Alexei Sayle

Alexei Sayle

Date of birth: 07-08-1952

Born in Anfield, Liverpool to Communist-Jewish parents, Sayle replied to an advert for would-be comedians when the London Comedy Store opened in 1979. He became the alternative venue's first compere, and largely set the tone for an emerging scene that mixed stand-up, character and oddball cabaret.

He subsequently joined the breakaway Comic Strip club, handing over the Comedy Store MC job to Ben Elton, and featured in several of the Channel 4 films that featured their core performers. His most notable role was playing the two leading roles in Didn't You Kill My Brother?

On stage, he performed as an angry, politically-aware Marxist stage persona in an ill-fiitting suit -a persona he revived in The Young Ones,portraying several members of an Eastern European family, the Balowskis, who owned the squalid student house where the anarchic sitcom was set.

He made three series of Alexei Sayle's Stuff, running from 1988 to 199 and winning an international Emmy alon gthe way, two series of The All New Alexei Sayle Show (1994–95) and one series of Alexei Sayle's Merry-Go-Round (1998)

He has also made film appearances in Gorky Park, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and the 1992 Carry On film, Carry On Columbus and had a 1984 Top 20 hit with Ullo John! Gotta New Motor?

However he eased back on performing to become an author, and has two short story anthologies and five novels to his name. But after 16 years away from stand-up, Sayle returned to compere gigs in 2011.

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Comics win BBC Audio Drama awards

Success for Alexei Sayle, Phil Wang and Rebecca Front

Alexei Sayle, Phil Wang and Rebecca Front all scooped awards at the BBC Audio Drama Awards last night.

Front won the best actress award for her role as Fiona, the ex-banker attending Alcoholics’ Anonymous meetings in the comedy-drama Love In Recovery.

In the best scripted comedy categories, Wang took home the long-form accolade for his series Wangsplaining, whilst Alexei Sayle’s Imaginary Sandwich Bar was awarded the sketch show prize.

Judges said of Wangsplaining: ‘It provided  an individual take on a universal subject, and tackled well documented themes in a contemporary, nuanced and original way… an engaging blend of personal history, and historical thesis packed with jokes.’

Mark Steel, whose In Town show was up for the long-form award, tweeted: ‘I didn’t win, and accept full responsibility for the defeat. I shall be standing down immediately, so that a new leader may begin the task of winning next year’s awards. They will of course receive my full support. Finally, I blame Brexit.’

Ian Martin, famously the ‘swearing consultant’ on Armando Iannucci’s The Thick Of It, received the Tinniswood Award, recognising the year’s best original audio drama script for his comedy/drama The Hartlepool Spy

The BBC Audio Drama Awards cover any English language show broadacst or released for free, but is inevitably dominated by Radio 4.

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Published: 3 Feb 2020

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