John Shuttleworth (character)

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John Shuttleworth
The Big Chill.jpg
Shuttleworth at the Big Chill in 2010
First appearance
Created byGraham Fellows
Portrayed byGraham Fellows
OccupationMusician, radio presenter
  • Darren Shuttleworth
  • Karen Shuttleworth

John Shuttleworth is a fictional singer-songwriter and radio presenter, created by English comedy actor and musician Graham Fellows in 1986. Shuttleworth is in his late 50s and is from Walkley in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. He has a quiet manner and slightly nerdish tendencies. His musical talents are usually expressed through his PSS portable keyboard[1] and include "Pigeons in Flight", a song that Shuttleworth attempted to have selected for the Eurovision Song Contest.

Character portrait[edit]

Shuttleworth is a pathetic character. Essentially decent and benevolent, but with a painful lack of self-awareness. The unfortunate gap between his actual musical talent and his steadfast belief in the possibility of his eventual pop super-stardom is the main source of the character's tragi-comedy. His "next-door neighbour and sole agent", Ken Worthington is more of a hindrance than a help in John's life.

The character was inspired by some demo tapes sent in to Chappell Music, where Fellows – who had previously had UK chart success as the character Jilted John – worked as a songwriter in the 1980s, and takes some of his mannerisms from Graham's father and from mouse breeders he knew as a young man in Sheffield. A character prototypical of John Shuttleworth appeared on the single "Men of Oats And Creosote", issued under Fellows' own name in 1979.[2]

Appearing on BBC Radio 4's Midweek programme, on 3 June 2015, Fellows suggested that Shuttleworth was an amalgamation of the "very steady types" he had served beer to in a working men's club in Sheffield and the more eccentric characters he had met while showing fancy mice.[3]

Supporting characters[edit]

Shuttleworth has fronted several radio and television series, usually supported by other characters, also voiced by Fellows, including agent / manager, Ken Worthington ("TV's Mr. Clarinet Man"), who came last on the TV talent show New Faces in 1973, as well as John's wife Mary Shuttleworth, their two teenage children Darren and Karen, and Mary's friend Joan Chitty. Other characters included Janet Le Row (formerly Rowbotham, who shares an agent with John, Ken. John came up with the idea for a name change, which has brought Janet relative success.), a fellow singer-songwriter; Plonker, a friend of Darren; Maxime, a friend of Karen; and Peter Cornelius, a salesman, and friend of Ken, who is always keen to sell his products.


The Shuttleworths' various adventures have featured on several radio shows, including The Shuttleworths, Shuttleworth's Showtime and Radio Shuttleworth, with Fellows supplying all the voices and performing on his organ. He also made a four-part TV series supposedly filmed by Worthington, 500 Bus Stops (the title being a parodying reference to Frank Zappa's 200 Motels), about a UK national tour thwarted very early when his beloved Y-reg Austin Ambassador broke down, but then continued by public transport. The venues visited were invariably mundane and uninspiring, and situations experienced usually demoralising, but were optimistically dealt with as if they were defining moments in his career. There followed a television special, Europigeon, following the success (or otherwise) of "Pigeons in Flight".

In May 2008 Fellows appeared in the BBC's Comedy Map of Britain in which he discussed the origin of his Shuttleworth character.

In February 2019, The Shuttleworths was placed at number 26 in the Radio Times 'Top 30 From Plomley To Peel' poll of BBC radio shows (Radio Times print edition, 16-22 Feb 2019).


Shuttleworth has also guested on Mark and Lard's Graveyard Shift on Radio 1 and on Radio 4's Loose Ends.

Television series[edit]

  • Saturday Zoo (Channel 4, 1993) – Shuttleworth had a regular slot on Jonathan Ross' TV series
  • 500 Bus Stops (BBC Two, 1997) four-part rockumentary
  • Europigeon (BBC Two, 1998) – This is a television version of the radio special Europigeon, which was included in series 2 of The Shuttleworths
  • It's Nice Up North (2006)
  • Southern Softies (2009)
  • The Shuttleworths (animated series, not yet broadcast) – in 2012, work started on an animated version of The Shuttleworths, and a half-hour pilot film was written and performed by Fellows, animated and directed by Kevin Baldwin,[4] and produced by Will Yapp[5] A crowdfunding page was set up to provide financing for the project. Fellows explained, in an interview for The Scotsman, in March 2015: "It does make me think he [John Shuttleworth] needs to be moved into another sphere. By that I am hinting at the animation project we are trying to get off the ground. Kevin Baldwin, who has done a lot of animation for me over the years, and I have worked on an animation of The Shuttleworths. It’s nearly finished and would be a great way to immortalise John."[6] As of December 2015 the programme had not been picked up by a broadcaster, although test scenes and still images were available to view on-line and a short four minute animated teaser, titled "Unaccompanied Lady", was included as an extra on the DVD release of "It's Nice Up North".[7] In late 2016 a full 22-minute long pilot episode was released through Amazon Video[8]

It's Nice Up North and Southern Softies[edit]

In 2006, Fellows (as Shuttleworth) made a film with photographer Martin Parr, entitled It's Nice Up North, in which Shuttleworth tests his theory that British people are nicer the further north one ventures by visiting the Shetland Islands, the most northerly part of the United Kingdom. In summer 2007 he travelled to the Channel Islands to shoot another film, Southern Softies. Again featuring an appearance from Parr, Shuttleworth aims to discover whether people are softer the further south you go.

Other TV appearances[edit]

  • The Paradise Club (BBC One, 1989–1990) – the character appeared as an auditionee in this drama series
  • Christmas with Vic and Bob (BBC Two, 1993) – Shuttleworth performed his song "The Christmas Orphan" on the channel's Christmas comedy theme night, which was hosted by Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer
  • Edinburgh Nights (BBC Two, 1995) – a spoof Open University-style examination of comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
  • Fully Booked (BBC One, 1998) – Shuttleworth made a guest appearance on this Sunday morning CBBC show, at the instigation of co-presenter Chris Jarvis, a long time Shuttleworth fan
  • Sooty (CITV, 2011) – the character appeared as Officer Shuttleworth, a policeman, in 'The Alarm System', an episode of the 2011 revival of The Sooty Show
  • Count Arthur Strong  – John Shuttleworth appeared as Arthur's long-lost singing partner, in series 3, Episode 5 "The Three Wishes"

Other recordings[edit]

  • John Shuttleworth in Performance (1986, cassette)
  • Swimming With Sharon (1987, 7" and 12" single) – a song performed by John, with additional vocals by his son, Darren.
  • The Ghost of Giggleswick (1990, cassette)
  • Seven Songs By Sunset (1992, cassette) – comedy special, in which John's manager, Ken Worthington refuses to pay John unless he writes 7 new songs by the following morning.
  • Do You Ken Ken Worthington (1993, cassette)
  • Y Reg (1996, CD single)
  • Talkin' (1996–1998) – A series of educational videos produced for children by English Heritage. John Shuttleworth hosted 3 episodes Talkin' Roman (1996), Talkin' Saxon (1997) and Talkin' Viking (1998).
  • The Yamaha Years (1997, CD)
  • Shuttleworth Live (2000, CD)
  • Blue John (2001, CD)
  • One Foot in the Gravy (live) (2001, CD, VHS, DVD)
  • The Voiceprint Christmas CD (2001, CD)
  • The Dolby Decades (2008, CD)
  • The Minor Tour (2009, DVD)

Other media[edit]

In December 2015, Fellows recorded a satellite navigation voice for TomTom devices as Ken Worthington, made available as a free download.[7] A John Shuttleworth voice was also planned.[citation needed]

Stage show[edit]

In April 2007 Shuttleworth started touring with a new stage show With My Condiments. It was inspired by Jamie Oliver's promotion of healthy food for school children. Fellows thought "what would happen if Shuttleworth did the same for a slightly older age group".[9] In June, Shuttleworth's 4 Rather Tasty Tracks was released as a download or CD, reaching the appropriately modest number 96 in the UK charts and number 29 in the Indie Charts in July 2007.

In November 2008 Shuttleworth began his Minor Tour – and other Mythological Creatures tour.

In October 2010 Shuttleworth began a five-month A Man With No More Rolls tour, claiming that it was a misprint and should have been called A Man With No Morals.

In Spring 2015 it was announced that Shuttleworth was to appear in a one-night concert John Shuttleworth & Friends, on 28 June 2015, at the London Palladium. The concert, celebrating 30 years of the character, and in aid of multiple sclerosis charities, would include appearances by Chas & Dave, Toyah, Martyn Ware of Heaven 17, John Otway, Leee John of Imagination, Gordon Giltrap, Jon McClure of Reverend and The Makers and Sooty and Sweep.[10] Shuttleworth suggested there would also be a rare appearance by Jilted John.[3]

In Spring 2017, Shuttleworth embarked on a 53-date "farewell" tour, titled "My Last Will And Tasty Mint". [11]

Television advertising[edit]

In 2009 Shuttleworth appeared in a UK television advertising campaign for Yorkshire Tea.[12][13]


  1. ^ Inglis, Sam (May 2004). "Graham Fellows (aka John Shuttleworth) - Making Engineering Funny". Sound on Sound. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "BBC Radio 4 - Midweek, Graham Fellows, Matthew Oates, William McLellan, Kate Waters". Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  4. ^ Baldwin, Kevin. "Kevin Baldwin". YouTube. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  5. ^ "Photos and videos by WILL YAPP (@WILLYAPP7)". Twitter. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  6. ^ "Graham Fellows aging with John Shuttleworth". Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  7. ^ a b "The JSAS eShop". Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  8. ^ "The Shuttleworths Pilot Episode". Amazon. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  9. ^ The Independent, 20 April 2007 (5-minute Interview)
  10. ^ "Tour details and news". Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  11. ^ "Tour details and news". Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  12. ^ Yorkshire Tea feat John Shuttleworth on YouTube
  13. ^ John Shuttleworth Cake or Biscuit on YouTube

External links[edit]