Dillie Keane smiling and running towards photographer

Doctor of Letters

An Olivier Award-nominated actor, singer and comedian, and founder of Fascinating Aïda.

Dillie Keane is best known as one third of the satirical trio, Fascinating Aïda. Born in Portsmouth, she was educated at Portsmouth High School, followed by a series of convents from which she was expelled at least once.

She studied music at Trinity College Dublin where she partied like a girl released from a convent and became a leading light of the drama society. After three years, illness and a boring course forced her to leave the programme early.

While working as a secretary in London, Dillie secretly auditioned for the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). The day she got her acceptance letter was the best day of her life.

To top up a tuition scholarship and reluctantly-agreed parental stipend, she sold handmade shopping bags, aprons and second-hand clothes at a weekend stall, temping in the evenings and throughout the holidays. She became an artist’s model, did bar work, biked everywhere in London and hitched everywhere else. She also played piano in various hotels, nightclubs and restaurants, cutting something of an odd figure with her homemade clothes and Cole Porter songs.

Acting jobs followed, then song writing, new friends and collaborators, gigs and, in 1983, the birth of Fascinating Aïda. Now into its fifth decade, the satirical cabaret act has taken Dillie all over the English-speaking world and garnered three Olivier and three Drama Desk nominations.

In addition, she has written columns with the Mail on Sunday, the Stage and has been a regular contributor to Punch and Time Out. A climate catastrophist for over 40 years, she also writes an eco-blog.

She is incredibly proud to be awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Portsmouth and London South Bank University.

A Portsmouth girl born and bred, she is Patron of the Kings Theatre and takes a keen interest in its success. Live theatre will always be her first love and she intends to go on performing until infirmity or the Grim Reaper intervenes.