Josie Lawrence

Infobox Comedian

name = Josie Lawrence
imagesize =
caption =
birth_name = Wendy Lawrence
birth_date = Birth date and age|1959|6|6|df=yes
birth_place = Old Hill, Rowley Regis, Staffordshire, England, UK
nationality = British
notable_work = "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" (1988–1998)
"Enchanted April" (1992)

Josie Lawrence (born Wendy Lawrence, 6 June 1959) is a British comedienne and actress best known for her work with Comedy Store Players improvisational troupe and the television series "Whose Line Is It Anyway?".

As well as being quick-witted, Lawrence is a talented singer and is always impressive at improvising songs on the spot.cite web| url= || title=Josie Lawrence }]



Her first theatre job was playing a young boy in a production of "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" at the Half Moon Theatre. During the 1980s she was also involved in a play called "Passionaria" at the Newcastle Playhouse, starring Denise Black and Kate McKenzie and they later formed the jazz group "Denise Black and the Kray Sisters". [ [ The Northern Echo] 16/06/2005]

Her move into comedy came as a result of starring in a Donmar Warehouse play called "Songs For Stray Cats" and hearing the audience invited to supply lines and ideas for improvisers appearing in after-show cabaret.

In 1994-1996 Lawrence played Katharine in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of "The Taming of the Shrew" in both Stratford-upon-Avon and London, for which she received a Dame Peggy Ashcroft award for Best Actress. She also appeared in "Faust", "The Cherry Orchard", and starred as Benedick in an all-female production of "Much Ado About Nothing" at Shakespeare's Globe. She later took over the lead role of Anna in the stage musical "The King and I" in London's West End, replacing Elaine Paige. In 2005, she appeared with Victoria Wood, Julie Walters and Celia Imrie in the cult West End production of Wood's "".

Despite these successful shows, Lawrence also has a place in The Guiness Book of Records for a play she once starred in called BAG which opened to an entirely empty house.cite web| url= || title=Josie Lawrence }]

In April & May 2008, Lawrence took the lead role in Tom Stoppard's "Hapgood" at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and later at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. She played the part of a secret spymaster given the task of exposing a traitor who is leaking vital information to the Russians. [ [ Express & Star] 05/01/2008] . She will be co-directing "The Time Step", a comedy about fantasies and talent contests, with Linda Marlow from July 30 at the Edinburgh Festival [ [ The Times Online] 23/06/2008.]


Lawrence came to public attention as a regular guest on the Channel 4 improvisational comedy series "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" on its launch in 1988. A talented singer, Lawrence's speciality on "Whose Line" was her ability to improvise songs on the spot. She was the first female performer to regularly perform, and featured on the show until it ended in 1998. She also performed in two episodes of the American edition of the show in 1999.

In 1991, she had her own short-lived comedy series "Josie", also on Channel 4. Her other television work includes the comedy series "Not with a Bang" and "Downwardly Mobile", and she is remembered for her performances as Maggie Costello in the cricketing comedy drama "Outside Edge" alongside Timothy Spall and Brenda Blethyn, for which she was awarded the Spectacle Wearer of the Year award in 1993. She went on to perform in "Sealed with a Loving Kiss" and "Lunch in the Park" as part of the "Paul Merton in Galton and Simpsons'..." series on February 16 1996 and October 21 1997. She appeared in the 1999 made-for-TV movie "The Flint Street Nativity" as both Debbie Bennett and Debbie's mother. In 2001 she played Camilla in A Many Splintered Thing.

In 2006 she starred in "The Complete Guide to Parenting" as Phoebe Huntley, alongside Peter Davison. She has also recently appeared in the BBC 1 drama series "Robin Hood" and as Mrs Jiniwin in the 2007 ITV adaptation of "The Old Curiosity Shop". She appeared in an episode of the 2007 E4 teen comedy/drama "Skins", playing Liz Jenkins, estranged mother of Sid Jenkins, a role which she reprised in the second series.

She has appeared as a guest on the panel show games "QI" and "Never Mind the Buzzcocks".


Lawrence starred in 3 series of the improvised comedy series "The Masterson Inheritance" from 1993 - 1995, alongside Paul Merton, Phelim McDermott, Caroline Quentin, Lee Simpson and Jim Sweeney. Each episode comprised a different time period and the plot would be improvised based on suggestions from the studio audience. One un-aired episode was produced, narrated by Josie, but it was released on the internet by Jim Sweeney on his [ official site] .

The BBC Radio 4 series "The Lawrence Sweeney Mix" aired from 27 February20 March 2007, described as "Josie Lawrence and Jim Sweeney create improvised sketches from audience suggestions". [ [ BBC Lawrence Sweeney Mix Page] ] Series 2 began airing on the 29th January 2008. [ [ Jim Sweeney's official site] ]

She starred in two other BBC Radio 4 comedy series; the science fiction comedy "Married" in 1996 and the dark comedy series "Vent" in 2006 as well as appearing in a "Galton and Simpson Radio Playhouse" 50th Anniversary recording of "Clicquot et Fils" alongside Richard Griffiths and Roger Lloyd Pack which originally aired on 29 December 1998.

She made her debut performance in two episodes of "Just A Minute" which originally aired on 7 January and 25 February 2008.

Audio Books

Josie has lent her voice to several audiobooks, the majority of which were books for children. She has recorded several of the books in Roger Hargreaves' "Little Miss" series, namely Bossy, Giggles, Trouble, Tiny, Sunshine, Naughty, Somersault and Neat and four of Jacqueline Wilson's books, "Secrets", "The Illustrated Mum", "Bad Girls" and "The Bed and Breakfast Star". She has also recorded books from Emma Thomson's "Felicity Wishes", Eric Hill's "Spot the Dog" and Tony Bradman's "Dilly the Dinosaur", as well as Philip Ridley's "Mercedes Ice" and Julia Donaldson's "Room on the Broom".

For adults, Lawrence has recorded tapes of Rosie Thomas' "Sun at Midnight", Lynee Truss' "Going Loco" and Daphne du Maurier's "Jamaica Inn".

Video Games

Her latest role was voicing a peasant in the "Assassin's Creed", an action/adventure game from Ubisoft.


In 2003 Josie spent eight months walking across China, Cuba, Peru and Tanzania for Breakthrough Breast Cancer and helped to raise over £550,000. She had to wear a knee brace throughout the trek because of damage to her anterior cruciate ligament. [ [] ]

In 2005 she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for Sunfield – a school for children with autism and complex learning needs - of which she is a patron. [ [ Sunfield School Patrons] ] . On 21 April 2008 she hosted a VIP-night performance of Hapgood at The Birmingham Rep in aid of Sunfield and raised a further £3,500 for the charity. [ [ Halesowen News - April 28 2008] - 'Rep VIP night pulls in £3.5k'] She is also a supporter of the National Autistic Society's "Make School Make Sense" campaign. [ [ National Autistic Society] ]

Personal life

Josie Lawrence was born Wendy Lawrence in Old Hill, Sandwell. She has a brother, John, and sister, Janet, 10 years older who are twins. They were brought up in nearby Cradley Heath, where her father worked for British Leyland and her mother as a dinner lady. She says everyone in her family has a wicked, dry, sense of humor.

She trained at Dartington College of Arts from 1978 to 1981, receiving a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree. In 1996, Dartington awarded her an Honorary Doctorate of Arts,Citation |url= |title=Josie Lawrence ] and has since been awarded a further two- the second an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Wolverhampton in 2004 [ Josie Lawrence honoured by Uni] ] and the third in 2006 awarded by Aston University for her services to the entertainment industry. [Citation |url= |title=Aston awards doctorate to award winning actress |date=13 July 2006 |publisher=Aston University ]

She currently lives in Bethnal Green, East London. [ [,,1841314,00.html The Observer, August 13, 2006] ] She has two cats, the long haired ginger Aynuk and the black and white Ayli, both named after the Black Country characters Aynuk and Ayli who feature prominently in jokes about Black Country dialect. [ [ BBC - Black Country Jokes] ] She is private about her love life, and has never married. In addition to performing she also paints watercolors.


External links

*imdb name|id=0492856|name=Josie Lawrence

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