Armando Giovanni Iannucci
28 November 1963
|Alma mater||University of Glasgow|
University College, Oxford
|Medium||Television, film, radio, stand up comedy|
|Genres||Sitcom, political satire|
Armando Giovanni Iannucci OBE (/jəˈnuːtʃi/; born 28 November 1963) is a Scottish satirist, writer, director, producer, performer and panellist. Born in Glasgow to Italian parents, Iannucci studied at the University of Glasgow followed by the University of Oxford. Starting on BBC Scotland and BBC Radio 4, his early work with Chris Morris on the radio series On the Hour transferred to television as The Day Today.
A character from this series, Alan Partridge, co-created by Iannucci, went on to feature in a number of Iannucci's television and radio programmes, including Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge and I'm Alan Partridge. Iannucci also fronted the satirical Armistice review shows and in 2001 created his most personal work, The Armando Iannucci Shows, for Channel 4.
Moving back to the BBC in 2005, Iannucci created the political sitcom The Thick of It and the spoof documentary Time Trumpet in 2006. Winning funding from the UK Film Council, in 2009 he directed a critically acclaimed feature film, In the Loop, featuring characters from The Thick of It. As a result of these works, he has been described by The Daily Telegraph as "the hardman of political satire". Other works during this period include an operetta libretto, Skin Deep, and his radio series Charm Offensive. Iannucci created the HBO political satire Veep, and was its showrunner for four seasons from 2012 to 2015.
For his work on Veep he won two Emmys in 2015, Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. He followed this with the feature films The Death of Stalin in 2017 and The Personal History of David Copperfield, a 2019 adaptation of the novel David Copperfield. In 2020, he created the comedy series Avenue 5 on HBO.
Iannucci was born in Glasgow. His father, also called Armando, was from Naples, while his mother was born in Glasgow to an Italian family. Before emigrating, Iannucci's father wrote for an anti-fascist newspaper as a teenager and joined the Italian partisans at 17. He came to Scotland in 1950 and ran a pizza factory in Springburn in Glasgow.
Iannucci has two brothers and a sister. His childhood home was near that of actor Peter Capaldi, who went on to play Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It, a TV show created by Iannucci; although their parents knew each other well, he and Capaldi did not know each other in childhood. In his teens, Iannucci thought seriously about becoming a Roman Catholic priest.
Iannucci was educated at St Peter's Primary School, St. Aloysius' College, Glasgow, the University of Glasgow and University College, Oxford, where he studied English literature. He was conducting a DPhil about 17th-century religious language, with particular reference to Milton's Paradise Lost, which he abandoned to follow a comedy career. He was particularly inspired by the American comedian and filmmaker Woody Allen, later calling him his "all-time comedy hero".
After making several programmes at BBC Scotland in the early 1990s such as the No' The Archie McPherson Show, he moved to BBC Radio in London, making radio shows including Armando Iannucci for BBC Radio 1, which featured a number of comedians he was to collaborate with for many years, including David Schneider, Peter Baynham, Steve Coogan and Rebecca Front.
Iannucci first received widespread fame as the producer for On the Hour on Radio 4, which transferred to television as The Day Today. He received critical acclaim for both his own talents as a writer and a producer, and for first bringing together such comics as Chris Morris, Richard Herring, Stewart Lee, Baynham and Coogan. The members of this group went on to work on separate projects and create a new comedy "wave" pre-New Labour: Morris went on to create Brass Eye, Blue Jam and the Chris Morris Music Show; Stewart Lee and Richard Herring created Fist of Fun and This Morning with Richard Not Judy.
Baynham was closely involved with both Morris's and Lee & Herring's work. Lee would go on to co-write Jerry Springer: The Opera, and wrote early material for Coogan's character Alan Partridge, who first appeared in On the Hour, and has featured in multiple spin-off series. Between 1995 and 1999, Iannucci produced and hosted The Saturday Night Armistice.
In 2000, he created two pilot episodes for Channel 4, which became The Armando Iannucci Shows. This was an eight-part series for Channel 4 broadcast in 2001, written with Andy Riley and Kevin Cecil. The series consisted of Iannucci pondering pseudo-philosophical and jocular ideas and fantasies in between surreal sketches. Iannucci has been quoted as saying it is the comedy series he is most proud of making. He told Metro in April 2007: "The Armando Iannucci Show [sic] on Channel 4 came out around 9/11, so it was overlooked for good reasons. People had other things on their minds. But that was the closest to me expressing my comic outlook on life."
After championing Yes Minister on the BBC's Britain's Best Sitcom, Iannucci devised, directed and was chief writer of The Thick of It, a political satire-cum-farce for BBC Four. It starred Chris Langham as an incompetent cabinet minister being manipulated by a cynical, foul-mouthed Press Officer, Malcolm Tucker. It was first broadcast for two short series on BBC Four in 2005, initially with a small cast focusing on a government minister, his advisers and their party's spin-doctor. The cast was significantly expanded for two hour-long specials to coincide with Christmas and Gordon Brown's appointment as Prime Minister in 2007, which saw new characters forming the opposition party added to the cast. These characters continued when the show switched channels to BBC Two for its third series in 2009. A fourth series about a coalition government was broadcast in 2012. In a 2012 interview, Iannucci said the fourth series of the programme would probably be its last.
Based on a format he had used in Clinton: His Struggle with Dirt in 1996 and 2004: The Stupid Version, in mid-2006, his spoof documentary series Time Trumpet was shown on BBC 2. The series looked back on past events through highly edited clips and "celebrity" interviews, looking back on the present and near-future from the year 2031. One episode, featuring fictional terrorist attacks on London and the assassination of Tony Blair, was postponed and edited in August 2006 amid the terrorism scares in British airports at that time. Jane Thynne, writing in The Independent, accused the BBC of lacking backbone.
He created the American HBO political satire television series Veep, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, set in the office of Selina Meyer, a fictional Vice-President of the United States. Veep uses a similar cinéma-vérité filming style to The Thick of It. Debuting in 2012, the show has aired seven seasons, winning multiple awards including seventeen Primetime Emmy Awards. However, beginning with season five, Iannucci stepped down as showrunner due to "personal reasons".
In 2019, he began work on a new science fiction sitcom for HBO called Avenue 5, which premiered in 2020 He subsequently became the series executive producer and directed the pilot.
Iannucci's non-television works include Smokehammer, a web-based project with Chris Morris, and the 1997 book Facts and Fancies, composed of his newspaper columns, which was turned into a BBC Radio 4 series. The radio series Scraps With Iannucci, which followed late in 1998, featured Iannucci using his tape-fiddling skills to present a review of the year.
In 2007, he directed a series of Post Office television adverts, featuring the actors John Henshaw, Rory Jennings and Di Botcher alongside guest stars Joan Collins, Bill Oddie and Westlife.
He has appeared on Radio 3 talking about classical music, one of his passions, and collaborated with composer David Sawer on Skin Deep, an operetta, which was premiered by Opera North on 16 January 2009. He has also presented three programmes for BBC Radio 3, including Mobiles Off!, a 20-minute segment on classical concert-going etiquette. He was a regular columnist for the classical music magazine Gramophone. A book of his writings about classical music Hear Me Out was published in 2017.
In 2012 it was announced that he was writing his first novel, Tongue International, a satirical fantasy about the promotion of a "for-profit language".
In January 2009, his first feature film In the Loop, in the style of The Thick of It, was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. It was the first cinema film to be directed by Iannucci, after his contribution to Tube Tales in 1999. The film was applauded by critics, both in Britain and the US, and was nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar in 2009. The film secured the eighth highest placing in the UK box office in its opening week – despite its relatively insignificant screening numbers.
His second feature film was The Death of Stalin, about the power struggle which followed the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953. It was released in October 2017 in the United Kingdom. The film was banned in Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan for allegedly mocking the countries' pasts and making fun of their leaders. However, it received a Magritte Award nomination in the category of Best Foreign Film and was a critical success.
His third feature film was an adaptation of Charles Dickens's David Copperfield entitled The Personal History of David Copperfield. It was theatrically released in the United Kingdom on 24 January 2020 and received critical acclaim.
Iannucci has won two Sony Radio Awards and three British Comedy Awards. In 2003, he was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy. He was also subject of a 2006 edition of The South Bank Show.
In January 2006 he was named News International Visiting Professor of Broadcast Media at the University of Oxford, where he has delivered a series of four lectures under the title "British Comedy – Dead Or Alive?".
In June 2011, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Glasgow to recognise his contribution to film and television.
At the 2011 British Comedy Awards, Iannucci received the Writers' Guild of Britain Award.
He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to broadcasting. Alastair Campbell's response to his appointment was "Three little letters can have more impact than you realise", to which Iannucci replied, via Twitter, "WMD" (a reference to Campbell's role in preparing the "September Dossier" prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq).
In July 2012 Iannucci received an honorary Doctorate (DLitt) from the University of Exeter.
In the 2010 general election Iannucci supported the Liberal Democrats, stating: "I'll be voting Lib Dem this election because they represent the best chance in a lifetime to make lasting and fair change to how the UK is governed." After the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition of 2010 was established, however, he expressed doubts over his continued support for the party, saying he was 'wavering' on many issues and has admitted to 'queasiness' over the Coalition's economic measures. He also seemed to contemplate targeting the Liberal Democrats in the fourth series of The Thick of It, rather as the first three had targeted what he perceived as the failings within the Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
In July 2018, Iannucci announced his support on Twitter for People's Vote, a campaign group calling for a public vote on the final Brexit deal between the UK and the European Union. He also expressed these views the following month in an editorial in the Daily Mirror, and they went on to be reported in other British newspapers.
In 1990, he married Rachel Jones, whom he met when she designed the lighting for his one-man show at Oxford. They have two sons and one daughter and currently live in Hertfordshire.
He is a former patron of the Silver Star Society, a charity supporting women through difficult pregnancies. In April 2012, as part of his support for the Silver Star Society, he abseiled from the top of the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford to raise money for the hospital's specialist pregnancy unit.
|Tube Tales||1999||Yes||Yes||No||Segment: "Mouth"|
|In the Loop||2009||Yes||Yes||No|
|Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa||2013||No||Yes||Executive|
|The Death of Stalin||2017||Yes||Yes||No|
|The Personal History of David Copperfield||2019||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Up Yer News||1990||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|The Day Today||1994||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Hellwyn Ballard||Also co-creator with Chris Morris|
|Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge||1994||No||Yes||Yes||No||—||Also co-creator with Steve Coogan & Patrick Marber|
|The Saturday Night Armistice[a]||1995–1999||No||Yes||No||Yes||Presenter|
|I'm Alan Partridge||1997–2002||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||—||Also co-creator with Steve Coogan & Peter Baynham|
|Clinton: His Struggle with Dirt||1998||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Himself||Television special|
|The Armando Iannucci Shows||2001||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Presenter||Eight episodes|
|Britain's Best Sitcom||2004||No||No||No||Yes||Presenter||Episode: "Yes Minister"|
|2004: The Stupid Version||2004||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Presenter||Television special|
|Have I Got News for You||2004–2017||No||No||No||Yes||Panelist||Seven episodes|
|The Thick of It||2005–2012||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||—||Also creator|
|Time Trumpet||2006||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Himself||Also co-creator with Roger Drew & Will Smith|
|Comics Britannia||2007||No||No||No||Yes||Narrator||Three-part documentary series|
|Lab Rats||2008||No||No||Executive||No||—||Six episodes|
|Milton's Heaven and Hell||2009||No||Yes||No||Yes||Presenter||Television special|
|Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle||2009–2011||No||No||Executive||Yes||Himself|
|Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge||2010–2011||No||Yes||Executive||No||—||Also co-creator with Steve Coogan & Neil and Rob Gibbons|
|Armando's Tale of Charles Dickens||2012||No||Yes||No||Yes||Presenter||Television special|
|Avenue 5||2020–2022||Yes||Yes||Executive||No||—||Also creator|
|Award||Year||Category||Recipient(s) and nominee(s)||Result||Ref(s)|
|Academy Awards||2010||Best Adapted Screenplay||In the Loop||Nominated|||
|British Academy Film Awards||2010||Best Adapted Screenplay||Nominated|
|Outstanding British Film||Nominated|
|2018||Best Adapted Screenplay||The Death of Stalin||Nominated|
|Outstanding British Film||Nominated|
|British Academy Television Awards||1995||Best Entertainment Performance||Knowing Me, Knowing You... with Alan Partridge||Nominated|
|1998||Best Comedy||I'm Alan Partridge||Won|
|2010||Best Situation Comedy||The Thick of It||Won|
|Best Writer - Comedy||Nominated|
|British Academy Scotland Awards||2009||Best Director in Film/Television||In the Loop||Won|
|Best Writer Film/Television||Won|
|2017||Outstanding Contribution to Film & Television||Himself||Won|
|2018||Best Director in Film/Television||The Death of Stalin||Won|
|Best Writer Film/Television||Won|
|British Independent Film Awards||2009||Best Director||In the Loop||Nominated|
|The Douglas Hickox Award||Nominated|
|2017||Best British Independent Film||The Death of Stalin||Nominated|
|2019||Best British Independent Film||The Personal History of David Copperfield||Nominated|||
|Primetime Emmy Awards||2012||Outstanding Comedy Series||Veep||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series||Nominated|
|2015||Outstanding Comedy Series||Won|
|Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series||Nominated|
|Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series||Won|
|European Film Awards||2018||Best Comedy||The Death of Stalin||Won|||
|People's Choice Award||Nominated|
|London Film Critics' Circle Awards||2010||Breakthrough British Filmmaker||In the Loop||Nominated|
|Director of the Year||Nominated|
|Screenwriter of the Year||Won|
|National Society of Film Critics Awards||2018||Best Screenplay||The Death of Stalin||Won|
|Producers Guild of America Awards||2014||Best Episodic Comedy||Veep||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||2019||Best Adapted Screenplay||The Death of Stalin||Nominated|
|Writers Guild of America Awards||2013||Best New Series||Veep||Nominated|
|2014||Best Comedy Series||Won|