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Sandi Toksvig

Toksvig performing in 2008.
Born Sandi Brigitte Toksvig
3 May 1958 (1958-05-03) (age 51)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Occupation Author, comedienne, presenter
Years active 1982–present
Spouse(s) Debbie Toksvig

Sandi Brigitte Toksvig (born 3 May 1958; Copenhagen) is a Danish-born English comedienne, author and presenter on radio and television.



Toksvig began her comedy career at Cambridge University where she wrote and performed in the first all-woman show at the Cambridge Footlights. She was there at the same time as fellow members (Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson), and wrote additional material for the Perrier award-winning Cambridge Footlights Revue. She was also a member of Cambridge University Light Entertainment Society while a student at Girton College, Cambridge, and moved via children's television onto the comedy circuit. She performed at the first night of The Comedy Store in London and was once part of The Comedy Store Players, an improvisational comedy team.[1]

Her television career has included presenting the children's series No. 73 (1982-1986), The Saturday Starship, Motormouth and Gilbert's Fridge, and on factual programmes such as the archaeological Channel 4 series Time Team, and Island Race and The Talking Show, produced by Open Media for Channel 4. She has appeared as a panellist in shows such as Call My Bluff, I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Mock the Week, QI and Have I Got News for You. She appeared in the very first episode of Have I Got News For You in 1990.[2] She is the current host of What the Dickens, a Sky Arts quiz show which has included other comediennes like Sue Perkins and Jackie Clune in the cast.

She is a familiar voice for BBC Radio 4 listeners, as the chair of The News Quiz, having replaced Simon Hoggart in September 2006. She continues to be the main presenter of the BBC Radio 4 travel programme Excess Baggage. She is also a frequent guest on shows such as I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. For three years until December 2005 she presented a weekday lunchtime programme on London talk radio station LBC 97.3, featuring regular guests including Bonnie Langford, Alkarim Jivani and Annie Caulfield.

In 2002, Toksvig and Dilly Keane co wrote a musical Big Night Out, at the Little Palace Theatre, written for the Watford Palace Theatre, in which they both appeared together with Bonnie Langford.[3] Toksvig and Elly Brewer, wrote a Shakespeare deconstruction The Pocket Dream, which Toksvig performed in at York Theatre Royal. The pair also wrote the 1992 TV series The Big One, which also starred Toksvig. She also appeared in a number of stage plays, including Androcles and the Lion, Much Ado About Nothing and The Comedy of Errors.

She has written several fiction and non-fiction books for children and adults, starting in 1994 with Tales from the Norse's Mouth, a fiction tale for children. In 1995, she sailed around the coast of Britain with John McCarthy. In 2003, she published her travel biography, Gladys Reunited: A Personal American Journey, about her travels in the USA retracing her childhood. She writes regular columns for Good Housekeeping and the Sunday Telegraph. In October 2008 she published Girls Are Best, a history book for girls.

In February 2006 she joked that, as a result of being Danish and having studied Muslim law, in the light of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, she had never been so sought-after.[4]

She appears in Doctor Who audio drama Red by Big Finish Productions which was released in August 2006.

In December 2006, she hosted and sang at the London Gay Men's Chorus' sold out Christmas Show, Make the Yuletide Gay at the Barbican Centre in London.

In 2007 she was named Political Humorist of the Year at the Channel 4 Political Awards [5] and Radio Broadcaster of the Year by the Broadcasting Press Guild.[6] Over Christmas and New Year 2007/8 she played the narrator in the pantomime Cinderella at the Old Vic Theatre. In 2008 she was named Broadcaster of the Year at the Stonewall Awards.

Politics and activism

Sandi Toksvig has been a supporter of the Liberal Democrats.[7]

In 2003 she stood as a candidate in the election for the Chancellor of the University of Oxford, supporting a campaign against student fees.[8] She was defeated in the first round of voting, achieving 1179 first-place votes out of about 8000 cast [9]. The election was won by Chris Patten.

Personal life

Her father (Claus Toksvig) was a foreign correspondent for a Danish television channel (Danmarks Radio) and Sandi spent most of her youth abroad. She studied law and archaeology and anthropology at Girton College, Cambridge graduating with a first class degree and receiving two prizes for outstanding achievement (The Raemakers and the Theresa Montefiore Awards). Her brother, Nick Toksvig, attended Hull University and was a friend of journalist and Beirut hostage John McCarthy (with whom Sandi undertook a round Britain yachting adventure in 1995). Her sister Jenifer Toksvig is a musical theatre bookwriter and lyricist.

She is a lesbian and mother of three children, two daughters (born 1988 and 1990) and a son (born 1994). The children were born while she was with her former partner Peta Stewart[10], and were conceived through artificial insemination by donor Christopher Lloyd-Pack.

In 1994 Save the Children dropped her services after she came out, although, following a direct action protest by the Lesbian Avengers,[11] the charity later apologised.[12] She currently lives in Surrey with her civil partner, psychotherapist Debbie Toksvig.[13]

References in popular culture


Books for children

  • Hitler's Kanarie Sandi Toksvig, Valerius uitgeverij, Vlaardingen, Holland, April 2006 ISBN 90-78250-02-X [Dutch translation]
  • Hitler's Canary, Sandi Toksvig, Doubleday, July 2005
  • The Troublesome Tooth Fairy, Sandi Toksvig, Transworld, November 2000, ISBN 0-552-54663-1
  • Super-Saver Mouse to the Rescue, Sandi Toksvig, Transworld, April 2000, ISBN 0-552-54541-4
  • Super-Saver Mouse, Sandi Toksvig, Transworld, September 1999, ISBN 0-552-54540-6
  • If I Didn't Have Elbows, Sandi Toksvig, Deagosti, April 1998, ISBN 1-84089-048-7
  • Unusual Day, Sandi Toksvig, Transworld/Corgi, April 1997, ISBN 0-552-54539-2
  • Tales from the Norse's Mouth, Sandi Toksvig, BBC Books, March 1994, ISBN 0-563-40358-6

Books for adults

  • Melted into Air, Sandi Toksvig, Little Brown, July 2006
  • Gladys Reunited: A Personal American Journey, Sandi Toksvig, Little Brown, 2003, ISBN 0-7515-3328-9
  • The Travels of Lady Bulldog Burton, Sandi Toksvig and Sandy Nightingale, Little Brown, September 2002
  • Flying Under Bridges, Sandi Toksvig, Little Brown, April 2001
  • Whistling for the Elephants, Sandi Toksvig, Transworld, August 1999, ISBN 0-593-04480-0
  • Great Journeys of the World, Sandi Toksvig et al., Penguin, 1997
  • Island Race: an Improbable Voyage Round the Coast of Britain, John McCarthy and Sandi Toksvig, BBC Books, 1995

See also


  1. ^ Comedy Store Players Official Site - History -retrieved on 16 May 2008
  2. ^ Have I Got News For You episode guide at - retrieved on 16 May 2008
  3. ^ Review of Big Night Out in What's On Stage Retrieved 23 February 2009]
  4. ^ "Mock the Week". Mock the Week. 2006-02-10. No. 4, series 2.
  5. ^ Channel 4 Newsroom Blog - Behnind the scenes at the Channel Four Political Awards retrieved on 16 May 2008
  6. ^ 2007 Broadcasting Press Guild Awards - retrieved on 16 May 2008
  7. ^ "Screen stars join election race". BBC News. 2004-05-25. Retrieved 2008-10-16.   "The celebrity bug has bitten the other major parties with the Lib Dems claiming the support of [...] broadcaster Sandi Toksvig."
  8. ^ Toksvig enters chancellor race
  9. ^ Polly Curtis (2003-03-17). "Patten wins Oxford prize:". The Guardian.,9830,915896,00.html?=rss. Retrieved 2008-05-24.  
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Lesbians protest over charity ban" 5 Oct 1994 The Independent
  12. ^ David, Smith (November 1994). "Comedian and actress Sandi Toksvig, a well-known face on the popular comedy improvisation TV show, Whose Line is it Anyway, came out as a lesbian in the pages of the Sunday Times and Daily Mirror". Gay Times (Millivres) (194). ISSN 0950-6101.  
  13. ^ Scott, Caroline (2007-12-16). "A Life in the Day: Sandi Toksvig". The Times.  
  14. ^ "BBC comedy guide to Little Britain". Retrieved 2007-01-06.  

External links

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