Graham Fellows

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Graham David Fellows (born 22 May 1959, Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire, England)[1] is an English comedy actor and musician, best known for creating the characters of John Shuttleworth and Jilted John.

Jilted John[edit]

Fellows first came to prominence as Jilted John, a character who had a hit single in 1978 that was named after his own alter ego. The single was performed in the aggressive, minimalist style of the then-prevailing punk genre, but with poppier influences. The novelty hit was most memorable for its humorous lyrics, a first-person narrative of a bitter teenager named John whose girlfriend Julie had left him for another man named Gordon, "just 'cause he's better lookin' than me/just 'cause he's cool and trendy". John wails that "Gordon is a moron", a phrase that became briefly famous in Britain, along with "I was so upset that I cried/all the way to the chip shop". The character of Gordon on the record sleeve was played by Bernard Kelly, who had met Graham in his drama club. He appears on the record singing the chorus as well as appearing as Gordon on Top of the Pops. Bernard also wrote the chorus to the B side "Going Steady", which was originally released as the A side on Rabid Records.

Produced by Martin Hannett for his Rabid Records label, the song was first played on national radio by John Peel who commented that if the single was promoted by a major record label he could see its being a huge hit. This proved to be the case when it was picked up by EMI International. The song was introduced by David Jensen on Top of the Pops as "one of the most bizarre singles of the decade", and the song reached number 4 in the UK Singles Chart.[2]

Two follow-up singles were released the same year under the guise of "Gordon the Moron". A pseudo-concept album also produced by Hannett followed, entitled True Love Stories, charting John's love-life – and two further singles, neither of which were hits. No other recordings followed these, making Jilted John a one-hit wonder. However, a cash-in single by Julie and Gordon sold moderately well, as did lapel badges bearing the legends "Gordon is a moron" and "Gordon is not a moron". The phrase has also been used politically, referring to ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown.[3]

Fellows revived the Jilted John character at the 2008 Big Chill festival, along with Bernard Kelly, premiering a new song about Keira Knightley's ultra-thin figure.

Discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

  • "Going Steady/Jilted John" (July 1978) Rabid TOSH 105, reissued (August 1978) with A and B sides flipped EMI International (EMI 567) (UK No. 4)[4]
  • "True Love/I Was A Pre Pubescent" (January 1979) EMI International (EMI 577)
  • "The Birthday Kiss/Baz's Party" (April 1979) EMI International (EMI 587)

Related singles, not by Graham Fellows:

  • "Do De Dough Don't Be Dough" (September 1978) Rabid (Gordon the Moron) (unreleased)
  • "Fit For Nothing/Sold On You" (June 1979) Rabid TOSH 111 (Gordon the Moron)
  • "Gordon's Not A Moron/I'm So Happy To Know You" Pogo POG 003 (Julie and Gordon) (September 1978)
  • "J-J-Julie (Yippee Yula)/Gettin' It Together??" Pogo POG 004 (Julie and Gordon) (February 1979)

Albums[edit]

  • True Love Stories (1978) EMI International

Compilations[edit]

  • The Crap Stops Here: "Jilted John/Mrs. Pickering" (1980) Rabid LAST1

John Shuttleworth[edit]

In 1986 Fellows created John Shuttleworth, an aspiring singer-songwriter from Sheffield, with a quiet manner and slightly nerdish tendencies. His musical talents are usually expressed through his Yamaha PSS portable keyboard, and include such greats as "Pigeons in Flight" – a song which Shuttleworth attempted to have selected for the Eurovision Song Contest.

Newer characters[edit]

Two more recent Fellows creations followed, firstly Brian Appleton, a rock musicologist and media studies lecturer from a college of further education in the Newcastle-under-Lyme area although originally he hails from Selly Oak in Birmingham. His girlfriend Wendy is an aromatherapist, but unfortunately upon qualifying she became allergic to the essential oils she uses. He is convinced that he has been instrumental in helping many rock acts to achieve megastardom and yet received no credit for his efforts, such as being the cause for the gap in "Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)" by Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, inadvertently launching the vocal career of Phil Collins at a failed audition for the lead singer of Genesis after the departure of Peter Gabriel and giving Howard Jones the idea for using a mime artist in the hit "New Song" while working opposite him at a Clingfilm factory in High Wycombe. Brian also claimed to have a significant bearing on the career of the Thompson Twins (for example he inspired the hit 'Love on Your Side' while directing Alannah Currie towards her hat which he accidentally knocked off her head).

His newest character is Dave Tordoff, a builder from Goole specialising in 'laser screed' concrete flooring. He has ambitions to become a popular after dinner speaker having seen how easy it was for Kevin Keegan. The topic he enjoys discussing the most is his accumulated wealth, followed by life on his ranch-style property with wife Mandy and daughter Courtney. Hobbies earmarked for 2007 included falconry.

Other work[edit]

In 1982 Fellows played Paul McCartney in Lennon by Bob Eaton at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, directed by Clare Venables.

Graham Fellows released one more album in 1985 under his own name titled Love at the Haçienda. It was well received but was not a commercial success. It does, however, have a cult following in Japan.[citation needed]

Fellows appeared as Alan Stephens, a St John Ambulance man in Time Gentlemen Please[5]

Prior to creating Shuttleworth, Fellows appeared in Coronation Street as Les Charlton, a young biker chasing the affections of married Gail Platt (then Tilsley). During his fame as Jilted John, Fellows had first appeared on Coronation Street in a very brief cameo role in which he meets Gail, single at the time, on the street in Manchester. In 2007 he appeared in an episode of ITV's Heartbeat.

He presented a programme of his favourite poetry and prose on Radio 4's With Great Pleasure in January 2007.[6]

In July 2009, he read Radio 4's Book of the Week, You're Coming With Me Lad by Mike Pannett, a Metropolitan Police officer's semi-autobiographical account of his experiences in the North Yorkshire town of Malton.

A one-off UK 7" single was released in 1980 under the band name Going Red – "Some Boys"/"Tune Kevin's Strings"[7] – with a picture sleeve depicting Graham in the shower, fully clothed. The band consisted of Graham Fellows (vocals/guitar, as "Mervin Cloud"), Russell Giant (percussion) and Francis Charlton (bass guitar). Chris Sievey was also involved, possibly pseudonymously as one of the aforementioned names. The A-side was an up-tempo new wave-style rocker, whilst the humorous B-side features fake crowd noises and predictable heavy metal riffing.

Appeared as Dr Persil in Ideal (TV series) (2010) and as Eric Sykes in Hattie (Drama, BBC4) (2010)

He owns a disused church on the Orkney island of Rousay, which he intends to turn into an "artists refuge".[1]

Personal life[edit]

Fellows has four children. He lived in Louth, Lincolnshire for 15 years.[1]

Selected TV, film and radio[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Chalmers, Robert (26 October 2008). "Comedy – Graham Fellows: My icy, windswept island paradise". London: The Independent. Retrieved 12 August 2011. 
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 283. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  3. ^ Coleman, Vernon (August 2007). Gordon is a Moron: The Definitive and Objective Analysis of Gordon Brown's Decade as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Blue Books. ISBN 978-1-899726-08-0. 
  4. ^ Strong, Martin C. (1999). The Great Alternative & Indie Discography. Canongate. ISBN 0-86241-913-1. 
  5. ^ "Time Gentlemen Please (2000–2002)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  6. ^ "With Great Pleasure". Bbc.co.uk. 16 February 2010. Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  7. ^ Razz Records – CLEAN1, re-issue MCA Records – MCA673

External links[edit]