Famous 20th Century British Comedians

Find out more about the greatest 20th Century British Comedians, including Rowan Atkinson, Sacha Baron Cohen, Stephen Fry, John Cleese and Ricky Gervais.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Rowan Atkinson

Rowan Atkinson.
17
Famous As: Actor & Comedian
Birthdate: January 6, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Consett, County Durham, England

British comedian and actor Rowan Atkinson has entertained audience globally with his brilliant performance as the eponymous character in the Mr. Bean series and its film adaptations. Earlier, he established himself as a fine comedy actor with Blackadder and then went on to work in movies like Never Say Never Again, The Witches and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

 2 Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais.
13
Famous As: Actor, Comedian
Birthdate: June 25, 1961
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Whitley, Reading, England

Ricky Gervais is one of the best known comedians in the world. He attained fame after starring in the British television series The Office. Later, he ventured into a successful stand-up comedy career. He has performed at many shows and has also acted in several films. However, his dark comedy has often been called insensitive and offensive by several critics.

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 3 Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry.
10
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 24, 1957
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hampstead, London, England, United Kingdom

One half of the famous comedy duo Fry and Laurie, Stephen Fry is an English actor and comedian. Considered a living legend by many, Stephen Fry has made major contributions to the field of entertainment and literature. An openly gay man, Fry serves as an inspiration to the LGBT community. He is also known for his charitable activities.

 4 John Cleese

John Cleese.
4
Famous As: Actor & Comedian
Birthdate: October 27, 1939
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England,
Before stepping into sketch comedy with Monty Python's Flying Circus, John Cleese wrote scripts for Broadway and West End shows. A Cambridge law graduate, John has had a species of lemurs named after him, owing to his love for the animal. His dark humor is part of his signature style.

 5 Stephen Merchant

Stephen Merchant.
6
Famous As: Actor, Comedian, Screenwriter, Radio personality, Film actor
Birthdate: November 24, 1974
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Bristol

Known for co-writing The Office, British comedian Stephen Merchant was born to a nurse mother and a plumber father. He began his career with the radio and then stepped into stand-up comedy. Over the years, he has used his 6’7” frame to the best in his performances.

 6 Richard Ayoade

Richard Ayoade.
9
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 12, 1977
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Whipps Cross

English comedian, film director, screenwriter, and actor Richard Ayoade gained international fame for his role in Channel 4 sitcom The IT Crowd. Even though he studied law in college, he was more interested in working in the entertainment industry. He started working as a comedian and actor in the early 2000s and has since come a long way.

 7 Stan Laurel

Stan Laurel.
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 16, 1890
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ulverston, Lancashire
Died: February 23, 1965

Comedian Stan Laurel entertained audiences as part of the iconic duo Laurel and Hardy, along with Oliver Hardy, in over 100 films. He began his career with music-hall sketch comedy and worked as an understudy of Charlie Chaplin in Fred Karno's Army. He was known for his trademark bowler hat.

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 8 Steve-O

Steve-O.
6
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 13, 1974
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wimbledon, London

British-born American comedian and TV personality, Steve-O, gained international fame with his performance stunts in the TV series Jackass. Following a nomadic childhood, he graduated from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College and began his career as a clown. He eventually started appearing on TV shows and became popular.

 9 Sacha Baron Cohen

Sacha Baron Cohen.
26
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 13, 1971
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hammersmith, London, England

An English comedian, actor, writer, and director, Sacha Baron Cohen, is the creator of many fictional satirical characters, including Ali G and Borat Sagdiyev. He adopts a variety of accents and guises while playing these characters. He has been criticized for passing sexist and sexual comments. He is a mildly controversial figure and has been involved in a few lawsuits.

 10 Steve Coogan

Steve Coogan
9
Famous As: Actor, Comedian, Screenwriter, Film producer
Birthdate: October 14, 1965
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Middleton

 11 John Oliver

John Oliver.
15
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: April 23, 1977
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Erdington, Birmingham, England

John Oliver is a British comedian, political commentator, and TV host whose work in the American talk show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, has influenced the US culture, policymaking, and legislation since 2014; the influence has been called the John Oliver effect. Also a philanthropist, Oliver forgave a medical debt of over $15 million owed by over 9,000 people.

 12 David Mitchell (Comedian)

David Mitchell (Comedian).
6
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: July 14, 1974
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Salisbury, United Kingdom
David Mitchell performs as part of the comedy duo Mitchell and Webb, along with Robert Webb. The duo gained fame with shows such as the BAFTA-winning Peep Show, and the sketch-comedy shows The Mitchell and Webb Situation and That Mitchell and Webb Sound. Mitchell also writes for popular dailies.

 13 Sue Perkins

Sue Perkins.
12
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: September 22, 1969
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Croydon, London, England
Sue Perkins soared to fame as part of the comedy duo Mel and Sue, with Mel Giedroyc, and co-hosted The Great British Bake Off, with her. Sue has also hosted Insert Name Here and has also authored two autobiographical works. An LGBT icon, she is dating TV host Anna Richardson.

 14 Eddie Izzard

Eddie Izzard
17
Famous As: Comedian, Voice actor, Stage actor, Film actor
Birthdate: February 7, 1962
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Aden, Yemen

Although best known for her surreal and digressive stand-up comedies, Eddie Izzard is also a popular film and television actor. Born as Edward John Izzard, she began her career as a street performer, eventually making her first stage appearance at the age of twenty-five, quickly drawing larger and larger audience with her stream-of-consciousness delivery, achieving fame both home and abroad.

 15 David Jason

David Jason
6
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 2, 1940
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Edmonton, London, England, UK
David Jason is an English actor, comedian, screenwriter, and executive producer who is famous for his role in the sitcom Only Fools and Horses. His other popular works include TV series A Touch of Frost, Open All Hours and Still Open All Hours and The Darling Buds of May. He was knighted in 2005 for services to acting and comedy.

 16 Sandi Toksvig

Sandi Toksvig.
8
Famous As: Comedian, Writer
Birthdate: May 3, 1958
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Copenhagen
Sandi Toksvig is best known as the host of shows such as News Quiz, QI, and The Great British Bake Off. The Women's Equality Party co-founder is also a lesbian icon and has written several children’s and adult books and plays. She hosted a motivational podcast during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

 17 Michael Palin

Michael Palin.
7
Famous As: Comedian, Actor
Birthdate: May 5, 1943
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Broomhill, Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Member of the comedy group Monty Python, Michael Palin received a CBE in 2000. His portrayal of Ken Pile in A Fish Called Wanda earned him a BAFTA award. He ranked 30th in The Comedians' Comedian poll, was a Royal Geographical Society president, and later turned into a travel documentarian.

 18 Miriam Margolyes

Miriam Margolyes
10
Famous As: Actor, Voice actor, Comedian
Birthdate: May 18, 1941
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Oxford

 19 Greg Davies

Greg Davies
7
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 14, 1968
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: St Asaph

 20 Graham Chapman

Graham Chapman.
7
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: January 8, 1941
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Stoneygate, Leicester
Died: October 4, 1989

Graham Chapman was an English comedian, author, actor, and writer. An important member of the popular comedy group Monty Python, Chapman was also a patron of the Dangerous Sports Club. An openly gay comedian, Chapman supported gay rights throughout his life. In September 2012, a blue plaque was unveiled at The Angel pub in North London to commemorate Graham Chapman.

 21 Cilla Black

Cilla Black.
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: May 27, 1943
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vauxhall, Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Died: August 1, 2015
Priscilla Maria Veronica White, better known as Cilla Black, is best remembered for her chart-topping hits You're My World and Anyone Who Had a Heart. She had her own show, Cilia, and also acted as a comedy actor. She later presented shows such as Blind Date and Surprise Surprise.

 22 Mark Gatiss

Mark Gatiss.
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 17, 1966
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sedgefield, County Durham, England
Mark Gatiss is best known for both writing and appearing in Doctor Who, Dracula, and Sherlock. He is also part of the comedy group The League of Gentlemen and has appeared as Tycho Nestoris in Game of Thrones. He has written the Lucifer Box novels, too.

 23 Victoria Wood

Victoria Wood
6
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: May 19, 1953
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Prestwich, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, England, UK
Died: April 20, 2016

Multi-talented English comedian, Victoria Wood was also an actress, lyricist, singer, composer, pianist, screenwriter, producer, and director. Wood started her career with the TV show That's Life! and established herself as one of Britain's greatest stand-up comedians. She wrote sketches, dramas, and popular sitcoms and her self-deprecating humor got her 14 BAFTA nominations of which she won four. 

 24 Benny Hill

Benny Hill.
3
Birthdate: January 21, 1924
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Southampton, Hampshire, England
Died: April 20, 1992

Benny Hill was an English comedian, writer, singer, and actor. Best known for his TV program The Benny Hill Show, Hill remained an important figure in British culture for almost 40 years. The show is regarded as one of the greatest British comedy programs ever. In 2006, Hill was voted one of TV's 50 Greatest Stars in an ITV poll.

 25 Peter Serafinowicz

Peter Serafinowicz
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 10, 1972
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Liverpool, England

 26 Catherine Tate

Catherine Tate
6
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: May 12, 1968
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bloomsbury, London, England

 27 Terry Jones

Terry Jones
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 1, 1942
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Colwyn Bay, Denbighshire, Wales
Died: January 21, 2020
Starting his career as a comedy writer, actor-director Terry Jones later soared to fame as part of the Monty Python comedy team. An avid historian, too, he wrote several books and presented TV documentaries on the topic. In his later years, the BAFTA Cymru award winner struggled with dementia. 

 28 Dawn French

Dawn French.
4
Birthdate: October 11, 1957
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Holyhead
Golden Rose of Montreux-winning comedian Dawn French co-created the sketch comedy series French and Saunders and the sitcom Absolutely Fabulous, both with Jennifer Saunders. The BAFTA Fellowship honoree is also known for her roles in The Vicar of Dibley and Murder Most Horrid. She has also authored a bestselling autobiography.

 29 Eric Idle

Eric Idle.
3
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: March 29, 1943
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: South Shields

Eric Idle is best known as a former member of the Monty Python comedy troupe. He was also part of the band The Rutles, a parody of The Beatles. Idle wrote the Tony-winning musical Spamalot and also performed at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

 30 Tracey Ullman

Tracey Ullman
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: December 30, 1959
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Slough, Berkshire, England, UK

British-American actor Tracey Ullman began her career with sketch-comedy shows such as Three of a Kind and later had her own Fox show, The Tracey Ullman Show, which featured 30-second segments of The Simpsons in between, making the latter a hit, too. She rose to become the third-richest comedian from Britain.

 31 D'Arcy Carden

D'Arcy Carden
3
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: January 4, 1980
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Danville, California, U.S.

D'Arcy Carden is an actress and comedian best known for her starring role in the NBC sitcom The Good Place. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theater from Southern Oregon University and began her career performing improvisational comedy. Eventually, she moved on to TV shows and has also appeared in a few films. 

 32 Jimmy Carr

Jimmy Carr
4
Famous As: Actor, Comedian, Television presenter
Birthdate: September 15, 1972
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England

Jimmy Carr is one of the biggest selling live comedians of Britain. The award-winning performer is best known for shows such as 8 Out of 10 Cats and jokes about everything from politics to sex. He has gained fame for his signature deadpan delivery, his high-pitched laughter, and his dark humor.

 33 Ben Miller

Ben Miller
3
Famous As: Film director, Actor, Comedian, Screenwriter, Film actor
Birthdate: February 24, 1966
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London

 34 James Acaster

James Acaster
3
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: January 9, 1985
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kettering, Northamptonshire, England

English comedian James Acaster is best known for his shows such as The Island and We the Jury. While he initially studied music and played drums for various bands, Acaster found fame with stand-up comedy. He has penned bestsellers such as James Acaster's Classic Scrapes and also has a Netflix special.

 35 Richard Beckinsale

Richard Beckinsale.
3
Famous As: TV & Film Actor
Birthdate: July 6, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Carlton, Nottinghamshire, England
Died: March 19, 1979

Richard Beckinsale was an English actor remembered for playing Lennie Godber in the sitcom Porridge and Alan Moore in Rising Damp. He also loved singing and playing the guitar and enjoyed playing football in charity matches. His sudden death at the age of 31 was met with great shock. His daughters—Kate and Samantha Beckinsale— went on to become actresses.

 36 Sharon Horgan

Sharon Horgan
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 13, 1970
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hackney, London, England

 37 Rob Brydon

Rob Brydon
3
Famous As: Actor, Television actor, Film actor, Comedian, Autobiographer
Birthdate: May 3, 1965
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Baglan, Neath Port Talbot

Best known for his roles in Supernova and Gavin & Stacey, actor/comedian Rob Brydon dropped out of drama school to work with Radio Wales. As an impressionist, he has mimicked stars such as Sean Connery and Al Pacino. He was made an MBE for both his comedy and his charitable efforts.

 38 Peter Kay

Peter Kay
3
Famous As: Comedian, Actor, Screenwriter
Birthdate: July 2, 1973
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Farnworth

 39 Richard Osman

Richard Osman.
5
Famous As: Television Presenter
Birthdate: November 28, 1970
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: BBillericay, Essex, England, United Kingdom

Richard Osman is an English writer, television presenter, comedian, and producer. He is credited with creating the popular British TV quiz show Pointless. He is also renowned for his work as creative director of the famous TV production company Endemol UK. Also an influential writer, Richard Osman's novel The Thursday Murder Club is expected to be adapted into a film.

 40 Caroline Aherne

Caroline Aherne.
8
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: December 24, 1963
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ealing, London, England
Died: July 2, 2016
BAFTA-winning comedian Caroline Aherne is remembered for her portrayal of the character Mrs. Merton on various shows, such as Frank Sidebottom's Fantastic Shed Show and The Mrs Merton Show. Fans also loved her as Denise Royle in the sitcom The Royle Family and as a narrator on Gogglebox. 

 41 Matt Berry

Matt Berry
3
Famous As: Actor, Screenwriter
Birthdate: May 2, 1974
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bromham

 42 Martin Clunes

Martin Clunes.
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 28, 1961
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wimbledon, London, United Kingdom
Martin Clunes is best known as Martin Ellingham from Doc Martin and as Gary Strang from Men Behaving Badly, winning a BAFTA for the latter. The OBE honoree has also starred in the film Shakespeare in Love, voiced Kipper the Dog in Kipper, and narrated several animal-centric documentaries.

 43 Michael McIntyre

Michael McIntyre
6
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: February 21, 1976
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London, England

Comedian, writer, and presenter Michael McIntyre is best known for his popular shows Michael McIntyre's Big Show and Michael McIntyre's The Wheel. Born to a comedian father, he was destined to follow in his father’s footsteps. He is also known for his energetic and restless appearance during his performances.

 44 Sara Pascoe

Sara Pascoe
3
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: May 22, 1981
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dagenham, London, England

Born to musician Derek Pascoe, comedian Sara Pascoe was raised by her mother amid poverty after her parents’ divorce. Initially a tour guide, she later stepped into comedy and never looked back. She is known for shows such as 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and Twenty Twelve.

 45 Brian Blessed

Brian Blessed.
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 9, 1936
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Mexborough, Yorkshire, England
Brian Blessed has voiced popular characters on shows such as Family Guy and Peppa Pig and in films such as Star Wars: Episode I. A talented stage actor, he has appeared in productions of Macbeth and Hamlet, and the original Cats. The OBE honoree is also an avid animal lover. 

 46 Tamsin Greig

Tamsin Greig
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 12, 1966
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Maidstone, Kent, England, UK

 47 Bill Bailey

Bill Bailey
3
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: January 13, 1965
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bath, Somerset, England

 48 Nick Frost

Nick Frost
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 28, 1972
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hornchurch, Essex, England, UK

Nick Frost is a British actor, screenwriter, author, comedian, producer, and painter. He is credited with co-creating a comedy horror streaming TV series titled Truth Seekers in which he played Gus Roberts. Frost is known for his frequent collaboration with his friend Simon Pegg; the two have co-written films like Paul (2011). Frost also supports charitable organizations like Humanists UK.

 49 Jennifer Saunders

Jennifer Saunders
6
Famous As: Comedians
Birthdate: July 6, 1958
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sleaford, Lincolnshire, England, UK

 50 Lenny Henry

Lenny Henry
3
Famous As: Television actor, Film actor, Comedian, Singer, Stage actor
Birthdate: August 29, 1958
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dudley