Emma Kennedy – In Conversation

One of the most versatile and enduring performers in entertainment, writer, author, actress , comedian and broadcaster Emma Kennedy has been entertaining audiences for over thirty years. Making her debut at the world renowned Edinburgh festival in 1987, she found herself within the second wave of Alternative Comedy alongside Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins. Britain hadn’t seen a new female double act since the turn of the decade when French and Saunders broke into The Comedy Store and was crying out for some relevant female comedy representatives. As soon as Emma encountered Mel and Sue, she always knew that they were destined to become two of the biggest comedy stars in the country but didn’t realise that they were to have a dominant role in the direction of her own career.

Press play, below, to listen to the full interview

Or watch the unedited zoom call on YouTube here;

Performing in the comedy group The Seven Raymonds alongside future comedy heavyweights Stewart Lee and Richard Herring, Emma found herself at the centre of a very exciting period for the genre. Sharing a dysfunctional apartment with the great Sue Perkins who was currently unemployed and struggling to make ends meet, she saw the harsh reality of making comedy into a career. As a qualified lawyer, Emma was the only member of the group to have a stable income and so found herself supplying food for everyone. Yet eventually she took a gamble and quit her law career in exchange for the hope of breaking the world of comedy alongside this incredible class of future comedy stars.


In 1997 Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins landed their own Channel Four weekday entertainment show Light Lunch and Emma was able to join the writing team. Irreverent, edgy and unpredictable, Light Lunch rewrote the rule book for what was deemed appropriate for a daytime television show and was to set the benchmark for daytime entertainment shows hereafter. As a writer, Emma was able to have a nonchalant attitude towards pushing the boundaries of decency and loved the ability to vicariously straddle the fine line of acceptance. Through this radical approach, the series spawned a generation of TV stars including Emma and the great Dermot O’Leary who began as a researcher. Despite merely running for two series between 1997 and 1998, Light Lunch and then the latter Late Lunch rebelled against the fixed concepts of daytime TV and helped to move the genre on, paving the way for the variety of entertainment in today’s daytime schedule.


Being an actor and comedian at the turn of the century proved one of the most fruitful roles in entertainment. Teaming up with fellow Edinburgh stalwarts Stewart Lee and Richard Herring, Emma starred in the cult BBC2 satire This Morning With Richard Not Judy which lampooned the phenomenon of the daytime chat show. Broadcast on a Sunday lunchtime, the series became essential viewing for the student demographic of the late nineties. As a writer and performer, Emma has always relished the opportunity to unequivocally push the boundaries of possibility for the sake of comedy and this show provided it. In hindsight this attitude probably perfectly sums up the attitude towards comedy in post millennial Britain and Emma was proud to be a part of it.


With this strong association with the art of satire, it seems somewhat bizarre that in 2003 Emma found herself as the entertainment reviewer for Channel Five’s The Terry and Gaby Show. As a comedian, Emma has always struggled with the fixed concepts of live television as a result of her great persuasion to swear; something which is frowned upon on a weekday morning magazine show. It was here that Emma worked alongside the legendary Sir Terry Wogan and got to witness firsthand the sheer humility of the broadcasting icon. Despite The Terry and Gaby Show merely running for just over a year, it managed to fulfil a special tick on Emma’s CV to work with a legend of the small screen.


As an author, Emma has also penned a repertoire of life affirming, thought provoking novels based on the nuances of everyday life. Her new book Letters From Brenda which was released on the 12th May 2022 explores the somewhat controversial themes of death and the range of different emotions which it can create. The inspiration for the book came from the sad passing of Emma’s mother and the comedy which was able to be drawn from her final moments. Although there is no doubt that the concept of death remains a tragically distressing experience for everyone involved, there are aspects that are humorous and this was something which Emma wanted to explore. The line between comedy and tragedy is frequently finer than we think and this book is the perfect example of how the seemingly two opposing emotions can easily complement each other. It takes a special writer to merge these two overwhelming emotions with the story that they want to tell while still upholding all the other elements that are required to make it believable and interesting. This is what makes Emma Kennedy one of the greatest authors of her generation.


Still very much in demand on radio and literature, in 2020 Emma wrote the accompanying handbook for the BBC1 crime drama The Killing which was to satisfy the dramatist in her. Indeed there’s talk of some exciting upcoming drama opportunities arising for the supremely talented and versatile writer and performer who oozes creativity. With a twinkle in her eye and one of the most creative and prolific minds in entertainment, there’s so much to admire about the writer and comedian. It was a great pleasure to interview the wonderful Emma Kennedy and with an amazing career behind her, it’s exciting to see where it will take her next.