24 April 1973
Stratford upon Avon
|Occupation||Writer, comedian and broadcaster|
Born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Holmes was raised in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. He attended Canterbury Christ Church College, where he graduated with a joint degree in English with Radio, Film and Television. While at university he became involved with its radio station C4 Radio, and also wrote, directed and performed in various student revue shows; he was also a presenter on Canterbury's local radio station KMFM Canterbury (then CTFM).
After graduation, Holmes's first foray into BBC radio comedy was for BBC Radio 4 with his debut comedy series Grievous Bodily Radio in 1997. He also had a show on Power FM on Sunday nights. The Jon & Andy show (with Andy Hurst), which Holmes presented during 1998–2000, won him a gold Sony Radio Academy Award for entertainment. It was where Holmes began to acquire his reputation for controversy with on air interactive listener games such as 'I'm Standing On...' (a time trial in which listeners were encouraged to stand on their neighbour's car, wheelie bin etc. and shout "I'm Standing on....' whatever it was until their angry neighbour came out and shouted abuse).
He then moved to XFM London "for approximately an hour" before being fired for going to the toilet on air in fellow presenter Dermot O'Leary's desk drawer. Subsequently signed by Virgin radio, the late-night Jon Holmes show on Virgin Radio ran from 2001 to 2002, but Holmes was fired after several controversial stunts. Virgin were fined a record £75,000 for Holmes' feature "Swearing Radio Hangman for the Under-12s", in which he persuaded a nine-year-old girl to spell out and then repeat the phrase "soapy tit wank".
Meanwhile, on BBC Radio 4, Holmes was writing and appearing on The Now Show and The 99p Challenge, where he first worked with Armando Iannucci. Since then he has worked with Iannucci on Gash (Channel 4, 2003), Time Trumpet (BBC2, 2006), and in 2006 he received his sixth Sony Award for his work on Radio 4's Armando Iannucci's Charm Offensive. On The Now Show, Holmes is regularly mocked for his short stature by his co-presenters as a running joke, whereas he is a fairly normal 5'7".
Throughout 2007, Holmes presented the Friday afternoon drivetime show on London talk station LBC, leaving in January 2008 when the station's new owners made the station more news-based.
In November 2007 he began a new Radio 4 series, Listen Against, which he co-presents with newsreader Alice Arnold. The show "takes the programmes out of the radio, fiddles around with them and then puts them back together the wrong way round". The programme was well received, The Daily Telegraph calling the show "beautifully crafted and sharp" and The Guardian described it as "the mischievous offspring of Radio 4's Feedback and The Day Today. Series 2 began on Radio 4 in November 2008 and Series 3 was broadcast in the Summer of 2010. "Were the Python team starting out today, they might conceivably come up with something like the utterly fabulous Listen Against." - Independent On Sunday. "Sly, satirical, smart and very funny. Natural successor to On The Hour and The Day Today” Sunday Telegraph. The show was listed in the Telegraph's 'Top 10 Programmes of 2010' and was nominated for The Independent's 2010 'Why I Pay My Licence Fee' Award.
A BBC Radio 2 film panel show, I'm Spartacus, aired on the network in April 2009 while also on Radio 2, Holmes co-writes and presents The Day the Music Died alongside Andrew Collins. He has also fronted his own BBC Radio 1 show and from 2006 to 2012 had his own weekend show on BBC Radio 6 Music.
Holmes is also a regular contributor to the Radio 4 programme Loose Ends where he interviews a variety of big-name guests, while on BBC Radio 5Live he produces the quirky magazine show Men's Hour and presents Mobo Rule with Jon Holmes, described as 'Points of View for nutters"
On 19 December 2012, it was announced that Holmes would be taking over from Danny Wallace as presenter of the XFM London breakfast show from 7 January 2013. A Podcast to accompany the show was released on 11 January 2013 charting at number 13 in the UK iTunes Podcast chart. The show runs on weekdays between 6 and 10am.
BBC Radio 6 Music
At 10am-1pm every Saturday morning from 2006 until 2012, Holmes "plays some music and messes around in the gaps" alongside his friend and sidekick, David Whitehead, and producer Adam Hudson. The format of the show was similar to satirist Chris Morris's radio shows from the late 80s and early 90s. Heavily inspired themes include spoof news items, voiceovers and contributions from children, spoken words from various broadcasters and politicians cut up and re-edited into nonsense and a general subversive edginess very much in the Morris style.
Regular features included:
Special celebrity endorsement - every week Jon Holmes' show is endorsed by Andy Hurst impersonating a figure in the news, for example "Hello, I'm Robert Mugabe, and when I'm not killing white farmers or rigging elections I always listen to the Jon Holmes show on BBC 6Music".
The Old Gay Whistle Test - a homosexual pensioner whistles a tune for the listeners to guess.
Ken Bruce Master - Radio 2's PopMaster quiz is turned "arseaboutupside", so instead of listeners answering questions about pop stars, pop stars answer very stupid and surreal questions about Radio 2 presenter Ken Bruce.
DIY Tip - various rock stars share DIY advice. Recent examples include MeatLoaf on correctly potting bulbs and Mark Ronson on the best way to install a mortice lock.
Toddler Pops - a five year old child discusses politics with Holmes and then plays a xylophone tune for listeners to guess.
Band I Found On MySpace Or... - quiz in which various strange names are read out. They're either the name of 'a band I found on MySpace' or something else. The something else changes each week. Examples include 'Band I Found on MySpace' or 'type of spider' and 'Band I Found on MySpace' or 'Sex Toy'.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell On The Radio - callers must battle their way through 'a disused Russian submarine' and shoot whatever pops up as Holmes 'reads out' the action. The things that pop up are often very surreal and often tied to the week's news.
Twittersweet Symphony as the show broadcasts, a chosen song is tweeted in real time on the micro-blogging network Twitter. Holmes's followers thereby get a stream of song related jokes and comments that correspond to the song and its singer line per line as they're listening to the song. This often contains material that Holmes would probably not be allowed to get away with on the radio. It is referred to on the show, slightly sarcastically, as a "bonus inter-platform multifeature".
666 - in order to fulfill the station's remit for new music, at 6pm on 6Music on Saturday Jon raids another 6Music presenter's pigeon hole and plays a track from the 6th CD he pulls out.
Audible Lolly Stick - like on lolly sticks in the olden days when you had to "suck off" the lolly part to get the whole joke, Jon tells the setup to a joke on the show to which the punchline is only available on the podcast version of the programme.
Features were interspersed with various fake news items and re-edited audio in the style of Holmes's own Radio 4 show Listen Against.
From November 2009 a podcast of the show was made available by the BBC.
BBC Radio 2
Holmes occasionally replaces holidaying presenters on Radio 2, with co-presenter Miranda Hart. In October 2011 he attracted criticism after co-hosting The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Hart while Chris Evans was on holiday. The website Digital Spy reported that some listeners were unhappy with the quality of the programme. The BBC issued a statement in response saying, "Miranda Hart is one of the UK's best-loved comedians and BBC Radio 2 felt it appropriate to bring her warmth to its audience for a week. Jon Holmes is a highly experienced presenter from BBC Radio 6 Music [...] BBC Radio 2 appreciates if their presentation wasn't to everyone's liking, but feels it's important to be able to bring new talent to its output and hopes its audience understands the importance of maintaining a breadth of content on the network."
In the summer of 2012, Holmes stood in for comedian Graham Norton, presenting solo on Saturday mornings 10-1. The format was similar to Holmes's BBC 6 Music show but extra features included guests and live music in "His Busker's voice' which was a live music session from buskers that Jon had literally "dragged in from the street".
XFM Breakfast Show with Jon Holmes
As of January 2013, Holmes is hosting The XFM London Breakfast Show, alongside Matt Dyson, Dave Masterman and a series of interns.
Holmes co-wrote and appeared in 2009 Unwrapped, a review of the year for BBC Two but with entirely fabricated news stories with judicious use of re-edited news footage and video archive not dissimilar to Holmes's own Listen Against on Radio 4. The show aired at Christmas 2009 to favourable reviews.
He also co-writes BBC1's The Impressions Show with Culshaw and Stephenson. The show was a big hit for Saturday nights and a second series will air in Autumn 2010. Holmes also co-writes Horrible Histories, for BBC One, for which he won two BAFTAs in 2010 as part of the writing team.
Apart from the transfer of Radio 4's Dead Ringers, in 2002 Holmes co-presented the fifth series of the 11 O'Clock Show on Channel 4 television with Sarah Alexander. He also wrote for Graham Norton on his award-winning Channel 4 show V Graham Norton and co-presented BBC3's The State We're In, in which he was beaten up by the SAS. Holmes also wrote and appeared in Gash, a nightly politics programme which was broadcast to coincide with the 2003 local elections and presented by Armando Iannucci. He also co-wrote Iannucci's Time Trumpet for BBC2.
In 2005, with Dead Ringers's Jon Culshaw, Holmes co-wrote and script edited ITV1's The Impressionable Jon Culshaw. He also played various roles in various sketches. The show was nominated for the Golden Rose of Montreux TV Award.
Selected other credits include Have I Got News for You, Mock the Week and The Harry Hill Show. He is also the voice of BBC Three's 7 Days[disambiguation needed] and Crash Test Danny for the Discovery Channel.
He regularly appears on Sky News to preview the following morning's newspapers.
Holmes's first book, Status Quo and the Kangaroo, was published in hardback by Penguin May 2007 and has since been published in Australia, Canada, the US and India and has been translated into Russian. The paperback Rock Star Babylon, was published in the UK in September 2008. 2009 saw the publication of another book, The Now Show Book of World Records which Holmes co-wrote with Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis. He also co-wrote (with Mitch Benn) The History of the World Through Twitter described as "hundreds of characters from history tweeting each other in 140 characters or less - as if Twitter had existed since the dawn of time.". Both books were published in October 2009. A second Now Show book will be published in 2010.[dated info]
He is also a Sunday Times columnist and has written for The Guardian, The Times and the Radio Times among others. He is also a travel writer for the Sunday Times.
He toured the UK in 2008/2009 reading from his book Rock Star Babylon (for which Stephen Fry voiced the footnotes) and in August 2009 played the Edinburgh Comedy Festival to nine star reviews, although these stars were fairly well split across various newspapers.
Holmes has won two Gold Sony Radio Awards, two Silver Sony Radio Awards, four Bronze Sony Radio Awards, a British Comedy Award, a Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Radio Show and was a nominee, for The Now Show, for a Channel 4 Political Award. He was also nominated for a Rose D'or for his work on The Impressionable Jon Culshaw, for ITV1 in 2006.
He has been nominated for two BAFTAS and a Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award and was made a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association.
- British Library Catalogue
- Day, Julia (19 March 2002). "Virgin hit by record fine". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 27 March 2010. "Just before midnight on January 18 Holmes' late-night show broadcast the child taking part in a competition in which callers guess the letters of the phrase "soapy tit wank". The girl was prompted to say the phrase and then encouraged to repeat it three times in what the authority called a "highly offensive" and "totally unacceptable" programme."
- BBC R4 "Listen Against" website
- Mahoney, Elisabeth (15 November 2007). "Radio review". The Guardian (London).
- Maume, Chris (19 September 2010). "Afternoon Play: Pythonesque, Radio 4, Wednesday, Listen again, Radio 4, Tuesday". Independent on Sunday.
- iTunesCharts.net website
- BBC R2 listings website
- Daniels, Colin (8 October 2011). "BBC responds to Miranda Hart complaint". Digital Spy. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
- Vivienne Clore - Artist Management
- "Letters: Harsh judgments on the pope and religion". The Guardian (London). 15 September 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
- Official website
- Profile on his agent's site.
- BBC interview (scroll down)
- Jon Holmes on Twitter