Simon Farnaby

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Simon Farnaby
Farnaby in 2018
Born (1973-04-02) 2 April 1973 (age 51)
Occupation(s)Actor, comedian, writer
Years active1994–present
SpouseClaire Keelan

Simon Farnaby (born 2 April 1973) is an English actor, comedian and writer. He is best known for his work with the Them There collective where he has written and starred in productions including Horrible Histories, Yonderland, and Ghosts.

Farnaby earned BAFTA nominations for his co-writing of Paddington 2, both for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best British Film,[1] and was the winner of the 2023 Television BAFTA for memorable TV moment.[2] In 2023, he co-wrote and appeared in Wonka, a film which serves as a prequel to the Roald Dahl novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, exploring Willy Wonka's origins.

Early life[edit]

Farnaby was born on 2 April 1973 in Darlington, County Durham[3] and attended Richmond School, North Yorkshire.


Television work[edit]

Farnaby was a long-time member of The Mighty Boosh supporting cast,[4][5] having had roles both in their series and co-starring in the quasi-spinoff film Bunny and the Bull.[6]

Other notable television work includes a recurring role on the sitcom Jam & Jerusalem,[7] and co-starring as eccentric neighbour Sloman on The Midnight Beast's TV series.[4] He previously had a very brief role in one episode of Coronation Street in the 1990s.[7]

Farnaby has presented a number of factual programmes including Richard III: The King in the Car Park in 2013,[8] tracing the discovery and identification of the remains of the last Plantagenet king, the 2014 Channel 4 documentary series entitled Man Vs Weird, in which he travelled the world investigating people who claim superhuman abilities,[9] and as narrator of the Channel 5 docu-series called On the Yorkshire Buses, following East Yorkshire Motor Services.[10]

Farnaby accepted a TV BAFTA in 2023 for memorable TV moment, for a short film broadcast as part of the Platinum Party at the Palace for the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in June 2022, in which Farnaby played a butler.[2]

Them There[edit]

L-R: Simon Farnaby, Martha Howe-Douglas, Mathew Baynton, Laurence Rickard, Ben Willbond and Jim Howick at the 2011 Children's BAFTAs.

He has also worked extensively with the Them There collective of six writers and actors, who started as principal members of the cast of the CBBC live-action series Horrible Histories, where he was well known for his offbeat characters such as Caligula and Death.

Farnaby, along with the five other collective members, co-created, wrote and starred in Yonderland (2013-16),[11] which was broadcast on Sky One for three series.

Farnaby had his first major involvement with the creation of a film with the troupe, on the 2015 historical comedy film Bill, based loosely around the early life of William Shakespeare.[12][13]

The same collective then went on to create the BBC show Ghosts, which ran for five seasons before the team decided to retire it.[14] Farnaby played the fictitious Conservative politician ghost, Julian Fawcett,[15] who always appeared without trousers.[7]


Along with journalist Scott Murray, in 2011 Farnaby co-wrote The Phantom of the Open, a biography of Maurice Flitcroft, a would-be professional golfer whose unsuccessful attempts to qualify for the Open Championship led to his being described as "the world's worst golfer".[16][17]

His first children's novel, The Wizard In My Shed, was published in 2020,[18] and this was followed by a sequel titled Warrior in my Wardrobe: More Misadventures with Merdyn the Wild, which was released in 2021.[19][20]

Farnaby was also a co-author of Ghosts: The Button House Archives, a companion book to the Them There television series for the BBC, Ghosts which he co-wrote and starred in.[21][22]


Having previously appeared in The Mighty Boosh, Farnaby was in a starring role for the related film Bunny and the Bull in 2009, where he played the eponymous Bunny.[6]

In 2016, Farnaby co-wrote and had a small acting part in Mindhorn with Julian Barratt, a comedy about Richard Thorncroft (Barratt), a faded television actor drawn into negotiations with a criminal who believes his character Detective Mindhorn is real.[5]

He co-wrote the book The Phantom of the Open about golfer Maurice Flitcroft in 2011, and then started work on a film script of the story in 2017, which led to the release of The Phantom of the Open in 2021, starring Mark Rylance.

Also in 2016, Farnaby had a small on-screen role in Rogue One, as an X-Wing pilot.[23]

The biggest film success of Farnaby's career came with the Paddington film franchise. Following on from appearing as an actor in the first film, he went on to co-write Paddington 2 with Paul King, for which he was nominated for two film BAFTAs for best adapted screenplay and Outstanding British Film. He was also the winner of the International Online Cinema Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and the Hollywood Critics Association award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2018.[24] Farnaby subsequently appeared alongside Paddington Bear and Queen Elizabeth II in a short film broadcast as a part of the Platinum Party at the Palace for the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in June 2022, which won the 2023 BAFTA for memorable TV moment, which Farnaby accepted.[2]

Farnaby is the co-writer of 2023 Christmas release Wonka, along with Paul King, which is a prequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.[25] Farnaby also has a small on-screen role, with his Them There collaborator Mathew Baynton in one of the leading roles, and starring Timothée Chalamet.

Personal life[edit]

Farnaby is married to actress Claire Keelan (his second wife) with whom he has a daughter, born in 2014.[26]



Year Title Role Notes
2004 Fat Slags Ventriloquist
Blake's Junction 7 Terry Short film
2009 Bunny and the Bull Bunny
2010 Burke & Hare William Wordsworth
2011 Your Highness Manious the Bold
2013 All Stars Foreman
2014 Paddington Barry
2015 Bill Various
2016 Mindhorn Clive Parnevik Also writer
Rogue One X-wing pilot Farns Monsbee
2017 Paddington 2 Barry Also writer
2018 Christopher Robin Taxi Driver
2021 The Phantom of the Open Laurent Lambert Writer
2023 Wonka Basil Also writer


Year Title Role Notes
1994 The House of Windsor Sean Sutcliffe 1 episode
1996 Coronation Street Greg Bamfield 1 episode
2004–2007 The Mighty Boosh Various characters 3 episodes
2005 The Lenny Henry Show Twyford 1 episode
Spoons Various Characters 6 episodes
2006 Blunder 6 episodes
2006–2009 Jam & Jerusalem Samuel "Spike" Pike 12 episodes
2007 Comedy Cuts Werewolf 1 episode
The Yellow House Henri TV movie
Strutter Various 2 episodes
2008 M.I. High James Blond 1 episode
The Golf War Stuart Ogilvy Failed pilot
Angelo's Kris 6 episodes
LifeSpam: My Child is French Various Failed pilot
2009–2013 Horrible Histories Various characters 65 episodes
2010 The Persuasionists Keaton 6 episodes
Comedy Lab Old Man 1 episode
2011 Dick and Dom's Funny Business Various characters 1 episode
Horrible Histories' Big Prom Party Various characters One-off special
2012 Dave Shakespeare Dave Shakespeare Failed pilot
2012–present The Midnight Beast Sloman 10 episodes
2013 Utopia Marcus 1 episode
2013 Not Going Out Scott 1 episode
Richard III: The King in the Car Park Presenter Documentary
Richard III: The Unseen Story Narrator Documentary
2013–2016 Yonderland Various characters 25 episodes
2013 Crackanory Robert Pickle 1 episode
2014 Man Vs Weird Himself 3 episodes
On the Yorkshire Buses Narrator 8 episodes
Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy George Orwell 1 episode
2014–2022 Detectorists Phil 12 episodes
2015 House of Fools Health Inspector 1 episode
Horrible Histories Various characters 12 episodes
Top Coppers Dr Schäfer 2 episodes
2017 Quacks Dr Flowers 1 episode
2019–present This Time with Alan Partridge Sam Chatwin 3 episodes
2019–2023 Ghosts Julian Fawcett MP Also co-creator
2021–present Britbox advert Narrator 2 adverts
2022 Platinum Party at the Palace Footman Paddington Bear sketch. Also writer[27]
2022 Tesco Christmas advert Narrator 1 advert[28]
2024 Here We Go Boyd 1 episode


  1. ^ "BAFTA Awards Search | BAFTA Awards". Retrieved 12 September 2023.
  2. ^ a b c Hogan, Michael (14 May 2023). "Bafta TV Awards 2023, review: Underwhelming, but kept alive by late Queen's unforgettable Paddington sketch". The Telegraph.
  3. ^ Simon Farnaby at IMDb
  4. ^ a b Williams, Andrew (23 January 2014). "Simon Farnaby: The Mighty Boosh showed me how TV should be made". Metro.
  5. ^ a b Lloyd, Brian (2016). "Watch: We talk to The Mighty Boosh's Simon Farnaby and Mindhorn director Sean Foley".
  6. ^ a b Fleet, Adam (11 October 2022). "Bunny and the Bull: an underrated comedy from the minds behind the Mighty Boosh and Paddington". The Guardian.
  7. ^ a b c Mewes, Libby (23 August 2021). "BBC Ghosts: Simon Farnaby's life from Coronation Street cameo to marriage to Line of Duty star". MyLondon.
  8. ^ "Richard III: The King in the Car Park". Channel 4 Press Centre. 23 January 2013.
  9. ^ Jodelka, Filipa (10 May 2014). "Man Vs Weird, a sneer-free search for the superhuman". The Guardian.
  10. ^ "On The Yorkshire Buses". Ear ache voices. Archived from the original on 28 January 2015. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  11. ^ "Sky1 to visit Yonderland". Sky1 website. 13 May 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
  12. ^ "Stars of Horrible Histories to make Shakespeare film". BBC Media Centre. 22 March 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
  13. ^ "Bill: production details". British Comedy Guide. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  14. ^ Raeside, Julia (5 October 2023). "'We didn't want to watch the show slowly die': the cast of Ghosts on the final series". The Times.
  15. ^ Pollard, Alexandra (15 April 2019). "Simon Farnaby on new BBC comedy Ghosts: 'It probably is a good time for lampooning a Tory MP'". The Independent.
  16. ^ Richardson, Jay (24 February 2017). "The world's worst golfer, coming to cinemas". Chortle. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  17. ^ "The Phantom of the Open". Google Books.
  18. ^ Farnaby, Simon (1 October 2020). The Wizard in My Shed: The Misadventures of Merdyn the Wild. Hodder Children's Books. ISBN 978-1444957617.
  19. ^ "The Warrior in My Wardrobe". Google Books.
  20. ^ Norfolk, Pam (27 October 2021). "Spells, spills and giggles for Halloween by various authors - book reviews". Lancashire Post.
  21. ^ "GHOSTS: The Button House Archives". Google Books.
  22. ^ "Ghosts stars to publish companion book". British Comedy Guide. 10 May 2023.
  23. ^ Fullerton, Huw (4 January 2017). "Some of the Rogue One character names were far cleverer than we first thought". Radio Times.
  24. ^ "Simon Farnaby: Awards". IMDb.
  25. ^ Tinoco, Armando (16 May 2023). "Timothée Chalamet On Why He Took 'Wonka' Role & His Expectation For An "Uncynical Young Audience"". Deadline.
  26. ^ Bennion, Chris (17 September 2020). "Simon Farnaby interview: 'Doing another Paddington film was just too much to bear'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  27. ^ Sykes, Tom. "Watch Paddington Bear and Queen Elizabeth Take Tea in Platinum Jubilee Comedy Video". Yahoo Movies. Retrieved 5 June 2022.
  28. ^ The Christmas Party | Tesco #StandForJoy, retrieved 22 November 2022

External links[edit]