Higson was educated at Sevenoaks School and at the University of East Anglia (where his brother has taught since 1986 and is now a professor of film studies) where he met Paul Whitehouse, David Cummings and Terry Edwards. Higson, Cummings and Edwards formed the band The Higsons of which Higson was the lead singer from 1980 to 1986. They released two singles on the Specials' 2-Tone label. Higson then became a plasterer - including plastering the student house of Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie - before he turned to writing for Harry Enfield with Paul Whitehouse and performing comedy. He came to public attention as one of the main writers and performers of the BBC Two sketch show The Fast Show (1994—2000). He worked with Whitehouse on the radio comedy Down the Line and is to work with him again on a television project, designed to be a spoof of celebrity travel programmes.
He worked as producer, writer, director and occasional guest star on Randall & Hopkirk from 2000 to 2001. Subsequent television work has included writing and starring in BBC Three's Fast Show spin-off sitcom Swiss Toni. He has starred in Tittybangbang on BBC Three and appeared as a panellist on QI. He recently co-directed and starred in Bellamy's People.
He published four novels through the early to mid 1990s which take a slightly dystopian look at everyday life and have a considerably more adult tone than his other work, with characters on the margins of society finding themselves spiraling out of control, leading him to be described by Time Out as 'The missing link between Dick Emery and Brett Easton Ellis'
In 2004, it was announced that Higson would pen a series of James Bond novels, aimed at younger readers and concentrating on the character's school-days at Eton. Higson was himself educated at Sevenoaks School where he was a contemporary of Jonathan Evans, current Director General of MI5. The first novel, SilverFin, was released on 3 March 2005 in the UK and on 27 April 2005 in the U.S. A second novel, Blood Fever, was released on 5 January 2006 in the UK and 1 June in the U.S. The third novel, Double or Die, was published on 4 January 2007 having had its title announced the day before. The next, Hurricane Gold, came out in hardcover in the UK in September 2007. In this year he also made a debut performance on the panel show QI. His final Young Bond novel, By Royal Command, was released in hardcover in the UK on the 3 September 2008.
Charlie is currently writing a new zombie-horror series of books for children. The first book, The Enemy, was released in the UK by Puffin Books in 2009 and in the U.S. by Disney-Hyperion in 2010. Book 2, The Dead, was released in the UK in September 2010.