Johnny Vegas backstage at the filming of an episode of QI in 2007
|Birth name||Michael Joseph Pennington|
5 September 1970 |
St Helens, Lancashire, England
|Medium||Stand-up comedy, television, film|
Maia Dunphy (2011–present)
Johnny Vegas (born Michael Joseph Pennington 5 September 1970) is an English actor and comedian. He is known for his angry rants, surreal humour, portly figure, high husky voice and support of St Helens rugby league club. More recently he has moved into dramatic acting. 2014 found him behind the camera, as director of a music video for Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott.
Vegas was born in Thatto Heath, St Helens, Lancashire, the youngest of four children of Laurence and Patricia Pennington. He has two older brothers (Robert and Mark) and an older sister (Catharine). He was brought up as a Roman Catholic. At the age of eleven, he attended St Joseph's College in Upholland, a Roman Catholic boarding-school seminary, to train for the priesthood, but came back homesick after four terms. He also attended West Park School, Alder Hey Road, St Helens.
After studying art and ceramics at Middlesex University for three years and gaining a third class degree, he returned to Thatto Heath, and took various short-term jobs including working in an Argos warehouse, selling boiler insurance door-to-door and packing bottles of Jif in a factory, before eventually becoming a barman at the Brown Edge pub in Thatto Heath.
In 1996 Vegas made his TV debut as a contestant on Win, Lose or Draw in the UK under his real name of Michael, but made references to the fact he wanted to be a comedian and that his stage name was "Johnny Vegas". His appearance was briefly shown during Channel 4's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups and BBC Three's Almost Famous 2. In the mid-nineties, Vegas spent time living in London and Glasgow with the intention of becoming a stand-up comedian. In London, he was mentored by 'comedy godfather' Malcolm Hardee.
In 2002, he starred in Radio 4 sitcom Night Class, which he co-wrote with Tony Burgess and Tony Pitts, with Dirk Maggs as director. Vegas played a former Butlin's redcoat teaching evening classes in pottery. It was a runner-up for best comedy at the Sony Radio Academy Awards.
He followed this up with the BBC3 sitcom Ideal (2005–2011).
Having achieved fame in entertainment, Vegas received plaudits for his ceramic work. Ceramic Review praised him, leading to a role in Pot Shots (collaborating with Roger Law), a film made for an international gathering of potters. This led to his work being acquired for a collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum and a commission from Old Spice to design a bottle for their aftershave.
Vegas married Catherine "Kitty" Donnelly in August 2002 and sold pictures of the wedding to Viz magazine for a pound. The couple separated in 2004. They reunited briefly (twice) in 2005. Vegas and Donnelly were divorced by agreement on 11 March 2008 after having lived apart for more than two years. In early April 2011, Vegas married columnist and Irish TV producer, Maia Dunphy in Seville.
Vegas admitted on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross in May 2008 that he has been losing weight after being diagnosed with gout. On 30 October 2008, on an episode of 8 out of 10 Cats, he mentioned that he had lost 4 stone (25 kg).
Vegas is a Christian, having recently returned to religion after having lapsed during adolescence.
- The Virgin of Liverpool (2003) - Jackie Symes
- Cheeky (2003) - Alf Price
- Blackball (2003) - Trevor
- Sex Lives of the Potato Men (2004) - Dave
- Terkel in Trouble (2004) - Uncle Stewart (Voice in English language version)
- The Libertine (2004) - Sackville
- The Harry Hill Movie (2013) - Abu
- Win, Lose or Draw (1996)
- Attention Scum (2001) - Newsreader
- Happiness (2001–2003, 12 episodes) - Charlie Doyle
- Black Books (2002, 1 episode) - landlord
- Shooting Stars (2002, 19 episodes)
- Tipping the Velvet (2002) - Gully Sutherland
- Ed Stone Is Dead (2003, 1 episode) - waiter
- Top Gear (2003, 1 episode)
- 18 Stone of Idiot (2005)
- Bleak House (2005, 6 episodes) - Krook
- Dead Man Weds (2005, 6 episodes) - Lewis Donat
- ShakespeaRE-Told (2005, episode based on A Midsummer Night's Dream) - Bottom
- Ideal (2005–2011, 53 episodes) - Moz
- Benidorm (2007–2009, 2015-) (24 episodes, Series 1-3, 7-)- Geoff (The Oracle) Maltby
- QI (2007-2013, 7 episodes)
- Massive (2008, 6 episodes) - Tony
- Dave's One Night Stand (2010, 1 episode)
- Celebrity Juice (2011-2012, 2 episodes)
- The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff (2011) - The Artful Codger
- 8 out of 10 Cats (2005–2012, 10 episodes)
- Rude Tube (2012, 2 episodes) - computer
- Moone Boy (2012, 6 episodes) - Crunchie Haystacks
- A League of Their Own (2012, 1 episode)
- Mr Stink (2012)
- Have I Got News for You (2013)
- Still Open All Hours (2013) - Wet Eric
- Never Mind the Buzzcocks (2013)
- Benidorm (2007-2009, 2015-)
- Diary of a Nobody (2012) - Mr. Charles Pooter
- Chequebook & Pen - Les Dawson
- Lucky Lonny (2006) - by Mike Stott
- Night Class (2002)
- Shennan, Paddy (30 November 2009). "Johnny Vegas: I lost myself in 'Johnny Vegas'". Liverpool Echo.
- "Johnny Vegas turns out for Saints". BBC News. 3 February 2005.
- Heaton, Paul. "@paulheatonsolo". Retrieved 2 April 2014.
- Aitkenhead, Decca (13 March 2006). "Here's Johnny ...". The Guardian.
- Sturges, Fiona (2 July 2011). "Johnny Vegas: 'I never liked being the centre of attention'". The Independent.
- Lezard, Nicholas (September 1, 2002). "Radio: Comedy turns on the potter's wheel; Night Class Radio 4". The Independent (London, England).
- Thompson, Ben (2004). Sunshine on Putty: The Golden Age of British Comedy. HarperCollins. p. 383.
- "Arts Diary: Night Class for Vegas. (Features)". Daily Post (Liverpool, UK). August 12, 2002. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
- "Just a Minute wins Sony Award". funny.co.uk. May 9, 2003. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
- "Johnny Vegas biography". webarchive.org.[dead link]
- "Johnny Vegas biography". BBC website.[dead link]
- Clennell, Andrew (28 September 2002). "Comic sells pictures to Viz for £1". The Guardian.
- "Comedian Johnny Vegas marries girlfriend Maia Dunphy in Spain". Ghana MMA. Retrieved 3 May 2011.[dead link]
- BBC One, The One Show, 17 December 2012. Interview with Nicky Gumbel and Johnny Vegas
- Johnny Vegas at the Internet Movie Database
- Sitting pretty by Miranda Sawyer – The Guardian, 15 May 2005.
- St Helens Rugby