Rhys Thomas (comedian)
12 December 1978
Basildon, Essex, England
|Residence||East London, England|
|Occupation||Actor, comedian, director, producer|
Rhys Thomas (born 12 December 1978) is a British director, producer, actor, comedian and writer.
He is most famous for his roles in Star Stories, The Fast Show, Sirens and Nathan Barley. He also appears as Gary Bellamy on Radio 4's Down the Line and its television spin-off, Bellamy's People. Thomas was nominated for the Breakthrough Talent Award at the 2013 BAFTA Awards for producing and directing the acclaimed feature-length documentary Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender and subsequently won Best Arts Documentary in both the 2013 Rose D'Or and International Emmy Awards. He co-wrote, produced, directed and co-starred in the critically acclaimed spoof music documentary series The Life of Rock with Brian Pern on BBC Four and BBC Two.
While in the sixth form at Beauchamps High School in Wickford, Essex, Thomas made comedy videos with friends, forming a comedy group called Stay Alive Pepi with Stephen Burge, Tony Way and Glynne Wiley. Thomas began his TV career when he phoned the production company for Shooting Stars to ask for studio audience tickets. When they told him that they did not have any he asked if he could be given work experience. They happened to need a runner and employed him, sometimes filling in for George Dawes on the drums during rehearsals for the show. His breakthrough came when he showed Charlie Higson and Bob Mortimer some of his comedy tapes and Higson recruited Thomas as a supporting cast member on The Fast Show, in which he made recurring appearances, notably as Paul, the young assistant to the Charlie Higson character, oily used-car-dealer "Swiss Toni". He became script editor on Shooting Stars in a later series.
In addition to his work on The Fast Show, in 1997 Thomas made a BBC Two pilot with Ulrika Jonsson called It's Ulrika written by Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. In 1998 he starred in Shooting Stars and The Fast Show Live at the Hammersmith Apollo, the sketch show Barking for Channel 4 alongside Mackenzie Crook, Catherine Tate, Peter Kay and David Walliams and appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with Stay Alive Pepi. He also appeared in Sir Bernard Chumley's Stately Homes and the pilot show Crazy Jonathan's with Matt Lucas and David Walliams. In 1999 he worked as a team writer on series one of The 11 O'Clock Show and was a radio presenter on the XFM breakfast show with Natasha Desborough.
At the age of 20 Thomas wrote a pilot script for Fun at the Funeral Parlour. The producer Simon Lupton was impressed, and submitted it to Stuart Murphy, the then controller of BBC Choice, and a series was filmed in summer 2000 and a second series 2001. Guest stars included Tom Baker, Paul Whitehouse, Charlie Higson, Bill Oddie, Christopher Cazenove, Phil Cornwell, Mitchell and Webb, Lucas and Walliams, Simon Day, Mark Williams, Anita Dobson, Art Malik and Dudley Sutton. Music was specially composed by Brian May of Queen.
Thomas has appeared in several other comedy series including Happiness, Monkey Trousers, Nathan Barley, the Channel 4 comedy Star Stories playing Jude Law, Andrew Ridgeley, Warren Beatty, Gary Glitter, Daniel Day-Lewis, Kiefer Sutherland and The Fonz amongst others. He wrote for and appears in the Channel 4 sketch show Blunder.
In 2002-2004, he co-wrote and starred in two series of Swiss Toni, writing four episodes and co-writing others. He also toured with The Fast Show for its farewell tour in 2002. He subsequently appeared on several panel shows and talking head programmes including Fanorama with David Mitchell (2001/2), Does Doug Know with Daisy Donovan on Channel 4 (2002), Law of the Playground (2006), Comedian's Comedian (2005), Nathan Barley (2005), 8 Out Of 10 Cats (2006), FAQ U (2005), Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe (2006), Tittybangbang (2005) and Rob Brydon's Annually Retentive (2007).
From 2006 to 2013 Thomas played the host of BBC Radio 4's spoof late-night phone-in, Down the Line. The programme was the 2007 winner of the Broadcasting Press Guild Radio Programme of the Year Award and in 2008 it received the Sony Gold Award for Best Radio Comedy. In January 2010 Down the Line was adapted into a television format called Bellamy's People starring and co-written by Thomas as Gary Bellamy. It was launched and gained a positive critical reception with The Radio Times praising Thomas for his straight man role and the ability to make those around him seem even funnier.
Thomas has worked closely with the rock band Queen, of whom he is a major fan, producing seven of their DVDs: Greatest Video Hits 1 (2002), Queen Live at Wembley (2003), Greatest Video Hits 2 (2003), Jewels (2004), Queen on Fire – Live at the Bowl (2004), Queen + Paul Rogers: Return of the Champions and A Night at the Opera - 30th Anniversary, making documentaries and directing new videos, including I Was Born to Love You. In 2003, he wrote, starred and co-directed (with Simon Lupton) a commercial for Queen Greatest Video Hits 2 also starring Roger Taylor and Brian May. In July 2010, Thomas was asked by Jim Beach, manager of Queen to write the sleeve notes for all 15 studio albums by the band, due for re-release in 2011 to coincide with the band's 40th. He also produced the critically acclaimed two-part Queen documentary Days of Our Lives, which was broadcast on BBC2 in May 2011. In 2012, he produced and directed a feature-length documentary about Freddie Mercury, The Great Pretender, released in September. On 31 December 2010, Thomas appeared on and won Celebrity Mastermind with a specialist subject record score of 21 points and a total 36 points. His specialist subject was Queen.
In 2009 Thomas appeared in a mockumentary film Beyond the Pole starring with Stephen Mangan, Helen Baxendale and Mark Benton. The film was premiered at the Prince Charles Cinema as part of the London Film Festival on 5 December 2009, and was released nationwide in February 2010.
In April 2009, Thomas appeared in BBC switch's show, Winging it, playing the character of a music mogul, and wrote and starred in Above Their Stations, a sitcom pilot about Police Community Support Officers for BBC Three, also starring Simon Day, Dudley Sutton and Denis Lawson. He also created, co-wrote and co-produced Brian Pern, a series of online spoof blogs starring Simon Day as Brian Pern, an ageing progressive rock musician based on Peter Gabriel, Brian Eno and other intelligent, politically active rock artists of that ilk. In 2014, The Life of Rock with Brian Pern was broadcast on BBC Four, a series directed, produced and co-written by Thomas. A second series was broadcast on BBC Two, and a third series was broadcast on BBC Four in early 2016. A final one-off special aired in spring 2017. The series were memorable for the number of cameos and guest appearances by real life musicians, actors and personalities who appeared.
He currently writes and directs his own annual review show on BBC Four A Year in the Life of a Year.
Thomas is married to actress Lucy Montgomery. They have two daughters and live in east London. He is a member of the British show business charitable organisation the Grand Order of Water Rats.
- "Rhys Thomas". Chortle. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
- "Rhys Thomas Interview". The Metro. 14 March 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
- "Rhys Thomas Interview at The Student Guide". Retrieved 24 May 2013.
- "Interview: Rhys Thomas - Nobody's fool". The Scotsman. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- "RHYS THOMAS Red Collar Rat". Grand Order of Water Rats. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- "Queen Productions: Rhys Thomas Interview". Queen Online. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- "Swiss Toni". BBC Archives. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- Gilheaney, John. "Work's like making love to a beautiful woman!; My new life with Swiss Toni, by hot comic Rhys" (July 7 2002). Wales on Sunday. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- "Down The Line: Episodes". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- "Re-issues Notes By Rhys Thomas". queenonline.com.
- "Celebrity Mastermind – Rhys Thomas' Queen Round". Music Empire. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- "The Life of Rock with Brian Pern". Radio Times. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
- "Brian Pern to return for final special". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- Ramaswamy, Chitra. "MasterChef review: mince with ketchup, custard ravioli and … a new market". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- "Sirens: Rhys Thomas is Stuart Bayldon". Channel 4. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- "The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot". BBC iPlayer. 23 November 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2017.