Who is Fern Brady? Everything you need to know about Scottish comedian as special lands on Netflix

Fern Brady attends the National Comedy Awards 2023. Image: PAFern Brady attends the National Comedy Awards 2023. Image: PA
Fern Brady attends the National Comedy Awards 2023. Image: PA | PA
Fern Brady has popped up in shows such as The Great Celebrity Bake Off and Taskmaster, and now fans can enjoy her Netflix special, Autistic Bikini Queen.

Originally from Bathgate, Fern Brady has led an interesting life.

A stand-up comedian and author, Brady has appeared in shows such as Taskmaster and 8 Out of 10 Cats and her memoir Strong Female Character won the prize for best non-fiction at the 2023 Nero Book Award.

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But who is Fern Brady? Here’s everything you need to know about the Scottish comedian.

Who is Fern Brady?

Fern Brady was born in Bathgate, West Lothian on May 26, 1986.

She grew up in the town alongside her brothers, and her father worked for a haulage company while her mum worked in Tesco.

She attended St Kentigern’s Academy in Blackburn, a Roman Catholic school whose former pupils include those such as Susan Boyle and Lewis Capaldi. After becoming fixated on getting good marks in school, Brady ended up attending a teenage mental health unit at age 16.

She eventually signed herself out of the unit, with no follow-up from child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs), and has spoken candidly about her poor experience.

Fern Brady took part in The Great Celebrity Bake Off.Fern Brady took part in The Great Celebrity Bake Off.
Fern Brady took part in The Great Celebrity Bake Off. | Mark Bourdillon/Channel 4/Love Productions/PA Wire

Brady attended the University of Edinburgh and graduated with a degree in Arabic and Islamic History. During her time at the university, she was a journalist and editor for the student newspaper. This led to Brady earning a scholarship to train as a reporter in England, where she received an assignment to try out stand-up comedy and write it.

After performing her first show, in her memoir Brady describes lying in bed, being unable to sleep.

She writes: “I’d never had this feeling before about anything other than the early bit of falling in love.”

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The experience led to Brady quitting the training program, and instead deciding to pursue a career in comedy. She moved to England, and now lives in London with her partner Conor.

Strong Female Character

In 2023, Fern Brady released Strong Female Character, a memoir about her late autism diagnosis.

Despite reading about autism as a teenager, when she brought her concerns to her psychiatrist Brady was told that she couldn’t have it because she had a boyfriend.

It wasn’t until she was 34 that she finally received a diagnosis.

She told The Scotsman: “I knew I had it when I first read about it at 16 but the understanding of how it presented in women was so limited then. It’s not like it presents so differently in women, it’s just that we are better at covering it up.

“When I tried to get diagnosed at 16 they said you can’t have it because you’ve had a boyfriend, which is so stupid. When I finally got diagnosed this year the doctor said you would not believe how often I hear this from women.

Dara O'Briain, Fern Brady, John Kearns, Munya Chawawa and Sarah Millican on Taskmaster. Picture: PA Photo/Rob Parfitt/Channel 4.Dara O'Briain, Fern Brady, John Kearns, Munya Chawawa and Sarah Millican on Taskmaster. Picture: PA Photo/Rob Parfitt/Channel 4.
Dara O'Briain, Fern Brady, John Kearns, Munya Chawawa and Sarah Millican on Taskmaster. Picture: PA Photo/Rob Parfitt/Channel 4.

“So that’s what the book is about, how autism is not recognised in women and why. They find that a lot of autistic women, their special interests are in people not things, so you might have a boyfriend that you talk about incessantly and make the main focus of everything. In Scotland that’s kind of normal, to just be a bit part player and live in the margins of your husband’s life, so autism just slides by unnoticed.”

The memoir covers everything from her Catholic upbringing to her struggles with addiction, homelessness and self-harm – as well as her time spent as a stripper – with brutal honesty and deadpan humour. Funny and heart-breaking in equal measure, it took home the prize for best non-fiction at the 2023 Nero Book Awards.

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In her review for The Scotsman, Kirsty McLuckie said: “I don’t know if Brady is a great writer in part because she is autistic, but her deeply personal account of bullying, stripping, homelessness and stand-up is shocking and incredibly moving – and it will make you laugh at subjects that you didn’t think possible.”

What has Fern Brady been in?

On top of her career as a stand-up comedian, Brady has appeared on a number of panel shows including 8 Out of 10 Cats and Taskmaster.

In April, Brady also took part in the Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up 2 Cancer alongside Greg James, Mel B and Dermot O’Leary.

She described herself as “psychotically competitive”, though did miss out on the apron.

She was also a contestant on Taskmaster series 14, where she finished in joint fourth place.

In her memoir, Brady describes the show as “unintentionally the most autism-friendly job I’d ever had”.

Brady also hosted Dave travelogue British as Folk, alongside fellow comedians Darren Harriott and Ivo Graham. The trio travelled the UK to explore and challenge regional stereotypes around the country – including in Scotland.

Autistic Bikini Queen now on Netflix

Joining other Scottish comedians such as Daniel Sloss, Fern Brady’s special Autistic Bikini Queen is now streaming on Netflix.

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Tackling themes such as death and the disappointments of middle age, Brady filmed the show in Bristol last year.

Fern Brady tour 2024

Brady is currently on tour with her show I Gave You Milk To Drink, with several shows lined up for Scotland including Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow.

In addition, she will return to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with a show lined up at the Playhouse Theatre on August 22.

Her 2019 show Power and Chaos received a 5-star review from The Scotsman, with Brady previously having reached the finals of "So You Think You're Funny" during the 2011 Fringe.

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