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Greig, Tamsin (1967-)


Main image of Greig, Tamsin (1967-)

It is a mark of the great English comediennes that they can simultaneously convey purpose, agitation, and sly sensuality, a mixture beautifully captured by Tamsin Greig's features, which call to mind an eccentric but knowing schoolmistress,. Born in London on 23rd February 1967, she initially worked briefly in town planning. This experience presumably fuelled her skill at playing skewed authority figures, such as the doctor-cum-suitable case for treatment Caroline Todd in the surreal medical comedy Green Wing (Channel 4, 2004-6). Greig's ruffled angularity gave hilarious credence to such lines as "Did you just throw your breast at me?". Yet her ability to create such a likeable character amidst the Bacchanalian chaos derives from her undeniable charm as a performer, traits also displayed by her semi-menopausal Beatrice in the RSC's 2006 staging of Much Ado About Nothing.

Her first regular role was as Debbie Aldridge in BBC Radio 4's The Archers. Television exposure came first in small parts in such distinguished comedies as People Like Us (BBC, 1999-2001) and Happiness (BBC, 2001), before Black Books (Channel 4, 2000-4) made her a household face. As the kooky, marvellously monikered Fran Katzenjammer, she defiantly took on Dylan Moran's shambling misanthrope and Bill Bailey's wide-eyed innocent and all but stole the show with her indelible impression of a woman whose would-be bohemian eccentricity and joie de vivre kept being dragged painfully, hilariously down by more earthbound considerations. She was BAFTA-nominated in 2005, and one imagines a visit to that podium awaits before too long.

Alexander Larman

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Thumbnail image of Black Books (2000-04)Black Books (2000-04)

Cult sitcom about a grumpy, alcoholic Irish bookseller

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