Keith Allen (actor)

Not to be confused with Keith Allan (actor).
Keith Allen

Allen on stage in 2009
Born Keith Howell Charles Allen[1]
(1953-09-02) 2 September 1953
Llanelli, Wales
Occupation Actor, author, broadcaster, singer, musician, comedian
Years active 1979–present
Spouse(s) Alison Owen
(m. 1982; div. 1989)

Nira Park
(m. ?–?)
Partner(s) Julia Sawalha (former)
Tamzin Malleson (present)
Children 6; including: Lily Allen, Alfie Allen
Relatives Kevin Allen (brother)

Keith Howell Charles Allen (born 2 September 1953) is a Welsh actor, comedian, musician, singer-songwriter, artist, author, and television presenter. He is the father of singer Lily Allen and actor Alfie Allen, and brother of actor and director Kevin Allen.

Early life and education

Allen was born on 2 September 1953[1] in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Wales, the second of three children,[2] the son of Edward Charles Owen, a Royal Navy submariner. His younger brother is actor Kevin Allen.[3] He spent his early years near Swansea and in Malta, and most of his childhood in Gosport, Hampshire, while his father served in Portsmouth.[4] At the age of 11 he was sent to Brentwood boarding school in Essex when his father was posted to Singapore.[5] He was expelled from the school at the age of 13.[5] At the age of 15 he was sent to a borstal after repeatedly being caught stealing, later saying that he "had a great time" there.[5]

Early career

After having several jobs during the 1970s, including a job as a stagehand from which he was sacked after joining Max Bygraves' chorus line on stage naked, Allen also worked as a stand-up comedian, opening for rock bands such as The Clash.[6]

Acting career

He appeared in a number of films in the series The Comic Strip Presents... on Channel 4 in the 1980s after becoming one of the breakthrough acts of the Comedy Store in 1979. Notable episodes featuring Allen include The Bullshitters (a parody of The Professionals), and The Yob (a parody of The Fly), which he also co-wrote. Allen has done both straight and comedy acting. In 1985 The Comic Strip hit the big screen with The Supergrass starring Allen, Adrian Edmondson, Peter Richardson, Jennifer Saunders and Robbie Coltrane, directed by Comic Strip actor Peter Richardson.

During the brief period of British Satellite Broadcasting as an alternative satellite broadcaster to Sky, he had a regular comedy show of his own I Love Keith Allen on the Galaxy channel, a mix of stand-up and sketches.

In 1992 he appeared in the revival Carry On film Carry On Columbus where Allen played Pepi The Poisoner. Directed by Gerald Thomas and produced by Peter Rogers this was to be the final film in the Carry On franchise.

In 1993 he appeared as the occultist John Peter Barrie, in the Inspector Morse episode The Day of the Devil. This episode of Granada Television's long running drama series was written by Danny Boyle. This would prove to be the first of three projects either written or directed by Boyle that Allen would be involved in during the 1990s.

He appeared briefly in a cameo in the black comedy, Twin Town which was directed by his brother Kevin, the Channel 4 adaptation of A Very British Coup and he also played the lodger who dies at the beginning of Danny Boyle's thriller Shallow Grave (1994). In the same year, he was cast in a BBC adaptation of Martin Chuzzlewit. He was used again by Boyle to play a drug dealer in Trainspotting (1996). Danny Boyle has stated that Allen's character from Trainspotting is the same one that moves into the shared flat in Shallow Grave – he wears the same clothes and carries the same bag. He also appeared disguised as a fictional hip-hop star 'Keithski' to present Top of the Pops on 19 July 1996.[7]

In 2000, Allen appeared in two Harold Pinter plays at the Almeida Theatre, playing Lambert in Celebration and Mr Sands in The Room. These were performed again at The Lincoln Center Festival in July 2001.[8]

In 2001, he played the character of "problem-solver" Jim Napeworth in an episode of Murder in Mind, and in 2004 cameod in Black Books as poker-player Dave 'Mouse Ears' Smith.

In 2002 Allen played the London Records executive Roger Ames in 24 Hour Party People, a film about Factory Records and the Manchester music scene.

Allen cameoed in the Channel 4 sitcom Spaced in a short homage to the Stanley Kubrick film, The Shining.

He appeared as the villain in the sequel to 2004's Agent Cody Banks, Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London, opposite Frankie Muniz

He also appeared in the hospital drama, Bodies, as Mr Tony Whitman, a sarcastic but somehow likeable consultant obstetrician with an enormous ego. In 2005 he appeared in the Endemol-produced BBC Two television programme Art School alongside Ulrika Jonsson, John Humphrys and Clarissa Dickson Wright where he discovered a passion for painting. From 2006 to 2009, Allen appeared in the BBC's Robin Hood drama series, as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

His documentary film about the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, Unlawful Killing, which was financed by Mohamed Al-Fayed and Associated-Rediffusion,[9] was screened at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. It argued that the British and French authorities had covered up uncomfortable facts about the crash, accused Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret of being 'gangsters in tiaras', and alleged that Prince Philip had a 'Nazi background'.[10][11] Allen said he refused to make 87 cuts asked for by lawyers to enable the film to be seen in Britain. He also told reporters that he thought the crash had been intended only as a warning but that "something went massively wrong".[12]

In September 2011 he appeared in the BBC six-part drama series The Body Farm as DI Hale. 2013 saw the release of the Sara Sugarman comedy film Vinyl in which Keith played an ageing rock star who finds himself back in the public eye after his band member fools the music industry into giving them a record deal. In 2013 he played Darren the farmer in episode 1.5 of the comedy drama series Great Night Out.

In April 2013 Allen starred in a revival of Richard Bean's black comedy "Smack Family Robinson'" at The Rose Theatre, Kingston upon Thames.

TV presenter

Allen presented the TV show Whatever You Want in 1982, during the early days of Channel Four and has presented a number of TV documentaries for Victor Lewis-Smith's Associated-Rediffusion Television Productions: Little Lady Fauntleroy (2004), You're Fayed (2005) and on Michael Carroll – King of Chavs (2006). In 2007 his documentary Tourette De France appeared on Channel 4, in which he travelled with a group of Scottish people with Tourette syndrome, most notably John Davidson, on a Routemaster bus from London to the Parisian hospital where this condition was described by Georges Gilles de la Tourette in 1884.

Keith Allen Will Burn in Hell appeared on Channel 4 in June 2007, and showed Allen profiling the controversial Westboro Baptist Church, led by Fred Phelps, and speaking to various members of the church and Phelps's family.

Allen presented the Manchester Passion, a contemporary retelling of the last few hours in the life of Jesus on Good Friday, 14 April 2006.

Keith Meets Keith, screened on 14 September 2009 on Channel 4, in which Allen tracked down TV chef Keith Floyd. The show contained what turned out to be Floyd's final interview for television, as he died of a heart attack on the evening the documentary was screened.


Allen was a member of London punk band the Atoms in the late 1970s, and later Fat Les, a band which also featured artist Damien Hirst and Blur bassist Alex James.

In 1980 he starred as the Devil in a short movie called Meteor Madness which featured London Psychobilly band The Meteors. The film played in cinemas as the opening to the Two Tone film Dance Craze which was released in February 1981. That was the only time Meteor Madness was shown, and to this day it has never been released on video or DVD, although very grainy copies have recently appeared on YouTube.

He was also closely associated with the band New Order, directing the video for their 1993 song "Ruined In A Day", which depicts Allen and the band members immersed in a bizarre game of charades with a group of Buddhist monks. He co-wrote their only UK number one single, "World in Motion", and occasionally performed with them live, including their headline show at the Reading Festival in 1998. He also appeared in the band's DVD New Order Story, where he played host to a fictional New Order game show.

He has been involved in several other football-related records, including "England's Irie" by Black Grape and wrote the lyrics for "Vindaloo" by Fat Les. He also contributed the song "On Me Head, Son" to the film Mike Bassett: England Manager, credited on the soundtrack album to Sporting Les.


Allen is a fan of London-based Championship football club Fulham. He has produced a number of official songs for the club with his band Colin and the Cottagers singing with the club's chairman, Mohamed Al Fayed. These include "We're Not Real Madrid" and "Back Home", a reference to the club's return in 2004 to its historic home Craven Cottage on the banks of the River Thames.

Personal life

As a guest on Top Gear on 9 December 2007, Allen said that claims he had eight children were not true and that he actually has six children by four different women. His children include pop singer Lily Allen and actor Alfie Owen-Allen with his first wife Alison Owen. He was also married to Nira Park and his lovers have included Julia Sawalha[13] and currently the actress Tamzin Malleson (who starred alongside him in Bodies). Their daughter, Teddie, was born in 2006.[14] Although a staunch socialist, whose political philosophy was influenced by the Workers' Revolutionary Party,[15] Allen has expressed grudging admiration for Conservative Party politicians David Cameron and William Hague.[16]

Allen has on his shoulder a tattoo of Rinka the dog, owned by Norman Scott, which was shot dead during the Jeremy Thorpe scandal. He has explained that: "I had the tattoo placed on my arm lest I forget, so I have a history of having suspicions about the establishment and the government and court cases."[12]

In the mid-1980s Allen served a 21-day jail sentence in Pentonville Prison after being found guilty of criminal damage at the Zanzibar club in Covent Garden.[17][18]

He lives in Stroud, Gloucestershire.

Selected filmography

Year Title Character
1985 The Supergrass Wong
1985 Loose Connections Keith

1986 Comrades as one of the Tolpuddle Martyrs as featured on another wiki page

1988 The Yob Patrick Church
1989 Scandal Kevin
1990 Chicago Joe and the Showgirl Lenny Bexley
1992 Carry On Columbus Pepi The Poisoner
1993 The Young Americans Jack Doyle
1994 Shallow Grave Hugo
1994 Beyond Bedlam Marc Gilmour
1994 Captives Lenny
1995 Blue Juice Mike
1996 Loch Ness Gordon Shoals
1996 Trainspotting Dealer
1997 Twin Town Emrys
2000 Rancid Aluminium Dr Jones
2001 The Others Mr. Marlish
2001 My Wife Is an Actress Dave, The Film Director
2004 Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London Victor Diaz
2008 A Film With Me in It Jack
2013 Vinyl Minto, band member
2015 Hector Jimbo
2016 Eddie the Eagle Terry, Father


Year Title Character Notes
1988 A Very British Coup Thompson TV Mini-Series
1988–1989 Making Out Rex Buckley TV Series 1 – 2
1994 Martin Chuzzlewit Jonas Chuzzlewit Series 1
1996 Sharman Episode 2
2004 Black Books Dave "Mouse Ears" Smith Series 3 Episode 4
2006–2009 Robin Hood Sheriff of Nottingham Series 1 – 3
2007 Mobile Sir James Corson TV Mini-Series
2010–2011 The Runaway Danny Dixon TV series
2011 Case Histories Richard Moat Episodes 3 & 4
2011 New Tricks Runaway Episode 8.2
2011 The Body Farm D.I. Hale Series 1
2013 Great Night Out Darren, the farmer Episode 1.6
2013 By Any Means Nicholas Mason TV series
2014 My Mad Fat Diary Victor Episode 2.5
2015 Uncle Uncle Frank Episode 2.5
2015 Gadget Man Himself Series 4 Episode 4
2015 Time Crashers Himself Series 1
2015 We're Doomed The Dad's Army Story Paul Fox
2016 Death in Paradise Neil Jenkins Episode 5.5



  1. 1 2 "Keith Allen, Esq" Debretts People of Today. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  2. "You ask the questions (Such as: Keith Allen, how do you feel about being every soccer hooligan's favourite pop star?)", The Independent, 31 May 2000. Retrieved 19 March 2011
  3. Barratt, Nick (19 May 2007). "Family detective". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  4. Maxwell, Dominic (2009) "Keith Allen: confessions of an angry old man", The Times, 6 October 2009. Retrieved 19 March 2011
  5. 1 2 3 Billen, Andrew (2006) "I had a great time in borstal", The Times, 13 October 2006. Retrieved 19 March 2011
  6. Viner, Brian (2001) "Keith Allen: An actor and a character", The Independent, 26 April 2001. Retrieved 19 March 2011 Archived 2 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. List of Presenters for Top of the Pops. Retrieved 7 September 2007.
  8. Celebration and The Room, by Harold Pinter, The Almeida, 16 March 2000. The Lincoln Center Festival, New York, July 2001.
  9. "Unlawful Killing – the film the British won't get to see | Keith Allen | Comment is free". The Guardian. 7 May 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
  10. Higgins, Charlotte (14 May 2011). "Not for British eyes: Keith Allen's Diana film seeks headlines in Cannes". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 14 May 2011.
  11. Singh, Anita (13 May 2011). "Unlawful Killing: film about the death of Diana likens Prince Philip to Fred West". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  12. 1 2 My Diana film reveals things that don't add up – Keith Allen – Wales Online
  13. "I can't stand actors", The Observer, Sunday 21 August 2005
  14. Johnson, Sarah (6 December 2006). "Johnson, Sarah; "Actor chooses home birth shock horror"; Birth Wisdom; 6 December 2006". Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  15. Allen, Keith (2007). Grow Up. London: Ebury Press. p. 191. ISBN 978-0-09-191071-6.
  16. Bryony Gordon (4 April 2008). "Keith Allen: mad, bad and dangerous to know?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 10 October 2011. I actually quite like [Cameron]. It's come to something when I think David Cameron is all right!
  17. Millard, Rosie (2008) "Keith Allen: 'I get to do what I want'", The Times, 15 November 2008. Retrieved 19 March 2011
  18. Kelly, Danny (1985) "Comic With Conviction", NME, 2 February 1985, p. 3
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