Dom Joly

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Dom Joly
Birth name Dominic John Joly
Born (1967-11-15) 15 November 1967 (age 46)[1]
Beirut, Lebanon
Medium Television/Writer
Years active 1999–present
Genres Parody/Travel
Spouse Stacey MacDougall
Notable works and roles Trigger Happy TV (2000–2001)
Fool Britannia (2012-)

Dominic John Joly, known as Dom Joly (/ˈɒli/; born 15 November 1967)[2] is a British television comedian and journalist. He came to note as the star of Trigger Happy TV, a hidden camera show that was sold to over seventy countries worldwide. Since then, Joly has continued to make edgy off-beat television like World Shut Your Mouth for BBC One and Dom Joly's Happy Hour, a spoof travel show for Sky One.

Joly is also an author with several books to his name, and an award-winning travel writer for both the Sunday Times and the Mail On Sunday. He writes several regular columns for various UK nationals and periodicals including a weekly sports column for The Independent and an eclectic weekly column for the Independent on Sunday.

Joly published The Dark Tourist in 2010, about dark tourism. He also completed filming a documentary on The Adventures of Tintin for Channel 4 (Back2Back Productions) which was broadcast on 19 March 2010.

Joly was a contestant on the tenth series of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!; he finished in fourth place. He also took part in the first series of Splash! in 2013.

Joly published his second travel book- "Scary Monsters and Super Creeps" in 2012. In the book, he travels the world in search of mythical monsters such as Bigfoot and the Yeti.

Joly also made a high-profile return to prime time TV with his new eight part hidden camera show- Fool Britannia, which was broadcast on Saturday nights on ITV from 1 September 2012 and ending on 20 October 2012. The second series began on 5 October 2013.

Early life[edit]

Joly was born in Beirut, Lebanon [3] to British parents and speaks French in addition to English.[citation needed] In Beirut he attended school with Osama bin Laden, although with over 10 years difference in their ages, they did not interact.[4]


Joly was educated in the UK at two independent schools: The Dragon School in Oxford and Haileybury College in Hertfordshire, followed by the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.[5]



After being recruited to work as a producer on ITN's House to House, a political discussion programme on Channel 4, Joly went on to work for The Mark Thomas Comedy Product because of his political knowledge. He then created his own show for the Paramount Comedy Channel called War of the Flea. Discovering that working in comedy was both easier and more fun than his previous employment, Joly began to develop Trigger Happy TV which had a similar structure to War of the Flea.

Trigger Happy TV[edit]

Main article: Trigger Happy TV

Joly's anarchic surreal sketches first started appearing as interstitials during advert breaks on the British Paramount Comedy Channel. In 1999, following a successful fifteen-minute pilot on the Comedy Lab, Channel 4 commissioned Joly to make a TV series. Trigger Happy TV was born; a hidden camera show that went on to be sold to over seventy countries worldwide. Joly made two series and two Christmas specials before announcing that he wanted to do other things. Joly was nominated for three British Comedy Awards for the show, won the Silver Rose of Montreux, the BBC Two Award for Best Comedy and the Loaded/Goodfella Comedy Newcomer of the Year.

The three DVDs for the shows were best-sellers, as were the soundtrack albums that Joly had personally selected and mixed himself.

A spoof documentary about Joly followed, called Being Dom Joly which was produced and written by Joly himself. This was broadcast prior to screenings of Trigger Happy TV in the USA and earned critical acclaim, with one reviewer, Bob Croft of the Los Angeles Times, calling Joly "the funniest man in Britain".

A new series of Trigger Happy TV was made for an American audience in 2003 with an altered format in that it featured a band of different "comedians" who performed skits without Joly. Though Joly did cameo sporadically on the show, he was very unhappy with the programme and called it "Trigger Happy by numbers - take joke, put it in slo-mo, add fluffy animals and random indie soundtrack - it was made by uncaring idiots".[6] He had a producer credit on the show, but disassociated himself with the project.

2003 BBC contract[edit]

Following the success of Trigger Happy TV on Channel 4, Joly was secured by the BBC for a rumoured £5 million.[7] However, his first show for the BBC, This Is Dom Joly, a spoof chatshow in which Joly played an appallingly egotistical media character who had the same name as him, thereby confusing a lot of the audience as to what was real and what wasn't, did not achieve the same success as Trigger Happy TV, leading to the hidden camera format being revamped on BBC1 as World Shut Your Mouth. It featured all new material and an increased budget relative to Trigger Happy, allowing for pranks to be performed in different countries. It was later released on DVD.

Dom Joly's Excellent Adventure[edit]

In 2005, Joly starred in a one-off documentary as part of a series on Sky One. Dom Joly's Excellent Adventure involved him travelling back to Beirut for the first time since he left in the late 1980s, and embarking on a road trip through the Syrian Desert to find a cave he had scrawled his name in as a child, and which he re-discovered after much searching.

Dom Joly's Happy Hour[edit]

His next project for Sky1 was a critically acclaimed spoof travel series supposedly investigating attitudes to alcohol around the world, entitled Dom Joly's Happy Hour, in which Joly teamed up with his friend, Canadian digital artist Peter Wilkins. Together, they explored drinking habits around the world, travelling to the Southern United States, Russia, Australia, Europe and India. During the first documentary, the pair explored Miami drinking styles, met up with some hillbillies in the Appalachians tasting moonshine, and visited a gay cowboy bar in Atlanta before taking on the Christian right in Alabama's dry counties.

They went on to visit Russia, trying 80% alcohol (by volume) homemade vodka known as Samogon. He explained, "(y)ou have an hour where you feel you can take on the world, then you black out. But because it's almost pure alcohol, no hangover - sadly because I can't remember it, I don’t know if it's worth doing". They then visited Australia, Mexico and Europe before ending the tour in India. It was described in The Guardian as "a brilliantly surreal take on the tired format that is the TV travel show."[this quote needs a citation]

The programme included a lot more than just attempting to discover foreign drinking habits, for instance, in Russia Joly received a haircut from a nude woman and both he and Wilkins performed their own version of a morris dance before a bemused dance academy. Another instance found them catching crocodiles in Australia.

"The premise of investigating alcohol is ridiculous," Joly admitted during an interview. "I wanted an excuse to travel the world, but they (Sky TV) wanted a focal point. So I said as a joke: 'Well, I quite like drinking.' And they went, 'Fantastic, that's brilliant!'"[this quote needs a citation]

The DVD was released on 1 October 2007.

The Complainers[edit]

Dom Joly has appeared inThe Complainers for Channel Five in the UK. The show, in Joly's words- "intends to try and get a little revenge for the ordinary Brit on the morons, bureaucrats, health and safety officers, traffic wardens, timewasters that make all our lives a daily hell."[this quote needs a citation]

Made In Britain[edit]

In 2009, Joly fronted a show titled Made in Britain, shown on the Blighty channel in the UK.[8] In the show Joly goes on a road-trip around the UK looking at what is still made there after his house is emptied of everything not made in Britain.

Fool Britannia[edit]

Main article: Fool Britannia

Since 2012, Dom has been appearing in ITV hidden camera show Fool Britannia. The show is currently in its second series.

I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here![edit]

In 2010, Joly took part in the tenth series of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!. He came fourth place.


Main article: Splash! (series 1)

In early 2013, Joly took part in the celebrity diving show Splash! on ITV, however he did not make it to the final.

Other work[edit]

Joly appears in adverts for ferry company Stena Line.


Joly writes for various publications. He was alleged to be the writer of a spoof column in The Independent and then "i" called "Cooper Brown: He's out there."[9] The column is published as the work of an American character named Cooper Brown and revolves around his putative adventures as "a garrulous American showbiz type".[10]

His real-life eclectic weekly column for the Independent on Sunday covers subjects as varied as Middle East politics and fifty-foot chickens. Joly also wrote a weekly column on the "Weird World of Sport" for The Independent Sports supplement on Mondays but this ceased in 2010

He is also a regular travel writer for The Sunday Times. At the end of 2006 readers of the paper were asked to vote on where Joly would go every week. He travelled the globe performing various adrenaline sports whilst making a weekly podcast from South Africa, Spain, the Arctic Circle, Paris and Fort William. He has also written for Esquire Magazine, GQ, the Mail on Sunday, the London Evening Standard, FHM, The Observer, "i" and The Spectator.

In September 2008 Joly won an award at the 2008 Canada Media Awards for "Best Travel Piece". The piece was written for the Mail on Sunday about a trip to Muskoka, Ontario, Canada.

Joly wrote a spoof autobiography called Look At Me, Look At Me!, published by Bloomsbury in 2004. Joly's second book, Letters To My Golf Club, is a book of humorous letters and correspondences sent to golf clubs around the world published by Transworld Publishing on 8 October 2007.

Joly published a travel book called The Dark Tourist: Sightseeing in the World's Most Unlikely Holiday Destinations (2010) which is about dark tourism.[11] In the book Joly travels to places that witnessed great tragedy and death, including Chernobyl, which he visited on 4 May 2009; his childhood home of Lebanon; North Korea; various locations in the United States visiting places of famous assassinations; the Killing Fields of Cambodia and Iran for a skiing holiday.[12] It was commissioned by Simon and Schuster and published on 2 September 2010 in the UK.

Joly starred in the ITV2 reality programme Deadline with Janet Street Porter where he had to become a paparazzo. Amongst other highlights he was punched by Lily Allen, hit over the head with a guitar by Pete Doherty, called a "persistent little fat cunt flap" by Pierce Brosnan and snorted vodka with Ingrid Tarrant.

Joly was a "special correspondent" for the Independent at the Beijing Olympics. He says: "it's always been an ambition to be a foreign correspondent and this is as close as I'll ever get."[citation needed] While in Beijing he also appeared daily on the "Drive" programme on Five Live with Peter Allen.[citation needed]

In 2012 Joly won "Funniest Tweeter of the year" at the Loaded "Lafta" Awards.

Political career[edit]

In the 1997 UK general election Joly formed the Teddy Bear Alliance ("Mr Blair, where do you stand on fleas?") and changed his name to Edward 'Teddy' Bear, a reference to "Edward Bear", better known as Winnie-the-Pooh. He stood in Kensington and Chelsea against Alan Clark. Hiring out hundreds of teddy bear costumes, he staged mock protests at Westminster and came fifth out of nine candidates, receiving 218 votes (0.6%).[13] The Alliance was not registered as a political party under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.


Joly was the singer in an Indie band called Hang David in the early 1990s. He was a goth and said that he looked more like Robert Smith than Robert Smith. Joly personally selects all the soundtracks for his TV shows. All three soundtracks albums for Trigger Happy TV were huge commercial hits. He has also directed a couple of music videos:

  • Ian BrownGolden Gaze, in which Joly made the whole video in one take, making Brown run through the streets of London being chased by gorillas, frog-men and ninjas before he took refuge in the Prince Charles Cinema.
  • WigWam, the duo consisting of Betty Boo and Alex James from Blur asked Joly to direct their first single. Joly decided to pay a weird homage to the Beatles concert on a roof and filmed the band performing in cat costumes on the roof of a building opposite the Groucho Club in Soho.


In June 2008, Joly became the co-star of the Cobra Pubcast, a podcast from British beer company Cobra Beer that he hosted with humorist Danny Wallace.

Joly also frequently sits on Gabby Logan on her Sunday Five Live show.[14] Joly was also a roving reporter for Five Live at both the Beijing Olympics and Wimbledon 2009.

Personal life[edit]

Joly is married to Stacey Joly (née MacDougall), a Canadian graphic designer. The couple have a daughter, Parker, born 2000, and son Jackson, born 2004.[citation needed]

Having lived in Notting Hill before their children were born, Joly and his wife bought a property in the Cotswolds. They sold his flat to Salman Rushdie[15] and the family now live near Cirencester.


  1. ^ Researcha
  2. ^ "Bluffer's Guide to Gadgets with Dom Joly". Comet. 
  3. ^ "Dom Joly interview"
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Not as Joly as he seems"
  6. ^ "Television The return of the king". The Times (London). 2 January 2005. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  7. ^ "Dom Joly Biography". Chortle. 
  8. ^ "Love Blighty", Love Blighty. Retrieved on 26 May 2009.
  9. ^ "The Londoner's Diary". The Evening Standard. 25 October 2008. 
  10. ^ Spanier, Gideon (10 January 2007). "In the air". The Evening Standard. 
  11. ^ "Dom Joly: At war in Thailand, but keeping my Buddha dry". The Independent (London). 19 April 2009. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  12. ^ "Dom Joly, The Dark Tourist". Tuppence Magazine (London). 1 March 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  13. ^ "Guardian Unlimited Politics, Kensington and Chelsea". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 27 September 2007. [dead link]
  14. ^ 09:30 (2009-10-25). "BBC Radio 5 live - Gabby Logan (Weekends 2007-09)". Retrieved 2014-07-26. 
  15. ^ Dom Joly, The Dark Tourist (Chatham, 2010), p. 11.

External links[edit]