The Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role is part of a series of awards presented annually by The Society of London Theatre in recognition of achievements in commercial British theatre, most notably plays and musicals in the West End of London. The awards were established as the Society of West End Theatre Awards in 1976 and, in 1984 they were renamed in honour of the renowned British actor Lord Olivier. The Olivier Awards are the most prestigious theatrical awards in the United Kingdom and are the equivalent of the USA's Tony Awards.
The award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role was first given from 1985-1989/90, then in 1996, 1998-1999 (when it was known as Best Supporting Performance) and again from 2003-2009 and 2012.
From 1977-1984, 1991-1995, 1997, 2000-2002, 2010-2011 and 2013, two separate awards for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Best Actress in a Supporting Role were given.
At the first Olivier ceremony in 1976, Margaret Courtenay won the award for Best Supporting Artist, for her performance in Separate Tables.