Josie Lawrence was born Wendy Lawrence at Old Hill, Dudley (whose most famous
son is Lenny Henry),
West Midlands, England on June 6, 1959. She has a brother, John, and
sister, Janet, 10 years older who are twins. They were brought up in
Craidley Heath, an industrial suburb of Birmingham, where her father worked
for British Leyland. When she was small she had an imaginary friend
who would either be a husband or a girlfriend, whichever she felt she wanted
that day. She says everyone in her family has a wicked, dry, sense
of humor. The primary school she attended had a dress up box and one
afternoon a week the students were allowed to exercise their imaginations
playing with it. Josie remembers one of her first improvisations being
the Pied Piper and forcing all the little boys to follow her as rats. She
got through school by being the joker. When she was 16, she joined
an amateur dramatic club and played Honey in WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?
She became a professional actress in 1982 after obtaining a Theatre Degree
from Dartington College of Arts in Devon, where she later received an honorary
doctorate. She joined a children's group, won a couple of talent
competitions (singing MAYBE THIS TIME from CABARET), sang in Black Country
social clubs (in a group called Denise Black and the Kray Sisters; and later
as part of a trio called KJB which included Kate McKenzie and Philippe Boyer)
and took an assortment of jobs from waitressing to flyer-posting as she waited
to break into show business.
She came to London at 23; her first theatre job was playing a rather convincing
teenage boy in THE RAGGED TROUSERED PHILANTHROPISTS at the Half Moon Theatre.
She was forced to change her name from Wendy when she joined Equity
and so picked Josie, after an aunt, although she toyed with being "Florence
In 1985 when she was playing in SONGS FOR STRAY CATS at the Donmar Warehouse,
she stayed after the show one evening to watch the late night show, which
was improvisation by a group which included
Jim Sweeney and
Steve Steen. She joined the performers the following week and the rest
is improvisation history. She joined the
Comedy Store Players in
1986 after meeting Kit Hollerbach and
Hardy in the streets of Edinburgh, and still performs every Wednesday
and Sunday when she is not otherwise engaged. She made her initial
appearance on WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY? in 1987 and appeared in seven series.
She has appeared extensively in theatre, TV and radio; and has made several
films, all listed below, in addition to voice over work and appearances in
She lives in a house in Bethnal Green, East London which she calls
Yoghurt Villa, as it was bought on the residuals from a commercial. In
addition to versatility as a performer -- acting, singing, improvising in
comedy and drama - she also paints watercolors. She once dated
Neil Mullarkey and others
but never married. She has two cats, the long haired ginger Aynoch and the
black and white Ayli. Depending on different sources, she is 5' 9",
5'10" or 5'11.
TV - In addition to the following TV films and
series, Josie has guested on
THE BUZZCOCKS, DUCK PATROL, PAUL MERTON IN GALTON AND SIMPSON'S, ABSOLUTELY
FABULOUS, QUEEN OF THE WILD FRONTIER (THE COMIC STRIP PRESENTS), I LOVE KEITH
ALLEN, THE SOUTH BANK SHOW, POIROT, ALAS SMITH AND JONES, LESLEY GARRET TONIGHT,
S.W.A.K. and LUNCH IN THE PARK WITH PAUL MERTON.
2000 A MANY SPLINTERED THING Josie played Camilla, a
gloriously overdone bohemian den-mother to the adulterous young characters
in this comedy about adultery.
2000 FAT FRIENDS - Josie played Julia Fleshman, diet and
fitness guru and all 'round egotistical bitch. Every episode revolves
around a character desperately trying to lose weight through Julia's
1999 THE SIN
EATER Josie played Kate
1999 THE FLINT STREET NATIVITY For this show, Josie
and her castmates wore swimsuits three sizes too small to flatten their adult
bits, and played tantrummy seven-year-olds in a school nativity play.
Josie played Debbie Bennett, a bossy girl who gets to play Mary, Mother
1994 OUTSIDE EDGE Josie played Maggie Costello (3 seasons)
1994 DOWNWARDLY MOBILE - Josie played Sophie, a superficial
shopaholic in Guccis.
1991 JOSIE six half hours written by Josie,
Arthur Smith and John O'Farrell, this was a "cocktail of monologues, sketches,
long plays, short films and chat". Each episode ended in an improvised
song because they couldn't be bothered to write a theme tune!
1990 THE GREEN
MAN - Josie played Lucy, Albert Finney's New Age, Crystal-wearing
daughter-in-law, in this wonderful dramatization of Kingsley Amis' ghost
1990 NOT WITH A BANG - Josie played the last woman on
earth, who used to run a scout group, in this series about the last 4 people
1990 JACKSON PACE - Josie played Rita Tusk, a journalist,
in this children's series, "a kind of British version of INDIANA JONES, made
on a shoestring".
1989 HYSTERIA 2 - Josie and Richard Vranch improvise some
songs to an audience suggestion of toothbrush in this all star comedy concert
held at the Sadlers Wells Theatre to raise money for AIDS.
1989 NORBERT SMITH,
1988 FRIDAY NIGHT LIVE - Josie played Florence, mistress
of the earnest monologue, in six episodes; in the finale, she was hoisted
on a wire toward the studio ceiling, apparently completely bald, singing
the title song from CABARET, having revealed the character to be an alien.
LINE IS IT ANYWAY? - improv game show hosted by Clive Anderson.
1987 CAMPAIGN - Josie played a gay film producer
1987 COMEDY WAVELENGTH - Josie played many roles in this
comedy sketch series, including a Yuppy, a Yorkshire miner's wife, Glenda
Jackson and Anne Hathaway.
1999-2000 MAN OF SOUP by David and Caroline Stafford
1993-1995 THE MASTERSON INHERITANCE - the saga of a Victorian
family at war with itself.
THE BIG FUN SHOW
BOOK AT BEDTIME (Radio 4)
2002 FROZEN - at the Cottesloe, directed by Bill Alexander.
Also in the cast are Anita Dobson and Tom Georgeson. About a
serial killer and a missing 10 year old child.
2001 THE KING AND I - Josie played Mrs. Anna in this revival
of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical based on ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM
at the Palladium.
2000 PICASSO'S WOMEN - Josie played Gabrielle (Edinburgh
1998 FROZEN - Josie played the American Lecturer (Birmingham
Rep) in this play about a missing child.
1998 ALARMS AND EXCURSIONS by Michael Frayn (Gielgud Theatre)
1997 MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING - Josie played Beatrice, her
favorite Shakespeare character (Manchester Royal Exchange), for which she
won the Manchester Evening News Award for Best Actress.
1996 and 1998 THE ALCHEMIST - Josie played Doll Common
1996 THE CHERRY ORCHARD - Josie played Dunyasha (RSC)
1996 FAUST - Josie played an obese skinhead named Brenda
1995 THE TAMING OF THE SHREW - Josie played Kate (RSC),
for which she won the Dame Peggy Ashcroft award for Best Actress at the
Shakespeare Globe Awards.
1993 MOLL FLANDERS - Josie had the title role (Lyric
1991 TATYANE - Josie had the title role (Nottingham
Playhouse), a "musical theatre conflation marrying the music of Tchaikovsky's
romantic opera with a reworking of the sardonic verse novel by Pushkin on
which it was based."
1989 POPPY - Josie played Dick Whittington (Half Moon
Theatre) in Peter Nichol's pantomime-style play about the Opium Wars, slapping
her thigh-length boot as the likable principal boy who's transformed into
a raving fascist.
1985 SONGS FOR STRAY CATS - Josie played Marie, a manic
depressive Glaswegian housewife (Donmar Warehouse)
1982 THE RAGGED TROUSERED PHILANTHROPISTS - Josie played a teenaged
THE TRIAL OF FRANKENSTEIN by Stephen Lowe - Josie played a young
girl who gets eaten by rats.
CARMEN - Josie had the title role (Bolton Octagen)
ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST - Josie played Felleti (Plymouth
A LITTLE HOTEL ON THE SIDE - Josie played Marsella (Leeds Playhouse)
PYGMALION - Josie played Eliza Dolittle (Nottingham Playhouse)
PAINTING CHURCHES - Josie played Margaret (Playhouse Theatre,
VALUED FRIENDS - Josie played Sherry (Lyric Hammersmith)
BERKOFF'S WOMEN - Josie directed Linda Marlow.
HELEN OF TROY - Josie had the title role (RSC)
2001 THE ILLUSTRATED MUM
2000 GOING LOCO
2000 ONCE UPON A TIME IN LETTERLAND - Josie provided
36 different accents for the Letterland series
2000 LETTERLAND, DETECTIVE DIPPY DUCK
2000 LETTERLAND CHRISTMAS SPECIAL
2000 DOG AND DUCK, BEST OF FRIENDS - Josie provided the
voice for Duck
1999 DOG AND DUCK - Josie provided the voice for Duck
1999 THE ADVENTURES OF DAWDLE - Josie provided the voice
for the title character
1998 STARHILL PONIES - Josie provided the voice for Baz
1998 SPOT AND HIS GRANDPARENTS GO TO THE CARNIVAL
1998 PADDY'S POT OF GOLD, a Dick King-Smith story.
1998 BUBBLEGUM BOTHER
1998 DAKOTA OF THE WHITE FLATS
1998 INCREDIBLE SHRINKING HIPPO
1998 LETTERLAND A-Z
1997 FETCH THE SLIPPER
1997 BED GIRLS - by Jacqueline Wilson
1997 LETTERLAND - THE STORY
1995 LITTLE MISS BOSSY
1996 LITTLE MISS GIGGLES
1996 LITTLE MISS NAUGHTY
1996 LITTLE MISS NEAT
1996 LITTLE MISS SOMERSAULT
1996 LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
1996 LITTLE MISS TINY
1996 LITTLE MISS TROUBLE
1996 DILLY AND TIGER AND OTHER STORIES
1996 PAUL MERTON IN GALTON AND SIMPSON'S THE BEDSITTER AND
OTHER CLASSIC COMEDIES
1996 PAUL MERTON IN GALTON AND SIMPSON'S THE RADIO HAM AND
OTHER CLASSIC COMEDIES
1995 TALES OF POLLY AND THE HUNGRY WOLF
1995 SPOTS' MAGICAL CHRISTMAS
1994 DILLY THE DINOSAUR AND OTHER STORIES
1994 BED AND BREAKFAST STAR, by Jacqueline Wilson, which
won her an earphones award for Best Recording.
1993 ENCHANTED APRIL, by Elizabeth Von Arnim
1993 JAMAICA INN
1993 POLLY AND THE WOLF AGAIN
Biography compiled by Judy Harris
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