Janice Connolly

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Janice Connolly
Janice Connolly as Barbara Nice.jpg
Janice Connolly

Stockport, Greater Manchester
ResidenceKings Heath, Birmingham[1]
Alma materBirmingham City University
OccupationActor, comedian, artistic director
Known forCharacter Mrs. Barbara Nice

Janice Connolly BEM is a British actress, comedian and artistic director. She runs the Birmingham-based group Women and Theatre, and performs stand-up comedy as her character "Mrs Barbara Nice". Connolly has also appeared in Coronation Street, That Peter Kay Thing, Phoenix Nights, Max and Paddy's Road To Nowhere, Thin Ice and Dead Man Weds. She has also worked at the Birmingham Rep with Roxanna Silbert as Artistic Director. In 2017 Connolly was awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Years Honours list for services to community arts in the West Midlands.

Early life[edit]

Connolly was born in Stockport in 1954.[2] She left to study drama at Birmingham Polytechnic (later renamed Birmingham City University).[3] After graduating she became a drama teacher and a social worker for Barnardos.[4]

In the early 1970’s Janice performed at Birmingham Arts Lab off Summer Row Birmingham in Dogman in with the cartoonist Hunt Emerson who also drew the set. Children’s playwright Mike Kenny, Chris George and Paul Fisher who wrote the piece. The performance was directed by John Dowie with costumes by cartoonist Suzy Varty.[citation needed]

Barbara Nice[edit]

Connolly is best known for her character Barbara Nice - a caricature of a middle aged housewife and mother of five from Kings Heath, Birmingham.[5] Her act is heavily reliant on interaction with the audience, for example acting as an agony aunt to the audience.[6] She performs on the comedy circuit as a headline act and has performed one woman shows across the UK. She appeared as Barbara Nice in solo shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2012, 2014[7][8] and 2018 [9]

In October 2015, Connolly recorded a pilot for BBC Radio 2's Comedy Showcase series, which was made available on the BBC iPlayer in November before being broadcast later that month.[7] The BBC said: "Barbara is worried she and Ken (played by John Henshaw) are at risk of adding to the numbers of silver splitters - they have nothing in common; Ken's idea of retirement involves a marathon session of Pointless and that doesn't fit with Barbara's idea of a well spent golden age."[7] The pilot was well received with 4 episodes commissioned and subsequently broadcast in March 2017.[10]

In September 2016, Connolly performed at the Keep Corbyn rally in Brighton in support of Jeremy Corbyn's campaign in the Labour Party leadership election.[11] Her hit touring Show “Raffle” centred around using music and dance for silly prizes -a format which she invented and developed over years of working interactively and building trust with audiences .

On April 20th 2019, Connolly auditioned in the character of Barbara Nice on the television programme Britain's Got Talent.

Other roles[edit]

Janice Connolly was part of the Birmingham independent music scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She performed with "The Surprises" and "The Evereadies" playing regularly in Moseley at the Fighting Cocks. Singles championed by John Peel included "Jeremy Thorpe is Innocent" and "Martian Girlfriend". Other local bands active at the time included UB40 who played as support band for the Evereadies at one point.[4]

Connolly was performing as Barbara Nice at the Palace nightclub in Levenshulme in 1997 when spotted by Peter Kay at the finals of the Manchester Evening News New Act of the Year and went on to appear in several of his television shows.[8] She played Holy Mary in Phoenix Nights, a part Dave Spikey claimed he wrote with her in mind and which was reprised in Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere written by Kay and Paddy McGuinness.[4] She also played Mrs Bamforth in That Peter Kay Thing.

Her other television work includes playing Carole in Dave Spikey's Dead Man Weds and appearing twice in Coronation Street as Dolly Gartside[5] and Sheila Wheeler. Radio work includes an appearance in the second series of Arthur Smith's Balham Bash where her character Barbara Nice played the resident housekeeper and mistress of the house. The Radio 4 show is recorded in Arthur's flat where guests are invited to join Arthur at home and to become a live audience for bands, poetry and comedy. The show was first broadcast in 2009, with a second series in 2010.[citation needed]

Janice is the artistic director and founder member of Birmingham-based Women and Theatre.[8] The company is committed to social change through new theatre and drama and in its mission statement states that it aims to make heard the voices of those who are not usually listened to. The company performs in a variety of settings including schools, arts centres, health centres and conference halls.[6] She ran the 'Laughing for a Change' project, funded by Time to Change, which encouraged comedians and audiences to talk about mental health; this culminated in a stand-up tour in 2014 featuring Seymour Mace, Rob Deering and others.[12][13] In October 2015, Connolly appeared in the stage adaptation of Meera Syal's novel Anita and Me at the Birmingham Rep, for which she was acclaimed for her "comic talent".[14]

Personal life[edit]

Connolly is married with two children and lives in Kings Heath, Birmingham.[3]

In 2017 she appeared in the New Years Honours list in recognition of her contribution to community arts through her work with Women and Theatre. She was awarded a British Empire Medal.[15]


  1. ^ "Barbara Nice: From stand-up to radio sitcom". BBC Radio. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  2. ^ Barnicoat, Becky. "Weekender: Barbara Nice, comedian, 57". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  3. ^ a b Laws, Roz. "Why comedian Barbara Nice threw herself off Birmingham mac's stage for Radio 2 sitcom". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Laws, Roz. "Alright on the Nights; JANICE RISES FROM THE PHOENIX CLUB". Free Library. Birmingham Post and Mail. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Barbara Nice Profile". Chortle.
  6. ^ a b "Barbara Nice Profile". Comedy CV.
  7. ^ a b c "Radio 2 Comedy Showcase pilot for Barbara Nice". Comedy.co.uk. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  8. ^ a b c Wallwork, Melanie. "Comic Janice Connolly reunited with Peter Kay and co for Phoenix Nights charity gigs". The Bolton News. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  9. ^ https://heroesoffringe.com/show-archived/barbara-nice-raffle/
  10. ^ "BBC2's Comedy Showcase". BBC Radio. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  11. ^ Burke, Darren (26 August 2016). "TV star comedians line up for Jeremy Corbyn rally in Doncaster". Doncaster: Doncaster Free Press. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  12. ^ Stephenson, John-Paul (21 February 2014). "Laughing for a Change: Stand-up tour raises mental health awareness". Giggle Beats. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  13. ^ Gill, Becca (1 March 2014). "Review: Laughing for a Change – The Stand, Newcastle". Giggle Beats. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  14. ^ Laws, Roz (14 October 2015). "Review: Anita and Me at Birmingham Rep is funny and shocking". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  15. ^ "New Year's Honours 2017 - Press releases - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 2017-02-16.

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