LEE SIMPSON did his first show with the Players in 1989.

It was several months before he did his second.

In those early days he sported a beard and pony tail, and always wore a tie onstage. His reason being that if the audience thought 'Well he isn't funny..' they would also think 'But he's wearing a tie so at least he has made a bit of an effort'.

Taking cynical advantage of Paul Merton's broken leg he wangled himself a regular guest spot and became a full-time Player sometime in 1990. He thought very carefully about turning it down because at the time he was so terrified of doing the gig every week that he wasn't sure if his nervous system could take the strain.

Lee Simpson grew up in Great Yarmouth by the sea, where he found gainful employment cooking burgers in a Wimpy, as a croupier in a casino, and as a cinema projectionist.

Unable to get a proper showbiz job, he became an improviser. The money was bad but there was precious little hard work involved and the people seemed nice.

Since then his activities might (if you were being kind) be described as diverse. As well as his twice weekly appearances with the Comedy Store Players, he finds himself

  • writing plays with Phelim McDermott for the Nottingham Playhouse and the Royal Court
  • appearing in some sit-coms - TERRY AND JULIAN, DROP THE DEAD DONKEY
  • co-devising and narrating THE MASTERSON INHERITANCE for Radio 4, for whom he's also done stuff like JUST A MINUTE and QUOTE UNQUOTE
  • spending time in tu'penny ha'penny theatre - making small, odd productions that stretch the definition of theatre and the credulity of the audience, invariably presented by the company of which he is a co-Artistic Director, IMPROBABLE
  • directing Paul Merton's latest one man show
  • acting in some proper telly drama and films - FAMILY MONEY, BLACKEYES, QUEEN OF HEARTS, PAPER MASK, NUNS ON THE RUN
  • performing a very poor poodle act at the London Palladium
  • and spending six months as a Breakfast show DJ.

    He sees no reason to change this career path as any deviation might lead to a modicum of success, which is clearly the thing he fears most.

    It is this lack of direction that he feels is the real essence of his work.

    His real name is Len.


    Photography : Sheila Burnett