3 Jan 2014

Twelve comedians who didn’t go to Oxbridge

Comedian Bob Mortimer says there are too many prominent Oxbridge alumni in the broadcasting and entertainment industries, but there are plenty of others who have still managed to break through.

Ben Elton

Ben Elton wrote his first play at the age of 15 before heading to Manchester University to study drama. After graduating, he embarked on a career in stand-up comedy, and quickly became a regular favourite at the Comedy Store in London.

Steve Coogan

Steve Coogan began his career in the 1980s, working as a voice artist on the satirical puppet show Spitting Image, The Day Today and Alan Partridge. Went to Manchester Metropolitan School of Theatre.

Matt Lucas

Matt Lucas studied drama in the faculty of arts at the University of Bristol. He also spent time with the National Youth Theatre, where he first met future writing partner David Walliams.

Simon Pegg

Simon Pegg graduated from the University of Bristol in 1991 with a BA in theatre, film and television. Created and co-wrote the Channel 4 sitcom Spaced and films Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Played Scotty in the 11th Star Trek film.

Peter Kay

Peter Kay began a degree course at Liverpool University but dropped out because he was given an unconditional offer to study for an HND in media performance at the University of Salford.

Shappi Khorsandi

Shappi Khorsandi moved to London from Iran with her family when she was a child. She graduated from King Alfred’s College, now the University of Winchester, with a degree in drama, theatre and television.

Sarah Millican

Newcastle-born Sarah Millican’s early sets were largely based around the experience of her recent divorce. She hoped to go to university but her parents told her they couldn’t afford it unless she went to a local college and lived at home.

Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais earned an upper second-class honours degree in philosophy at University College London (UCL). Famous for co-writing and appearing as David Brent in the Office, Extras and Hollywood films.

Miranda Hart

Miranda Hart studied political science at the University of the West of England in Bristol, and acting at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts.

Lee Mack

Comedian Lee Mack did his first open mike slot in 1994, while studying at Brunel University, from where he graduated with a degree in film and television.

Gina Yashere

Gina Yashere turned to comedy after working as a lift engineer. She was voted best female act at the Black Comedy Awards in 2002.

Jo Brand

Jo Brand took a joint social science degree with a registered mental nurse qualification at Brunel University. She then worked as a psychiatric nurse for 10 years before embarking in a career in stand-up.