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Frank Skinner

Comedian and TV Personality

Born Chris Collins in the West Midlands suburb of Oldbury, Frank moved on to the local foundry, but decided it wasn't for him. So he sought an escape through education enrolling at night school for A-levels, an English degree, and finally an MA and by making his first tentative forays into show business. He also sang in a Stones-style band called Olde English and punk combo The Prefects.

But he says his "Road to Damascus" moment came during a 1986 visit to the Edinburgh festival, which inspired him to begin a career as a stand-up. It was a life-changing time.

His first gig, in December 1987, was at the Birmingham Anglers' Association. As Actors' Union Equity had another Chris Collins on their books, the fledgling comic had to choose another name and he stole the moniker Frank Skinner from a man in his dad's pub dominoes team.

A four-year slog through the circuit, financed by a string of day jobs, led to Skinner establishing his own club in Birmingham. All the work paid off in 1991, back in Edinburgh, where he won the prestigious Perrier Award ahead of some seriously talented competition, including Eddie Izzard and Jack Dee. The prize gave him some hard-earned recognition and landed him a host of TV roles to supplement his constant live work.

It was on the stand-up circuit - at Jongleurs in Camden that Skinner met and befriended David Baddiel who would become his flatmate and, later, collaborator. The partnership led to the best moment of Frank's life, hearing the Three Lions anthem they co-wrote being sung by fans at Wembley.

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