Helen Lederer (born Llandovery, Wales, September 24, 1954) is a British comedian, writer and actress who emerged as part of the alternative comedy boom at the beginning of the 1980s.
Lederer established a stand-up act at the Comedy Store in London and then won minor parts in episodes of The Young Ones, which had been written by her Comedy Store contemporaries Ben Elton and Rik Mayall. She would be linked with this scene for the rest of the 1980s, with a supporting role as housemaid Flossie in Happy Families and numerous appearances in related shows and live performances.
An attractive (some would say “stunning”), down to earth, quiet, chirpy, friendly and well loved performer, Lederer broke from the Comedy Store wing of the alternative scene in 1986 to take part in the BBC2 sketch show Naked Video, which had originated without Lederer on the radio in Scotland. Lederer played various roles, including that of a newsreader linking spoof headlines into clips which acted as punchlines, and a drunk Sloane who performed a monologue in each episode from a wine bar.
In the 1990s, Lederer was recruited by her old contemporaries Mayall and Adrian Edmondson to play supporting roles in two episodes of their sitcom Bottom, including a memorable part as a fallen millionairess on the make. Simultaneously, she played Catriona in Absolutely Fabulous, joining forces again with Jennifer Saunders. She had previously worked with Saunders and her comedy partner Dawn French in their sketch show French and Saunders, as well as Happy Families and the ITV sitcom Girls On Top. She also guest appeared in the Gregor Fisher sitcom The Baldy Man.
Lederer has always been a guest or supporting actress on programmes devised by or starring her alternative comedy contemporaries, and as such has made a good, consistent career. She has branched out into many ‘serious’ acting roles too, and was reviewed favourably when she took part in The Vagina Monologues on the West End stage.
As a presenter, she has hosted and voiced lifestyle, religious and children’s programmes. She has guested on numerous radio panel games and writes columns for newspapers and magazines.
Lederer has married twice and has a daughter. She is an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust and works also with UNICEF.