Liverpool-born actress Alison Steadman was born in 1946, the daughter of George Percival Steadman and Marjorie Evans. Educated at Childwall Valley High School, she studied at the East-15 Acting School from 1966-1969, then toiled as a secretary at the Liverpool Probation Service before deciding on a full-time acting career. She made her professional stage debut in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" at the Theatre Royal in 1968, where she also played Ophelia in "Hamlet." Following repertory experience she met playwright Mike Leigh and appeared in his plays "The Jaws of Death" and "Wholesome Glory," the latter making her London debut in 1973. She won the London Evening Standard Theatre Award in 1977 playing the lead role in "Abigail's Party" and appeared in a definitive TV version of the play directed by her husband that same year. Over the years Alison came to be known for her quirky roles and such dazzling stage work in "The Rise and Fall of Little Voice" (winning an Olivier Award in 1992), The Memory of Water (1999), Joe Orton's "Entertaining Mr. Sloane" (2001) and "The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband" (2002), playing a wronged wife who does the unthinkable, only served to prove the extent of her versatility. Although her film appearances have been spotty, she greatly enhanced the few she has done in support, including A Private Function (1984), Coming Through (1985), Clockwise (1986), The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), and Shirley Valentine (1989), not to mention her director-husband's critically lauded pictures Life Is Sweet (1990), for which she won the National Society of Film Critics Award, Secrets & Lies (1996), and Topsy-Turvy (1999). She and Leigh divorced in 2001. Alison has also entertained in many classy TV costumers, including The Singing Detective (1986), as the mother of Michael Gambon, and Pride and Prejudice (1995).