Jump to content

Nina Conti

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nina Conti
Conti performing with Monkey at the Glastonbury Festival 2010
Birth nameNina Margarita Conti
Born (1973-08-25) 25 August 1973 (age 50)[citation needed]
Hampstead, London, England
Years active1996–present
GenresVentriloquism, comedy
SpouseAndrew "Stan" Stanley (Separated)
Children2 [1]
Parent(s)Tom Conti
Kara Wilson

Nina Margarita Conti (born 25 August 1973)[citation needed] is a British actress, comedian, and ventriloquist.[3][4]

Early life


Conti was born and raised in Hampstead, London, the daughter of actors Tom Conti and Kara Wilson.[5][6] She attended King Alfred School, London, and graduated with a first class honours degree in philosophy from the University of East Anglia in 1995.[7] She was inspired and mentored by experimental theatre director Ken Campbell.[8]



Conti has worked as an actress since 1996.[citation needed] She appeared in several roles in Daisy and Ken Campbell's 1999 and 2000 productions of The Warp, Neil Oram's 24-hour play cycle, and was a member of The Royal Shakespeare Company 2000/01 company in Stratford-upon-Avon and London. Ken Campbell subsequently devised the ventriloquist play Let Me Out!!! for her, which she took to the 2001 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. She appeared as half-Afghan camera operator Azadine in Henry Naylor's play Finding Bin Laden at the 2003 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In 2005, Conti voiced Latrina in the animated comedy series Bromwell High.[citation needed]

Conti has appeared in several television shows, including Black Books, Holby City, Single, and the Australian panel show Spicks and Specks. Her radio performances include characters in Radio 4 comedy Clare in the Community.

Conti and her character Monkey portrayed a morning weather team on the fictional "Wake Up L.A." in Christopher Guest's 2006 film, For Your Consideration.[9]

Conti was awarded joint "Best Performance" in the Maverick Movie Awards for the 2021 film Her Master's Voice, in which she took the bereaved puppets of Ken Campbell, to a puppet graveyard in Kentucky. The film also earned a BAFTA nomination and a Grierson Award.[10][8]

In 2013, she portrayed the part of Bea Chadwick in Christopher Guest's HBO mockumentary Family Tree.

Her debut feature film Sunlight completed filming in April 2023.[11]

Stand-up comedy


In 2002, Conti won the BBC New Comedy Awards, came second in the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year and came third in "Laughing Horse New Act of the Year" competitions.

Conti regularly headlines at London comedy venues and has appeared at The Comedy Store.

She took her first solo full-length show, Complete and Utter Conti, to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2007, where she introduced some new characters as well as performing familiar routines. In 2008 she won the Barry Award for this show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, tying with Kristen Schaal.[12]

At the Melbourne Comedy Festival 2010 she debuted a new puppet, an elderly woman who is her "Granny". Conti and Granny appeared in episode six of the ninth series of the BBC comedy quiz show QI in 2011. On that episode, Conti noted that she inherited the Granny puppet from Ken Campbell on Campbell's death.[citation needed]

In 2012, Conti appeared in Russell Howard's Good News with Granny. She also used a mask on an audience member to persuade him to dance. On the series 8 premiere of Live at the Apollo, Conti expanded the act to provide voices for two audience members in masks.[citation needed]

In March 2013, Conti appeared on Let's Dance for Comic Relief with Monkey. She danced to "I Like to Move It" by Reel 2 Real.[13]

In June 2013, Conti appeared on Channel 4's Comedy Gala.[14]

Conti appeared as a guest host on the final episode of the ninth series of the BBC stand-up comedy programme, Live at the Apollo, performing her act with Monkey and an additional dummy-mask routine.

In October 2014, Conti appeared on Channel 4's The Feeling Nuts Comedy Night raising awareness of testicular cancer.[15]

In 2015, Conti appeared on BBC Four's Clowning Around, where she trained to be a giggle doctor and clown, and performed to children in hospitals.[citation needed]

In May 2015, Conti appeared on 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown in Dictionary Corner and used Fabio, the show's regular prop guy, as a dummy.[citation needed]



Conti's radio work includes Clare in the Community, Sneakiepeeks and guesting on Parsons and Naylor's Pull-Out Sections.



Conti's television work began in 2002 with parts in Black Books and Holby City.

In 2003, she starred as Mary in a series called Single, then in 2005 voiced characters in another series entitled Bromwell High. She played a part in Blunder, The Golf War and featured in Comedy Cuts in 2006, 2007 and 2008 respectively.

In 2013, Conti, along with her puppet Monkey, played a feature role in Family Tree as Bea Chadwick.

Conti has appeared on Pointless Celebrities twice: 10 November 2018 with Sally Phillips and 30 October 2021 partnering Tim Vine.



Conti has appeared in a number of diverse forms of media including films, television shows, and shorts, listed below.[16]

Year Title Role Notes
1999 The Colour of Funny Sally Bismarck
2001 Zulu 9 Couple – Woman
2002 Black Books Kate Series 2 Episode 1
2002 Holby City Lindsey Brandon
2003 Single Mary TV series
2005 Bromwell High Latrina (voice) TV series
2006 Blunder Various
2006 For Your Consideration Weather Woman
2007 The Golf War Susan Oglivy
2008 Comedy Cuts Herself Episode 2.1
2009 How It's Done Lady of the Book Short
2009 Peacock Season Hilly
2011 Nina Conti – Talk to the Hand Herself/Writer live show 2010
2012 Nina Conti – A Ventriloquist's Story: Her Master's Voice Herself/Director documentary
2012 Make Me Happy: A Monkey’s Search for Happiness Herself/Director documentary
2013 Family Tree Bea Chadwick and Monk
2014 Nina Conti – Dolly Mixtures Herself/Writer live show 2014
2014 The Feeling Nuts Comedy Night Herself
2015 Nina Conti Clowning Around Herself/Director documentary
2015 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown Herself Series 7, episode 1
2017–18 Nina Conti in Therapy Herself/co-writer 8 part web series
2019 The World's Best Herself/Contestant TV series
TBA Spinal Tap II[17] Filming





Monkey is a cynical monkey who is continually insulting Conti and swearing when he does not have his demands fulfilled. He often deconstructs ventriloquism by pointing out that he has no microphone, or that all of his ideas are Conti's, and calls it a "dead art". He sometimes shows irritation towards performing on stage and makes Conti laugh at his words.[18][19]



Granny is an elderly Scotswoman to whom Conti refers as someone who is a lot like her own grandmother. Granny often chides Conti for the simplest things Conti has done; for instance, when Conti reveals she has two legs, Granny responds by saying "Oh, two legs? You're spoiling me!" Her main act is to telepathically guess numbers or words, which she always guesses correctly. She also talks about her dead husband, Frank. Granny refers to people with words like "dear", "child" or "my daughter". The original prop was donated to Vent Haven Museum in July 2009, in memory of Ken Campbell, from whom Conti received her,[18] but Conti had a replica made which she continues to use in her acts.

Face mask


The face mask, rather than an actual puppet with a personality, is a mask that covers the lower half of an audience participant's face and can be manipulated by a hand-piece held by Conti to make it look like the participant is talking. Conti often uses this to put the participant in awkward and embarrassing situations, such as making them say that they want nothing more than to dance in front of the audience, while their body language suggests the opposite.[20]

Personal life


Conti was in a relationship with the comedian and actor Ken Campbell, from whom she inherited his collection of ventriloquist dummies after he died.[19][21] She has two sons from her marriage with fellow comedian Andrew "Stan" Stanley, from whom she is separated.[1]


  1. ^ a b Rocca, Jane (26 October 2019). "Nina Conti: I've learnt to 'take my hands off the wheel and live'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  2. ^ "Nina Conti". Woman's Hour. 6 July 2012. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  3. ^ "Nina Conti Biography". TVGuide.com. Retrieved 17 November 2023.
  4. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  5. ^ Fulton, Rick (16 July 2012). "Tom Conti's daughter Nina proves she's no muppet for working with dummies ahead of Edinburgh Festival appearance". Daily Record. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  6. ^ MacInnes, Paul (11 August 2008). "Edinburgh festival rapid review: Nina Conti". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 August 2009.
  7. ^ Hattenstone, Simon (14 December 2013). "Comedians and their parents: Nina Conti and father Tom". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Nina Conti".
  9. ^ Humphreys, Jemma (2 May 2008). "Interview: Nina Conti". Lancashire Telegraph. Retrieved 8 June 2012.
  10. ^ "2012 – Maverick Movie Awards! Where moviemakers honor moviemakers from all over the world!". Maverickmovieawards.com. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  11. ^ Richardson, Jay (24 April 2023). "Nina Conti inhabits Monkey alter-ego for dark comedy movie Sunlight". Comedy.co.uk. Retrieved 2 May 2024.
  12. ^ Kent, Melissa (13 April 2008). "Top comics grin and share the main prize". The Age. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  13. ^ "Lets Dance for Comic Relief – Series 5 – Episode 3". Radio Times. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  14. ^ "Channel 4's Comedy Gala 2013". Channel 4. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  15. ^ "The Feeling Nuts Comedy Night – All 4". Channel4.com. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  16. ^ "Nina Conti". IMDb.com. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  17. ^ Matt Grobar (26 March 2024). "Fran Drescher, John Michael Higgins, Griffin Matthews & More Set For Roles In 'This Is Spinal Tap' Sequel". Deadline.
  18. ^ a b "Her Master's Voice". IMDb.com. 6 February 2014.
  19. ^ a b Shoard, Catherine (15 March 2012). "Nina Conti: 'I feel it's not in my film how much I miss Ken'". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  20. ^ Angela Ritwo (2 June 2012). "Nina Conti on Russel Howard's Good News". YouTube. Archived from the original on 14 December 2021.
  21. ^ Dessau, Bruce (4 May 2013). "Nina Conti: The acclaimed ventriloquist on the seductions of acting and throat-singing". The Independent. Archived from the original on 21 June 2022. Retrieved 16 November 2016.