bio

Karen Dunbar is one of Scotland’s best-known comedy actors. Originally from Ayr, Karen was a popular and talented DJ and karaoke host before she attended The Comedy Unit’s open auditions in 1997. The company were so impressed by her that they immediately put her to work on their BBC Radio Scotland sketch show Chewin’ the Fat with Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill. Karen had a key role in the radio show which transferred to television in 1999. A further three series followed as well as the phenomenally popular Hogmanay Specials. 

Hailed as Scotland’s funniest female, Karen went on to star in four series of her own show, The Karen Dunbar Show which received two coveted Golden Rose nominations for Best Comedy Show and Karen herself two personal nominations for Best Comedy Performance.

A compelling voice on radio, Karen has presented BBC Radio Scotland series such as Karen Dunbar’s Beautiful Sunday and Karen’s Summer Supplement as well as being Team Captain on the quiz show Step Back in Time.

Her original and spirited rendition of Tam O’Shanter has established Karen as a favourite at Burns Suppers throughout Scotland and she can be both heard and seen performing Tam and other poems on the new BBC website dedicated to the works of Robert Burns at www.bbc.co.uk/robertburns

Karen has also made a huge impact with her live stand up act which has sold out for three years running at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and for two years at the Glasgow International Comedy Festival and also took her to the New York Comedy Expo and The Adelaide Comedy Festival. She has headlined for the last two years at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow, in their prestigious pantomime, in 2007 as Nanny Begood in Sleeping Beauty, and in 2008 in Cinderella doubling as Fairy Godmother and Wicked Stepmother to huge critical acclaim, “Her singing voice is worth the price of the admission alone.” She will return for the third year this Christmas as Widow Twanky in Aladdin.
 
In 2008 Karen performed the Denise Mina monologue A Drunk Woman looks at the Thistle at both Oran Mor Theatre in Glasgow and then again during the Edinburgh Festival, receiving a nomination from The Stage for Best Solo Acting Performance.

Karen has also appeared in The Vagina Monologues twice, at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow in 2008 and at the Edinburgh Playhouse in February 2009. She is currently being seen alongside Ford Kiernan in a new comedy for the BBC called Happy Hollidays and is also starring as The Sergeant of Police in The Pirates of Penzance in Richmond and Glasgow this autumn.

CREDITS

-TELEVISION-

HAPPY HOLLIDAYS [Effingee Prods] ‘Joyce Mullen’ Dir. Douglas MacKinnon
AN AUDIENCE WITH BURNS (Tam O’Shanter) [BBC Scotland] 2007- Presented by Gordon Kennedy
INVOLUNTARY [Comedy Unit Pilot/ BBC Scotland] ‘Ella’ Dir. Paul Holmes
THE KAREN DUNBAR SHOW 2002 > 2005 [4 series for The Comedy Unit for BBC Scotland] Dirs. Ron Bain (S 1 + 2) & Iain Davidson (S 3 & S4)
(2 coveted Rose D’or nominations for Best Comedy & 2 personal nominations for Best Comedy Performance)
CHEWIN’ THE FAT S1-4 1999 > 2002 [Comedy Unit for BBC Scotland] Dirs. Colin Gilbert (S1) /Brian Horsburgh (S2) / Michael Hines (S3& 4)
CHEWIN’ THE FAT - 4 HOGMANAY SPECIALS 1999 > 2004 – [The Comedy Unit for BBC Scotland] Dirs. Brian Horsburgh (S1) / Michael Hines (S2,3,& 4)
INTRODUCING KAREN DUNBAR [Mocumentry] [BBC Choice] Dir. Tim Franklin
RAB C. NESBITT 2 Eps [BBC TV ] Dir. Colin Gilbert

-DOCUMENTARY-

PRESENTER - 2008 ROBERT BURNS WORLD TOUR OF SCOTLAND [BBC Scotland]
Dir. John Smith/Prod.Tony Followell


BRITAIN’S GOT MORE TALENT [ITV2] ‘Celebrity Panel’
CALEDONIAN MacBRAINS S1 & 2 [BBC Scotland] ‘Team Captain’

-THEATRE-

THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE ‘Sergeant of Police’ Dir. Peter Mulloy [Richmond Theatre & Theatre Royal, Glasgow]
THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES Dir. Timothy Sheader [Edinburgh Playhouse]
CINDERELLA [2008/09] ‘Fairy Godmother/Wicked Stepmother’ Dir. Tony Cownie [Kings Theatre, Glasgow]
A DRUNK WOMAN LOOKS AT THE THISTLE by Denise Mina Monologue Dir. Alison Peebles
[Oran Mor, Glasgow & The Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh]
THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES Dir. Timothy Sheader /Asst Dir. Paul Foster [Theatre Royal, Glasgow]
SLEEPING BEAUTY [2007/08] ‘Nanny Begood’ Dir. Tony Cownie [Kings Theatre, Glasgow]
HA HA HA by Tom Tabori ‘Bungle’ Dir. Liz Lochhead [Oran Mor]
CHEWING THE FAT LIVE! [2001] Dir. Brian Horsburgh [Kings Theatre, Glasgow]
STAND-UP ACT Venues including CC Blooms,Edinburgh; New York Comedy Expo; Kings Theatre and Citizen’s Theatre Glasgow; Edinburgh Fringe Festival [2006-2008] ; The Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh; Glasgow Comedy Festival (2 years); Adelaide Fringe Festival

-FILM-

RICE PAPER STARS [Tartan Shorts] ‘Auntie’ Dir. Andy Goddard

-RADIO-

STEP BACK IN TIME [BBC Radio Scotland] ‘Team Captain’
KAREN’S SUMMER SUPPLEMENT [BBC Radio Scotland]
KAREN DUNBAR’S BEAUTIFUL SUNDAY [BBC Radio Scotland]
CHEWIN’ THE FAT Series 2&3 [BBC Radio Scotland]

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Karen Dunbar is one of Scotland's best-known actors and has starred in some of its top comedy programmes including Chewin' the Fat and The Karen Dunbar Show.