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Ruby Wax

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Ruby Wax
Wax at the 2016 Hay Festival
Ruby Wachs

(1953-04-19) 19 April 1953 (age 71)
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
EducationUniversity of California, Berkeley
Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (BA)
Regent's College (PgDip)
Kellogg College, Oxford (MSt)
  • Actress
  • comedian
  • writer
  • television personality
  • mental health campaigner
Years active1970–present
  • Andrew Porter
    (m. 1976; div. 1980)
  • Trevor Walton
    (m. 1981, divorced)
  • (m. 1988)

Ruby Wax OBE (née Wachs;[1] born 19 April 1953)[2] is a British-American actress, comedian, writer, television personality, and mental health campaigner. A classically-trained actress, Wax was with the Royal Shakespeare Company for five years and co-starred on the ITV sitcom Girls on Top (1985–1986).[3][4]

Wax came to prominence as a comic interviewer, playing up to British perceptions of the strident American style on television shows including The Full Wax (1991–1994), Ruby Wax Meets... (1994–1998), Ruby (1997–2000), and The Ruby Wax Show (2002). She was a script editor for the BBC sitcom Absolutely Fabulous (1992–2012), also appearing in two episodes.

Wax holds both American and British citizenship and has resided in the United Kingdom since the 1970s.[5] In 2013, she gained a master's degree in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy from Kellogg College, Oxford. Wax was appointed an Honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2015 Special Honours for services to mental health. Her memoirs How Do You Want Me? (2002) and Sane New World (2013) both reached number one on the Sunday Times bestseller list.

Early life[edit]

Wax was born Ruby Wachs and raised in Evanston, Illinois, the daughter of Edward and Berthe Wachs (née Goldmann). Her parents were Austrian Jews who left Vienna in 1938 because of the Nazi threat.[6][7][8] Her father was a sausage manufacturer[9] and her mother qualified as an accountant. Once settled in Chicago, her father changed the spelling of the family surname from Wachs to Wax.[10]

Wax majored in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, leaving after a year without completing her degree.[11][12]


Wax at the 2007 BAFTA awards

Early career[edit]

Wax moved to the UK and studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. She started her acting career as a straight actress at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, where she began a long-standing writing and directing partnership with Alan Rickman, who later directed many of her stage comedy shows.[13]

In 1978, she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, working alongside Juliet Stevenson in Measure for Measure, as Jaquenetta opposite Michael Hordern in Love's Labours Lost, replacing Zoë Wanamaker as Jane in The Way of the World[13] and appearing in the Howard Brenton three-hander Sore Throats.[14] While at the RSC, Wax also met and befriended Ian Charleson, and later contributed a chapter to the 1990 book, For Ian Charleson: A Tribute.[15] In 1981, Wax appeared as an American track fan in Charleson's breakthrough film, Chariots of Fire.[16]

Wax made a one-off appearance in a 1980 episode of The Professionals, Bloodsports, playing Lonnie, an American student. In 1981, she appeared in the follow-up to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, called Shock Treatment. In the film, Wax portrays Betty Hapschatt, who married Ralph Hapschatt in the first film. Wax also appeared briefly as a secretary in Omen III: The Final Conflict.

Comedy work[edit]

In 1985, she starred as loud-mouthed American actress Shelley DuPont on the British sitcom Girls on Top.

In 1987, Wax was given her own comedy chat show, Don't Miss Wax, on Channel 4. She was also hired as a radio presenter by the Superstation, an overnight sustaining service for commercial radio in the UK.[17] In December 1989, she appeared in the Red Dwarf episode "Timeslides" as the television host Blaize Falconberger of the fictional show "Lifestyles of the Disgustingly Rich and Famous".[18]

Wax began working with the BBC in 1991, with the show The Full Wax (1991–94). In 1994, Ruby Wax Meets Madonna aired on the BBC, followed by the series Ruby Wax Meets... (1996–98), in which she interviewed public figures such as Imelda Marcos, O. J. Simpson, and Pamela Anderson.[19] Ruby Wax Meets... was nominated for a 1997 BAFTA Award (credited to Clive Tulloh and Don Boyd), for an interview with Sarah, Duchess of York, an interview which attracted over 14 million viewers.[20] She also made two guest appearances in Absolutely Fabulous, a programme on which she served as script editor throughout the run of the series.[11]

From November 2001 to June 2002, Wax presented a TV quiz show on BBC One, The Waiting Game.[19] Her final BBC interview series aired in 2003. In 2005 Wax appeared as a cleaner in the music video to McFly's Comic Relief song All About You.

Writing, academia, corporate training and returns to television and stage[edit]

In 2002, Wax became the host of Commercial Breakdown. In that year, Wax published her memoir How Do You Want Me?, which topped The Sunday Times best-seller list.

In March 2003, Wax was one of the celebrity contestants on Comic Relief does Fame Academy, a spin-off from the BBC's Fame Academy, with all proceeds donated to Comic Relief. Although not a good singer, Wax made it to the final, taking runner-up position to Will Mellor.[21]

In 2004, the BBC planned to show the cartoon series Popetown, poking fun at the Catholic Church. Wax portrayed the Pope as a spoiled child. After protests, the BBC did not broadcast the show.[22]

In February 2004, Irish broadcaster Patricia Danaher reached an out-of-court settlement with Wax, who had falsely claimed Danaher had made "racist" and "anti-Semitic" remarks about her in an interview for Ulster Television. Wax's legal team apologised in court, accepted Danaher had made no racist or anti-Semitic statements, and announced there had been a financial settlement.[23]

In November 2005, Wax was criticised by the Daily Mail columnist Richard Kay for allegedly opposing a proposed disabled-access ramp for the Couper Collection charitable art gallery. The UK Sunday newspaper The Observer also reported the controversy.[24] In 2006, Wax responded to the claims in the London Evening Standard: "Oh no, that's not true. That's so off the wall. Why would I object to a disabled ramp? It wasn't even about that."[20]

Wax appeared in a supporting role opposite Olivia Williams and Andie MacDowell in the 2005 film Tara Road. In September and October 2005, she appeared as a celebrity contestant in Ant & Dec's Gameshow Marathon, progressing through to Sale of the Century before getting knocked out. In summer 2006, she was a celebrity showjumper in the BBC's Sport Relief event Only Fools on Horses. She presented Cirque de Celebrité on Sky One in 2006. Wax also appeared in an episode of Jackass, participating in the Gumball 3000. While the race was stopped at the Latvian border she was wrestled by Jackass personality Chris Pontius.

In March 2009, Wax returned to Comic Relief to take part in Comic Relief Does The Apprentice. Wax appeared in the 2011 Comic Relief in Comic Relief Does Masterchef in which Wax prepared an appetiser for then Prime Minister David Cameron.

On 1 April 2009, Ruby Wax Goes Dutch premiered on Dutch television network NET 5.[citation needed]

She was appointed Chancellor of the University of Southampton, commencing duties on 1 May 2019.[25]

Wax teaches business communication in the public and private sectors. Clients include Deutsche Bank, the UK Home Office and Skype.[26]

In September 2013, Wax graduated from Kellogg College, Oxford, with a master's degree in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.[27] She had previously earned a postgraduate certificate in psychotherapy and counselling from Regent's College in London.[28]

In 2016, Wax published her first mindfulness book, A Mindfulness Guide For The Frazzled, within which she sets out her own six-week mindfulness course with the blessing of Mark Williams, her professor at Oxford and co-creator of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.[29]

After the 2020 lockdown period caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, her book And Now for the Good News... was published. Still related to mindfulness, it discusses her discovery of new ways for education, community, self-sustainability, business or volunteering to improve lives internationally.[30] Her book A Mindfulness Guide For Survival was published in August 2021.[31]

She lectures at Bangor University and in 2022 received an honorary degree from the university.[32]

Mental health campaigning[edit]

Wax in 2016

Wax has been open about her struggles with bipolar disorder and depression.[33] She made an online series on mental health issues for the BBC and has worked with mental health charities.

Wax's 2010 stand-up show Losing It dealt with her mental health, including time she spent in a psychiatric clinic.[34] Wax founded the mental health website (which is now part of the SANE mental health charity) in 2011 in response to the audience reaction from her theatre show.[35]

In 2013, Wax published Sane New World, which became a number-one best-seller. It was followed in January 2016 by A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled.[36] In 2018 her third book on the subject of mental health came out: How to Be Human: The Manual, written with the help of a neuroscientist and a monk.

In June 2015, Wax was appointed Visiting Professor in Mental Health Nursing at the University of Surrey.[37] In the 2015 Special Honours, she was appointed an Honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to mental health.[38][39]

In May 2023, Wax released her new book and accompanying audiobook I’m Not As Well As I Thought I Was, which details her recent life including further time spent receiving psychiatric treatment and battles against depression.[40] She toured a one-woman show based on the book.[41][42]

Personal life[edit]

Wax is married to television producer and director Ed Bye. They have three children: Max (born 1988), Madeleine (born 1990), and Marina (born 1993).[43]

In an episode of the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are? in 2017, Wax revealed her great-grandmother and great-aunt had been committed to mental asylums in Brno and Vienna as they were incurably "agitated".[44]

In 2019, Wax fell off a horse while on holiday, severely injuring her back.[45] She had to cancel her show How to Be Human at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as a result of her injuries.[46]



Year Title Role Notes
1981 Chariots of Fire Bunty
Shock Treatment Betty Hapschatt
Omen III: The Final Conflict U.S. Ambassador's Secretary Uncredited
1982 Things Are Tough All Over Restaurant Patron
1985 Romance on the Orient Express Susan Lawson Television film
Water Spenco Executive
1986 Come Dancing Herself Documentary film
1998 Ruby Wax's Miami Memoirs
1991 Ruby Takes a Trip...
1992 Wax Acts
1997 The Borrowers Town Hall Clerk
2000 Ruby Wax Gets Streetwise Herself Documentary film
2005 Tara Road Carlotta
2008 Agent Crush Charleen Chinstubble (voice)
2011 The British Guide to Showing Off Herself Documentary film
2012 Sir Billi Patty Turner (voice)
2021 Ron's Gone Wrong Ms. Hartley (voice)


Year Title Role Notes
1979 Not the Nine O'Clock News 1 episode
1980 The Professionals Lonnie Episode: "Blood Sports"
1985 Happy Families Waitress Episode: "Cassie"
1985–1986 Girls on Top Shelley 13 episodes
1986–1992 Wogan Herself 5 episodes
1987–1988 Don't Miss Wax Herself - Host 16 episodes
1988–1989 Wax on Wheels Herself
1988–1993 Count Duckula Various (voice) 15 episodes
1989 Red Dwarf Blaize Falconberger Episode: "Timeslides"
East Meets Wax Herself
Class of '69 Presenter
1990 Hit and Run 1 episode
1991–1994 The Full Wax 23 episodes
1992 The Comic Strip Presents... Sue Episode: "Wild Turkey"
Wax Acts Presenter
1993 Wax Cracks Hollywood
1994–1998 Ruby Wax Meets... 21 episodes
1995, 2001 Absolutely Fabulous Candy / Beth De Woodi Also script editor (39 episodes)
1996 Oscar's Orchestra Hannah the Harp (voice)
1997–2000 Ruby Presenter BBC talk show; 48 episodes
1999–2000 Ruby's American Pie 12 episodes
1999 Ruby Talk-reality show airing on Lifetime; 10 episodes
2001 Hot Wax
2001–2002 The Waiting Game
2002 Commercial Breakdown 8 episodes
The Ruby Wax Show
2002–2003 V Graham Norton Herself - Guest 4 episodes
2003 Ruby Wax With... Presenter 6 episodes
Comic Relief Does Fame Academy Herself Series one
The Big Read 2 episodes
Have I Got News for You 1 episode
2004 Ruby Does the Business Mini-series
Planet Cook Roxie (voice)
French and Saunders The Executive 1 episode
2005 Jackass Herself Episode: "Gumball 3000 Rally Special"
Gameshow Marathon Herself - Contestant 4 episodes
2006 Cirque de Celebrité Presenter 10 episodes
Popetown The Pope (voice) 10 episodes
Dawn French's Girls Who Do Comedy Herself 3 episodes
2009 Taking the Flak Candida Episode: "Black Gold"
2012 Ruby Wax's Mad Confessions Herself
2013 Anna & Katy 1 episode
College Tour
The Spa Episode: "Christmas Special: Strangers in the Night"
2014 Crackanory Host - Presenter Episode: "Let Me Be the Judge & I'm Still Here"
2017 Who Do You Think You Are? Herself 1 episode
Head Talks
Thunderbirds Are Go Hayley Edmonds (voice) Episode: "Bolt from the Blue"
2018 Ruby Wax: How to Be Human Presenter Mini-series
2020 Question Time Herself 1 episode
2021 When Ruby Wax Met… 3 episodes
2022 Countdown Dictionary corner; 5 episodes
The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up to Cancer 1 episode
Celebrity Gogglebox for Stand Up to Cancer 1 episode; Series 20 episode 8
Trailblazers: A Rocky Mountain Road Trip 3 episodes[47]
2023 Ruby Wax: Cast Away 2 episodes
The Weakest Link Celebrity Contestant 1 episode


  • How Do You Want Me? (2002)
  • Sane New World (2013)
  • A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled (2016)
  • How to Be Human: The Manual (2018)
  • And Now for the Good News...: The Much-needed Tonic for Our Frazzled World (2020)
  • Mindfulness Guide for Survival (2021)
  • I’m Not As Well As I Thought I Was (2023)


  1. ^ Greenstreet, Rosanna (14 December 2002). "Q&A: Comedian Ruby Wax". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 14 June 2010.
  2. ^ Who's Who. Oxford, England: A & C Black. December 2009.
  3. ^ "Ruby Wax OBE - Honorary Graduate - Staffordshire University". www.staffs.ac.uk. Retrieved 16 March 2022.
  4. ^ "Ruby Wax OBE". Speaker Ideas. 26 September 2019. Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  5. ^ Fulton, Rick (22 July 2011). "TV star Ruby Wax on why she never wants to return to 'favourite city' Glasgow". Daily Record. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  6. ^ "Ruby Wax: "I've spent a lifetime giving the illusion all is well. It wasn't and it isn't"". The Guardian. 7 May 2023. Retrieved 25 October 2023.
  7. ^ "Desert Island Discs - Ruby Wax". BBC Radio 4. 26 June 2005.
  8. ^ Spencer, Nikki (26 May 2017). "Ruby Wax: 'The kids didn't know I had depression until they were older. My husband covered for me'". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  9. ^ Hattenstone, Simon (29 March 2002). "Ruby waxes lyrical about life". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  10. ^ "Ruby Wax". Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  11. ^ a b "Ruby Wax". Personally Speaking Bureau. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  12. ^ Day, Elizabeth (16 July 2011). "Ruby Wax: 'I think I became a cartoon to escape how ill I was'". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  13. ^ a b Trowbridge, Simon (2008). "Ruby Wax". Stratfordians, a dictionary of the RSC. Oxford, England: Editions Albert Creed. p. 509. ISBN 978-0-9559830-1-6.
  14. ^ Brenton, Howard (1986). Plays One. Methuen. ISBN 978-0-413-40430-5.
  15. ^ McKellen, Ian; Puttnam, David; Wax, Ruby; et al. (1990). For Ian Charleson: A Tribute. London: Constable and Company. pp. 55–61. ISBN 0094702500.
  16. ^ Hugh Hudson Commentary on Chariots of Fire DVD, Warner Bros. media.
  17. ^ "Team Member". Usp-group.com. Archived from the original on 21 February 2009.
  18. ^ Bye, Ed (12 December 1989), Timeslides (Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi), Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules, Hattie Hayridge, retrieved 19 March 2021
  19. ^ a b "Ruby Wax Meets... (1996– ): Full Cast & Crew". IMDb.
  20. ^ a b Saner, Emine (13 February 2006). "I thought you could have it all". Evening Standard. London. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  21. ^ "Will beats Ruby in Celeb Fame Academy". CBBC Newsround. 14 March 2003.
  22. ^ Bates, Stephen (24 September 2004). "BBC drops controversial Pope cartoon". The Guardian.
  23. ^ "Ruby Wax apology over 'racist' claims". The Stage. 13 February 2004. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
  24. ^ O'Keeffe, Alice (11 December 2005). "It's Wax versus Max in battle of the art barges". The Observer.
  25. ^ "Ruby Wax appointed Chancellor of the University of Southampton - University of Southampton". www.southampton.ac.uk.
  26. ^ "Comic Ruby Wax runs workshops for Home Office staff". The Guardian. London. 22 March 2010.
  27. ^ "Hats off to comic Ruby". Oxford Mail. 17 September 2013. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  28. ^ "Training and Education". rubywaxleadership.co.uk. Archived from the original on 28 December 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  29. ^ "Ruby Wax: 'I wanted to find a method to defuse my depression'". the Guardian. 10 January 2017. Retrieved 8 June 2022.
  30. ^ "Ruby Wax". www.waterstones.com.
  31. ^ "A Mindfulness Guide for Survival". www.waterstones.com.
  32. ^ "Ruby Wax, Steve Backshall to receive honorary degrees from Bangor University".
  33. ^ "Ruby Wax: 'I think I became a cartoon to escape how ill I was'". Guardian.com. 17 July 2011.
  34. ^ "Ruby Wax, Losing It – review". Guardian.com. 27 February 2011.
  35. ^ "Home". SANE, mental health charity - emotional support, research and campaigning.
  36. ^ "An Announcement..." RubyWax.net. 25 February 2015.
  37. ^ Wood, Tanya (24 June 2015). "Ruby Wax appointed Visiting Professor at the University of Surrey". University of Surrey.
  38. ^ "Ruby Wax to be awarded OBE for mental health work". BBC News. 27 April 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
  39. ^ "Honorary Awards" (PDF). Gov.UK. 2015.
  40. ^ Sturges, Fiona (4 August 2023). "I'm Not As Well As I Thought I Was by Ruby Wax audiobook review – a wild ride through depression". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 March 2024.
  41. ^ Logan, Brian (22 November 2023). "Ruby Wax: I'm Not As Well As I Thought I Was review – wandering towards wellness". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 March 2024.
  42. ^ Harding, Tim (15 September 2023). "Ruby Wax offers a confused but charismatic journey around mental health". The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 March 2024.
  43. ^ McFadyean, Melanie (17 April 1993). "How we met: Ruby Wax and Ed Bye". The Independent. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  44. ^ "WDYTYA? episode summary: Ruby Wax". Who Do You Think You Are?. Immediate Media Company. 4 October 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  45. ^ "Ruby Wax pulls out of Fringe show after 'serious accident' on holiday". HeraldScotland. 16 August 2019. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
  46. ^ "Ruby Wax cancels Fringe shows after horse fall". 16 August 2019. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
  47. ^ "Trailblazers: A Rocky Mountain Road Trip". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 22 November 2022.

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