Mel Smith

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Melvin Kenneth "Mel" Smith (born 3 December 1952) is an English comedian, actor, film director, writer and producer best known for his work on the sketch comedy shows Not the Nine O'Clock News and Alas Smith and Jones.

Contents

Early life

Smith's father, Kenneth, was born in Tow Law, County Durham, and worked at a coal mine in the Second World War looking after the pit ponies. After the war he moved to London, and married Smith's mother, whose parents owned a greengrocer's store in Chiswick, west London. When the government legalised high street betting, he turned the shop into the first betting shop in Chiswick.[1]

Smith was born and brought up in Chiswick, over the shop. He was educated at Hogarth Primary School, Chiswick and the private Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith and New College, Oxford.[2]

Career

While at Oxford University he produced The Tempest, and this led to his joining the Royal Court Theatre production team in London, and then Bristol Old Vic. He was also associate director of Sheffield's Crucible Theatre for two years. Later, he directed a theatre production of "Not in Front of the Audience".[citation needed]

Also at Oxford, he performed at the Edinburgh Fringe with the Oxford University Dramatic Society. One year they shared a venue with the Cambridge Footlights, directed by John Lloyd. Lloyd later got the opportunity to develop the idea that became the satirical BBC television series Not the Nine O'clock News. Lloyd rang Smith to ask if he wanted to do it, and Smith agreed for £100 an episode.[3] This was followed briefly by Smith and Goody (with Bob Goody) and then the comedy sketch series Alas Smith and Jones, co-starring Griff Rhys Jones, its title being a pun on the name of the American TV series Alias Smith and Jones. He also starred as property dealer Tom Craig in ITV drama Muck and Brass,[4] and guest starred on The Goodies episode "Animals".[5]

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