Susan Calman

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Susan Calman
Photograph of Calman in 2013
Calman in 2013
Susan Grace Calman

(1974-11-06) 6 November 1974 (age 48)
Glasgow, Scotland
EducationThe High School of Glasgow
Alma materUniversity of Glasgow
Occupation(s)stand-up comedian, television presenter

Susan Grace Calman (born 6 November 1974) is a Scottish comedian, television presenter, writer and panellist on a number of BBC Radio 4 shows including The News Quiz and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.

She has written and starred in two series of her radio sitcom Sisters, two series of stand-up show Susan Calman is Convicted and a series of stand-up show Keep Calman Carry On, all on BBC Radio 4. She was one of the relief presenters for Fred MacAulay on his BBC Radio Scotland show MacAulay and Co which ran until March 2015.[3]

Other television work includes playing ‘Miss Adventure’ in the second season of the CBBC show School of Silence. She has also presented the CBBC programme Extreme School[4] and providing the comic voiceover on the CBBC series Disaster Chefs. She is a team captain on the BBC Northern Ireland comedy panel show Bad Language.[5]

She has presented the children's game show on CBBC, Top Class, quiz show The Lie on STV, and the BBC One shows The Boss and Armchair Detectives. In 2017 Calman was a contestant on BBC's Strictly Come Dancing, finishing in 7th place. In 2020, she presented the BBC Two cookery challenge show Great British Menu, before being replaced by Andi Oliver in 2021.

Education and legal career[edit]

Calman went to a fee-paying independent school, the High School of Glasgow,[6] and then went on to study law at the University of Glasgow, winning a Judge Brennan scholarship and a three-month stint in North Carolina working with criminals on death row.[7] During her seven-year career in corporate law, she gradually became dissatisfied with working as a specialist in freedom of information and data protection and developed her stand-up comedy during evenings, eventually giving up her job with Dundas & Wilson to develop her career in comedy.[7]

Calman was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Glasgow in 2018; she was honoured for her work in broadcasting and comedy, as well as campaigning on issues related to LGBT rights and mental health.[8]

Comedy and television career[edit]

Calman reached the semi-finals of the BBC New Comedy Awards in 2005 and was a finalist in the Funny Women competition in 2006.[7] The Channel 4 sketch show Blowout won a Scottish BAFTA in 2007, with Calman amongst the cast. In 2009, she won Best New Scottish Comedian at the Real Radio Variety Awards.[7]

Between 2011 and 2013, Calman played therapist Nadine in the comedy Fresh Meat. Her debut Radio 4 solo series, Susan Calman is Convicted won the 2013 Writers' Guild of Great Britain Awards for 'Best Radio Comedy'. She also featured in the 2012 sitcom Dead Boss for BBC Three.

In 2013, Calman wrote about receiving online abuse after joking about the Scottish independence referendum on the Radio 4 satirical comedy programme The News Quiz, including accusations of betraying her country, and of being "racist" towards other Scots.[9][10]

Since 2014, Calman has been a regular panellist on the CBBC panel show The Dog Ate My Homework, and has appeared in 10 episodes of the show. In July 2014, Calman appeared in the BBC Scotland one-off stand-up/sketch show Don't Drop the Baton, which featured sketches about the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and narrated the BBC Three dating show Sexy Beasts. She is a frequent guest panellist on BBC Two's QI and on BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz.

In September 2017, she became the presenter of the BBC One daytime quiz show The Boss.[1] Calman also presented Armchair Detectives, a BBC One daytime show first broadcast in November 2017.[11] In December 2017 Calman was voted TV Star of the Year by readers of the Radio Times.[12]

Calman has fronted the Channel 5 travel show Secret Scotland since February 2019.[13][14]

In 2018, Calman's podcast Mrs Brightside - A cheerful look at depression was first broadcast on BBC Sounds.[15]

On 1 October 2019, Calman was announced as the new presenter for series 15 of Great British Menu on BBC Two.[16] Filming took place in Stratford-upon-Avon and was completed in November 2019. The show was to be broadcast in Spring 2020.

Her 2019 show Susan Calman Makes Me Happy premiered on BBC Radio 4 on 20 November 2019.[17] The show also featured her wife, Lee.


In May 2016, Calman published her first book, entitled Cheer Up Love: Adventures in depression with the Crab of Hate. Her second book Sunny Side Up: a story of kindness and joy followed in September 2018. A lifelong fan of Doctor Who, Calman was a contributor to the YA anthology The Day She Saved the Doctor: Four Stories from the TARDIS, published in March 2018. The title of Calman's story is Clara & The Maze of Cui Palta.[18]

Strictly Come Dancing[edit]

On 15 August 2017, Calman was announced as the ninth contestant on series 15 of Strictly Come Dancing.[19] She was partnered with professional dancer Kevin Clifton.[20] They were the ninth pair to be eliminated, in week 10 of the competition. In a 2018 interview, Calman said she felt happiest "dancing with Kevin Clifton on Strictly."[21]

Personal life[edit]

Calman is the daughter of Ann Wilkie, a former primary school deputy head, and Sir Kenneth Calman, an oncologist.[22] Her father was chancellor of the University of Glasgow and former chief medical officer for Scotland, then England and Wales.[23] She has an older brother and sister.[22]

Calman came out as a lesbian in 1993 at the age of 19 and has spoken of her difficulties growing up gay in Glasgow. "It wasn't easy, not at all. Glasgow is a lovely city, but when I was growing up there was one lesbian bar, and there was a club for men, but there was no internet, there was no way of finding out [about other people]."[24] The Times commented in 2009 that Calman's "status as a diminutive lesbian — she is 4ft 11in — gives a certain grist to her mill but, her Hobbit-like stature aside, what strikes you about her is her chirpy, optimistic level-headedness."[7]

After nine years together, Calman and her partner Lee, who is also a lawyer, had a civil partnership ceremony in 2012.[24] They married in 2016.[25] They keep cats, and in 2018 had five.[26] They live in Glasgow.[21]

Calman was criticised for not insisting on a same-sex dance partner for Strictly Come Dancing, but she rejected the comments as being unfair, saying: "No one is holding me hostage in this room, making me wear a dress and dance with a man. I want to learn how to dance... I have protested, I have picketed, I have fought, I have been spat on, I have been punched — and I want to dance."[27]

Calman says she was "desperately unhappy" as a teenager, and self-harmed and attempted suicide at 16.[28] She has openly discussed her experience with depression in interviews and in her books.[29][30]



Year Title Role Channel Notes
2010 How Not to Live Your Life Margaret BBC Three Series 3 - Don the Musical
2011 Dani's House Sandwich Lady CBBC
2011 Rab C. Nesbitt Irene Cordish BBC Two
2011–2013 Fresh Meat Nadine Channel 4 Two episodes
2012 Dead Boss Fatty BBC Three
2013 School of Silence Miss Adventure CBBC Season 2
2013–2014 Extreme School Presenter CBBC
2013 8 Out of 10 Cats Guest Channel Four
2014 Don't Drop the Baton BBC Scotland
2014 Sexy Beasts Narrator BBC Three
2014, 2016–2017 All Over the Place Co-presenter CBBC
2014–present The Lie Presenter TV3, STV, S4C
2016–present Top Class Presenter CBBC
2016 Tracey Ullman's Show Romana BBC One
2016 Bad Language Team captain BBC Northern Ireland
2017–present The Boss Presenter BBC One
2017 Strictly Come Dancing Contestant Series 15
2017 Armchair Detectives[31] Presenter
2018 Before They Were Stars Presenter Channel 5 Replaced Dale Winton following his death in April 2018.
2018 Home from Home Lorraine Sykes BBC One
2018–present Undercover Girlfriends Narrator Channel 5
2019–present Secret Scotland Presenter Channel 5
2019 Hogmanay Live Presenter BBC Scotland
BBC One Scotland
2020 Great British Menu Presenter BBC Two
2021–present Susan Calman’s Grand Day Out Presenter Channel 5
2021–present Susan Calman's Grand Week by the Sea Presenter Channel 5 Second five-part series airing in August 2022[32]
2021 Christmas Cruising with Susan Calman Presenter Channel 5 Two Christmas specials[33]
2022 Cruising with Susan Calman Presenter Channel 5
2022 Big Antique Adventure with Susan Calman Presenter Channel 5 Five-part series[34]
2022 Cruising the Canary Islands with Susan Calman Presenter Channel 5 [35]

Stand-up DVD releases[edit]


  • 2016 – Cheer Up Love: Adventures in Depression with the Crab of Hate, Published by Two Roads (ISBN 978-1473632004)
  • 2018 – Doctor Who: The Day She Saved The Doctor, Published by BBC Children's Books[36]
  • 2018 – Sunny Side Up: a story of kindness and joy, published by Hachette UK (ISBN 9781473663893)


  1. ^ a b "Dan McGolpin welcomes Susan Calman to BBC Daytime as new commissions for 2017 announced". BBC Media Centre. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Join Susan Calman, Des Clarke and Amy Irons for Hogmanay 2019".
  3. ^ "MacAulay and Co: Susan Calman sits in". BBC Radio Scotland. 4 January 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  4. ^ Clark, Tim (11 December 2012). "Susan Calman to present CBBC's Extreme Schools". Such Small Portions. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  5. ^ "Bad Language". BBC One. January 2016. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  6. ^ "So would you heckle a lawyer?". The Scotsman. 1 August 2006. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d e Bowditch, Gillian (26 July 2009). "Susan Calman: the lawyer who became our pint-sized new comic pin-up". The Times. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  8. ^ "Strictly star Susan Calman collects honorary degree from Glasgow University". The Irish News. 13 June 2018. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  9. ^ Logan, Brian (7 May 2013). "Susan Calman finds that Scottish independence is no joke". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  10. ^ Peterkin, Tom (2 May 2013). "Susan Calman: Death threats for independence satire". The Scotsman. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  11. ^ Hunt, Julia (11 September 2017). "Susan Calman to present new show Armchair Detectives". Irish Independent. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  12. ^ "Susan Calman named TV star of the year". The Sunday Post. 29 December 2017. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  13. ^ "Susan Calman joins Channel 5". Chortle. 15 May 2018. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  14. ^ "Tonight's TV: Secret Scotland and Humpback Whales: A Detective Story". The National. 8 February 2019. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  15. ^ "BBC Sounds - Susan Calman's Mrs Brightside - Downloads". BBC. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  16. ^ "BBC - Susan Calman to present BBC Two's Great British Menu - Media Centre". Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  17. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Susan Calman Makes Me Happy, Episode 1". BBC. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  18. ^ "Susan Calman – Comedian, Actress and Writer - Books". Susan Calman – Comedian, Actress and Writer. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  19. ^ "Strictly 2017: The line-up in full". BBC News. 22 August 2017. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  20. ^ "Strictly 2017: Susan Calman cries after being partnered with Kevin Clifton". Metro. 9 September 2017. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  21. ^ a b Greenstreet, Rosanna (24 November 2018). "Susan Calman: 'When was I happiest? Dancing with Kevin Clifton on Strictly'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  22. ^ a b "Susan Calman Makes Me Happy - Episode 1 - BBC Sounds". Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  23. ^ "Calman, Sir Kenneth (Charles), (born 25 Dec. 1941)". Who's Who. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u9920. ISBN 978-0-19-954088-4. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  24. ^ a b Saner, Emine (3 March 2012). "Saturday interview: comedian Susan Calman". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  25. ^ The One Show, 26 October 2016. The One Show. 26 October 2016.
  26. ^ Christie, Janet (18 August 2018). "Interview: Susan Calman on her Edinburgh Festival talk show Fringe Benefits". The Scotsman. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  27. ^ Gibb, Jessica (15 October 2017). "Who is Susan Calman? Scottish comedian who got caught up in Strictly same-sex dance partner row". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  28. ^ "Made Of Human with Sofie Hagen: 14. Susan Calman - Your psychiatric ward or mine? (PART TWO) on Apple Podcasts". Apple Podcasts. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  29. ^ "Why Susan Calman keeps a punchbag in her garage". 29 August 2018. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  30. ^ "Episode 13- Susan Calman (Part One)". Made of Human Podcast. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  31. ^ "Susan Calman to host BBC game show Armchair Detectives". British Comedy Guide. 12 September 2017. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  32. ^ "Susan Calman's Grand Week by the Sea". Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  33. ^ "Christmas Cruising with Susan Calman". Retrieved 9 December 2021.
  34. ^ "Big Antique Adventure with Susan Calman". Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  35. ^ "Cruising the Canary Islands with Susan Calman". Retrieved 10 September 2022.
  36. ^ "Susan Calman writes a Doctor Who story". Chortle. 13 December 2017. Retrieved 29 December 2017.

External links[edit]