Keith Philip George Allen (born 2 June 1953) is a Welsh comedian, actor, singer and writer.
TV and film career
He appeared in a number of films made by The Comic Strip Presents… (notably The Bullshitters, a parody of The Professionals) on Channel 4 in the early 1980s after becoming one of the breakthrough acts of the Comedy Store in 1979. The brother of comedian and film director Kevin Allen, Keith Allen has done both straight and comedy acting, once playing Brian Dennehy.
During the brief period of BSB 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.
He appeared in the black comedy, Twin Town, the Channel 4 adaptation of A Very British Coup and played the lodger who dies at the beginning of Danny Boyle’s thriller Shallow Grave (1994). In the same year, he turned in a critically acclaimed performance in a BBC adaptation of Martin Chuzzlewit. He was used again by Boyle to play a drug dealer in Trainspotting (1996). He also appeared disguised as a fictional hip-hop star ‘Keithski’ to present Top of the Pops on 19th July 1996.
He also appeared in the hard-hitting hospital drama, Bodies, as Dr. Tony Whitman. In 2005 he appeared in the Endemol-produced BBC2 television programme Art School alongside Ulrika Jonsson, John Humphrys and Clarissa Dickson Wright where he discovered a passion for painting. In 2006-2007, Allen co-starred in the BBC’s Robin Hood drama series, as the Sheriff of Nottingham.
He more recently presented 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 Four, in which he travelled with a group of Scottish people with Tourette syndrome on a Routemaster bus from London to the Parisian hospital where this condition was described by Georges Gilles de la Tourette in 1884.
His most recent documentary, Keith Allen Will Burn In Hell, appeared on Channel Four 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’ family. Allen made no secret of his opposition to the Church’s anti-homosexuality views, and repeatedly called a member of the Phelps family a fool, and labeled certain punishing passages of the Bible, “utterly, utterly f**king vile.” He additionally referred to a member of the Church as a “redneck”. The same church and family were filmed as part of a Louis Theroux documentary just a matter of months earlier.
Allen presented the Manchester Passion, a contemporary retelling of the last few hours in the life of Jesus on Good Friday, April 14, 2006.
He is a member of Fat Les, a band which also contains Britpop artists Damien Hirst and Blur bassist Alex James. Allen is also closely associated with the band New Order. He co-wrote their only UK number-one single, World In Motion, and occasionally performed with them live. He also appears in the band’s DVD New Order Story, where he plays the host to a fictional New Order game show. He has also been involved in several other football-related records, including England’s Irie by Black Grape and Vindaloo by his own group, 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. He also once danced onstage with the Happy Mondays in New York City.
Vindaloo sounded a little too much like a “hooligan’s anthem” for some observers, but from the point of view of the BBC who commissioned the official UK Music Chart, the band were deliberately walking the ghost of the incident a few years earlier on the BBC’s arts & culture programme The Late Show when Keith Allen as a guest on the show got into an extremely heated row with the panel over his view that comedy was now being hamstrung to appease rules of political correctness. Just before storming off the live broadcast, Allen – a veteran of the early 1980s wave of UK “alternative” comedians that had shocked many – had stormed at an Asian member of the panel that was for tighter controls that “It’s not a chip you’ve got on your shoulder, it’s a f**king vindaloo!” Allen later explained to press reporters that a vindaloo is as faux ethnic (this piece of Indian cuisine actually originated from Portugal) as those who masquerade as self-appointed spokespeople for ethnic minority communities’ rights in order to censor arts and culture according to their own pet prejudices.
Although born in Swansea, Allen is a fan of Fulham F.C., the oldest professional football club in London. He has produced a number of official songs for the club with his band Colin and the Cottagers singing with the club’s chairman, and owner of Harrods, 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.
Allen was born in Gorseinon, near Swansea, Wales, the son of Edward Charles Owen, a petty officer in the Royal Navy. He has eight children. These include pop singer Lily Allen, actor Alfie Owen-Allen and their sister Sarah Allen with his ex-wife Alison Owen. He was also married to Nira Park and was intimate with Julia Sawalha. He now lives with actress Tamzin Malleson. Their daughter, Teddie, was born in 2006.
Allen, Keith (June 2007). Grow Up. Ebury Press. ISBN 9780091910709.