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Friday, 18 August, 2000, 11:07 GMT 12:07 UK
Comedians strike it rich
Jennifer Saunders and husband Ade Edmondson
Jennifer Saunders and husband Ade Edmondson are worth 10m
Many of Britain's best-known comedians are laughing all the way to the bank thanks to their keen business sense rather than their sharp performance technique.

Jennifer Saunders, Jasper Carrott and Rowan Atkinson are just some of the top laughter merchants among the top 100 richest people in British broadcasting.

The list, complied by industry weekly Broadcast, puts these stars in the same bracket as Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson.

Rowan Atkinson as Blackadder
Blackadder is made by Atkinson's own company

More importantly, it shows that, like Branson, they too are raking it in through their money-spinning companies, rather than high appearance fees.

On top of the broadcasting money heap sit two more traditional business names.

Sir Peter Michael, one of the early investors in Classic FM, is at number one with 175m.

In second place comes Teletubbies creator Anne Wood, whose company Ragtime Productions has netted 150m following the global success of its children's programmes.

Not far behind, however, come names more synonymous with quality gags than business acumen.

Tracey Ullman, of Three of a Kind fame before she moved to the US, is in the list at number nine with her husband Porridge producer Alan McKeown.

Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones
Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones made a mint through the sale of Talkback

Ullman has her own TV show in the US and she collects royalties from The Simpsons, which she is credited with discovering. McKeown made 3m from the sale of his SelecTV company in 1996.

Rubber-faced comedian Rowan Atkinson and broadcaster Noel Edmonds share the number 18 spot with estimated individual fortunes of 40m.

Former Noel's House Party presenter Edmonds has built up a multi-media empire with his Unique Group.

Atkinson owns a quarter of Tiger Television and his own production company Hindmeck, which created Mr Bean and Blackadder.

Atkinson's former Not the Nine O'Clock News colleagues Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones come in at 31.

Business partners Smith and Rhys Jones each have a personal booty of 20m after selling their production company Talkback.

Jasper Carrott is at number 22. He and his wife are worth a joint 32m, mainly due to their joint shareholding in Celador Productions - the makers of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Paul O'Grady as his lucrative alter ego Lily Savage

Jennifer Saunders and her husband Ade Edmondson are together worth 10m, thanks to their production company Monsoon, and come in at joint 48.

Elsewhere on the rich list come broadcaster and Virgin Radio boss Chris Evans who is worth 80m, much of it from the sale of his Ginger Media Group to the Scottish Media.

Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run creator Nick Park is at 44 with 12m.

Paul O'Grady, otherwise known as loud-mouthed Liverpudlian Lily Savage, comes in at 89 with 4m, due to his involvement with production company Wildflower.

See also:

14 Jun 00 | Business
Pearson TV buys TalkBack
16 May 00 | Entertainment
Virgin fined for Livingstone support
29 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Park and Lord's fowl play
07 Jan 99 | Entertainment
Noel gets a pie in the eye
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