Television comedians laughing all the way to the bank

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The Independent Online

Comedy and children's programmes may once have been considered silly and lightweight - but they have created some of the biggest fortunes in broadcasting.

Comedy and children's programmes may once have been considered silly and lightweight - but they have created some of the biggest fortunes in broadcasting.

Rowan Atkinson, Jennifer Saunders and some of the comedy's most famous names, as well as the creator of the Teletubbies, dominate a list of the 100 richest people in the industry, compiled by the trade magazine Broadcast.

The wealthiest comedian, according to the list, is Atkinson, best known for his Blackadder and Mr Bean television series. He is followed by Jasper Carrott, who despite no longer being a television fixture has managed to carve out a £32m fortune with his Complete Communications company.

Others in the list include Atkinson's former partners on the 1980s hit Not the Nine O'Clock News, Griff Rhys Jones and Mel Smith, with their own production company, Talkback. The husband-and-wife comedic team Jennifer Saunders, best known for Absolutely Fabulous, and Adrian Edmonson are worth an estimated £10m.

Comedy producers also feature highly. Jimmy Mulville, a former comic, and his partner Denise O'Donoghue, are worth an estimated £50m each through their production company Hat Trick.

Anne Wood and her husband, Barrie, feature at number two in the list, due to the success of the Teletubbies characters she created - and, of course, the sales of related merchandise.

Also high on the list are the staff of Aardman Productions, the maker of the animated favourites Wallace and Gromit and the hit film Chicken Run. The creators of the company, boyhood friends David Sproxton and Peter Lord, are worth an estimated £45m each; Nick Park, the animator credited with Aardman's success, is worth an estimated £12m.

Some big names in broadcasting are absent from the list. The magazine stated: "There are some notable absentees - including Endemol Entertainment creative director Peter Bazalgette and former BBCdirector-general John Birt for example - whose wealth we can only guess at."

Although Mr Birt's figures were not available, both Sir Christopher Bland, the BBC chairman, and Greg Dyke, his director-general, are estimated to be worth £15m, tying for 38th place.

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