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Banks, Morwenna (1964-)

Actor, Writer, Producer

Main image of Banks, Morwenna (1964-)

A chameleonic performer with a gift for the grotesque, Morwenna Banks is best known for her involvement in the sharply absurdist sketch show Absolutely (Channel 4, 1989-1993). Yet she has also made a considerable contribution to the post-alternative comedy landscape, having worked with several of Britain's leading comedians.

Born in Cornwall, she began her career as a member of the Cambridge Footlights. In 1988 she formed Absolutely Productions with a group of likeminded writer/performers, including Jack Docherty and Moray Hunter. Their debut production for television, Absolutely, gained Banks her first widespread exposure - and two nominations at the British Comedy Awards - notably for her breakneck monologues as a surreally garrulous schoolgirl. The team also produced The Morwenna Banks Show (Five, 1998), a patchy sketch vehicle which was nevertheless nominated for the Golden Rose of Montreux Award.

Following a detour to the US in the late-1990s, she wrote and performed in the shrill low-budget feature, The Announcement (d. Troy Miller, 2000), alongside her long-time partner David Baddiel.

Her vocal dexterity was put to good use in cult animated comedies such as Stressed Eric (BBC, 1998-2000), again for Absolutely Productions, and the provocative Monkey Dust (BBC, 2003-05). She also provided invaluable support to Reeves and Mortimer, most notably in the underrated Catterick (BBC, 2004), Enfield and Whitehouse in Ruddy Hell! It's Harry and Paul (BBC, 2007) and Steve Coogan in Saxondale (BBC, 2006-07).

Despite a recurring role in teen drama Skins (Channel 4, 2007-), and a long-delayed BBC sitcom pilot, Shush, produced by Armando Iannucci and co-written with Rebecca Front and Arthur Mathews, this versatile comedian still awaits a more deserving forum for her talents.

Paul Whitelaw

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Thumbnail image of Absolutely (1989-93)Absolutely (1989-93)

Very Scottish sketch show, home to Mr Don and Mr George, among others

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