World Presenter One-off special
2018 Richard Osman's House of Games Contestant 5 episodes (won)
Trollied Jerome 1 episode
Nativity Rocks! Liam Hargreaves
2019 Urban Myths Richard Asher 1 episode
Yorkshire Airport Narrator 6 episodes
2020 McDonald & Dodds George Holden
2020–present The Great British Dig Presenter
2021 No Time to Die Dr Hardy
2021–present The Great British Dig: History in Your Back Garden Presenter [40]
2022 Huge Homes with Hugh Dennis Presenter [41]
Murder, They Hope Aaron Episode: "Can't See The Blood For The Trees"[42]
2023 The Couple Next Door Alan Richardson [43]
The Festive Pottery Throw Down Contestant Winner[44]
2024 Pointless Guest co-presenter


Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1994 Writers' Guild of Great Britain Awards Light Entertainment Canned Carrott Won
2010 BAFTA TV Awards Best Male Comedy Performance Outnumbered: The Christmas Special Nominated
2011 British Comedy Awards Best TV Comedy Actor Outnumbered Nominated [45]



  1. ^ {England and Wales Birth Index 1916–2005}
  2. ^ Dod's Parliamentary Companion 1995, Dod's Parliamentary Companion Ltd, p. 297
  3. ^ "Hugh Dennis: My family values". The Guardian. 16 January 2015.
  4. ^ "Change of Her Majesty's Ambassador to Angola". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  5. ^ "Change of Her Majesty's Ambassador to Angola". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  6. ^ "Hugh Dennis: My family values". The Guardian. 16 January 2015. Archived from the original on 14 October 2020. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  7. ^ "Hugh Dennis" Who Do You Think You Are? Episode 5 of 10, Series 9. Broadcast 12 September 2012.
  8. ^ a b c "Hugh Dennis on working with the kids of Outnumbered". Daily Record. 26 December 2009.
  9. ^ Have I Got News for You. Season 13. Episode 2. 25 April 1997. BBC Two.
  10. ^ a b "Hugh Dennis: I'm a happy rambler". Radio Times. 16 February 2012.
  11. ^ Dara O Briain And Hugh Dennis Talk 150 Episodes Of Mock The Week | This Morning, 14 June 2016, retrieved 27 July 2017
  12. ^ "Outnumbered's Hugh Dennis: 'It's not good for my image but I like cardigans". Daily Express. February 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  13. ^ "Why Footlights is a breeding ground for double acts". BBC. 6 December 2010.
  14. ^ "In your funnybone rather than your face: Punt and Dennis". The Independent. 3 July 1994.
  15. ^ Hugh Dennis On Spitting Image, Not Going Out And Starring In James Bond, retrieved 28 June 2022
  16. ^ Hardwick, Viv (7 April 2007). "A headline act". The Northern Echo (Newsquest North East). p. 26.
  17. ^ Deans, Jason (17 May 2004). "Spitting Image plans TV comeback". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  18. ^ Rampton, James (3 July 1994). "Show people: In your funnybone rather than your face: Punt and Dennis". The Independent. London.
  19. ^ "Impressions are back in fashion: The great pretenders". The Guardian. 30 September 2003.
  20. ^ "Oz And Hugh Drink To Christmas". BBC. 20 December 2009. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  21. ^ The BBC (21 December 2010). "Oz and Hugh Raise the Bar". BBC. Retrieved 26 December 2010.
  22. ^ "Outnumbered Press Pack". BBC. 17 August 2007. Retrieved 22 December 2009.
  23. ^ "BAFTA Awards 2009". Bafta.org. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  24. ^ "The Show". Mock the Week. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  25. ^ "Hugh Dennis". Royal Television Society. Archived from the original on 17 February 2024. Retrieved 17 February 2024.
  26. ^ Hugh Dennis to present The Great British Dig: History in Your Back Garden on More4 ; Channel 4
  27. ^ "Bond fans surprised by 'unlikely' cameo from British comedian in No Time to Die". The Independent. 2 October 2021. Retrieved 24 October 2021.
  28. ^ Heath, Jacob (23 August 2021). "TV star Hugh Dennis' life in Chichester and how he almost became an MI5 spy". sussexlive. Retrieved 19 August 2022.
  29. ^ "Marriages England and Wales 1984–2005". Findmypast.com. Archived from the original on 28 February 2009. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  30. ^ "Image for Father and Son Day for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity". twitter. Retrieved 12 May 2023.
  31. ^ "'Outnumbered' Actor Hugh Dennis Confirms Relationship With On-Screen Wife Claire Skinner". HuffPost. 1 July 2018. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  32. ^ "Hugh Dennis on being a 'complete idiot' around Hugh Laurie". Radio Times. 16 June 2013.
  33. ^ "Our members". Archived from the original on 13 May 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  34. ^ "Punt and Dennis – The right stuff". Edinburghfestival.list.co.uk. 8 August 2007. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  35. ^ Hugh Dennis welcomed to The University of Northampton Archived 18 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine Northampton.ac.uk
  36. ^ "Great South Run: £3m raised at Portsmouth event". BBC News. 30 October 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  37. ^ "Filming begins on ITV's Agatha Christie Marple adaptation, Endless Night". ITV. 17 March 2013.
  38. ^ "Can Comedy Playhouse save the British sitcom?". The Daily Telegraph. 29 April 2014. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  39. ^ "Hugh Dennis to narrate new CBBC comedy lifting lid on zoo animal antics". Basingstoke Gazette.
  40. ^ "Hugh Dennis to present The Great British Dig: History in Your Back Garden on More4". Channel4.com. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  41. ^ "Strawberry Blond TV wins double commission for Channel 4 and More4". Channel4.com/press. Retrieved 4 July 2022.
  42. ^ "Murder, They Hope". comedy.co.uk. Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  43. ^ "'The Couple Next Door'". deadline.com. Retrieved 8 November 2023.
  44. ^ "The Great Pottery Throw Down". channel4.com. Retrieved 23 December 2023.
  45. ^ "The British Comedy Awards – Past Winners". Retrieved 8 April 2020.

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