Holness performing as Merriman Weir in 2007
|Born||Matthew James Holness
1975 (age 39–40)
Whitstable, Kent, England
|Alma mater||Trinity Hall, Cambridge|
|Occupation||Actor, comedian, director|
Matthew James Holness (born 1975) is an English comedian and actor. Holness is best known for his role as fictional writer and actor Garth Marenghi.
Early life and education
Born in Whitstable, Kent, Holness attended Chaucer Technology School in Canterbury and read English at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. As a member of the Footlights, he was involved with and appeared in a number of shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in the mid-nineties. He also served as vice-president when David Mitchell was president and his contemporaries included Robert Webb and Richard Ayoade. Holness continued his studies at Cambridge and finished an MA, graduating in absentia due to his comedy work.
Before he was on television, he played Bob Fossil and was the first choice for the role, however contract limitations between Channel 4 (Garth Marenghi's Darkplace) and the BBC (Mighty Boosh) saw Rich Fulcher take the role permanently, in The Mighty Boosh stage show. He is currently the only regular cast member (of six) from the TV version of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace who has yet to feature in the TV version of The Mighty Boosh. He is the only main character from Darkplace (of four) not to have appeared in The IT Crowd.
In 2000, Garth Marenghi's Fright Knight, a stage show written by Holness and Richard Ayoade, and starring Holness, Ayoade and Alice Lowe, was nominated for the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe. The show was built around Holness's spoof horror writer character Garth Marenghi, with additional parts played by Ayoade and Lowe. The sequel to Fright Knight, Garth Marenghi's Netherhead, won the Perrier Award the following year.
Garth Marenghi transferred to UK television in the 2004 Channel 4 horror comedy Garth Marenghi's Darkplace. Despite critical acclaim and a cult following on the Internet the series suffered from relatively low ratings, and Holness is perhaps better known by TV audiences for his cameo as Simon (the Computer Guy) in series two of The Office. He played a similar character (among others) in the 2000 TV series Bruiser.
Holness's comedy character, Merriman Weir, a guitar-picking folk singer, has performed at small comedy clubs in London and around the UK. Merriman Weir has also appeared as a guest in the pilot episode of the Channel 4 comedy chat show Man to Man with Dean Learner (2005) (then known as Deano's After Dark) where he was interviewed by Garth Marenghi's publicist Dean Learner—a character created by Richard Ayoade.
Following on from the above successful pilot show, Holness and Ayoade recorded a six-part series for Channel 4 entitled Man to Man with Dean Learner in late May and early June at Teddington Studios, which was broadcast on terrestrial television on Friday 20 October 2006 at 11.05 pm on Channel 4 and continued for 6 weeks. Holness played Dean Learner's different guests in each episode (although the Merriman Weir episode was recorded first, it was the fourth one to be broadcast in the series).
In 2010 he appeared in the Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant film Cemetery Junction. In 2011 he played a minor role in the first episode of Friday Night Dinner as 'Chris Parker'.
Holness has had several short stories published, including pieces in the anthology Phobic; a collection of horror stories, and Black Static magazine.
In 2012 he wrote and directed a one-off play for Sky Arts Playhouse Presents series entitled The Snipist. It starred Douglas Henshall in the titular role, protecting the citizens of a dystopic alternative 1970s Britain against the threat of rabies. John Hurt provided 'The Voice of The Ministry'.
|2000||Bruiser||Various Roles||6 Episodes
|2002||The Office||Simon||1 Episode|
|2004||Garth Marenghi's Darkplace||Garth Marenghi||6 Episodes
|2006||Time Trumpet||Himself||6 Episodes|
|Man to Man with Dean Learner||Various Roles||6 Episodes
Also Writer/Executive Producer
|2009||Free Agents||Dan Mackey||6 Episodes|
|2011||Friday Night Dinner||Chris||1 Episode|
|2011||Life's Too Short||Ian Wold||3 Episodes|
|2014||Toast of London||Max Gland||1 Episode|
- Festival (2005) – Roger
- Cemetery Junction (2010) – The Band Leader
- A Gun for George (2011) – Terry Finch
- "Cambridge Footlights Alumni 1990–1999". Footlights Official Website.
- "Congregation of the Regent House on 25 March 2000". Cambridge University Reporter.
- "Send in the clowns". Varsity. 25 February 2010.
- Episode 4, Series 1, Episode 6, Series 1, Episode 7, Series 1. Life's Too Short Episode Guide. BBC. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- Murray, Andy (Editor) (2007). Phobic: Modern Horror Stories. Comma Press. ISBN 1-905583-07-9