Derren was born in the northern fishing town of Hull, East Yorkshire, and left school at 17 with no formal qualifications and started a career as a professional magician. At 20 years old, he was offered a place on the three-year acting course of the prestigious Central School of Speech and Drama, beating some 3,000 other applicants for 1 of just 28 places. After leaving drama school in 1993, he worked for 10 years as an actor in both theatre and television, appearing in many TV shows, including French & Saunders, Doc Martin, Casualty, Perfect World, Heartbeat, Green Wing, Spaced, EastEnders, A Touch of Frost, Pie in the Sky and countless TV commercials.
In 2003, he embarked on a writing career encouraged by his dramaschool friend Catherine Tate. Derren was the main co-writer and co-star of BBC2’s The Catherine Tate Show for two series and a Christmas special. After the success of The Catherine Tate Show and a stint writing for Only Fools and Horses creator, John Sullivan, Derren was asked by legendary comedy producer Geoffrey Perkins to write his own show and Benidorm was born.
Series one was nominated for a BAFTA and, since then, the following series have won a multitude of awards, including two National Television Awards, Radio Times’ Best Comedy Show, four TV Choice Awards and a Royal Television Society Award. During Benidorm’s 10-year reign on ITV, Derren has also found time to write for Harry Enfield, Lee Mack, Dame Edna Everage, make the one-off series The Spa for Sky Living and write a special episode of legendary sitcom Are You Being Served? Series 10 of Benidorm aired in early 2018 and featured Derren’s television directing debut. Derren is about to return to the BBC to write and direct his new six-part comedy, Scarborough. Spending his time equally between homes in Spain and London, Derren’s hobbies include eating, drinking and the ancient Japanese art of karaoke.