Ronni Ancona

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Ronni Ancona
Born (1966-07-04) 4 July 1966 (age 55)
Louth, Lincolnshire, England
OccupationActress, impressionist, author
Spouse
Gerard Hall
(m. 2004)
Children2

Veronica (Ronni) Jane Ancona (born 4 July 1966)[1][2] is a British actress, comedian, impressionist and writer best known to British audiences for The Big Impression (formerly Alistair McGowan's Big Impression), which she co-wrote and starred in[3] and was, for four years, one of BBC1's top-rated comedy programmes[4] – winning numerous awards, including a BAFTA in 2003.[5] Ancona also starred in series 1 of the BAFTA winning ITVThe Sketch Show’.[6][7] Ancona has appeared in the BAFTA winning Last Tango in Halifax[8] since its creation in 2012, and up until the present day.[9][10] She is the director alongside Sally Phillips & Nick Hamson, to their production company: Captain Dolly.[11][12]

Early life[edit]

Ancona was born in Louth, Lincolnshire,[1] but moved to Scotland when she was a few days old.[10] and was mostly brought up in Troon, Scotland. She is of Italian Jewish descent.[13] Her father was a commander in the Royal Navy and her mother was an artist who painted the sets at the Gaiety Theatre in Ayr and the Theatre Royal in Glasgow.[14] Ancona is the youngest of three children, with two older brothers.[10] In the BBC television programme Comedy Map of Britain she returned to her old school in Troon and talked about her earliest comedy performing experience as part of an improvisation group called Pots People.[15]

She attended University of Kent at Canterbury to study film and then did a degree in theatre & TV design at Saint Martin's School of Art.[16] She was once featured on Before They Were Famous, when at 19, Blue Peter did an item on a play about Brecht she was performing in and designing for at Riverside Studios while at St Martin's.[17] Ancona then attended the Institute of Education, University College London and became a qualified teacher in art, design & technology & drama.[18] Whilst working as a teacher, Ancona's comedy career started on the comedy circuit when she won the Time Out Hackney Empire New Act of the Year in 1993.[18]

Television career[edit]

For many years Ancona worked extensively in radio and on television shows, such as Fist of Fun,[19] as well as performing stand-up comedy. She co-wrote and performed in shows such as Comedy Nation, Pulp Video, and The Sketch Show alongside Lee Mack.[20][7] Many of these sketches have since gone viral on TikTok. From then on, her career blossomed, establishing her name as a top comedian and comedy actress when she joined fellow impressionist Alistair McGowan, to create the show The Big Impression.[3] The show was one of BBC1's top-rating comedy programmes for four years,[4] making Ancona a household name as well as winning multiple awards such as the Variety Club Comedy Award for their work on BAFTA winning The Big Impression[5][21] and in 2003 she won ‘Best Actress’ at the British Comedy Awards.[22] McGowan and Ancona are probably best known for their portrayal of Posh and Becks with McGowan as David Beckham and Ancona in the role of Victoria Beckham.[23], although many of her other impressions such as Olivia Colman, Nigella Lawson, Audrey Hepburn, Lorraine Kelly, Barbara Windsor, amongst many others, became legendary.[3][10][24] Before The Big Impression, Ancona and McGowan first worked together on their TV series; The Staggering Stories of Ferdinand De Bargos, for which they re-voiced old footage,[25] and the sports comedy show, Standing Room Only.

In 2003 she starred in BBC1’s The Key.[26]

In 2005 she played Barbara, opposite Bill Nighy, Miranda Richardson and Emily Blunt in Stephen Poliakoff's Gideon's Daughter on BBC One.[27]

She has appeared seven times on the BBC celebrity panel show QI and has won episode four of series D ('Dictionaries') in October 2006,[28] first episode of series F in November 2008[29] ('Family') and won on the women's team with Sandi Toksvig in January 2010.[30] Ancona won again in 2017, Series N Episode 13.[31]

In November 2006 she was a guest presenter of Have I Got News For You.[32] She also appeared on the Channel 4 comedy show TV Heaven, Telly Hell discussing her preferences in television shows.

In December 2006 she revealed herself as a fan of Strictly Come Dancing and appeared on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two.

In 2007, following a successfully received pilot, the BBC commissioned a new comedy sketch series titled Ronni Ancona & Co consisting of her own material[33] and co-starring Phil Cornwell, Jan Ravens and John Sessions.[34] The show initially aired on 25 May 2007 and had three episodes.[35]

She appeared as the mother of Katie and Emily Fitch in the third (2009) and fourth (2010) series of Skins.[36] In 2009 she appeared in Hope Springs on BBC 1 - she was one of eight main cast members.[37] On 24 July 2009, Ancona appeared on The One Show,[38] and she appeared on it again, with Alistair McGowan, on 16 October 2009.[39]

In 2009 Ancona's first book A Matter of Life And Death: How To Wean A Man Off Football was published by Faber & Faber.[40] As part of BBC's Big Read she promoted The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.[41]

In April 2010, she appeared on A Comedy Roast, celebrating Sharon Osbourne's life.[42] She has been on Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special where she was paired with Anton Du Beke in 2010.[43]

Ancona also took part in Comic Relief’s Desert Trek 2011 alongside Craig David, Olly Murs, Dermot O’Leary, Scott Mills and Lorraine Kelly.[44]

In 2012 she appeared in Last Tango in Halifax as Judith on BBC One.[8]

On 2 January 2015 she was a guest on Room 101.[45]

In 2016, Ancona played the role of Mrs Fletcher, the manager of a local care home in the seventh series of the Scottish comedy Still Game.[46] In 2016, Ancona also made a guest appearance in an episode of the long running television series Celebrity Antiques Road Trip (Series 6, episode 10) - her partner in the episode was antiques expert James Braxton.[47]

In April 2017 Ancona appeared as a guest on ITV's The Nightly Show presented by Jason Manford in which they both performed impersonations of famous people and each tasked with identifying the impersonation while visually screened from each other.[48] During this, the audience were made more visually aware of the person being impersonated by the use of Computer Generated Imagery (CGI).

On 27 December 2020, Ancona appeared as a contestant on the Christmas special of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Celebrity Special.[49]

She won Pointless Celebrities in 2021 with Jan Ravens.[50]

Film career[edit]

Ancona’s first feature role was in 1996 when she played Valerie’s sister in The Debt Collector, with lead Billy Connolly as Nickie Dryden.[27] Shot around the City of Edinburgh, with its coarse language and criminal underclass, we see the wrath of spite, hate, jealousy, and violent vengeance all in the final showdown of justice, and with it, its uncompromising final debt to society.

In 2004, she played the role of Pat Connelly in The Calcium Kid, featuring Orlando Bloom as a milkman and amateur boxer, Michael Peña and Billie Piper.[51]

In 2004, Ancona was also cast in Stella Street: The Movie, after Peter Richardson, John Sessions and Phil Cornwell decided to make the TV comedy programme into a feature film after the 4th series, with the show taking form of a mockumentary filmed on a camcorder. Ancona was added to the team to play numerous female celebrities, including; Tara / Madonna / Posh Spice / Penelope Cruz / Jerry Hall / Vicar's Wife / Check-out Girl / Stephanie Giraffe / Jenny Saddler.[52]

In 2005, Ancona played the role of Anita in Michael Winterbottom's A Cock and Bull Story; an adaption of Laurence Sterne’s novel “The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentlemen". It also starred Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Keeley Hawes and Gillian Anderson.[53]

Ancona took the role as Wanda, a matchmaker, in the 2006 fantasy romantic comedy, Penelope. The film also stars Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Catherine O'Hara, Peter Dinklage, Richard E. Grant, and Reese Witherspoon.[54]

In 2013, Ancona was cast as Mrs Spencer in The Devil Went Down to Islington, a horror film following two hapless Londoners who sell their souls to Satan.[55]

The Trip to Italy is a 2014 British film written and directed by Michael Winterbottom. It is the sequel of Winterbottom's TV series The Trip, and similarly stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s fictionalised versions of themselves. Ancona plays the character Donna, Rob Brydon’s agent in the feature.[56]

In 2018, she played Mrs Poopsie Chow’s Owner in Show Dogs, the American buddy cop comedy film directed by Raja Gosnell and written by Max Botkin and Marc Hyman.[57]

Fatal Attraction director, James Dearden shot the 2018 feature; Surviving Christmas with The Relatives, which Ancona plays Vicky alongside Gemma Whelan, Joely Richardson, Patricia Hodge, Sally Phillips and Julian Ovenden.[58]

Theatre[edit]

Her first Edinburgh appearance was in 1992, when she performed in two shows, the Inexplicable World of Lionel Nimrod with Stewart Lee & Richard Herring and a stand-up show with Alistair McGowan.

Her first theatre role was in Misonceptions in 1996, a comedy play she co-wrote with Alan Francis and directed by Anthony Nielson.

In 2004 Ancona was cast in Singin' in the Rain, the first production with Adam Cooper. Ancona played the role of Lina Lamont, the silent-movie starlet, in the Sadler's Wells production.[59]

She then played the gold-digging temptress Belline in Molière's The Hypochondriac in a new version by Richard Bean alongside Carey Mulligan & Henry Goodman.[17] The play received favourable reviews and was given 4 * by Michael Billington for The Guardian stating, it was a “hilarious new version”.[60]

Ancona returns to the Almeida to lead the play Little Revolution, following the 2011 London riots. Ancona co-stars alongside Game Of ThronesLucian Msamati and Sense And Sensibility’s Imogen Stubbs.[61]

In June 2015, Ancona was cast to play the role of Paula, in the new West End musical Bend It Like Beckham due to open in the Phoenix Theatre. Unfortunately, after signing up, her eldest daughter fell ill causing her to pull out of the play.[62]

Ancona continued her theatre work however in 2015 when playing Miss Eerie in the “phenomenally popular” The Tale of Mr Tumble, premiering at the Opera House in Manchester.[63]

In 2019 she returned to the stage and performed in the Edinburgh Fringe show Just Checking In, which she co-wrote with Kim Fuller and fellow cast member Lewis MacLeod.[64]

Awards[edit]

Ancona co-wrote The Big Impression,[3] which won numerous awards including a BAFTA in 2003,[5] she was also nominated for The Best Comedy Newcomer in 2000[65] and The Best Comedy actress in 2002,[66] as well as winning The Best TV comedy Actress in 2003.[22] Ancona and McGowan also received The Variety Club Comedy Award in 2002.[21]

Ancona has also been awarded with The Maxim Women of the Year Award (Comedy Actress Winner) in 2002 and The Glamour Woman of the Year Award (Funny Woman award) in 2004.

Nominee - The Best Comedy Newcomer - 2000 (Big Impression)[65]

Winner - Broadcast Award - 2001

Nominee – The best comedy Actress - 2002 (Big Impression)[66]

Winner - The Variety Club Comedy Award - 2002[21]

Winner - TRIC – New TV Talent of the Year - 2002[67]

Winner - Maxim Women of the Year Award (Comedy Actress Winner) – 2002

Winner - The Best TV Comedy Actress in 2003 (Big Impression)[22]

Winner - Glamour Woman of the Year Award (Funny Woman award) – 2004

Winner - BAFTA – The Sketch Show[6]

Winner- BAFTA – The Big Impression[5]

Personal life[edit]

Ancona had a seven-year relationship with Alistair McGowan which ended shortly before they started working together professionally. Ancona is married to Gerard Hall,[68] a consultant rheumatologist[69] with whom she has two daughters. They live in West London.[70]

In 2020, she set up a production company titled Captain Dolly, alongside Sally Phillips and Nick Hamson as part of Film Soho.[11][2] Film Soho is the principal company for a series of boutique subsidiaries, encompassing Film and TV content development, production, postproduction, distribution and international sales.[71]

Ancona is an ambassador to EIA (Environmental Investigation Agency),[72] Marie Curie[73] and Sightsavers.[74]

Appearances[edit]

Television[edit]

Pointless Celebrities (Series 13, Episode 24 "Impressionists") BBC One 2021
The Chase (British game show) celebrity special ITV 2020
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Celebrity Special (Series 35, Christmas Special) ITV 2020
Last Tango in Halifax BBC One 2012–2020 (15 episodes)
Lorraine ITV 2020
Britain's Greatest Comedian GOLD 2019
Strictly Come Dancing BBC One 2018
The Week That Wasn't Sky One 2018
The One Show BBC One 2018
Good Morning Britain ITV 2018
The Imitation Game ITV 2018
Where in the World? CBeebies 2017
The Nightly Show ITV 2017
QI (Series N Episode 13 "Naval Navigation") BBC One 2017
Doctors BBC One 2016
Celebrity Antiques Road Trip (Series 6, Episode 10) BBC Two 2016
Pointless Celebrities (Series 10, "Impressionists") BBC One 2016
Still Game (Series 7 Episode 6 "Down and Out") BBC One 2016
Marriage of Reason and Squalor Sky Arts 2015
Citizen Khan (Series 4 Episode 4 "Chicken Shop") BBC One 2015
Father Brown (Series 3, Episode 8 "The Lair of the Libertines") BBC One 2015
Room 101 (Series 4, Episode 1) BBC One 2015
The Saturday Night Story BBC One 2015
The Trip BBC Two 2014
Portrait Artist of the Year Sky Arts 2014
The Blame Game BBC One 2014
QI (Series L, Episode 11) BBC Two 2014
Pointless Celebrities (Series 6, episode 30 "Comedy Performers") BBC One 2014
Pointless Celebrities (Series 6, episode 12 "Comedy Performers") BBC One 2014
Greatest 80's Movies Channel 5 2014
Sunday Side Up ITV 2013
The Wright Stuff Channel 5 2013
Britain's Secret Homes ITV 2013
Scots on the Box BBC One 2012
Bring Me Morecambe and Wise GOLD 2012
Little Crackers Sky 1 2012
Britain's Funniest Comedy Characters GOLD 2012
Last Tango in Halifax (Series I) BBC One 2012
QI (Series I, Episode 11) BBC Two 2011
Shooting Stars (Series 8) BBC Two 2011
Loose Women (Series 16) ITV 1 2011
Midsomer Murders (Series 13, Episode 8) ITV 1 2011
My Favourite Joke BBC One 2011
The Comic Strip Presents - Barbara Windsor Channel 4 2011
Pet Squad CBBC 2011
QI (Series H, Episode 15) BBC One 2011
The Big Red Nose Desert Trek BBC One 2011
QI (Series G, Episode 7) BBC One 2010
A Comedy Roast: Sharon Osbourne Channel 4 2010
Stand Up Hero ITV4 2010
Skins E4 2009/2010
Not Again: Not the Nine O'Clock News BBC Two 2009
Steve Coogan: The Inside Story BBC Two 2009
The Grumpy Guide to Christmas BBC Two 2009
Would I Lie To You? BBC One 2009
Bremner, Bird & Fortune Channel 4 2009
The One Show BBC One 2009
The One Show BBC One 2009
Hope Springs BBC 2009
QI (Series F, Episode 1) BBC Two 2008
Ronni Ancona & Co BBC 2008
Comedy Classic 2008
TV Heaven, Telly Hell Channel 4 2007
Richard & Judy Channel 4 2007
Summer Exhibition 2007
The New Paul O'Grady Show ITV 2007
Comic Relief 2007 BBC One 2007
The Comedy Map of Britain BBC Two 2007
Agatha Christie's Marple ITV 2007
Hotel Babylon BBC One 2007
QI (Series D, Episode 4) BBC Four 2006
Have I Got News For You (Series 32, episode 6) BBC One 2006
The Story of Light Entertainment BBC Two 2006
Britain's Funniest Comedy Character GOLD 2006
The Secret Policeman's Ball Channel 4 2006
Annually Retentive (Series 1, episode 4) BBC Three 2006
Monkey Trousers ITV 2005
Gideon's Daughter BBC One 2005
Nigella BBC Two 2005
Return of the Goodie BBC Two 2005
Breakfast BBC One 2005
Comic Relief: Red Nose Night Live BBC One 2005
The 100 Greatest Christmas Moments 2004
The British Comedy Awards 2004 ITV 2004
Today with Des and Mel ITV 2004
This Morning ITV 2004
Hurrah for Cancer BBC Three 2004
From Bard to Verse 2004
Film 2018 (Episode 29) 2004
Who Did You Do? 2003
The British Comedy Awards 2003 ITV 2003
Parkinson 2003
Patrick Kielty 2003
Comic Relief 2003 BBC One 2003
Sven and Nancy's Big Impression BBC One 2003
Posh and Becks' Big Impression (Christmas Special) BBC One 2003
The Big Impression (4 series, 3 specials) BBC One 1999–2005 (BAFTA, British Comedy Award, Royal Variety Club Award)
The Key BBC Two 2003
The Big Impression Christmas Special BBC One 2002
Breakfast BBC One 2002
Sport Relief BBC One 2002
The Sketch Show ITV 2001 (BAFTA)
Night of a Thousand Faces 2001
Friday Night with Jonathon Ross BBC One 2001
Combat Sheep BBC Two 2001
Dr. Terrible's House of Horrible BBC Two 2001
The RDA BBC One 2000
Holby City BBC One 2000
Mark Lamarr Leaving 20th Century BBC Two 1999
Comedy Nation BBC Two 1998
Roger and the Rottentrolls ITV 1997-2000
Klinik! Channel 4 1997
Funny Business ITV 1997
Space Cadets Channel 4 1997
Pulp Video BBC Two 1995
Fist of Fun BBC Two 1995–1996
Scratchy and Co. CITV 1995
What's Up Doc? 1995
The Geeks ITV 1995
The Imaginatively Titled Punt and Dennis Show BBC One 1994
Ben Elton: The Man from Auntie BBC One 1994
That's Showbusiness (Episode 6.27) BBC One 1994
Rory Bremner, Who Else? Channel 4 1993
The Full Monty ITV 1993
Standing Room Only BBC Two 1991
The Comedy Store BBC One
Live at Jongleurs ITV 1997
The Staggering Stories of Ferdinand de Bargos BBC Two 1989

Film[edit]

Title Year Role Notes
The Devil Went Down to Islington 2019 Mrs. Spencer Skinned Productions
Surviving Christmas with the Relatives 2019 Vicky Studio Soho Films
Show Dogs 2018 Poopsie Chow's Owner Open Road Films
The Trip to Italy 2014 Donna BBC Films
Penelope 2008 Wanda Dir: Mark Polansky
A Cock and Bull Story 2005 Anita Dir: Michael Winterbottom
Stella Street: The Movie 2004 Various Roles Absolutely Productions
The Calcium Kid 2004 Pat Connelly Calcium Films Ltd
The Debt Collector 1999 Valerie's Sister Channel 4 Films

Short Film[edit]

Title Year Role
Stuffed 2018 Gwen
The Prince of Denmark 2016 Gertrude
The Early Days 2003 Leela

Radio[edit]

Title Channel
Life, Death & Sex With Mike & Sue Radio 4
The Alan Davies Show Radio 4
Weekending Radio 4
The Museum of Curiosity Radio 4
Mum's on the Run Radio 4
Shed Town Radio 4
The Games Up Radio 5
Loose Ends Radio 4
Wild Things Radio 4
Hal Radio 4
And This Is Them
Griff Rhys Jones Show Radio 4
Gaby's Talking Pictures Radio 4

Theatre[edit]

Year Title Role Company
1996 Miss Conceptions Edinburgh Festival
2004 Singin' in the Rain Lina Lamont Sadler's Wells Theatre, London
2005 The Hypochondriac Belline Almeida Theatre, London[75]
2014 Little Revolution Jane / various Almeida Theatre
2015 The Tale of Mr Tumble Unsmiling Principle Manchester Opera House[76]
Carry On Chilcot
2019 Just Checking In

Writer[edit]

Title
The Week That Wasn't
Ronni Ancona & Co
Kelsey Grammer Presents: The Sketch Show
The Sketch Show
The Big Impression
Pulp Video
Comedy Nation
Monkey Trousers
Standing Room Only
Misconceptions
Just Checking In

Producer[edit]

Title
Posh & Beck's Big Impression: Behind the Scenes & Extra Bits

Awards[edit]

Award Year Notes
Glamour Woman of the Year Award (Funny woman Award) 2004 WINNER
The Best TV Comedy Actress 2003 WINNER
The Best Comedy Actress 2002 NOMINEE
Television and Radio Industry Award 2002 WINNER
The Variety Club Comedy Award 2002 WINNER
TRIC (New TV Talent of the Year) 2002 WINNER
Maxim Women of the Year Award (Comedy Actress) 2002 WINNER
BAFTA (The Sketch Show) WINNER
BAFTA (The Big Impression) WINNER

References[edit]

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External links[edit]