Alison Steadman began her acting career in television during a time when the British film industry was in the doldrums: the great revolution in British cinema which started in the ‘60s had begun on stage in the ‘50s and, when the film industry became moribund, it was taken up and kept alive by the BBC and others during the ‘70s. Television plays such as the BBC’s Play for Today were home to the burgeoning talents of Michael Apted, Richard Eyre and Mike Leigh, all soon to move into cinema in the ‘80s and beyond. On television and in film Alison has worked with Michael Apted, Mark Herman, Mike Figgis, Terry Gilliam and Lewis Gilbert, but her collaborations with Mike Leigh – including Nuts in May, Abigail’s Party, Life Is Sweet and Topsy Turvy – are amongst some of the most iconic performances by a British actress. She has also brought her peerless and precise skills for characterization to films as diverse as Shirley Valentine, P’Tang Yang Kipperbang, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Wilt and A Private Function. More recently, she has continued to support emerging British film talent, appearing in last year’s BIFA-nominated Burn Burn Burn as well as several shorts and debut features. BAFTA-nominated twice for iconic television roles in Fat Friends and The Singing Detective, Alison won the US National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress for Life Is Sweet and the Olivier for Best Actress for her role in the original production of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. She was appointed an OBE in 2000.