Karen Dunbar

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Karen Dunbar
Born (1971-04-01) 1 April 1971 (age 48)
Ayr, Scotland
OccupationActress, comedian
Known forChewin' the Fat
The Karen Dunbar Show
Happy Hollidays
Commonwealth Games 2014
WebsiteOfficial website

Karen Dunbar (born 1 April 1971) is a Scottish comedian, actress, and writer. Born in Ayr and raised in Glasgow, Dunbar rose to public prominence when she appeared in the BBC Scotland comedy series Chewin' the Fat and was subsequently given her own show by the channel, The Karen Dunbar Show.

Early life[edit]

Dunbar was born in Ayr and moved to Glasgow at an early age.[1] She attended Ayr Academy, a secondary school in Ayr.[citation needed]


Dunbar began her career as a DJ and karaoke host before she attended The Comedy Unit’s open auditions in 1997 where she was cast in the BBC Scotland comedy sketch show Chewin' the Fat. She was subsequently given her own show by the channel, The Karen Dunbar Show, which received two coveted Golden Rose nominations for Best Comedy Show and Karen herself two personal nominations for Best Comedy Performance.[2]

Karen has presented BBC Radio Scotland series such as Karen Dunbar’s Beautiful Sunday and Karen’s Summer Supplement, as well as being Team Captain on the quiz show Step Back in Time.[3]

In Christmas 2007, Dunbar made her first appearance in pantomime, at the King's Theatre in Glasgow, playing Nanny Begood in Sleeping Beauty. Further pantomime roles include the dual role of the Good Fairy and the Wicked Stepmother in Cinderella (2008–09) and Widow Twankey in Aladdin (2009–10). She appeared as a critic on Britain's Got More Talent on 27 May 2008. She played the fairy godmother in Cinderella (2012–13) and appeared in the 2013-14 season as a new character, the Slave of the Ring, in Aladdin.

As a comedy actress, she has tackled serious roles, most notably to date her performance in the poetic monologue A Drunk Woman Looks at the Thistle adapted by Denise Mina from Hugh MacDiarmid's poem of the same name.

In 2009, Dunbar starred in a six-part series of the Scottish comedy Happy Hollidays.

In 2012, she played the role of Arme Gonnerssen in M.I. High.

In 2014, she was lead compère at the XX Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.

In October 2017 Dunbar appeared in BBC Scotland's River City for a special one-off appearance. She played the part of Francesca Simpson, estranged wife of Pete Galloway (played by Andy Gray).

Personal life[edit]

Dunbar is a lesbian.[4][5][6][4] She featured on the Scotsman's "Pink List" of LGBT people contributing to Scotland's cultural life in 2014[7] and was awarded the Role Model of the Year award at the Icon Awards which celebrate Scotland's LGBTI community in 2015.[5] She spoke about her experiences of homophobia and the acceptance she found in Glasgow's LGBT community in a BBC documentary, I Belong to Glasgow, screened in 2014.[8][9][1] She spoke in 2016 about her plans to marry her female partner.[4]



Year Title Role Notes
1999-2002 Chewin' the Fat Various Regular appearances
2003-2006 The Karen Dunbar Show Various All episodes
2007 An Audience with... Guest
2008 Britain's Got More Talent Guest; critic 28 May 2007 episode
2009 Happy Hollidays Joyce Mullen Six part television series
2012 M.I. High Arme Gonnerssen
2017 The Late Show with Ewen Cameron Guest
2017 River City Francesca Simpson Episode: 10 October 2017


Year Title Role Notes
2007 Sleeping Beauty Nanny Begood
2008-09 Cinderella Good Fairy
Wicked Stepmother
2009-10 Aladdin Widow Twankey
2012 Cinderella Fairy Godmother
2013-14 Aladdin Slave of the Ring
2015-17 Henry IV Vernon

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b English, Paul. "Chewin' The Fat star Karen Dunbar tells of gay hate ordeal and how her pet cat was drowned". dailyrecord. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  2. ^ "Karen Dunbar - actor singer comedienne". www.karendunbar.co.uk. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  3. ^ "Karen Dunbar - actor singer comedienne". www.karendunbar.co.uk. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  4. ^ a b c English, Paul. "Scots comedy actress Karen Dunbar 'over the moon' as she announces wedding plans". dailyrecord. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Comedian, top cyclist and Herald writer honoured at gay, lesbian and transgender community's big night out". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  6. ^ "Top politicians among nominees for Scotland's first LGBTI Awards". PinkNews. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  7. ^ "The Pink Scotland List: the pride of the nation". www.scotsman.com. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  8. ^ "Karen Dunbar: why I Belong to Glasgow". Evening Times. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  9. ^ "I Belong to Glasgow - Karen Dunbar - BBC One". BBC. Retrieved 2 March 2016.