Jessica Hynes (née Stevenson - she's been married since 2002 and recently started using her married name) has always been a performer, appearing with the National Youth Theatre as a teenager. The Lewisham-born, Brighton-raised Jessica made her stage debut way back in 1990, and by 1993 had bagged a part in a movie by uber-arthouse cleverclogs Peter Greenaway. Rather more mainstreamishly, Jessica also starred in the first ever episode of Midsomer Murders.
But what about the comedy stuff? Well, teaming up with Katy Carmichael (who'd go on to play Twist in Spaced) to perform as The Liz Hurleys, Jess proved her comic mettle, but it was appearing in the short-lived 1996 sketch show Asylum which changed her life for good. Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright were part of the Asylum process and, while that show didn't exactly set the comedy world alight, it led to an idea which did – Spaced.
Jessica took on one of the lead roles, that of twenty-something wannabe-journalist Daisy, a woman with plenty of ideas but absolutely no motivation. The surreal sitcom, set in a kind of David Lynch version of North London, sees her move in with Tim (Simon Pegg) after a chance meeting in a café while flat hunting. They pretend to be a couple to get the flat and hilarity, pop culture jokes and some truly nightmarish scenes all gloriously follow.
Co-writing and starring in one of the best Britcoms of the last twenty years is all well and good, but Jess has never been one to rest on her comedy laurels. Popping up in The Royle Family as a frumpy neighbour proved her versatility, and made her a famous face with mainstream audiences. No doubt this raised profile helped her land a role as Bridget Jones' bessie mate in one of the biggest British movies of the decade. Oh, and a role in Shaun of the Dead - one of the others.
She's continued to be a fixture in British cinema, whether it's portraying Mafalda Hopkirk in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, or turning up in comedy flicks like Confetti, Magicians (aka the Mitchell and Webb movie) and dark-hearted romp Burke and Hare. She also cemented her place in movie history by appearing in Faintheart, the first feature-length film to be made using the power of social networking (as well as providing much needed insight into the world of battle re-enactment geeks).
It's worth mentioning that Jessica's been no slouch when it comes to treading the boards, having landed an Olivier nomination in 2003 and a Tony Award nomination in 2009 (hey, there's no shame in losing out to living legend Angela Lansbury!). She also became the envy of nerd-girls everywhere by playing one of Doctor Who's very few love interests – OK, so the Doctor had actually turned himself into a human for that story and didn't remember his own Time Lord heritage, but still – it meant having David Tennant make dewy eyes at her, which has to count for something.
In fact, Jessica's had quite the charmed career, apart from sitcom According to Bex, which we're not really sure we should talk about, given that Jessica apparently sacked her own agent for recommending the part. Ah well, we've gone and done it now. Will it help if we swiftly say she's since appeared in the acclaimed Olympics satire Twenty Twelve? We do hope so...