David Baddiel

David Baddiel

Baddiel in 2010
Birth name David Lionel Baddiel
Born (1964-05-28) 28 May 1964
Troy, New York, United States
Medium Television, film, stand-up
Nationality British
Years active 1984–present
Genres Satire, observational comedy
Subject(s) Human interaction, sex, football, religion
Influences Woody Allen
Influenced Sean Lock
Partner(s) Morwenna Banks
Children 2
Notable works and roles The Mary Whitehouse Experience
Newman and Baddiel in Pieces
Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned
Baddiel's Syndrome

David Lionel Baddiel (born 28 May 1964) is a Jewish American-born English comedian, novelist and television presenter. He is known for his work alongside Rob Newman in The Mary Whitehouse Experience and partnership with Frank Skinner. Besides comedy, Baddiel is also a published novelist and a screenwriter,[1] author of children's novels The Parent Agency and The Person Controller.

Early life

Baddiel was born in Troy, New York, and came to the United Kingdom with his parents when he was four months old.[2] His father, Colin Brian Baddiel, was a Welsh-born research chemist with Unilever before being made redundant in the 1980s, after which he sold Dinky Toys at Grays Antique Market and later worked for his friend Alan Black at Regal Chemicals.[3] His mother, Sarah, who died in 2014,[4] was a five months old refugee child when she was brought to the United Kingdom in 1939 by her parents after escaping from Nazi Germany, where her father, Ernst, had been stripped of his assets. Soon after their arrival, Ernst was interned as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man for a year.[5][6] Baddiel is the second of three sons.[7] His parents were both from Jewish families.[8]

Baddiel grew up in Dollis Hill, Willesden, north London. He attended primary school at the North West London Jewish Day School in Brent.[9] After studying at The Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School in Elstree, an independent school near Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, he studied English at King's College, Cambridge, where he was a member of the Cambridge Footlights, and graduated with a double first.[3][9] He began studies for a PhD in English at University College London but did not complete it.[7]



Baddiel became a cabaret stand-up comedian after leaving university and also wrote sketches and jokes for various radio series. His first television appearance came in a bit-part on one episode of the showbiz satire, Filthy, Rich and Catflap. In 1988, he was introduced to Rob Newman, a comic impressionist, and the two formed a writing partnership. They were subsequently paired up with the partnership of Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis for a new topical comedy show for BBC Radio 1 called The Mary Whitehouse Experience, and its success led to a transfer to television. Two seasons were made for BBC2, during which time Baddiel also co-hosted a Channel 4 monologue programme, A Stab in the Dark.

After both duos chose not to do another series of The Mary Whitehouse Experience, Baddiel teamed up with Newman again for Newman and Baddiel in Pieces in 1993. The duo went on to become the first comedians to perform to a sold-out Wembley Arena but subsequently went their separate ways .[1] In 2014, he appeared as himself in The Life of Rock with Brian Pern.


Baddiel then took in a lodger at his London apartment – fellow comedian Frank Skinner – and asked Skinner to co-present when he was offered the chance to do a programme based on the fantasy football craze. The show was Fantasy Football League, and later they took an improvised question-and-answer show to the Edinburgh Festival which then became a television series, Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned. The duo also twice topped the UK Singles Chart with the football anthem "Three Lions", initially written as the England football team's official anthem for UEFA Euro 96, and later re-issued, with updated lyrics, as an unofficial song for the 1998 World Cup. Baddiel and Skinner collaborated on podcasts for the Times Online and Absolute Radio during both the 2006 FIFA World Cup and 2010 FIFA World Cup respectively.


Baddiel has published four novels: Time for Bed (1996), Whatever Love Means (2002), The Secret Purposes (2006), and The Death of Eli Gold (2011). He created and, for four series, hosted the Radio 4 comedy discussion programme Heresy, before passing hosting duties on to Victoria Coren. He has made a number of television documentaries, including Who Do You Think You Are? and Baddiel and the Missing Nazi Billions.[10] In 2009 Baddiel presented Who Do You Want Your Child to Be? a programme covering child development and education as part of the BBC Horizon series. In 2010 he wrote the screenplay for the feature film The Infidel. In 2012 he and fellow comedian Hugh Dennis drove from Addis Ababa to Aksum, reportedly home of the Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia, as part of the BBC 2 TV series World's Most Dangerous Roads. Also the bestselling author of the Parent Agency (2015) and the Person Controller (2015). In 2016 he wrote the short Children's novel "The Boy Who Could Do What He Liked" for World Book Day" (3 March 2016).

Charity work

Baddiel is a patron of the Campaign Against Living Miserably. He acted as compere for the Stand-Up to Stop Suicide event organised by Claire Anstey and the charity,[11] and has appeared on radio advertisements publicising the issue of young male suicide.

In February 2009 he and several other entertainers wrote an open letter printed in The Times supporting Bahá'í leaders then on trial in Iran.[12]

Personal life

Baddiel has two children with his partner, fellow comedian Morwenna Banks - daughter Dolly (born 2001) and son Ezra (born 2004).[9][13] They live in north London.

Baddiel's book, The Secret Purposes, is based in part on the internment of his grandfather on the Isle of Man during the Second World War. His father is from Swansea[3] and his mother was born in Nazi Germany, a swastika appearing on her birth certificate.[14] An episode of the BBC's genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? investigated his heritage in some detail,[14] but failed to prove his theory that his mother had been secretly adopted from another Jewish family who had no hope of escaping.[6] Despite his upbringing, he has described himself as a "10 out of 10 atheist"[15] and as a "fundamentalist" "Jewish atheist".[1]

During an appearance on the Channel 4 topical panel show 8 Out of 10 Cats (26 May 2006) he revealed that he had been voted the "World's 6th Sexiest Jew". He appeared in a special episode of What Not to Wear where fashion gurus Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine gave him a makeover.[16]

Baddiel supports Chelsea F.C.[17]

He is a big fan of the rock band Genesis and introduced the band at their Turn It On Again: The Tour press conference in 2006. He also provided sleeve notes for the reissue of the album Nursery Cryme as part of the Genesis 1970–1975 box set.[18] Baddiel is also a fan of the band's former lead singer Peter Gabriel. A diarist for The Times once incorrectly reported that he had been "loud and offensive" while attending one of Gabriel's concerts, something Baddiel has referred to in his live act.[19] Baddiel is also a fan of David Bowie and marked the singer's 65th birthday in 2012 by expressing a desire on Twitter to see him come out of retirement.[20] Baddiel attended the tribute concert to Bowie at London's Union Chapel following the musician's death and addressed the audience, describing Bowie as "the greatest tunesmith we have".[21]


  1. 1 2 3 "Interview: David Baddiel". Varsity. 19 November 2011.
  2. "The Independent - 404". The Independent.
  3. 1 2 3 Poole, Dan (26 January 2006). "The Real World: David Baddiel, comedian and novelist". London: independent.co.uk.
  4. The Jonathan Ross Show, s10 e10, 12 March 2016
  5. 'David Baddiel,' BBC One.
  6. 1 2 "BBC - Who Do You Think You Are? - Past Stories - David Baddiel". bbc.co.uk.
  7. 1 2 Aida Edemariam (24 July 2010). "David Baddiel: from stand-up to Saul Bellow". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
  8. Stated on Who Do You Think You Are?, 23 November 2004.
  9. 1 2 3 Beam, Emily (4 April 2005). "A double first and two chins". London: The Daily Telegraph.
  10. Lucy Mangan. "Last night's TV: Baddiel and the Missing Nazi Billions". the Guardian.
  11. metrowebukmetro. "Metro keeps calm at comedy night - Metro News". Metro.
  12. "Stand up for Iran's Baha'is – Voices from the arts call for the imprisoned Baha'i leaders in Iran to receive a fair trial". The Times. London. 26 February 2009.
  13. Laura Barton. "'I have never ended on an unstressed syllable!'". the Guardian.
  14. 1 2 "Who Do You Think You Are? with David Baddiel". Who Do You Think You Are?. 2004-11-23. BBC. BBC Two.
  15. "Five minutes with: David Baddiel". April 2009. BBC. Missing or empty |series= (help)
  16. "David Baddiel gets a dressing down", The Daily Mail
  17. Edwards, John (9 November 2012). "EXCLUSIVE: David Baddiel – Tottenham fans chanting 'Yid Army' sustains anti-Semitism". Daily Mail. London.
  18. "The famous fans of Genesis". Times Online UK. The Times. 2 November 2008.
  19. "Edinburgh Festival Fringe Review David Baddiel". The Edinburgh Reporter. 24 August 2013.
  20. Orr, James (8 January 2012). "David Bowie fans call for comeback tour as star reaches 65". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  21. Gerry, Holt (17 January 2016). "David Bowie death: London's Union Chapel hosts tribute concert". BBC News. Retrieved 4 February 2016.

External links

Preceded by
Chris Luscombe
Footlights Vice-President
Succeeded by
Ben Liston
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