About Tamsin Greig
Born Feb. 23, 1967 in the county of Kent, England, Tamsin Greig (pronounced "Greg") was one of three daughters born to a Polish-Jewish mother and a father she jokingly described as "Scottish-puffin." Her father was reportedly in his sixties when Grieg was born, and found it difficult to communicate with three young girls in his home. However, he found common ground with Greig through a love of slapstick comedy, which in turn helped to inform her later choice of career. She graduated from the University of Birmingham with a degree in Drama and Theatre Arts - and a course in typing under her belt, a suggestion from her mother in the event that acting did not work out for her. It proved to be a sage idea, as Greig supported herself as a temp worker for the Family Planning Association and later, at the Midland Art Centre Children's Theatre.
She kept her talent fresh through fringe theater before landing the role of Debbie Aldridge on "The Archers" (BBC Radio 4, 1950- ), the longest running radio drama in history, in 1991. The perpetually lovelorn Debbie, who bounced between failed and troubled relationships throughout her 18-year, on-and-off tenure on the program, seemed to set the tone for Greig's subsequent screen career, which soon took off in earnest with appearances in comedies like the acclaimed mockumentary series "People Like Us" (BBC 2, 1999-2000) and Neil Gaiman's fantasy series "Neverwhere" (BBC 2, 1996), which cast her as a seductive vampire. One of her co-stars on the latter program was actor Richard Leaf, whom she married in 1996.
Greig's breakout role came with "Black Books," a sitcom about a surly bookseller (Dylan Moran) who spent more time in pursuit of drink than his profession. Greig played Fran Katzenjammer, Moran's hapless, man-hungry and unemployable friend, who aided him in his drunken revelries. The series, which earned BAFTA TV Awards for Best Situation Comedy in 2001 and 2005, gave Greig's profile a boost and led to her next hit show, "Green Wing." A broad parody of medical drama cliffhangers, Grieg starred as Dr. Caroline Todd, the easily embarrassed, frequently awkward doctor at a hospital staffed entirely by what appeared to be lunatics and incompetents. "Green Wing" drew its humor from placing Grieg's character, the show's ostensible straight man, in the path of its other, more exaggerated characters, and allowing the actors to improvise their way in and out of situations. An extremely popular show with viewers during its three-year run, it earned Grieg a Royal Television Society Award in 2005 for Best Comedy Performance, as well as a BAFTA TV nomination that same year.
Shows like these, along with appearances in films like the hit comedy "Shaun of the Dead" (2004), established Greig as one of England's top screen comediennes. But she also proved to be an accomplished stage actress, as evidenced by her turn in productions of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" and "King John" by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2006 and 2007. Greig earned a Laurence Olivier Award for her performance in the former, as well as a Critics' Circle Theatre Award, which made her the first woman to receive that honor. She subsequently divided her career into comic turns on television and stage, as well as occasional forays into drama like "The Diary of Anne Frank" (2009), a stark BBC One adaptation which cast her as Anne's mother, Edith Frank.
In 2005, Greig earned her third hit television series with "Love Soup" (BBC 1, 2008), a charmingly wistful comedy-drama about a pair of hopeless romantics (Greig and Michael Landes) who, despite being perfect for one another, constantly miss chances to meet each other. The final project by legendary British producer Verity Lambert of "Doctor Who," (BBC 1, 1963- ) and "Rumple of the Bailey" (ITV, 1975-72) fame, "Love Soup" was penned specifically for Greig by writer David Renwick. The following year, she joined Romola Garai, Michael Gambon and Rupert Evans in a well-received adaptation of Jane Austen's "Emma" (BBC 1, 2009). Greig provided much of the production's humor as the perennially cheerful and chatty Miss Bates.
Greig balanced her steady TV schedule with acclaimed stage performances in an Olivier-winning production of Yazmin Reza's "The God of Carnage" (2008) with Ralph Fiennes and Janet McTeer, as well as the debut of David Hare's "Gethsemane" (2008), a political satire of Tony Blair's New Labour party. Greig played a veiled version of Tessa Jowell, Blair's culture secretary, whose separation from her husband after his involvement in an Italian corruption trial was widely seen as a face-saving move facilitated by Blair. In 2010, she received her second Olivier nomination as a cold-blooded talent agent who attempted to spin her client's scandalous relationship with a male hustler in the West End production of Douglas Carter Beane' "The Little Dog Laughed."
That same year, moviegoers saw her as a downtrodden housewife whose husband carried on an affair with a seductive newcomer to their English village in "Tamara Drewe" (2010), while American television audiences had their first glimpse of Greig's talents on the bawdy sitcom "Episodes," which ran simultaneously on the Showtime Network and BBC 2. The series reunited Greig with her former "Green Wing" co-star, Stephen Mangan, as married television writers whose BAFTA-winning UK show about a boy's school was purchased for remake on American TV. Upon arriving in Hollywood, the couple discovered that the show had been turned into a broad sitcom vehicle for actor Matt LeBlanc, who played a wildly crude and exaggerated version of himself. "Episodes" received modest acclaim from critics, but was renewed for a second season in 2011. Greig also pulled double duty during this period as the lead in "Friday Night Dinner" (Channel 4, 2011- ), a sitcom about two twenty-something brothers whose weekly dinner with their eccentric Jewish parents (Grieg and Simon Bird) became a full-blown spectacle of personality quirks, bad behavior and embarrassing situations.