Karen Hayley is an award-winning writer, comedy actress and voice-over artist with over twenty-five years’ experience working in TV, feature film, theatre, radio, voice-over, and live performance.
Karen is best known for her comedy roles in BAFTA Award winning sketch shows The Armstrong & Miller Show (BBC1), Bo Selecta (C4), and A Bear’s Tale (C4), co-hosting 1LSQ with Russell Brand (MTV), The TNT Show (C4), Navelgazing Presents (Dave UK), and Chikepedia with Miranda Hart (C4). Recent projects include Dom Jolly’s Fool Britannia (ITV) and Keith Lemon’s Lemon La Vida Loca (ITV2).
After graduating from the Central School of Speech and Drama (3-year acting course), she started working as a straight actress before focusing on comedy. Her early jobs included leading roles in the Warner Bros TV Dark Realm series, The New Professionals (Sky), short films, including Hood with Martin Freeman, and music videos including one for Supergrass directed by Sophie Muller, and a feature film of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, with Jonathan Firth, Sadie Frost, Robert Hardy and Prunella Scales.
She has presented for BBC Radio 6 Music and MTV Networks (6-year exclusive contract), winning MTV’s “Best New Presenter” award, and appeared on current affairs comedy shows for Objective and Hat Trick.
Karen has appeared in several long-running theatre productions in the West End (The National Theatre, The Apollo Victoria Theatre), playing the leading roles in Percy Bisshe Shelley’s The Cenci, and in the comedies Cyrano de Bergerac (Bridewell Theatre), Shakers (Eye Theatre), Aphra Behn’s The Rover, Ram Alley (The Globe), and the Feydeau farce A Little Hotel on the Side directed by Jonathan Lynn (National Theatre).
As a live writer/performer, Karen has performed in over 200 festivals and venues in the UK and abroad, including The Soho Literary Festival, the London Word Festival, The Bristol Poetry Festival, The Hague Literary Festival, The Netherlands Film Festival, Poetry International Rotterdam, Bang Said The Gun, The Book Club Boutique, Literary Death Match, Standon Calling, The Fix, The Amused Moose, Apples and Snakes, Shakespeare & Co Paris, The BAC, The ICA, Union Halle Frankfurt, The Royal Festival Hall, The Paradiso Amsterdam, and Reading Comedy Festival, 2013.
Karen has presented for BBC Radio 6 Music and was a member of the BBC Radio Drama Company (acting in radio plays). She has been a featured writer/performer on New York’s East Village Radio, BBC Radio 6 Music, BBC Radio 3’s The Verb, BBC1, XFM, Resonance FM, and Kiss FM for Sony PlayStation3.
She has also worked in New York; improvising with writers from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, and acted in several comedy podcasts for The Times Online and Virgin Media, including John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman’s The Bugle; a weekly satirical news podcast.
Karen’s voice-over work includes:
Narrating the BAFTA award winning TV series Sea Monsters (BBC1), TV & radio series (for Bravo, BBC1, BBC Interactive, CBBC, Channel 5, Turner Classic Movies, Discovery).
Commercials for Volkswagen, Olay, Schweppes, Sony, MTV, Apple iPhone, Alpha Romeo, Cadbury, America’s Next Top Model, Orange Mobile, Sky, Animal Planet, Waterstones, The World Wildlife Fund, The Labour Party.
Video games (for Xbox and Sony PlayStation including Severance: Blade of Darkness, Sudeki, Operation Flashpoint, Overlord and Fable).
Animation (Cartoon Network, CBeebies, Studio AKA, MTV, Fox Kids, Orange Mobile, Virgin Media).
Karen is the “voice” of Virgin Mobile, One.Tel and Apple iPhone.
Karen has worked as a scriptwriter, writing and developing TV & Radio Comedy projects for Hat Trick Productions, Objective Productions, Talkback, Thames, C4, ITV, BBC Comedy, Princess Productions, Shine, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 6 Music, MTV, XFM, Virgin Media, Mother, and New York’s East Village Radio.
Her writing credits include Bo Selecta, A Bear’s Tail, The TNT show, Balls of Steel, Hat Trick Interactive, Lemon La Vida Loca, Dom Jolly’s Fool Britannia, The Good The Bad and The Early with John Oliver & Russell Brand, comedy sketches for MTV, BBC Comedy, and BBC Radio 6 Music shows.
She provided additional material and improvisation on several advertising campaigns, including the highly successful commercials for ASOS (America’s Next Top Model), Orange, and Schweppes (with Martin Freeman, Doon Mackichan, and Matt Holness) for Mother and Fallon.
She writes and performs narrative comedy regularly in London, and her poetry is published in Velocity by Black Spring Press.