Michael Joseph Pennington
5 September 1970
St Helens, Lancashire, England
(m. 2002; div. 2008)
(m. 2011; div. 2020)
Michael Joseph Pennington (born 5 September 1970), better known as Johnny Vegas, is an English comedian, actor, writer, and director. He is known for his thick Lancashire accent, husky voice, overweight appearance, angry comedic rants, and use of surreal humour.
Vegas' television roles have included Al in the ITV Digital and PG Tips adverts, Moz in the BBC Three dark comedy Ideal, Geoff Maltby ("The Oracle") in the ITV sitcom Benidorm, and Eric Agnew in the BBC One sitcom Still Open All Hours. He is also a frequent guest on panel shows such as QI and 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown.
Vegas was born Michael Joseph Pennington on 5 September 1970, in the Thatto Heath area of St Helens, Lancashire. He has an older sister and two older brothers, alongside whom he was brought up as Catholic. At the age of 11, he attended the boarding school and seminary St Joseph's College in Up Holland to train for the priesthood, but came back homesick after four terms.
Whilst competing on Channel 4’s festive special The Greatest Snowman (2021), Vegas revealed that he had to play Santa Claus as his father was stuck at work. Vegas was only 13, so knew most of the kids.
As a teenager Vegas excelled at athletics and regularly represented Merseyside in national competitions in the 800 and 1500 metres. Vegas says his athletics career came to a sudden end, aged 16, when McDonald's opened its first restaurant in St Helens.
Vegas earned a BA in Art and Ceramics from Middlesex University in the Hendon area of London, then returned to his home town and took various odd jobs; he worked in an Argos warehouse, sold boiler insurance door-to-door, packed bottles of Cif in a factory, and was a barman at a local pub. Between 1994-97, he was a member of Cluub Zarathustra, a comedy performance group led by Stewart Lee, Roger Mann, and Simon Munnery.
Television and radio
In 1996, Vegas made his television debut as a contestant on Win, Lose or Draw in the UK under his real name, but made references to the fact he wanted to be a comedian and that his stage name was "Johnny Vegas". He featured on The Big Breakfast during the programme's final months before it ended in March 2002. His appearance was briefly shown during Channel 4's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups and BBC Three's Almost Famous 2. Vegas gained a wider audience as a regular member of Shooting Stars. His character was a pitiable sort always nursing a pint of Guinness. In 2001 he appeared on the Weakest Link, in a comedians special and beat Barry Cryer to win the jackpot of £10,200.
In 2002, Vegas starred in the BBC 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.
In August 2014, Vegas took part in ITV's two-part documentary series Secrets from the Clink. In May 2013, Vegas played the role of Lord Ratspeaker in a BBC radio adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, adapted by Dirk Maggs.
Since 26 December 2013, Vegas has played Wet Eric Agnew in the revived BBC sitcom Still Open All Hours. Vegas has guest presented numerous episodes of Sunday Brunch for Channel 4.
In August 2016, Vegas starred in a one-off comedy pilot called Home From Home, playing the lead role of Neil Hackett. Filmed at Skiddaw View Holiday Park, the episode aired on BBC Two on 30 August 2016. In December 2016 it was announced that Home From Home had been commissioned for a full series to air on BBC One in 2018.
Beginning in September 2019 Vegas has starred as the voice of the title character in the surreal children's animated series The Rubbish World of Dave Spud.
He is a regular panellist on the quiz show QI, having starred in 12 episodes as of 2019.
Johnny has appeared as a guest panellist and team captain on Channel 4's 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, appearing in 11 episodes. On 9 September 2017 he gained critical acclaim for his long poem about a drunk patron during last calls before bars closing.
In 2003, Vegas played Jackie Symes in the film The Virgin of Liverpool, Alf Prince in the film Cheeky and Trevor in the film Blackball. In 2004, he played Dave in the film Sex Lives of the Potato Men and voiced Uncle Stewart in the film Terkel in Trouble. In 2013, Vegas was the voice of Abu the hamster in the British film The Harry Hill Movie.
Vegas appeared in Joe Orton's The Erpingham Camp at the 2000 Edinburgh Festival. In 2001, Vegas starred as Al in adverts for ITV Digital with a puppet named Monkey (voiced by Ben Miller). In 2007, he reprised the role in adverts for PG Tips tea.
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.
In August 2002, Vegas married Catherine "Kitty" Donnelly; in a satire of celebrities selling exclusive pictures of their weddings to publications for high prices, he sold pictures of the ceremony to the adult comic Viz for £1. They separated in late-2006 and divorced in 2008. In April 2011, he married Irish television presenter Maia Dunphy in Seville. In January 2015, they announced that they were expecting their first child together. They separated in late-2017, reconciled in November 2018, and separated again some time before April 2020.
Vegas continues to live in his home town of St Helens, and has been outspoken about the pride he takes in it; he is well-known for being active in supporting the local community. He fulfilled a lifetime ambition by appearing for St Helens RFC in Keiron Cunningham's testimonial rugby league game, a friendly against Hull FC, in 2005.
|2003||The Virgin of Liverpool||Jackie Symes|
|2004||Sex Lives of the Potato Men||Dave|
|Reuben Don't Take Your Love to Town||Café owner||Short|
|Terkel in Trouble||Uncle Stewart (voice)||English version|
|2005||Blake's Junction 7||Blake||Short|
|2013||Blood and Nuts||Gordon Bennett|
|The Harry Hill Movie||Abu (voice)|
|2016||Grimsby||Milky Pimms||U.S. title: The Brothers Grimsby|
|2018||Early Man||Asbo (voice)|
|Eaten by Lions||Ray|
|2019||Tales from the Lodge||Russell|
|Paul Dood's Deadly Lunchbreak||Rexsan|
|2021||The Drowning of Arthur Braxton||Arthur Braxton Sr.|||
|1996||Win, Lose or Draw||Himself||Contestant (1 episode)||ITV|
|2001||Attention Scum!||24-hour news man||6 episodes||BBC Two|
|The Weakest Link||Himself||Comedians special|
|2000–2013||Never Mind the Buzzcocks||Guest / Team captain / Host (5 episodes)|
|2001–2003||Happiness||Charlie Doyle||12 episodes|
|2002||Shooting Stars||Himself||Regular panellist (19 episodes)||BBC Choice|
|Room 101||Himself||Guest (1 episode)||BBC2|
|Black Books||Fran's landlord||Episode: "Fever"||Channel 4|
|Staying Up||Frank O'Hanlon||TV film||BBC Choice|
|Tipping the Velvet||Gully Sutherland||TV mini-series (1 episode)||BBC Two|
|2003||Ed Stone Is Dead||Waiter||Episode: "All You Can Eat"||BBC Choice|
|Top Gear||Himself||Guest (series 3, episode 8)||BBC Two|
|2005||Dead Man Weds||Lewis Donat||6 episodes||ITV|
|18 Stone of Idiot||Himself||Host (6 episodes)||Channel 4|
|Bleak House||Krook||TV mini-series (6 episodes)||BBC One|
|ShakespeaRe-Told||Nick Bottom||TV mini-series (episode: "A Midsummer Night's Dream")|
|2005–2011||Ideal||Moz / Roger||Regular role (54 episodes)||BBC Three|
|2005–2019||8 Out of 10 Cats||Himself||Regular panellist (13 episodes)||Channel 4|
|2007–2009, 2015–2017||Benidorm||Geoff Maltby aka "The Oracle"||Regular role (34 episodes)||ITV|
|2007–2019||QI||Himself||Regular panellist (12 episodes)||BBC Four / BBC Two / BBC One|
|2008||Alan Carr's Celebrity Ding Dong||Contestant / Team leader (1 episode)||Channel 4|
|Massive||Tony||6 episodes||BBC Three|
|2009–2018||The Graham Norton Show||Himself||Guest (3 episodes)||BBC One|
|2010||Checkov Comedy Shorts||Tolkachov||Episode: "A Reluctant Tragic Hero"||Sky Arts 2|
|Dave's One Night Stand||Himself||Headline act (1 episode)||Dave|
|2011||Show Me the Funny||Guest judge||ITV|
|The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff||The Artful Codger||Episode: "Christmas Special"||BBC Two|
|Little Crackers||Kevin||Episode: "Johnny Vegas's Little Cracker: I Was a Teenage Santa!"||Sky One|
|2011–2020||Celebrity Juice||Himself||Regular panellist (30 episodes)||ITV2|
|2012||The Matt Lucas Awards||Guest (1 episode)||BBC One|
|Rude Tube||Computer||2 episodes: "Utter Fails" & "Animal Anarchy"||Channel 4 / E4|
|The Cow That Almost Missed Christmas||Brian (voice)||TV film||CBeebies|
|Mr Stink||Dad (Mr. Croombe)||BBC One|
|2012–2014||A League of Their Own||Himself||Guest panellist (2 episodes)||Sky One|
|2012–2015||Moone Boy||Crunchie Haystacks||6 episodes|
|2013||Common Ground||Rupert||Episode: "Rupert"||Sky Atlantic|
|It's Kevin||Billy Pike||1 episode||BBC Two|
|Moving On||Drive-through burger server / Taxi controller (voices)||Uncredited (2 episodes: "That's Amore" & "Back by Six")||BBC One|
|The Jonathan Ross Show||Himself||Guest (1 episode)||ITV|
|2013–2014||Have I Got News for You||Guest (2 episodes)||BBC One|
|2013–2018||Sunday Brunch||Guest / Presenter (7 episodes)||Channel 4|
|2013–2019||Still Open All Hours||Wet Eric Agnew||Regular role (40 episodes)||BBC One|
|2014||Warren United||Fat Baz (voice)||6 episodes||ITV4|
|All Star Mr & Mrs||Himself||Contestant (with wife Maia Dunphy; 1 episode)||ITV|
|Secrets from the Clink||Participant|
|Crackanory||Host / Presenter (1 episode: "Self Storage & the Obituary Writer")||Dave|
|Psychobitches||Salome||TV mini-series (1 episode)||Sky Arts|
|2014–2015||Celebrity Fifteen to One||Himself||Guest (2 episodes)||Channel 4|
|2014–2016||Duck Quacks Don't Echo||Panellist (3 episodes)||Sky One|
|2015||Travel Guides||Narrator (4 episodes)||ITV|
|House of Fools||Bradford butcher||Episode: "The Botox Affair"||BBC Two|
|Brilliantman!||Mrs. Wardale||TV short||Sky Arts|
|The Jonathan Ross Show||Himself||Guest (1 episode)||ITV|
|2015–2016||Drunk History||Vicar Andrew / Baby Jesus||2 episodes||Comedy Central|
|Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled||Himself||Guest (2 episodes)||Dave|
|2015–2019||Through the Keyhole||Celebrity panellist (3 episodes)||ITV|
|8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown||Contestant / Team captain (12 episodes)||Channel 4|
|The Last Leg||Guest (12 episodes)|
|2016||The Comedy Strip Presents... Red Top||Johnny||TV film||Gold|
|Neil Gaiman's Likely Stories||Daniel||TV mini-series (episode: "Closing Time")||Sky Arts|
|Lip Sync Battle UK||Himself||Contestant (episode: "Jonny Vegas vs. Vic Reeves")||Channel 5|
|Drive||Contestant; finished in fourth place||ITV|
|Travel Man||Guest (episode: "48 Hours in Dubai")||Channel 4|
|Celebrity Storage Hunters||Main buyer (episode: "Banbury")||Dave|
|Tipping Point: Lucky Stars||Contestant (1 episode)||ITV|
|Alan Carr's 12 Stars of Christmas||Guest||Channel 4|
|2016–2017||The Funny Thing About...||Presenter (6 episodes)||Channel 5|
|2016–2018||Home from Home||Neil Hackett||Regular role (7 episodes)||BBC Two (pilot) / BBC One (series)|
|2017||The 2,000,000 Calorie Buffet||Himself||Narrator, TV film documentary||Channel 4|
|The Great Pottery Throw Down||1 episode||BBC Two|
|Red Dwarf||Crit Cop||Episode: "Timewave"||Dave|
|Murder on the Blackpool Express||Terry||TV film||Gold|
|2018||Death on the Tyne|
|The Queen and I||Spiggy||Sky One|
|2019||Celebrity Catchphrase||Himself||Contestant (1 episode)||ITV|
|The Big Narstie Show||Season 2 Episode 4||Channel 4|
|All Round to Mrs. Brown's||Guest (1 episode)||BBC One|
|Good Omens||Ron Ormorod||TV mini-series (episode: "The Doomsday Option")||Amazon Prime Video|
|Dial M for Middlesbrough||Terry||TV film||Gold|
|The Rubbish World of Dave Spud||Dave Spud||Voice role (78 episodes +1 movie)||CITV|
|2020–2022||Meet the Richardsons||Himself||Regular role||Dave|
|Celebrity Gogglebox||Channel 4|
|2021||Johnny Vegas: Carry on Glamping||Host / Presenter||TV mini-series||Channel 4|
|James Martin’s Saturday Morning||Himself / Guest||1 episode||ITV|
|2021–2022||Murder, They Hope||Terry Bremmer||TV mini-series||Gold|
|2021||Sunday Brunch||Himself / Guest||1 episode; 9 May 2021||Channel 4|
|Martin & Roman's Weekend Best!||Himself / Guest||1 episode; 16 May 2021||ITV|
|Cooking with the Stars||Himself / Contestant||Series 1; Semi-finalist||ITV|
|Paul O’Grady’s Saturday Night Line Up||Himself / Contestant||1 episode; 18 September 2021||ITV|
|We Wish You A Mandy Christmas||The Ghost of Christmas Past||Christmas special||BBC|
|The Greatest Snowman||Himself||Contestant||Channel 4|
|2022||Pointless Celebrities||Himself||Contestant||BBC One|
|Big Zuu's Big Eats||Himself / Guest||1 episode; 4 July 2022||Dave|
|2023||Romantic Getaway||Alfie||6-part series||Sky Max|
|2008||The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists||Easton|
|2010||Chequebook & Pen||Les Dawson|
|2012||Diary of a Nobody||Charles Pooter|
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- Vegas, Johnny (2014). Becoming Johnny Vegas. London. ISBN 9780007382712. OCLC 872700225.
- 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. Archived from the original on 14 June 2022.
- "Go Faster Stripe". Gofasterstripe.com.
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- "Guest presenters - A Load Of Bow Locks, The Big Breakfast fansite". Retrieved 3 May 2016.
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- "Alpha's Nicky Gumbel speaks on BBC's The One Show". YouTube. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
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- "Johnny Vegas: Why I care so much for the NHS".
- Cutforth, Luke, The Drowning of Arthur Braxton, retrieved 7 November 2021
- "Drive". ITV Press Centre. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
- "CITV commissions new series from IFC". Kidscreen. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
- "James Martin's Saturday Morning". itv.com/presscentre. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
- "Murder, They Hope". gold.uktv.co.uk. Retrieved 23 October 2022.
- "Sunday Brunch". radiotimes.com. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
- "Martin & Roman's Weekend Best!". itv.com. Retrieved 16 May 2021.
- "Cooking With the Stars". itv.com. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
- "Paul O'Grady's Saturday Night Line Up". itv.com. Retrieved 19 September 2021.
- "We Wish You A Mandy Christmas". bbc.co.uk/mediacentre. Retrieved 5 December 2021.
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