Comedy: Still feeling fizzy? Perrier's past winners

With a forthcoming Radio 4 series which will doubtless magically transfer to BBC2, the League of Gentlemen are in no danger of suddenly disappearing from public view. That has not always been the case with Perrier Award winners, however.

A flick through the Perrier anals reveals a few names who evaporated from sight as quickly as a bubble in mineral water. For instance, the official award archivist has no record at all of what happened to the 1982 winners, Writers Inc. The 1983 Australian winners, Los Trios Ringbarkus, have hardly reached Crocodile Dundee levels of recognition. The victors from 1984, Brass Band, meanwhile, have not been blowing their own trumpets much since then, either.

In more recent years, though, the award has tended to be a springboard to stardom rather than obscurity. Jeremy Hardy (1988), Sean Hughes (1990), Frank Skinner (1991), Steve Coogan (1992) and Lee Evans (1993) are all now names with resonance well beyond their own households.

But if the League of Gentlemen are looking for genuine inspiration as they contemplate a bubbly, post-Perrier future, they need look no further than one of the winners of the first ever award. Emma Thompson, who triumphed in the 1981 Cambridge Footlights troupe that also included Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and Tony Slattery, went on from the Perriers to win two Oscars.