Best British Female Comedians – Top 10 Trailblazers and Laughter Pioneers

Top 10 Best British Female Comedians of All Time


Best Female Comedians

Best Comedy Show


Jennifer Saunders

Absolutely Fabulous


Victoria Wood

Victoria Wood: As Seen On TV


Tracey Ullman

The Tracey Ullman Show


Caroline Aherne

The Royle Family / The Mrs Merton Show


Sally Phillips

Smack the Pony / Miranda


Sarah Millican

Stand-up comedy, Standard Issue magazine


Dawn French

French and Saunders / The Vicar of Dibley


Aisling Bea

This Way Up


Catherine Tate

The Catherine Tate Show / Doctor Who


Kerry Godliman

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Best British Female Comedians of All Time

The world of comedy has been enriched by a remarkable lineup of talented British female comedians, each leaving an indelible mark with their wit, humor, and unique perspectives. From iconic figures like Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French, known for their unforgettable sketch comedy and sitcoms, to modern sensations like Sarah Millican and Aisling Bea, who bring fresh voices to the comedy scene, these women have consistently delivered laughter and entertainment. Their contributions span across stand-up, television, and film, making them some of the best British female comedians of all time, celebrated for their comedic brilliance and enduring impact on the genre


1. Jennifer Saunders

Jennifer Saunders is a British comedy legend, celebrated for her versatility as a comedian, actress, and writer. Born in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, England, she gained widespread recognition as the co-creator and star of the iconic television show “Absolutely Fabulous” (often abbreviated as “Ab Fab”). The series, which originally aired in the early 1990s and was later revived, features Saunders as the flamboyant, fashion-obsessed Edina Monsoon, alongside her comedy partner Dawn French. “Absolutely Fabulous” became a cultural phenomenon, satirizing the excesses of the fashion and entertainment industries with sharp humor and impeccable timing. Saunders’ portrayal of Edina earned her numerous awards, including BAFTAs.

In addition to her work on “Absolutely Fabulous,” Jennifer Saunders co-wrote and starred in the sketch comedy series “French and Saunders” with Dawn French, creating a wealth of memorable characters and sketches that have become comedy classics. Her career, which spans over three decades, is a testament to her enduring talent and ability to captivate audiences with her wit and humor. Whether on screen or stage, Jennifer Saunders remains a powerhouse within the British comedy scene.

2. Victoria Wood

Victoria Wood was a beloved British comedian, actress, and writer known for her unique blend of observational humor, musical talent, and sharp writing. Born in Prestwich, England, she charmed audiences with her distinctive comedic style, often infused with a warm, northern sensibility. Wood’s career was highlighted by the award-winning television series “Victoria Wood: As Seen On TV,” which featured a mix of stand-up, sketches, and musical numbers. Her ability to combine comedy and music in a seamless and entertaining way earned her critical acclaim and a dedicated fanbase.

One of Victoria Wood’s most significant contributions to British comedy was her TV movie “Housewife, 49,” based on the diaries of Nella Last during World War II. This poignant and humorous drama showcased Wood’s versatility as both a writer and performer. Tragically, Victoria Wood passed away in 2016, leaving behind a legacy of comedy that continues to be cherished by fans and celebrated by fellow comedians. Her unique comedic voice, sharp wit, and musical talents ensure that she remains an enduring figure in the pantheon of British comedy.

3. Tracey Ullman

Tracey Ullman is a trailblazing British comedian known for her versatile talent in comedy and entertainment. Born in Slough, Berkshire, England, on December 30, 1959, Ullman rose to fame in the 1980s with her own sketch comedy show, “The Tracey Ullman Show.” What set her apart was her remarkable ability to seamlessly transform into a wide range of characters, from the hilarious to the heartfelt. The show, which featured a mix of sketch comedy and musical performances, earned her critical acclaim and several awards, including multiple Emmys.

Beyond her own show, Ullman has contributed significantly to the world of comedy by introducing memorable characters like the perpetually disheveled Kay Clark and the quirky housewife Linda Granger. Her work influenced a generation of comedians and showcased her versatility as a performer. Tracey Ullman’s comedic prowess didn’t stop at television; she successfully transitioned into film, theater, and music, proving herself as a multifaceted entertainer. Her enduring legacy in comedy continues to inspire and entertain audiences around the world.

4. Caroline Aherne

Caroline Aherne was a pioneering British comedian and writer whose impact on the comedy landscape remains profound. Born in London on December 24, 1963, she made a significant mark on the comedy world in the 1990s. Aherne was best known for co-creating and starring in the critically acclaimed television series “The Royle Family,” which offered a unique and often heartwarming portrayal of a working-class British family. The show’s blend of humor and poignant moments struck a chord with viewers, earning it numerous awards and making Aherne a household name.

In addition to “The Royle Family,” Aherne created and starred in the comedy talk show “The Mrs Merton Show,” where she portrayed the titular character, Mrs. Merton, a sweet-natured elderly woman who asked celebrities hilariously cheeky questions. Her witty and incisive humor, combined with her ability to connect with audiences, set her apart in the comedy world. Tragically, Caroline Aherne passed away in 2016, but her contributions to comedy, her talent for creating unforgettable characters, and her ability to blend humor with genuine emotion continue to be celebrated and cherished by her peers and fans alike.

5. Sally Phillips

Sally Phillips is a versatile British actress and comedian known for her quick-witted humor and masterful character acting. Born in Hong Kong, China, on May 10, 1970, she has become a familiar face in both British television and film. Phillips gained widespread recognition for her roles in popular sitcoms like “Smack the Pony” and “Miranda,” where her comedic timing and ability to portray a wide range of characters earned her critical acclaim and a dedicated fan following.

One of her most memorable roles is that of Shazza in the “Bridget Jones” film franchise, where she showcased her comedic prowess alongside a star-studded cast. Beyond acting, Phillips is known for her contributions to radio and theatre, demonstrating her incredible range as a performer. Her talent for blending humor with relatable observations has made her a beloved presence in the British comedy scene, and she continues to entertain audiences with her versatile and charismatic comedic style.

6. Sarah Millican

Sarah Millican is a beloved English comedian known for her self-deprecating humor and relatable observations. Her comedy career skyrocketed after a breakthrough performance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2008. Millican’s stand-up is characterized by her keen insights into everyday life, relationships, and her own experiences, delivered with a warm and down-to-earth demeanor. Her ability to connect with audiences through humor that often centers on personal anecdotes has made her a fan favorite in the UK and beyond.

In addition to her stand-up comedy, Sarah Millican is a prolific writer and performer, with multiple successful stand-up tours to her name. She has made numerous appearances on popular comedy panel shows, showcasing her quick wit and comedic prowess. Beyond her comedy career, Millican founded and edited the online magazine “Standard Issue,” which focused on issues relevant to women. Sarah Millican’s unique voice and charm have made her a bankable star in the British comedy scene, and her relatability continues to resonate with audiences.

7. Dawn French

Dawn French is a Welsh-born comedian and actress renowned for her incredible chemistry with comedy partner Jennifer Saunders. French’s career has been defined by her ability to create unforgettable characters, whether through sketch comedy or her starring role in beloved sitcoms. She gained widespread recognition for her work in the sketch show “French and Saunders,” where she and Saunders lampooned various aspects of pop culture with sharp wit and humor. Additionally, her portrayal of the character Geraldine Granger in “The Vicar of Dibley” became iconic, earning her further acclaim.

Dawn French’s warmth, humor, and versatility as a performer have resonated with audiences for decades. Her contributions to British comedy are celebrated not only for their entertainment value but also for their cultural impact. French’s ability to infuse her characters with depth and relatability has made her a beloved figure in the comedy world, and her legacy continues to influence aspiring comedians.

8. Aisling Bea

Aisling Bea is an Irish comedian, writer, and actress known for her incisive stand-up performances and memorable television roles. After winning the Best Newcomer Award at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards in 2010, Bea quickly rose to prominence as a fresh and dynamic voice in comedy. She has made appearances on popular comedy panel shows such as “QI” and “8 Out of 10 Cats,” showcasing her quick thinking and sharp wit.

One of Aisling Bea’s notable achievements is her critically acclaimed sitcom, “This Way Up,” which she not only starred in but also created and wrote. The show received praise for its insightful and humorous exploration of mental health and personal growth. Aisling Bea’s comedic talent, combined with her ability to tackle complex and relatable subjects, has solidified her status as an exciting and fresh voice in the comedy world. Her career continues to thrive on both sides of the Atlantic, and she remains a highly respected and influential figure in the industry.

9. Catherine Tate

Catherine Tate is a chameleon within the world of comedy, known for her remarkable ability to transform herself into a multitude of unforgettable characters. Born in Bloomsbury, London, England, Tate’s comedic journey has been characterized by her fearless approach to tackling a range of comedic personas. She rose to prominence with her eponymous sketch comedy show, “The Catherine Tate Show,” which became a cultural phenomenon in the mid-2000s. In the show, she introduced audiences to a colorful cast of characters, including the cantankerous Nan, the petulant schoolgirl Lauren Cooper, and the ever-exasperated Derek Faye. Tate’s versatility as an actress and comedian shone through as she seamlessly shifted between roles, demonstrating her exceptional comedic timing and knack for satire.

Beyond her sketch show success, Catherine Tate has made a significant impact on popular culture through her appearances on “Doctor Who.” She portrayed the memorable character Donna Noble, a companion to the Doctor. Tate’s chemistry with David Tennant’s Doctor made her a beloved figure among “Doctor Who” fans. Her ability to bring depth to her character while infusing humor into her interactions with the Doctor showcased her acting prowess. Tate’s contributions to British comedy extend beyond her television work; she has also participated in various charity initiatives and stage performances, further solidifying her status as one of the most versatile and cherished comedic talents in the UK.

10. Kerry Godliman

Kerry Godliman is a delightful presence in the British comedy scene, celebrated for her sharp wit and natural talent as both a comedian and actress. Born in Perivale, London, England, Godliman has earned her reputation as a versatile performer known for her comedic brilliance. Her career boasts a wide array of achievements, with standout performances in both stand-up comedy and television roles. One of her most notable TV roles came in the Ricky Gervais sitcom “Derek,” where she portrayed the character Hannah, a caregiver in a nursing home. Her portrayal of Hannah earned critical acclaim for its heartfelt and humorous depiction of the challenges of caregiving.

In the world of stand-up comedy, Kerry Godliman has left an indelible mark with her quick-witted humor and masterful character acting. Her live performances often explore relatable topics, from the quirks of everyday life to the complexities of human relationships. Her relatable humor, combined with her charismatic stage presence, has endeared her to audiences and fellow comedians alike. With a diverse portfolio of work that includes television, stand-up, and even radio appearances, Kerry Godliman continues to shine as a multifaceted talent in the British comedy landscape

What is the Lasting Impact of these British Female Comedians on the Comedy Landscape?

The lasting impact of British female comedians on the comedy landscape is profound and far-reaching, encompassing both their contributions to the art form and their influence on the industry’s culture. These comedians have broken down barriers, challenged stereotypes, and blazed trails that continue to shape the comedy world today.

One significant aspect of their legacy is the empowerment of women in comedy. British female comedians have defied traditional gender roles and stereotypes, proving that humor knows no gender boundaries. They have paved the way for more women to enter the field, encouraging diversity and enriching the comedy landscape with a broader range of perspectives.

Additionally, these comedians have been instrumental in expanding the scope of comedic material. They have fearlessly tackled taboo subjects, pushing the boundaries of what can be discussed in comedy. Their willingness to address social issues, mental health, and personal experiences has not only made audiences laugh but has also sparked important conversations and brought awareness to critical topics.

Furthermore, the influence of British female comedians extends to their impact on storytelling. Many have excelled in creating multidimensional characters and narratives that resonate with viewers. Their comedic storytelling has not only entertained but has also elevated the art of comedy, inspiring others to explore deeper and more nuanced comedic content.

In terms of representation, these comedians have shattered glass ceilings and opened doors for underrepresented groups. They have shown that comedy is a platform for all voices, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or background. This inclusivity has fostered a more diverse and inclusive comedy landscape, reflecting the richness of human experiences.

Lastly, British female comedians have been trailblazers in advocating for social change. Through their comedy, they have raised awareness of important issues, challenged prejudices, and contributed to cultural shifts. Their activism and commitment to making the world a better place through laughter have left an indelible mark on the comedy landscape.

The lasting impact of British female comedians on the comedy landscape is multifaceted, encompassing gender equality, social commentary, storytelling, representation, and activism. They have not only entertained audiences but have also played a pivotal role in shaping the evolution of comedy as a powerful and inclusive art form.

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