Iannucci in October 2010
|Birth name||Armando Giovanni Iannucci|
28 November 1963 |
Glasgow, Scotland, UK
|Medium||Television, film, radio, stand up comedy|
|Alma mater||University of Glasgow
University College, Oxford
|Genres||Sitcom, political satire|
|Spouse||Rachael Jones (m. 1990)|
Born in Glasgow, Iannucci studied at the University of Glasgow followed by the University of Oxford, leaving graduate work on a PhD about John Milton to pursue a career in comedy. Starting on BBC Scotland and BBC Radio 4, his early work with Chris Morris on the radio series On the Hour was transferred to television as The Day Today. A character from this series, Alan Partridge, went on to feature in a number of Iannucci's television and radio programmes, including Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge and I'm Alan Partridge. Iannucci also fronted the satirical Armistice review shows and in 2001 created his most personal work, The Armando Iannucci Shows, for Channel 4.
Moving back to the BBC in 2005, Iannucci created the political sitcom The Thick of It as well as the spoof documentary Time Trumpet in 2006. Winning funding from the UK Film Council, he directed a critically acclaimed feature film, In the Loop, featuring characters from The Thick of It in 2009. As a result of these works, he has been described by The Daily Telegraph as "the hardman of political satire". Other works during this period include an operetta libretto, Skin Deep, and his radio series Charm Offensive.
Iannucci created the HBO political satire Veep, and was its showrunner for four seasons from 2012 to 2015. He followed this with the feature film The Death of Stalin in 2017 and is planning an adaptation of David Copperfield.
Iannucci was born in Glasgow. His father, also called Armando, was from Naples, while his mother was born in Glasgow to an Italian family. His father, who came to Scotland in 1950, ran a pizza factory. Iannucci has two brothers and a sister. He was educated at St Peter's Primary School, St. Aloysius' College, Glasgow, the University of Glasgow and University College, Oxford, where he studied English literature.
In his teens, he thought seriously about becoming a Roman Catholic priest. He abandoned graduate work on 17th-century religious language, with particular reference to Milton's Paradise Lost, to pursue his career in comedy.
After making several programmes at BBC Scotland in the early 1990s such as No' The Archie McPherson Show, he moved to BBC Radio in London, making radio shows including Armando Iannucci for BBC Radio 1, which featured a number of comedians he was to collaborate with for many years, including David Schneider, Peter Baynham, Steve Coogan and Rebecca Front.
Iannucci first received widespread fame as the producer for On the Hour on Radio 4, which transferred to television as The Day Today. He received critical acclaim for both his own talents as a writer and a producer, and for first bringing together such comics as Chris Morris, Richard Herring, Stewart Lee, Peter Baynham and Steve Coogan. The members of this group went on to work on separate projects and create a new comedy "wave" pre-New Labour: Morris went on to create Brass Eye, Blue Jam and the Chris Morris Music Show; Stewart Lee and Richard Herring created Fist of Fun and This Morning with Richard Not Judy.
Baynham was closely involved with both Morris's and Lee & Herring's work - simultaneously at one point. Lee would go on to co-write the controversial Jerry Springer: The Opera, but perhaps the most famous "alumnus" of this group is Steve Coogan's character Alan Partridge, who first appeared in On the Hour, and has featured in multiple spin-off series. Between 1995 and 1999, Iannucci produced and hosted The Saturday Night Armistice.
In 2000, he created two pilot episodes for Channel 4, which became The Armando Iannucci Shows. This was an eight-part series for Channel 4 broadcast in 2001, written with Andy Riley and Kevin Cecil. The series consisted of Iannucci pondering pseudo-philosophical and jocular ideas and fantasies in between surreal sketches. Iannucci has been quoted as saying it is the comedy series he is most proud of making. He told The Metro in April 2007 "The Armando Iannucci Show [sic] on Channel 4 came out around 9/11, so it was overlooked for good reasons. People had other things on their minds. But that was the closest to me expressing my comic outlook on life."
After championing Yes Minister on the BBC's Britain's Best Sitcom, Iannucci devised, directed and was chief writer of The Thick of It, a political satire-cum-farce for BBC Four. It starred Chris Langham as an incompetent cabinet minister being manipulated by a cynical Press Officer, Malcolm Tucker. It was first broadcast for two short series on BBC Four in 2005, initially with a small cast focusing on a government minister, his advisers and their party's spin-doctor. The cast was significantly expanded for two hour-long specials to coincide with Christmas and Gordon Brown's appointment as prime minister in 2007, which saw new characters forming the opposition party added to the cast. These characters continued when the show switched channels to BBC Two for its third series in 2009. A fourth series about a coalition government was broadcast in 2012, with the last episode transmitted. In a 2012 interview, Iannucci said the fourth series of the programme would probably be its last.
Based on a format he had used in Clinton: His Struggle with Dirt in 1996 and 2004: The Stupid Version, in mid-2006, his spoof documentary series Time Trumpet was shown on BBC 2. The series looked back on past events through highly edited clips and "celebrity" interviews, looking back on the present and near-future from the year 2031. One episode, featuring fictional terrorist attacks on London and the assassination of Tony Blair, was postponed and edited in August 2006 amid the terrorism scares in British airports at that time. Jane Thynne, writing in The Independent, accused the BBC of lacking backbone.
He created the American HBO political satire television series Veep, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, set in the office of Selina Meyer, a fictional Vice-President of the United States.Veep uses a similar cinéma-vérité filming style to The Thick of It. Debuting in 2012, the show has aired six seasons, with its sixth starting in April 2017. However, beginning with season five, Iannucci stepped down as showrunner due to "personal reasons". He is planning a new science fiction sitcom for HBO called Avenue 5.
Ianucci's non-television works include Smokehammer, a web-based project with Chris Morris, and the 1997 book Facts and Fancies, composed of his newspaper columns, which was turned into a BBC Radio 4 series. The radio series Scraps With Iannucci, which followed late in 1998, featured Iannucci using his tape-fiddling skills to present a review of the year.
He has appeared on Radio 3 talking about classical music, one of his passions, and collaborated with composer David Sawer on Skin Deep, an operetta, which was premiered by Opera North on 16 January 2009. He has also presented three programmes for BBC Radio 3, including Mobiles Off!, a 20-minute segment on classical concert-going etiquette. He was a regular columnist for the classical music magazine Gramophone. A book of his writings about classical music Hear Me Out was published in 2017.
In January 2009, his first feature film In the Loop, in the style of The Thick of It, was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. It was the first cinema film to be directed by Iannucci, after his contribution to Tube Tales in 1999. The film has been applauded by critics, both in Britain and the US, and was nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar in 2009. The film secured the eighth highest placing in the UK box office in its opening week - despite its relatively insignificant screening numbers. According to the British Film Institute screenonline, Iannucci had previously failed to secure funding for a historical comedy film in 2003.
Iannucci used his BBC press pass to enter the US State Department headquarters whilst researching the film, saying how he just turned up and claimed to be "here for the 12.30". Iannucci spent an hour inside taking photographs which were used for the film's set designs.
His second feature film is The Death of Stalin, about the power struggle which followed the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953. It was released in October 2017. His next project is to be a feature film adaptation of Charles Dickens's David Copperfield.
Iannucci has won two Sony Radio Awards and three British Comedy Awards. In 2003, he was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy. He was also subject of a 2006 edition of The South Bank Show.
In January 2006 he was named News International Visiting Professor of Broadcast Media at the University of Oxford, where he has delivered a series of four lectures under the title "British Comedy - Dead Or Alive?".
March 2006 saw Iannucci namechecked by the OED as the originator of the term "codology", with its inclusion in that year's dictionary.
At the 2011 British Comedy Awards, Iannucci received the Writers' Guild of Britain Award.
He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to broadcasting.Alastair Campbell's response to his appointment was "Three little letters can have more impact than you realise", to which Iannucci replied, via Twitter, "WMD" (a reference to Campbell's role in preparing the "September Dossier" prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq).
In July 2012 Iannucci received an honorary Doctorate (DLitt) from the University of Exeter.
In the 2010 general election Iannucci supported the Liberal Democrats, stating: "I'll be voting Lib Dem this election because they represent the best chance in a lifetime to make lasting and fair change to how the UK is governed." After the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition of 2010 was established, however, he expressed doubts over his continued support for the party, saying he was 'wavering' on many issues and has admitted to 'queasiness' over the Coalition's economic measures. He also seemed to contemplate targeting the Liberal Democrats in the fourth series of The Thick of It, rather as the first three had targeted what he perceived as the failings within the Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
In 1990, he married Rachael Jones, whom he met when she designed the lighting for his one-man show at Oxford. They have two sons and one daughter and currently live in Hertfordshire, having previously lived in Buckinghamshire.
He is patron of the Silver Star Society, a charity supporting women through difficult pregnancies. In April 2012 he abseiled from the top of the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford to raise money for the hospital's specialist pregnancy unit.