Mark ThomasDate of birth: 11-04-1963
One of the few stand-ups still to carry the political standard of alternative comedy, Mark Thomas is essentially an observational comic – only his observations tend to revolve around the crusading anti-corporate, anti-greed investigations he undertakes.
He is best known for his campaigning Channel 4 series, in which he employed, Michael Moore-style, televisual stunts to get his message across. But his work also has a serious side: in one episode he got an Indonesian military chief to admit on camera that their government used torture.
Thomas has said his passion for politics was inherited from his father, a builder and lay preacher at Clapham's Nazarene Church, even if he didn’t inherit his Thatcherite beliefs.
He won a scholarship to Christ's Hospital public school, but he would frequently play truant, often to the theatre, before going on to study at Bretton Hall drama college in Wakefield.
There he began performing his own sketches and shows, doing benefit shows for the miners' strike while still a student. After college he worked for his father by day and did stand-up by night until he could turn pro.
In 1992, his Edinburgh show was nominated for the Perrier award – the same year the fizzy water brand was bought by Nestle, one of the corporations Thomas now campaigns against so vociferously.
Four years later, he launched his strident TV programme, which ran for seven years. To this day he continues to be involved in the political causes that so influence his comedy.