Johnny Vegas

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Johnny Vegas
Jvegas.jpg
Vegas backstage at the filming of an episode of QI, June 2007
Birth nameMichael Pennington
Born (1970-09-05) 5 September 1970 (age 48)
Thatto Heath, St Helens, Lancashire, England
MediumStand up, television, film
Years active1997–present
Spouse
Catherine Donnelly
(m. 2002; div. 2008)

Maia Dunphy (m. 2011–2018)
Children2
WebsiteOfficial website

Michael Pennington (born 5 September 1970),[1] known professionally as Johnny Vegas, is an English actor and comedian, known for his formerly portly figure and his alter-egos[2] angry rants, surreal humour and high husky voice.[3][4]

His television roles have included playing Al in the ITV Digital and PG Tips adverts, drug dealer Moz in the BBC black comedy Ideal, Geoff Maltby in the ITV comedy series Benidorm and Eric Agnew in the BBC sitcom Still Open All Hours.

Early life[edit]

Vegas was born in Thatto Heath, St Helens, Lancashire, the youngest of four children of Laurence and Patricia Pennington. He and his elder siblings, Robert, Mark, and Catharine were brought up as Roman Catholics. At the age of eleven, he attended St Joseph's College in Upholland, a Catholic boarding-school seminary, to train for the priesthood, but came back homesick after four terms.[5]

After studying art and ceramics at Middlesex University for three years and gaining a third class degree,[5] Vegas returned to Thatto Heath and took various short-term jobs including working in an Argos warehouse, selling boiler insurance door-to-door and packing bottles of Cif in a factory, before eventually becoming a barman at the Brown Edge pub in Thatto Heath.[6]

Between 1994 and 1997, he was a member of Cluub Zarathustra, a comedy performance group led by Stewart Lee, Roger Mann and Simon Munnery.[7]

Career[edit]

Television and radio[edit]

In 1996, Vegas made his television début as a contestant on Win, Lose or Draw in the UK under his real name of Michael, 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.[8]

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 not too dissimilar to his real-life persona at that time: 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.[9]

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.[10][11][12] It was a runner-up for best comedy at the Sony Radio Academy Awards.[13]

He starred in the BBC Three sitcom Ideal as Moz from 2005 to 2011.[14][15]

Between 2007 and 2009, Vegas played Geoff "The Oracle" Maltby in the ITV sitcom Benidorm. On 16 January 2015, he made guest appearances in episode 3,4,5 and 6 during the programme's seventh series. He returned full-time in Series 8, which began on 11 January 2016.[citation needed]

In 2012, Vegas played the role of Mr. Croombe in a television adaptation of David Walliams' children's novel Mr Stink.[16]

In 2014, Vegas voiced Fat Baz in the ITV4 animated sitcom Warren United.[17]

In August 2014, Vegas took part in ITV's two-part documentary series Secrets from the Clink.[18] 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.[19] Vegas has guest presented numerous episodes of Sunday Brunch for Channel 4.[citation needed]

In August 2015, he narrated the four-part series Travel Guides for ITV. In 2016, he took part in ITV's celebrity driving show Drive, hosted by Vernon Kay.[20]

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,[21] 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.[22][23]

Film[edit]

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.[citation needed] In 2013, Vegas was the voice of Abu the hamster in the British film The Harry Hill Movie.[24]

Vegas provided the voice for Asbo in the 2018 Aardman Animations film Early Man.[25]

Other projects[edit]

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.[26] 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.[27] In 2005, Vegas participated in a celebrity edition of The Generation Game demonstrating how to make a pot, before judging the participants' attempts.[citation needed]

In 2014, he directed a music video for Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott.[4] That year he also published his autobiography.[28]

In May 2017, it was announced Vegas would be starring in new comedy feature Eaten by Lions opposite Antonio Aakeel and Jack Carroll, directed by Jason Wingard.[29]

Personal life[edit]

In August 2002, Vegas married Catherine "Kitty" Donnelly and sold pictures of the wedding to Viz magazine for a pound.[30] The marriage ended in the run-up to Christmas 2006, after which they divorced.[31]

In April 2011, Vegas married columnist and Irish television producer Maia Dunphy in Seville.[32] In January 2015, the couple announced that they were expecting their first child together.[33]. On 14 May 2018 Maia Dunphy confirmed that she and Johnny had separated in late 2017.[34]

Vegas said in 2012 that he had returned to his Catholic faith in the previous few years, crediting his parents' faith for his good upbringing.[35]

Vegas fulfilled a lifetime ambition by appearing for St Helens in Keiron Cunningham's testimonial rugby league game, a friendly against Hull, in 2005.[3]

In July 2014, Vegas was awarded an honorary doctorate from Edge Hill University.[36]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2003 The Virgin of Liverpool Jackie Symes
Cheeky Alf Prince
Blackball Trevor
2004 Sex Lives of the Potato Men Dave
Terkel in Trouble Uncle Stewart (voice)
The Libertine Sackville
2012 Mr Stink Mr. Croombe Television film
2013 The Harry Hill Movie Abu (voice)
2016 Grimsby Milky Pimms
Womble Movie Giro
2017 The Drowning of Arthur Braxton[37] Arthur Braxton Sr.
Murder on the Blackpool Express Terry Television film
2018 Early Man Asbo (voice)
Eaten by Lions Ray

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes Channel
1996 Win, Lose or Draw Himself Contestant (1 episode) ITV
2000–01 Never Mind the Buzzcocks Himself Guest (3 episodes) BBC Two
2001 Attention Scum! 24-hour newsreader 6 episodes BBC Two
2001–03 Happiness Charlie Doyle 12 episodes
2001 The Weakest Link Himself Celebrity special
2002 Shooting Stars Himself Regular panellist (20 episodes) BBC Choice
Black Books Fran's landlord Episode: "Fever" Channel 4
Tipping the Velvet Gully Sutherland Television miniseries (part 1) 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
2005–11 Ideal Moz 53 episodes BBC Three
2005–09 8 Out of 10 Cats Himself Regular panellist (8 episodes) Channel 4
2005 Dead Man Weds Lewis Donat 6 episodes ITV
18 Stone of Idiot Host Channel 4
Bleak House Krook 6 episodes BBC One
ShakespeaRe-Told Nick Bottom Episode: A Midsummer Night's Dream
2007–present QI Himself Regular panellist (12 episodes) BBC Four/BBC Two/BBC One
2007–09 Benidorm Geoff Maltby Regular role ITV
2008 Alan Carr's Celebrity Ding Dong Himself Contestant/team leader (1 episode) Channel 4
Massive Tony 6 episodes BBC Three
Never Mind the Buzzcocks Himself Guest (1 episode) BBC Two
2009 The Graham Norton Show Himself Guest (1 episode) BBC One
2010 Dave's One Night Stand Himself Headline act (1 episode) Dave
2011–present Celebrity Juice Himself Regular panellist (15 episodes) ITV2
2011 Show Me the Funny Himself Guest judge ITV/UTV/STV
2011–12 8 Out of 10 Cats Himself Regular panellist (3 episodes) Channel 4
2011 The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff The Artful Codger 1 episode BBC Two/BBC HD
2012 The Matt Lucas Awards Himself Guest (1 episode) BBC One
Rude Tube Computer 2 episodes Channel 4/E4
2012–15 Moone Boy Crunchie Haystacks 6 episodes Sky1
2012 A League of Their Own Himself Guest panellist (1 episode) Sky One
2013–14 Have I Got News for You Himself Guest (2 episodes) BBC One HD
2013–17 Sunday Brunch Himself Guest (4 episodes) Channel 4
2013 The Jonathan Ross Show Himself Guest (1 episode) ITV
Never Mind the Buzzcocks Himself Guest host (1 episode) BBC Two
2013–present Still Open All Hours Wet Eric Agnew Regular role; 19 episodes BBC One
2014 8 Out of 10 Cats Himself Regular panellist (1 episode) Channel 4
Warren United Fat Baz Regular voice role ITV4
All Star Mr & Mrs Himself Contestant (with wife Maia Dunphy; 1 episode) ITV/STV/UTV
Secrets from the Clink Himself Participant ITV
Duck Quacks Don't Echo Himself Panellist (1 episode) Sky1
Crackanory Himself Host (1 episode; segment: "Self Storage" by Alexander Kirk) Dave
A League of Their Own Himself Guest panellist (1 episode) Sky One
2014–15 Celebrity Fifteen to One Himself Guest (2 episodes) Channel 4
2015 Travel Guides Narrator 1 series ITV
2015–17 Benidorm Geoff Maltby Recurring role
2015–present 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown Himself Panellist (10 episodes) Channel 4
2015–16 The Jonathan Ross Show Himself Guest (2 episodes) ITV
2015–16 Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled Himself Guest (2 episodes) Dave
2015 House of Fools Bradford Butcher 1 episode BBC Two
The Graham Norton Show Himself Guest (1 episode) BBC One
2015–17 The Last Leg Himself Guest (7 episodes) Channel 4
2015–16 Through the Keyhole Himself Celebrity panellist (2 episodes) ITV
2016 Comedy Strip Presents...Red Top Johnny Gold
Lip Sync Battle UK Himself Contestant (1 episode)
Special guest (1 episode)
Channel 5
Drive[38] Himself Contestant; finished in fourth place ITV
Travel Man Himself Guest (Episode: "48 Hours in Dubai") Channel 4
2016–present The Funny Thing About... Himself Presenter Channel 5
Home from Home Neil Hackett Regular role BBC Two (pilot)/BBC One (series)
2016 Duck Quacks Don't Echo Himself Panellist (1 episode) Sky1
Celebrity Storage Hunters Himself Main buyer Dave
Tipping Point: Lucky Stars Himself Contestant (1 episode) ITV
Alan Carr's 12 Stars of Christmas Himself Guest Channel 4
2017 Sunday Brunch Himself Guest presenter (3 episodes)
The 2,000,000 Calorie Buffet Narrator One-off show
The Great Pottery Throw Down Himself 1 episode BBC Two
Red Dwarf Crit Cop Episode: "Timewave" Dave
2018 The Graham Norton Show Himself Guest (1 episode) BBC One
2019 The Rubbish World of Dave Spud[39] Dave Spud Voice role (26 episodes) CITV

Radio[edit]

Year Title Role
2010 Chequebook & Pen Les Dawson
2012 Diary of a Nobody Charles Pooter

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shennan, Paddy (30 November 2009). "Johnny Vegas: I lost myself in 'Johnny Vegas'". Liverpool Echo.
  2. ^ 1971-, Vegas, Johnny,. Becoming Johnny Vegas. London. ISBN 9780007382712. OCLC 872700225.
  3. ^ a b "Johnny Vegas turns out for Saints". BBC News. 3 February 2005.
  4. ^ a b Heaton, Paul. "@paulheatonsolo". Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  5. ^ a b Aitkenhead, Decca (13 March 2006). "Here's Johnny ..." The Guardian.
  6. ^ Sturges, Fiona (2 July 2011). "Johnny Vegas: 'I never liked being the centre of attention'". The Independent.
  7. ^ "Go Faster Stripe". Gofasterstripe.com.
  8. ^ "Guest presenters - A Load Of Bow Locks, The Big Breakfast fansite". Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  9. ^ James Strevens (24 August 2001), Weakest Link - Comedians Special, retrieved 30 March 2017
  10. ^ Lezard, Nicholas (1 September 2002). "Radio: Comedy turns on the potter's wheel; Night Class Radio 4". The Independent (London, England).
  11. ^ Thompson, Ben (2004). Sunshine on Putty: The Golden Age of British Comedy. HarperCollins. p. 383.
  12. ^ "Arts Diary: Night Class for Vegas". Daily Post (Liverpool, UK). 12 August 2002. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
  13. ^ "Just a Minute wins Sony Award". funny.co.uk. 9 May 2003. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  14. ^ "Johnny Vegas sitcom 'Ideal' to be made into film". Digital Spy. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  15. ^ "Johnny Vegas blasts BBC Three exec Zai Bennett over 'Ideal' axe". Digital Spy. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  16. ^ "Sheridan Smith, Johnny Vegas join David Walliams's Mr Stink". Digital Spy. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  17. ^ "World Cup celebrated on ITV with new animated football comedy". Digital Spy. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  18. ^ "Secrets from The Clink". "ITV Press Centre". Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  19. ^ "Johnny Vegas to return for Still Open All Hours". Nottingham Post. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  20. ^ Ben Lee (14 January 2016). "Louis Walsh, Professor Green and Angus Deayton to go head to head on the track in ITV's new racing show Drive". Digital Spy. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  21. ^ "BBC Home from Home location - Skiddaw View Holiday Park". www.skiddawview.co.uk.
  22. ^ "BBC orders full series of Home From Home". Comedy.co.uk. 7 December 2016. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  23. ^ "BBC orders Home From Home to series : News 2016 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". Chortle.co.uk.
  24. ^ "Harry Hill Movie premiere guests: From Sheridan Smith to a giant hamster". Digital Spy. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  25. ^ https://www.comedy.co.uk/film/early_man/cast_crew/
  26. ^ "Johnny Vegas biography". BBC website. Archived from the original on 28 April 2005.
  27. ^ Richard Herring. Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast Episode 71 - Johnny Vegas. Leicester Square Theatre: British Comedy Guide.
  28. ^ "Becoming Johnny Vegas - Paperback / The Official Johnny Vegas Website". Johnnyvegas.co.uk. 22 May 2014. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  29. ^ "Details on new film Eaten by Lions". Scoop Nest. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  30. ^ Clennell, Andrew (28 September 2002). "Comic sells pictures to Viz for £1". The Guardian.
  31. ^ "'Johnny Vegas is a hilarious friend in the bar... but he was an utterly hopeless husband': Ex-wife tells how marriage ended". Mail Online. 13 Oct 2008.
  32. ^ "Comedian Johnny Vegas marries girlfriend Maia Dunphy in Spain". Ghana MMA. Archived from the original on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 3 May 2011.
  33. ^ "Johnny Vegas and wife expecting first baby". Sthelensreporter.co.uk. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  34. ^ https://www.independent.ie/style/celebrity/celebrity-news/no-story-and-noone-else-involved-maia-dunphy-reveals-separation-from-comedian-johnny-vegas-36905306.html
  35. ^ "Alpha's Nicky Gumbel speaks on BBC's The One Show". YouTube. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  36. ^ Staff. "Johnny Vegas awarded Honorary Doctorate". Edge Hill University. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  37. ^ "The Drowning of Arthur Braxton (2017) - Full Cast and Crew". IMDb.com. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  38. ^ "Drive". "ITV Press Centre". Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  39. ^ "CITV commissions new series from IFC". Kidscreen.com. Retrieved 4 December 2017.

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