Rhys Thomas (comedian)
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12 December 1978
Brentwood, Essex, England
|Residence||East London, England|
|Occupation||Actor, comedian, director, producer|
Rhys Thomas (born 12 December 1978 in Brentwood, Essex) is a British director, producer, actor and writer. He is most famous for his roles in Star Stories, The Fast Show, Sirens and Nathan Barley. He is also the voice of Gary Bellamy on Radio 4's Down the Line. He 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 created, writes, produces, directs and co-stars in the critically acclaimed spoof music documentary 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. He trained at RADA after leaving school.
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Thomas phoned the production company for Shooting Stars to ask for studio audience tickets and 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 the young assistant to the Charlie Higson character, oily used-car-dealer "Swiss Toni". He filmed a BBC Two pilot with Ulrika Jonsson called It's Ulrika written by Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer in 1997 and he has since appeared in several comedy series, including Fun at the Funeral Parlour, Happiness, Monkey Trousers and Nathan Barley, as well as co-writing and performing in the Fast Show spin-off Swiss Toni, and script editing the later series of Shooting Stars. He currently[when?] plays the host of BBC Radio 4's spoof late-night phone-in, Down the Line, and writes for and appears in the Channel 4 sketch show Blunder. Thomas has also appeared in 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.
In 1998, Thomas starred in Shooting Stars and The Fast Show Live at the Hammersmith Apollo, then the sketch show Barking for Channel 4 alongside Mackenzie Crook, Catherine Tate, Peter Kay and David Walliams. In 1998, Stay Alive Pepi wrote and performed their one and only ever Edinburgh Show at the Assembly Rooms. He also appeared in a Sir Bernard Chumley's Stately Homes and the pilot show Crazy Jonathan's with Matt Lucas and David Walliams.
After working as a team writer on series one of the The 11 O'Clock Show in 1999, Thomas wrote a pilot script for Fun at the Funeral Parlour in 1999 at the age of 20. 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.
In 2002-2004, he co-wrote and starred in two series of Swiss Toni, writing four episodes himself and co-writing others. He also toured with The Fast Show for its farewell tour in 2002. At this point he started making a name for himself on panel shows and talking head programmes. He appeared as a team captain on the panel show Fanorama with David Mitchell (2001/2) and was a team captain on Does Doug Know with Daisy Donovan on Channel 4 (2002). Since then he has also appeared on 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).
In 2006, Boyd Hilton of Heat magazine labelled him a "comedy genius" following his various roles in Star Stories.
In 2007, Paul Whitehouse, Charlie Higson and Rhys Thomas were given the "Radio Programme of the Year" award by the Broadcasting Press Guild for Down The Line and in 2008 the show won a Sony Gold award for Best Radio Comedy.
Thomas has worked closely with the rock band Queen, of whom he is a major fan, producing seven of their DVDs: Queen Greatest Video Hits (2002), Queen Live at Wembley (2003), Queen: Greatest Video Hits II (2003), Queen Jewels (Japanese release) (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 II 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 40th anniversary of Queen. He also produced the critically acclaimed two-part Queen documentary Days of Our Lives, which was broadcast on BBC2 in May 2011.
Thomas has completed his first feature 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. Some behind-the-scenes footage leaked on the internet featuring Thomas and co-star Alexander Skarsgard dancing topless to "A Kind of Magic" gained huge hits and attention summer 2010, with over 1,000,000 hits combined.
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.
In January 2010, Bellamy's People (starring and co-written by Thomas as Gary Bellamy) was launched with exceptional reviews across the board, with The Radio Times praising Thomas for his straight man role and the ability to make those around him seem even funnier, Andrew Collins claiming that he was "amazing" as Gary Bellamy. The Independent said that he was "excellent". He was also listed in The Radio Times as one of the Top Ten faces of 2010 alongside Matt Smith, Chris Evans and Carey Mulligan.
He was the lead in the critically acclaimed Channel 4 comedy-drama Sirens, first broadcast in June 2011.
In 2012, he produced and directed a feature-length documentary about Freddie Mercury, The Great Pretender, released in September.
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Thomas is married to the actress Lucy Montgomery. They have two daughters, Polly (b. 2008) and Rosie Rae (b. 2010), and live in east London.
- "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.
- Official Queen site
- "The Life of Rock with Brian Pern". Radio Times. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
- "The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot", BBC programmes, retrieved 26 November 2013