Some of Britain’s best-loved comedies are still being aired on our televisions to this day, but have you ever wondered what happened to some of the UK’s biggest comedy stars? Many have gone on to continue acting, others have decided to try completely different careers and a few have even met tragic endings.
Here are just a few British comedy stars, including Fawlty Towers star Connie Booth, who have completely disappeared from the limelight and we’ve found out what they’re up to now…
Bob Grant – On the Buses
Playing bus conductor, Bob Grant in On The Buses, there has always been little known as to what happened to the legendary comic when the sitcom ended in 1973.
What you may not realise, is that Bob actually co-wrote a number of episodes during the show’s 4-year stint and the sitcom went on to become a real hit in the years that followed. The series was made into a number of feature films which included ‘On the Buses’ (1971), ‘Mutiny on the Buses’ (1972) and ‘Holiday on the Buses’ (1973).
Bob was such a huge star at the time the series was aired, that upon marrying for the third time, the couple who had hired a Royals Royce to their reception were forced to make their way to the venue by foot, to avoid being bombarded by the huge crowds who awaited them.
What happened next?
As many famous actors often find, being typecast was the downfall of Bob’s later career and he struggled to find suitable parts throughout the remainder of his career.
During the 1980’s, Bob’s mental health suffered greatly and was forced to battle a number of conditions such as Bipolar disorder and depression due to his lack of work in the industry and as a result, was hit with a backlog of debt.
He believed there was no other way out than to commit suicide, which he first tried in 1987. His family were left deeply worried and upset when the actor ran away from home for around a week before the news went public of his attempt to kill himself.
“I was in a horrible state. I just has to get out of the house. I left the house and thumbed a lift to Melton Mowbray, and then got a train to Birmingham New Street where I sat sobbing in a station buffet. Everyone ignored me. Normally I get asked in the street something like ‘When you back on telly then?’, but not this time.” he later said of the situation.
Another few years looking for work meant that Bob attempted suicide for the second time, but instead of attempting to jump off a bridge as he had done previously, he was found unconscious in his car from carbon monoxide poisoning. He was luckily found by a passer-by and taken to hospital.
Unfortunately, in his third attempt, Bob was successful with the intention of ending his life. At the age of 71 years old, he was discovered in his car, in which a host pipe had been attached to the exhaust pipe.
Julia Sawalha – Absolutely Fabulous
Otherwise known as ‘Saffy’, Saffron Monsoon played by Julia Sawalha was one of the leading characters in the sitcom ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ alongside Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders.
Julia has only made the odd appearance on screen over the years, but she’s also had quite an interesting personal life, which we can’t to reveal to you.
Up until 2012, Julia played the role of Saffron in the sitcom and in 2014, starred in BBC One mystery series, Remember Me in 2014.
What’s she up to now?
Julia’s acting career has been pretty quiet, but she’s made the odd appearance on reality shows which have included ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ – in which she aimed to find out more about her ancestry.
These days though, she’s very much settled in her personal life, after meeting a new boyfriend who is 17 years her junior. The pair met on the set of the Absolutely Fabulous film and Julia who is 47 and toy-boy Luke Hollingworth, aged 30 are ‘inseparable’.
Talking about her new relationship with The Sun, she said: “Before Luke, I was single for seven years. By the time we got together, I’d stopped looking for someone else to fill the void. Then just as I’d resigned myself to the fact that I’d be single for life, I met Luke. I wasn’t looking at all – that is such a cliché. We’ve been together five months and we barely spend a day apart.”
“We have the same sense of humour. We laugh all day and he’s the kindest and most loving partner I would ever wish for. I’ve always dated men my age or significantly older and none of them aren’t a patch on Luke.I had a clutch of wrong boyfriends, which I don’t regret. But I was definitely mixing with people who were helping me to escape. Forget frogs – they were toads.”
The ‘Outnumbered’ Kids
The sitcom ‘Outnumbered’ revolved around three intelligent, but very outspoken kids and their weary parents. The show came to an end in 2014, because let’s face it, the three hilarious kids, would no longer be, well…kids.
Remember the curly-haired little girl from Outnumbered? Now, Ramona Marquez is all grown-up…in fact, you probably wouldn’t even recognise her. She is now 17 years old, but has since stepped out of the limelight; appearing only in one-off specials of the show.
Her on-screen brother Ben, played by Daniel Roche is now 18 years old. In 2013, he appeared in ‘Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor’ as himself, but hasn’t been on TV since and is thought to be taking a break from his acting career.
On the other hand, their older on-screen brother, Jake, played by Tyger Drew-Honey who is 22 years old and has gone on to have a hugely successful start to his career in the entertainment industry.
He has done more than 200 voiceovers and appeared in a few reality shows such as ’24 Hours in the Past’, whilst his latest appearance was in ‘Celebs Go Dating’ in 2016.
Siobhan Hayes – My Family
Playing the character of the dim-witted but loveable Abi on My Family, it’s fair to say we haven’t seen much of Siobhan Hayes since the sitcom ended in 2008. Her character bowed out of the show upon deciding to become a nun.
What’s she up to now?
Back in 2005, the actress took part in the BBC reality show ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, however, her was cut extremely short, as she was first to face the boot alongside her professional partner, Matthew Cutler.
The 42-year-old has only made three other credits since her time on the sitcom; Horrid Henry: The Movie (2011), Crime Stories (2012) and Murder on the Homefront (2013).
Although she has had large breaks in between her acting work, she has admitted that she prefers this style of working as it keeps things ‘fresh’. We hope to see her in a few more roles in the near future!
Kate Lonergan – Maid Marian and her Merry Men
Playing the title role of the classic kid’s comedy show, Kate Lonergan hasn’t been seen on our screens since playing the iconic character of Maid Marian and there’s a very good reason why.
What’s she up to now?
When the series ended in 1994, Kate decided to step out of the limelight completely and have a whole new change of career. She said that her decision to leave the acting world altogether was due to the fact that she felt that she had ‘got everything she wanted to get out of it’.
She told The Wharf: “I think it came to its natural conclusion, and I’m really happy with what I’m doing now.”
The actress now lives in Greenwich, North London and has swapped her acting work for managing her own gardening company.
Before securing the role of Maid Marian which made her name, she admitted that in order to support herself during her early acting career, she would take on a bit of gardening on the side to earn extra cash.
Talking to The Wharf, she added: “Running your own business is a bit like acting. You’re your own boss and you have to find work. I really do enjoy the creative part of it, although I’m still learning the numbers part of the job.”
“People still come up to me and say really nice things about it.” She said, referring to the show.
Emily Atack – The Inbetweeners
The Inbetweeners was one of the most-watched shows amongst teenagers everywhere in the late 00’s, before the show came to a natural end in 2010.
Emily Atack played the role of Charlotte Hinchcliffe – all the girls wanted to be her and all of the boys were drooling over her good looks. When she first appeared in the show back in 2008, Emily was just 18 years old but has since gone on to do huge things in the eight years that have followed.
What’s she up to now?
Now 28 years old, she has swapped her iconic blonde locks for a shorter, brunette hairdo and looks almost unrecognisable to her days playing ‘Charlotte’.
The same year that the comedy series finished, Emily took part in ITV’s Dancing on Ice and later, went on to secure high-profile acting jobs in stage shows, films and television series.
In 2016, she played in the new Dad’s Army film and was most recently cast in an American TV series, Lost In Florence, in which she stripped off completely naked for an intimate scene with co-star, Brett Dalton.
In terms of stage work, Emily recently played Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, replacing actress Verity Rushworth who discovered she was pregnant.
According to The Metro, Emily said that she was ‘flattered and honoured’ to be given the role. “To take such an iconic role as my stage debut is both incredibly exciting and challenging” she added.
Connie Booth – Fawlty Towers
Airing on the BBC between 1975- 1979, it’s been over 40 years since we saw American actress Connie Booth in her heyday on Fawlty Towers. It wasn’t just her acting talent that made Connie a legendary aspect of the sitcom, but she also co-wrote the show with her husband, John Cleese.
In the comedy show, she played waitress and chambermaid, Polly.
During her stint on the sitcom, Connie also took on other acting roles such as Dickens of London (1976), The Story of Ruth (1981) and Little Lord Fauntleroy (1986).
What’s she up to now?
With just under 30 years experience in the industry, Connie decided to step out of the limelight in 1995 and have a change of career. Attending London University for five years, she graduated and went on to become a psychotherapist; now registered with the British Psychoanalytic Council. Most of her work focuses on single mothers and the issues they face.
Since the sitcom came to an end in the late 70’s, Connie refused to talk publicly about the show or make any appearances, aside from her brief acting work. The only time she spoke openly about her experiences writing and acting on the series was during a one-time-only documentary for the channel, Gold.
The latest public appearance she made was back in 2013, when she attended a special charity dinner gala for her now ex-husband, Cleese, who aimed to raise funds for the NSPCC.
The couple were captured in an awkward embrace as Cleese’s new wife Jennifer, stood by; however, Connie remarried in 2000 to John Lahr – the son of Bert Lahr, who played the famous ‘Lion’, in the iconic ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (1939).