Skinner at Wembley Stadium in 2008
|Birth name||Christopher Graham Collins|
|Born||28 January 1957|
West Bromwich, England
|Medium||Stand-up, television, radio|
|Genres||Observational comedy, blue comedy, musical comedy|
Frank Skinner (born Christopher Graham Collins; 28 January 1957) is an English writer, comedian, TV and radio presenter, and actor. At the 2001 British Comedy Awards, he was awarded the Best Comedy Entertainment Personality.
He presented or co-presented Fantasy Football League from 1994 to 2004, The Frank Skinner Show from 1995 to 2005, Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned from 2000 to 2005 and Room 101 from 2012 to 2018. Since 2009 he has hosted The Frank Skinner Show on Absolute Radio, broadcast live on Saturdays and later released as a podcast.
Along with David Baddiel, he provided vocals and wrote the lyrics for "Three Lions", the official song in collaboration with Liverpudlian indie band The Lightning Seeds, to mark the England football team's participation in the 1996 European Championships (which was hosted in England); he also reprised his role to release two subsequent versions of the song for the England team's involvement in the 1998 FIFA World Cup and 2010 FIFA World Cup. The 1996 version is the only song in history to have four non-consecutive stints at number one in the UK Singles Chart with the same artists, the most recent coming in July 2018 following England reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Skinner was born in West Bromwich, England, and grew up in a council house in neighbouring Oldbury. He was the youngest of four children born to former semi-professional footballer John Collins (1918-1990) and his wife Doris (1919-1989). He has two older brothers, Keith and Terrence, and an older sister, Nora. His father, who was born in West Cornforth, County Durham, played for Spennymoor United before the Second World War, and met his mother in a local pub after Spennymoor had played West Bromwich Albion in an FA Cup game in 1937.
Skinner attended Moat Farm Infant School from 1961 to 1964, St. Hubert's Roman Catholic Junior School from 1964 to 1968, and then Oldbury Technical Secondary School from 1968 to 1973. He passed two O-levels in summer 1973 and took A-levels in English Language and Art, along with several O-level resits, at Oldbury Technical School Sixth Form. He subsequently took 4 A-levels (including English Language and Literature) at Warley College of Technology and graduated from Birmingham Polytechnic (now Birmingham City University) in 1981 with a degree in English. This was followed by a Masters degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick in Coventry the following year.
Despite his given first name of Christopher, his parents called him by his middle name Graham; all his friends referred to him, and some still do, as Chris. Skinner once explained that whenever someone called at his house to ask if "Chris" was there, his mother would say yes, only to then turn around and shout for "Graham". He adopted the stage name Frank Skinner when the actors' union Equity told him there was already a singer from Burnley on their books called Chris Collins. He took the name from a member of his late father's dominoes team.
After graduating, he spent three and a half years on unemployment benefit before finding work as a lecturer in English at Halesowen College. In 1987, he decided to give stand-up comedy a try on the side. Skinner performed his first stand-up gig in 1987 and made his television debut a year later. In 1990, he co-wrote and starred in the comedy variety show Packet Of Three on Channel 4 but continued to see his reputation as a stand-up grow. Before becoming a full-time performer in 1989, he suffered a bout of influenza in September 1986 that made him give up drinking, and he remains a high-profile recovering alcoholic.
Skinner won the 1991 Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe, beating Jack Dee and Eddie Izzard. He has worked with David Baddiel, notably on the popular late-night entertainment show Fantasy Football League, from 1994 to 2004, and on Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned from 2000 to 2005. The duo also co-wrote and performed the football song "Three Lions" with the Lightning Seeds and the England national football team for Euro 1996, and re-recorded it for the 1998 World Cup. The song reached #1 in the UK charts both times. In 2001, he released his autobiography Frank Skinner by Frank Skinner, which became a bestseller. The accompanying TV show, Frank Skinner on Frank Skinner, in which Skinner showed where he lived as a child and interviews with Skinner, his friends and family members, was recorded and shown on ITV in 2001. In July 2018, "Three Lions" re-entered the charts at number 1. Fans were celebrating the progress of England at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with the phrase "it's coming home" featuring heavily on social media and television.
In 1998, he took part in a documentary titled A Little Bit Of Elvis. He paid over £11,000 at auction for a shirt which he believed was worn by Elvis Presley at his famous 1956 Tupelo concert. Skinner visited the US to find out if the shirt was the genuine article. After a slightly awkward conversation with Dave Hebler, Presley's bodyguard, it appeared the shirt did once belong to Presley, but it was not worn at the concert. Skinner had been a fan of Elvis as a child and used to buy Elvis Monthly.
From 1995 to 1998, Skinner had his own chat show on BBC One, which ended when the BBC refused to meet pay demands of a reported £20 million. After a short break, the show found a new home at ITV in 1999, where it ran until late 2005. He has appeared in a number of self-written sitcoms, including Blue Heaven (1994) and Shane (2004).
In 2000, he appeared as Buttons in the ITV Panto adaptation of Cinderella. In 2003, he was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy. In 2005, Skinner announced he was going to leave behind his television work in favour of returning to the stand-up comedy circuit. A second series of Shane had been made, but never shown.
In February 2006, he received an honorary degree from the University of Central England, (now Birmingham City University). Skinner and David Baddiel covered the 2006 FIFA World Cup by podcast for The Times. The podcasts received a nomination for the 2007 Sony Radio Academy Awards.
In 2007, he performed a new live stand-up tour, his first for 10 years, starting at a warm-up gig at the Swindon Arts Centre, continuing through to the Edinburgh Festival for 2 weeks at The Pleasance, the venue where he won the Perrier Award, and a 69 date national tour including three sold-out homecoming performances at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham in the autumn.
In November 2008 and in the light of senior broadcasting figures such as ITV boss Michael Grade and Sir Terry Wogan calling for TV to reduce its use of vulgar language, Skinner decided to experiment with removing swear words altogether from his stand up live act although stated that it would be a shame if 'clever swearing' was lost. He also stood in for an ill Paul Merton as a team captain on 21 November edition of Have I Got News for You.
From March 2009, Skinner started to present the Saturday Morning Breakfast Show on Absolute Radio with his co-hosts Emily Dean and Gareth Richards (who was succeeded by Alun Cochrane in June 2011). The show is produced by Avalon Television. After an initial 12-week stint proved very popular with the listeners, Skinner's contract was extended until summer 2010. The show is still running with both Emily Dean and Alun Cochrane.
Skinner plays the banjo ukulele and in 2010, he contributed ukulele parts to a song by Fairport Convention called "Ukulele Central" which featured on their album Festival Bell. A great admirer of George Formby, he hosted a BBC Four TV documentary, Frank Skinner on George Formby, which aired on 27 October 2011.
In 2011, he wrote and performed a Radio 4 comedy series, Don't Start with Katherine Parkinson. Each episode was based around an argument between Skinner's character Neil and his girlfriend Kim. Skinner said that each episode was only 15 minutes long as it was 'too intense' to be any longer. Don't Start returned for a second series in 2012.
Skinner and his longtime girlfriend, Cath Mason, have a son, Buzz Cody. Raised Roman Catholic, he reconnected with the faith in his 20s, and remains a practising Catholic. He is also a supporter of West Bromwich Albion, and regularly attends games.
Skinner stopped drinking alcohol at age 29, having become concerned when he changed from having sherry for breakfast to Pernod. He started performing stand-up comedy shortly afterwards. He has said that he has never been able to replace the "white heat of joy" he got from alcohol and that his social life has never recovered from stopping drinking.
In October 2001, Skinner's autobiography, Frank Skinner by Frank Skinner, was published. In August 2009, he released a book centred on his comedy career - Frank Skinner on the Road: Love, Stand-up Comedy and the Queen of the Night. In September 2011, The Collected Wisdom of Frank Skinner; Dispatches from the Sofa was published. It consists of his weekly columns for The Times, written from 2009-11.
|Live||5 October 1992||Live at London's Bloomsbury Theatre|
|Live at the Apollo||4 November 1995||Live at London's Hammersmith Apollo|
|Live at the Palladium||14 October 1996||Live at London's Palladium Theatre|
|Live in Birmingham||16 November 1998||Live at Birmingham's Hippodrome Theatre|
|Stand-Up! Live from Birmingham's National Indoor Arena||10 November 2008||Live at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena|
|Live - Man in a Suit||1 December 2014||Live at London's Leicester Square Theatre|
To wit: his name isn't even Frank Skinner. It is Christopher Graham Collins. His parents still call him Graham, but when he was getting into stand-up comedy there was already a Chris Collins registered with Equity, a man who happened to be a singer from Burnley, so the comedian from the West Midlands had to change his name.
There's a few friends who still call me Chris, but even some of those have started calling me Frank. I became Frank in about 1988 and now, if anybody asks me my name, I'd say 'Frank'. That is how I think of myself, 99% of the people I know call me that.