Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Davies, Alan (1966-)


Main image of Davies, Alan (1966-)

Mop-haired Alan Davies has seamlessly graduated from stand-up to become one of the UK's leading comedy drama actors, most famously portraying lateral-thinking magic trick devisor Jonathan Creek (BBC, 1997-2009).

He was first inspired to write comedy after seeing stand-ups such as Billy Connolly and Rory Bremner while at university. Upon graduating in 1988, he began performing his own routines at Whitstable Labour Club. Named Time Out's Best Young Comic in 1991, he won the Edinburgh Festival Critics Award in 1994, and a video recording of his Lyric Theatre performance was released in 1995 to great acclaim. This was followed by a radio series, Alan's Big One, and an early television appearance on the spoof travel show One for the Road (Channel 4, 1994-95), but it was not until Jonathan Creek that he reached a more mainstream audience.

He was not the first choice for the role; a string of actors were considered before producer Susan Belbin spotted him during rehearsals for a sitcom. Davies' appearance at his first meeting with David Renwick - complete with what would become his trademark duffel coat - immediately resonated with the writer's visualisation of the character, and the combination of Davies' on-screen chemistry with co-star Caroline Quentin and Renwick's quirky scripts made the series an instant hit, winning a BAFTA in 1998.

Creek's success was followed by the comedy A Many Splintered Thing (ITV, 1998) and a radio sitcom, The Alan Davies Show, plus an advertising campaign for Abbey National which he claimed allowed him to pay off his mortgage but which ruined his credibility with stand-up audiences. Released in 1998, Urban Trauma proved to be his last concert video, though he later hosted the documentary series Stand Up with Alan Davies (BBC, 2000), in which he interviewed various practitioners including Dave Allen and Bernard Manning.

By now he was becoming better known for dramatic roles, winning a Best Actor award at the Monte Carlo TV Festival for his performance in Bob and Rose (ITV, 2001), in which he played a gay man who falls in love with a woman. In 2004 he starred as maverick barrister Henry Farmer in The Brief (ITV, 2004-05), but tired of the role after two series. Latterly he has returned to his comedy roots as a regular panellist on the quiz show QI (BBC, 2003-), adopting the mantle of off-beat everyman in his frequently bizarre banter with host Stephen Fry.

Richard Hewett

More information


From the BFI's filmographic database

Related media

Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Jonathan Creek (1997-2004)Jonathan Creek (1997-2004)

Magic expert Creek solves unsolvable crimes

Related collections

Related people and organisations