John Junkin

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John Junkin
Junkin in 1975
Born(1930-01-29)29 January 1930
Ealing, Middlesex, England
Died7 March 2006(2006-03-07) (aged 76)
Occupation(s)Actor, scriptwriter
Years active1955–2004
Jenny Claybourn
(m. 1977; sep. 1992)

John Francis Junkin (29 January 1930 – 7 March 2006) was an English actor and scriptwriter who had a long career in radio, television and film, specialising in comedy.

Early life[edit]

Born in Ealing, Middlesex, the son of a policeman, he and his parents subsequently moved to Forest Gate so that he could attend St Bonaventure's Catholic School there, before qualifying as a teacher at St Mary's College, Strawberry Hill. He worked as a primary school teacher in the East End for three years before becoming a professional actor and scriptwriter.[1]


In 1960, Junkin joined Joan Littlewood's Stratford East Theatre Workshop and played the lead in the original production of Sparrers Can't Sing.[2] A few years later, he joined the Royal Court Theatre company, and was the foil to Tony Hancock in some of Hancock's last work for British television.[3] Junkin played a diverse range of roles on the small screen; however, he is best remembered for his comedy roles and his appearances as a television quiz master. To international audiences, he may be best remembered for playing Shake, the assistant to Norman Rossington, in the Beatles film A Hard Day's Night.[4] In comedy roles, Junkin was rarely short of work, on account of his ability to play the stony-faced symbol of low level, petty-minded and unquestioning authority, whether the army sergeant, police constable or site foreman.

One of his rare leading roles was in the BBC series The Rough with the Smooth, in which he and Tim Brooke-Taylor played comedy writers (with both actors contributing scripts to the series as well).[5] He also hosted his own afternoon television series in the mid-1970s. Titled simply Junkin, it was produced by Southern Television for the ITV network.[1]

Junkin has an entry in the Guinness Book of Records as the voice of Mr Shifter, one of the chimps in the PG Tips tea advertisement, the longest-running series of commercials on television.[5]

With Barry Cryer, Junkin wrote for Morecambe and Wise from 1978 to 1983, in addition to two Christmas specials in 1972 and 1976.[6]

Personal life and death[edit]

Junkin lived in Wendover, Buckinghamshire. He married public relations executive Jenny Claybourn in 1977 and had a daughter, Annabel.[1] Junkin and his wife separated in 1992. He died from lung cancer on 7 March 2006 in the Florence Nightingale House, Aylesbury, several miles from his home. A heavy smoker, he had also been suffering from emphysema and asthma.[7] His life and work were honoured at the British Academy Television Awards in 2006.[8]

Acting credits[edit]





  1. ^ a b c "Obituary: John Junkin". the Guardian. 8 March 2006.
  2. ^ "John Junkin". The Independent. 8 March 2006. Archived from the original on 13 June 2022.
  3. ^ "The Avengers Forever: John Junkin".
  4. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Hard Day's Night, A (1964)". BFI Screenonline.
  5. ^ a b "John Junkin". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. 8 March 2006. Retrieved 9 August 2008.
  6. ^ Dixon, Stephen (27 January 2022). "Barry Cryer obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 January 2022.
  7. ^ "Comedy veteran John Junkin dies". BBC News. BBC. 7 March 2006. Retrieved 9 August 2008.
  8. ^ "John Junkin". 11 May 2012.

External links[edit]