Ronni Ancona
BornVeronica Jane Ancona
(1966-07-04) 4 July 1966 (age 57)
Louth, Lincolnshire, England
OccupationActress, impressionist
Spouse
Gerard Hall
(m. 2004)
Children2

Veronica "Ronni" Jane Ancona (born 4 July 1966)[1][2] is a British actress, comedian, impressionist and writer best known for The Big Impression, which she co-wrote and starred in[3] and was, for four years, one of BBC One's top-rated comedy programmes,[4] winning numerous awards, including a BAFTA in 2003.[5] Ancona also starred in the first series of the BAFTA-winning ITV series The Sketch Show.[6][7] Ancona has appeared in the BAFTA-winning Last Tango in Halifax[8] since its creation in 2012.[9][10] She is a co-director, alongside Sally Phillips and Nick Hamson, of the production company Captain Dolly.[11][12]

Early life

Ancona was born in Louth, Lincolnshire,[1] but moved to Scotland when she was a few days old[10] and was brought up in Troon. She is of Italian Jewish descent.[13] Her father was a commander in the Royal Navy and her mother was an artist who painted the sets at the Gaiety Theatre in Ayr and the Theatre Royal in Glasgow.[14] Ancona is the youngest of three children, with two older brothers.[10] In the BBC television programme Comedy Map of Britain she returned to her old school, Marr College in Troon, and talked about her earliest comedy performing experience as part of an improvisation group called Pots People.[15][16]

She attended the University of Kent at Canterbury to study film and then did a degree in theatre and TV design at Saint Martin's School of Art.[17] At the age of 19, while she was studying at St Martin's College, the BBC's Blue Peter reported on a play about Brecht at the Riverside Studios in which she was involved as a designer and performer: her appearance was later covered on the BBC show Before They Were Famous.[18] Ancona then attended the Institute of Education, University College London and qualified as a teacher in art, design & technology, and drama.[19] Whilst working as a teacher, Ancona started a comedy career on the live circuit. She won the Time Out Hackney Empire New Act of the Year in 1993.[19]

Television career

For many years, Ancona worked extensively in radio and on television shows such as Fist of Fun,[20] as well as performing stand-up comedy. She co-wrote and performed in shows such as Comedy Nation, Pulp Video, and The Sketch Show alongside Lee Mack.[21][7] In 2000, she teamed up with Alistair McGowan, with whom she had previously worked on The Staggering Stories of Ferdinand De Bargos and Standing Room Only,[22] to create The Big Impression.[3] The show was one of BBC One's top-rating comedy programmes for four years,[4] and won both a Variety Club Comedy Award and a BAFTA.[5][23] In 2003, she won "Best Actress" at the British Comedy Awards.[24] From 1996 to 2000, she also voiced Pennyghent on the CITV children's comedy series "Roger and the Rottentrolls", who was the smartest of the titular Rottentrolls.

In 2003, she starred in the BBC One historical drama The Key.[25]

In 2005, she played Barbara in Stephen Poliakoff's Gideon's Daughter on BBC One.[26]

She has appeared several times on the BBC celebrity panel show QI.[27][28][29][30] In November 2006, she was a guest presenter on Have I Got News For You.[31] She also appeared on the Channel 4 comedy show TV Heaven, Telly Hell discussing her preferences in television shows.

In 2007, her three-episode comedy sketch series Ronni Ancona & Co was broadcast on BBC One.[32]

She appeared as the mother of Katie and Emily Fitch in the third (2009) and fourth (2010) series of Skins.[33]

In 2009, she had a leading role in the BBC comedy drama Hope Springs.[34]

As part of the BBC's The Big Read, she promoted The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.[35]

In April 2010, she appeared on A Comedy Roast, celebrating Sharon Osbourne's life.[36] She appeared on the 2010 Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special where she was paired with Anton Du Beke.[37]

Ancona also took part in Comic Relief's Desert Trek 2011 alongside Craig David, Olly Murs, Dermot O'Leary, Scott Mills and Lorraine Kelly.[38]

In 2012, she appeared in Last Tango in Halifax.[8]

In January 2015, she was a guest on Room 101.[39]

In 2016, she played the role of Mrs Fletcher, the manager of a local care home, in the seventh series of the Scottish comedy Still Game.[40] Later that year she made a guest appearance in an episode of the BBC television series Celebrity Antiques Road Trip, partnering with antiques expert James Braxton.[41]

In April 2017, Ancona appeared as a guest on ITV's The Nightly Show, presented by Jason Manford, in which they each performed impersonations of famous people which the other had to identify.[42]

On 27 December 2020, Ancona appeared as a contestant on the Christmas special of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Celebrity Special.[43]

She won Pointless Celebrities in January 2021 with Jan Ravens.[44]

Film career

Ancona's first feature role was in 1999 when she appeared in The Debt Collector alongside Billy Connolly.[26]

In 2004, she played the role of Pat Connelly in The Calcium Kid.[45]

In the same year, she appeared in Stella Street: The Movie, playing numerous female celebrities including Madonna and Victoria Beckham.[46]

In 2005, Ancona played the role of Anita in Michael Winterbottom's A Cock and Bull Story.[47]

She had a cameo role in the 2006 fantasy romantic comedy Penelope.[48]

In 2013, Ancona was cast as Mrs Spencer in The Devil Went Down to Islington, a horror film following two hapless Londoners who sell their souls to Satan.[49]

She played Donna, Rob Brydon's agent, in the 2014 film The Trip to Italy.[50]

In 2018, she had a small role in the US comedy film Show Dogs[citation needed] and starred in Surviving Christmas with the Relatives.[51]

Theatre

Ancona's first Edinburgh Festival appearance was in 1992, during which she performed in two shows: The Inexplicable World of Lionel Nimrod with Stewart Lee and Richard Herring, and a stand-up show with Alistair McGowan.[citation needed]

Her first theatre role was in Miss Conceptions in 1996, a comedy play she co-wrote with Alan Francis, directed by Anthony Nielson.[citation needed]

In 2004, Ancona was cast in Singin' in the Rain, the first production with Adam Cooper. Ancona played the role of Lina Lamont, the silent-movie starlet, in the Sadler's Wells production.[52]

She then played the gold-digging temptress Belline in Richard Bean's 2005 production of Molière's The Hypochondriac, alongside Carey Mulligan and Henry Goodman.[18] The play received favourable reviews, with Michael Billington for The Guardian giving it four stars out of five and describing it as a "hilarious new version".[53]

Ancona returned to the Almeida to perform in Little Revolution, set during and after the 2011 London riots, alongside Lucian Msamati and Imogen Stubbs.[54]

In June 2015, Ancona was cast to play the role of Paula in the musical adaptation of Bend It Like Beckham at the West End's Phoenix Theatre. However, she had to pull out of the play for personal reasons before the premier.[55] Later that year she appeared alongside Justin Fletcher in The Tale of Mr Tumble during the Manchester International Festival.[56]

In 2019, she performed in the Edinburgh Fringe show Just Checking In, which she co-wrote with Kim Fuller and fellow cast member Lewis MacLeod.[57]

Written work

In 2009, A Matter of Life and Death: How to Wean a Man Off Football, by Ancona and Alistair McGowan, was published by Faber & Faber.[58]

Awards

Ancona co-wrote The Big Impression,[3] which won numerous awards including a BAFTA in 2003.[5] She was nominated for Best Comedy Newcomer in 2000[59] and Best Comedy actress in 2002,[60] as well as winning The Best TV comedy Actress in 2003.[24] Ancona and McGowan also received The Variety Club Comedy Award in 2002.[23]

Nominee - Best Comedy Newcomer - Big Impression - 2000[59]

Winner - Broadcast Award - 2001[citation needed]

Nominee – Best Comedy Actress - 2002 - Big Impression[60]

Winner - Variety Club Comedy Award - 2002[23]

Winner - New TV Talent of the Year - Television and Radio Industries Club - 2002[61]

Winner - Comedy Actress - Maxim Women of the Year Awards – 2002[citation needed]

Winner - Best TV Comedy Actress - Big Impression - 2003[24]

Winner - Funny Woman of the Year - Glamour Women of the Year Awards - 2004[citation needed]

Winner - BAFTA – The Sketch Show[6]

Winner - BAFTA – The Big Impression[5]

Personal life

Ancona had a seven-year relationship with Alistair McGowan which ended shortly before they started working together professionally.[citation needed] Ancona is married to Gerard Hall,[62] a consultant rheumatologist[63] with whom she has two daughters. They live in West London.[64]

Ancona is an ambassador to the Environmental Investigation Agency,[65] Marie Curie[66] and Sightsavers.[67]

Filmography

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Television

Year Title Role Notes
1994 Ben Elton: The Man from Auntie Consumer Watch presenter / Tomorrow's World presenter Series 2, Episode 3
The Imaginatively Titled Punt and Dennis Show Series 1, Episodes 4–6
1995 What's Up Doc? Leticia Geek Series 3, Episode 25
The Geeks Series 1, Episode 1: "The Money, Money, Money" & Episode 6: "Our House"
Scratchy and Co. Various CITV series
Pulp Video Various characters BBC Two series
The Staggering Stories of Ferdinand de Bargos Various (voice) Series 5, Episodes 1–6
1995–1996 Fist of Fun Sarah / Tina Hartiman / Various Series 1, Episodes 3 & 4; Series 2, Episodes 1, 3 & 4
1996 Win, Lose or Draw! Herself - Contestant Series 7, Episodes 21–25
1997 Klinik! Various characters (voice) Channel 4 series
1997–2000 Roger and the Rottentrolls Rottentroll Voices (voice) Series 2–4, 26 episodes
1998 Comedy Nation Various roles BBC Two series
1999 Mark Lamarr Leaving the 20th Century Series 1, Episode 2
The Waiting Time RMP Colonel Television film
1999–2003 The Big Impression Various characters Series 1–4 & Christmas Specials, 30 episodes
2000 Holby City Anna Griffiths Series 3, Episode 7: "The Trouble with the Truth"
2001 Dr. Terrible's House of Horrible Countess Kronsteen Series 1, Episode 1: "Lesbian Vampire Lovers of Lust"
Combat Sheep Peaches (voice) Television film
The Sketch Show Various characters Series 1, Episodes 1–8
2002 Sport Relief Herself / Victoria Beckham Television Special
2003 Comic Relief 2003: The Big Hair Do Various characters Television Special
The Key Maggie Series 1, Episodes 1–3
2004 Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Herself - Contestant Series 16, Episodes 14/15: "Celebrity Special"
2005 Monkey Trousers Various characters Series 1, Episodes 1–5
Gideon's Daughter Barbara Television film
Comic Relief: Red Nose Night Live '05 Catherine Zeta-Jones / Courtney Cox Arquette / Renée Zellweger Television Special
2006 Rob Brydon's Annually Retentive Herself Series 1, Episode 4
Have I Got News For You Herself - Guest Presenter Series 32, Episode 6
The Secret Policeman's Ball: The Ball in the Hall Herself Television film
2006–2017 QI Herself - Panellist Series 4, 6–9, 12 & 14, 7 episodes
2007 Hotel Babylon Theresa Evan Series 2, Episode 1
Agatha Christie's Marple Amanda Dalrymple Series 3, Episode 4: "Nemesis"
Comic Relief 2007: The Big One Various characters Television Special
Ronni Ancona & Co. Various roles Series 1, Episodes 1–3
2008 Comedy Classics Narrator (voice) Series 1, Episodes 1–6
2009 Hope Springs Ann Marie Cairncross Series 1, Episodes 1–8
CBeebies Bedtime Stories Herself - Storyteller Series 1, Episodes 72–76
Would I Lie to You? Herself - Panellist Series 3, Episode 7
2009–2010 Skins Jenna Fitch Series 3, Episode 9; Series 4, Episodes 2 & 4
2010 Strictly Come Dancing Herself - Contestant Series 8, Episode 27: "Christmas Special"
2011 Midsomer Murders Kitty Pottinger Series 13, Episode 8: "Fit for Murder"
The Comic Strip Presents... Barbara Windsor Series 9, Episode 1: "The Hunt for Tony Blair"
Pet Squad Various (voices) Series 1, 52 episodes
Shooting Stars Herself - Panellist Series 8, Episode 5
2012 Little Crackers Ex-Wife Series 3, Episode 3: "Tommy Tiernan's Little Cracker: Howler"
2012–2020 Last Tango in Halifax Judith Series 1, 2, 4 & 5, 15 episodes
2014 The Trip Donna Series 2, Episodes 2–6
Pointless Celebrities Herself - Contestant Series 6, Episode 12: "Comedy Performers" & Episode 30: "Comedians"
Portrait Artist of the Year Herself - Sitter Series 2, Episode 2: "Julian Fellowes, Ronni Ancona, and Helen Kennedy"
2015 Father Brown Madame Chania Series 3, Episode 8: "The Lair of the Libertines"
CBeebies Presents: The Tale of Mr. Tumble Miss Eerie Television film
Citizen Khan Sandra Series 4 Episode 4: "Chicken Shop"
Room 101 Herself - Guest Series 15, Episode 1: "Tim Vine, Len Goodman, Ronni Ancona"
2016 Stella Selina Child Series 5, Episode 10
Doctors Alicia Largo Series 18, Episode 10: "In Questa Reggia"
Still Game Mrs. Fletcher Series 7, Episode 6: "Down and Out"
Pointless Celebrities Herself - Contestant Series 10, Episode 6: "Impressionists"
2017 Where in the World Narrator (voice) CBeebies documentary series. Series 1, Episodes 1–20
2018 The Week That Wasn't Sky One series
Tourist Trap Marie Series 1, Episode 5
2020 Celebrity Chase Herself - Contestant Series 10, Episode 5
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Series 35, Episodes 7: "Christmas Special"
Pointless Celebrities Series 13, Episode 24: "Impressionists"
2021 Richard Osman's House of Games Series 4, Episodes 86–90
2022 The Hit List Series 5, Episode 10: "Christmas Special"
Portrait Artist of the Year Series 10, Episode: "Celebrity Special"
Friday Night Live Olivia Colman Television Special
2024 Death in Paradise Lexi 'Alexandria' Reece Series 13, Episode 6

Film

Year Title Role Notes
1999 The Debt Collector Miss Dryden Channel 4 Films
2003 The Early Days Leela Short film
2004 Stella Street: The Movie Various roles Absolutely Productions
The Calcium Kid Pat Connelly Calcium Films Ltd.
2005 A Cock and Bull Story Anita Dir.: Michael Winterbottom
2006 Penelope Wanda Dir.: Mark Polansky
2010 Huge Herself Dir.: Ben Miller
2014 The Trip to Italy Donna BBC Films
2015 The Marriage of Reason & Squalor Hen 3 Dir.: Jake Chapman
2016 The Prince of Denmark Gertrude Short film
2018 Show Dogs Poopsie Chow's Owner Open Road Films
Stuffed Gwen Short film
Surviving Christmas with the Relatives Vicky Studio Soho Films
2023 The Devil Went Down to Islington Mrs. Spencer Skinned Productions

Radio

Title Channel
Life, Death & Sex with Mike & Sue Radio 4
The Alan Davies Show Radio 4
Weekending Radio 4
The Museum of Curiosity Radio 4
Mum's on the Run Radio 4
Shed Town Radio 4
The Game's Up Radio 5
Loose Ends Radio 4
Wild Things Radio 4
Hal Radio 4
And This is Them Radio 2
Griff Rhys Jones Show Radio 4
Gaby's Talking Pictures Radio 4

Theatre

Year Title Role Venue
1996 Miss Conceptions Edinburgh Festival
2004 Singin' in the Rain Lina Lamont Sadler's Wells Theatre, London
2005 The Hypochondriac Belline Almeida Theatre, London[18]
2014 Little Revolution Jane / various Almeida Theatre
2015 The Tale of Mr Tumble Unsmiling Principle Manchester Opera House[56]
2016 Carry On Chilcot Duke of Wales Theatre, London
2019 Just Checking In Edinburgh Fringe

Writer

Title
The Week That Wasn't
Ronni Ancona & Co
Kelsey Grammer Presents: The Sketch Show
The Sketch Show
The Big Impression
Pulp Video
Comedy Nation
Monkey Trousers
Standing Room Only
Miss Conceptions
Just Checking In

Producer

Title
Posh & Beck's Big Impression: Behind the Scenes & Extra Bits

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