Matthew Holness

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Matthew Holness
Matthew Holness as Merriman Wier.jpg
Holness performing as Merriman Weir in 2007
Matthew James Holness

1975 (age 46–47)
Whitstable, Kent, England
Alma materTrinity Hall, Cambridge
OccupationActor, comedian, director, dreamweaver

Matthew James Holness (born 1975) is an English comedian, writer, director, and actor. He is best known for creating and playing the fictional horror author Garth Marenghi.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Whitstable, Kent, Holness became a fan of Hammer horror films at a young age, to the extent that when, at the age of six, he asked Hammer star and fellow Whitstable resident Peter Cushing for his autograph, Cushing expressed concern that the child knew so much about the films.[1]

Holness attended Chaucer Technology School in Canterbury and went on to read English at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. As a member of the Cambridge Footlights, he appeared in a number of shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in the mid-1990s. He also served as vice-president when David Mitchell was president. Other contemporaries included Robert Webb, Richard Ayoade and John Oliver.[2][1] Holness received the honorary Master of Arts from Cambridge, graduating in absentia due to his comedy work.[3]


In 2000, Holness first appeared on television as a cast-member of the short-lived BBC Two comedy series Bruiser.[4]

In the same year, Garth Marenghi's Fright Knight, a stage show written by Holness and Ayoade and starring the pair along with Alice Lowe, was nominated for the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe.[5] The show was built around a spoof horror writer named Garth Marenghi. The sequel, Garth Marenghi's Netherhead, won the Perrier Award the following year.[6]

In 2002, Holness played the role of Simon, an arrogant and sarcastic computer technician in series two of The Office.[7]

About the same time, Holness appeared in the comedy stage play The Mighty Boosh, filling the role of Bob Fossil while regular cast member Rich Fulcher was overseas.[8]

In 2004, the character of Garth Marenghi transferred to television in the Channel 4 horror comedy Garth Marenghi's Darkplace. Despite critical acclaim and a later cult following, the series suffered from relatively low ratings when first broadcast.[1]

From 2004 to 2006, Holness played the character of Keith Bilk in the BBC Radio 4 series The Department.

In 2006, the parody chat show Man to Man with Dean Learner appeared on Channel 4, with Holness playing a series of bizarre celebrity guests interviewed by a sleazy host, played by Ayoade. One of the guests was folk singer Merriman Weir, in which guise Holness also appeared in comedy clubs around Britain playing a guitar.

In 2006, Holness appeared in the BBC Two comedy series Time Trumpet, a mock retrospective documentary set in the future.

In 2009, he appeared in the Channel 4 sitcom Free Agents.

In 2010, he played the part of a bandleader in Cemetery Junction, a comedy-drama film by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.

In 2011, he played a minor role in the first episode of the Channel 4 sitcom Friday Night Dinner.

The same year, A Gun for George was released, a short film written and directed by Holness in which he plays an angry loner who writes pulp-fiction crime novels about a vigilante called The Reprisalizer.

In 2011, he played the part of a smug lawyer in Life's Too Short, a sitcom starring Warwick Davis.[7]

In 2012, he wrote and directed a short film for Sky Arts' Playhouse Presents series entitled The Snipist, which depicted a dystopic alternative 1970s Britain stricken by rabies. Douglas Henshall starred, with John Hurt providing the voice of The Ministry.[9]

In 2014, Holness played the part of egotistical movie star Max Gland in an episode of the Channel 4 sitcom Toast of London.

In 2016, he wrote and directed Smutch, a Halloween Comedy Short shown on Sky Arts, in which he played an embittered author haunted by a ghost writer.[10]

In 2017, he appeared in the Channel 4 sitcom Back as a recently deceased father who appears in flashback scenes.

In 2018, he played the part of brooding Swedish detective Knut Ångström in the BBC Radio 4 Nordic noir parody Angstrom.[11]

In 2019, he played Prince Hector of Bulgaria in an episode of the Channel 4 sitcom Year of the Rabbit.[12]

The same year, Holness made his debut as a feature director with Possum, a psychological horror film set in Norfolk. He described the film as "not remotely funny".[1] In interviews to promote Possum, Holness said he had written a script for another horror film which he was also hoping to get made.[13]

Holness has written several short stories, such as 'Possum', 'The Toad and I', and 'The Mastiff: A story of The Diggers', which have been published in horror anthologies and as e-book downloads. He has also done voiceover work for audiobooks.

His agents' website lists several projects as being in development with Holness as writer/director: Cometh the Fiend, The Reprisalizer, and The Mast.[14]



Year Title Role Notes
2005 Festival Roger
2010 Cemetery Junction The Band Leader
2011 A Gun for George Terry Finch Short film; also director, writer and composer
2018 Possum N/A Director and writer[15]


Year Title Role Notes
2000 Bruiser Various roles 6 episodes; also writer
2002 The Office Simon Episode: "Motivation"
2004 Garth Marenghi's Darkplace Garth Marenghi / Dr. Rick Dagless M.D. 6 episodes; also co-creator and writer
2005 Casanova Landlord Episode #1.1
2006 Time Trumpet Himself 6 episodes
Man to Man with Dean Learner Various roles 6 episodes; also co-creator, writer and executive Producer
2009 Free Agents Dan Mackey 6 episodes
2011 Friday Night Dinner Chris Episode: "The Sofa Bed"
2011 Life's Too Short Ian Wold 3 episodes[16]
2012 Playhouse Presents N/A Episode: "The Snipist"; director and writer
2014 Toast of London Max Gland Episode: "Buried Alive"
2016 Smutch Oswin Television short; also director, writer and composer
2017 Back Laurie 4 episodes
2019 Year of the Rabbit Prince Hector of Bulgaria Episode #1.4
2020 The Haunting of Bly Manor Dominic Wingrave 2 episodes
2021 We Are Lady Parts Gameshow Host Episode: "Sparta"


Year Title Role Notes
2004 The Department Keith Bilk 14 episodes
2018 Angstrom[17] Knut Ångström 4 episodes


Year Title Book Notes
2007 ? Phobic: Modern Horror Stories[18] Anthology
2008 'Possum' The New Uncanny[19] Anthology
2008 'The Toad and I' Black Static 3[20] Magazine
2014 'Possum'? [21] Dead Funny: Horror Stories by Comedians[22] Anthology
2014 'Introduction' Reminiscences of a Bachelor[23] Reprint
2016 (voiceover) From Frazzled to Fabulous: How to Juggle Fatherhood, a Successful Career, 'Me Time' and Looking Good[24] Audiobook
2017 (voiceover) The Scarifyers: The Gnomes of Death[25] Audiobook
2017 'The Mastiff: A story of The Diggers'[26] Protest: Stories of Resistance[27] Anthology
2017 (cast: Eric Drazen) Doctor Who: The Lure of the Nomad[28] Audiobook


  1. ^ a b c d Shoard, Catherine (12 October 2018). "From Garth Marenghi to big-screen horror – what the 'lost boy' of comedy did next". Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  2. ^ "Cambridge Footlights Alumni 1990–1999". Footlights Official Website. Archived from the original on 13 February 2012.
  3. ^ "Congregation of the Regent House on 25 March 2000". Cambridge University Reporter.
  4. ^ "Comedy: Bruiser". BBC. British Broadcasting Corporation. 28 October 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Send in the clowns". Varsity. 25 February 2010.
  6. ^ "Marenghi wins Perrier Award". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. 26 August 2001. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  7. ^ a b McEwan, Cameron K. (6 June 2016). "Matthew Holness Travels to DarkPlaces". Observer. Observer Media. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  8. ^ Dave Lambert (director) (5 May 2010). The Mighty Boosh: A History (video). YouTube: TheMightyBooshClips. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 27 January 2019. (Julian Barratt:) Rich wasn't in the country at the time, so we got Matt Holness to do... (Noel Fielding:) From Garth Marenghi. (Julian Barratt:) Yeah. (Caption:) Matthew Holness, Guest Appearance as 'Bob Fossil'.
  9. ^ "The Snipist". Vimeo. InterActiveCorp. 14 July 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  10. ^ "Matt Holness's Horror: Smutch". British Comedy Guide. Mark Boosey and Aaron Brown. 2016. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  11. ^ "Angstrom". BBC Radio 4. British Broadcasting Corporation. 2018. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  12. ^ Year of the Rabbit, Episode 4 (Television). United Kingdom: Channel 4. 2019. Event occurs at 22:59. (end creditsP
  13. ^ Richards, Owen (19 October 2018). "Matthew Holness: 'I wanted to make a modern silent horror film'". The Arts Desk. Kevin Madden. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  14. ^ "CV: Matthew Holness: Writer/Director" (PDF). Casarotto Ramsay & Associates. Casarotto Ramsay & Associates Limited. 27 January 2019. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  15. ^ "Possum". The Fyzz Facility. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  16. ^ Episode 4, Series 1, Episode 6, Series 1, Episode 7, Series 1. Life's Too Short Episode Guide. BBC. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  17. ^ "Angstrom". BBC Radio 4. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  18. ^ Murray, Andy, ed. (2007). "Phobic: Modern Horror Stories". Comma Press: Books. Comma Press. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  19. ^ Page, Ra; Eyre, Sarah, eds. (2018). "The New Uncanny". Comma Press: Books. Comma Press. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  20. ^ Cox, Andy, ed. (2018). "Black Static". Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  21. ^ "Dead Funny". Salt. Salt Publishing. 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2019. Most of the tales explore damaged minds, whether it’s Reece Shearsmith’s dog-murdering boy, Mitch Benn’s vengeful doctor or Matthew Holness’s deranged puppeteer...
  22. ^ Ince, Robin; Mains, Johnny, eds. (2014). Dead Funny: Horror Stories by Comedians. OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. OCLC 895264777.
  23. ^ Le Fanu, Joseph Sheridan (2014). "Reminiscences of a Bachelor". Swan River Press: Titles. The Swan River Press. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  24. ^ Man Who Has It All (2016). From Frazzled to Fabulous: How to Juggle Fatherhood, a Successful Career, 'Me Time' and Looking Good. OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. OCLC 962074024.
  25. ^ Barnard, Simon; Morris, Paul (2017). "The Scarifyers: The Gnomes of Death". Bafflebag. Bafflegab Productions. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  26. ^ "The Mastiff: A story of The Diggers (Comma Singles)". Goodreads. Amazon. 2018. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  27. ^ Page, Ra, ed. (2017). "Protest: Stories of Resistance". Comma Press: Books. Comma Press. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  28. ^ Elliott, Matthew J. (2017). "Doctor Who: Monthly Releases". Big Finish. Big Finish Productions. Retrieved 26 January 2019.

External links[edit]