John Bird (actor)

Last updated

John Bird
Born (1936-11-22) 22 November 1936 (age 84)
OccupationActor, comedian, satirist
Years active1962–present

John Bird (born 22 November 1936) is an English satirist, actor and comedian, known for his work in television satire, including many appearances with John Fortune.


Early life

John Bird was born in Bulwell, Nottingham, and attended High Pavement Grammar School, Nottingham. While studying at King's College, Cambridge, he met John Fortune. Bird became well known during the television satire boom of the 1960s, appearing in That Was The Week That Was , the title of which was coined by Bird. Bird was intended by Ned Sherrin for David Frost's role in the series, but was committed elsewhere. He also appeared in the television programmes Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life , If It Moves File It, Dangerous Brothers, A Very Peculiar Practice and My Father Knew Lloyd George , as well as in The Secret Policeman's Other Ball . [1]

Acting career

Bird acted straight and comic roles in several television series and in films such as Red and Blue (1967), A Dandy in Aspic (1968), 30 Is a Dangerous Age, Cynthia (1968), This, That and the Other (1969), Take A Girl Like You (1970), Jabberwocky (1977), The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976), and Yellow Pages (1988). During the 1970s, when Idi Amin was at the height of his infamy, Bird starred on a popular recording ( The Collected Broadcasts of Idi Amin ) based on Alan Coren's anti-Idi Punch columns.

In 1975, Bird took the part of Mr Rembrandt, described as "Van Gogh's son, also an illegal [Pakistani] immigrant", in The Melting Pot. This was a sitcom written by Spike Milligan and Neil Shand, which was cancelled by the BBC after just one episode had been broadcast. [2] Bird, in blackface, played an African Chief in a commercial for Benson & Hedges cigarettes. [3]

Bird played Raymond, a nervous boy who stuttered in Dennis Potter's play Blue Remembered Hills which was broadcast in 1979. He played the Director of the British National Theatre in an episode of the BBC situation comedy Yes, Prime Minister transmitted in 1988. During 1989–90, he played opposite Hannah Gordon in the 16-episode bank sitcom Joint Account. From 1981 to 1984, Bird made his mark in the world of children's entertainment when he took on the role of Mr Humphrey Atkins, the roguish father of Marmalade Atkins (played by Charlotte Coleman) for Thames Television.[ citation needed ]

In 1982 Bird performed he Duke of Albany in the BBC Television Shakespeare production of King Lear. In 1984, Bird played the part of Jack Ormand, a local gang boss, in the tenth episode of the Granada TV series Travelling Man . From 1990–92, he starred in eighteen episodes of the television detective series, El C.I.D. , set in Spain. The series was serious rather than comedy-based, and co-starred Alfred Molina in the first two series and Amanda Redman in the third. In 1993, Bird featured as Professor Plum in the fourth series of Cluedo and appeared as a newspaper editor in the political drama To Play the King .

Also in 1993, Bird was the guest star in the Sooty & Co. episode 'Voice Problems'.

Bird starred as barrister John Fuller-Carp in the BBC radio and television sitcom Chambers . He has also starred in the BBC Radio 4 and BBC Two series Absolute Power with Stephen Fry.

Bird has also guest-starred in two television series by writer David Renwick, namely in three episodes of Jonathan Creek , as well as in one episode of One Foot in the Grave . He also featured in Renwick's 2016 BBC Radio 4 show Desolaton Jests. [4] [5] [6]

He is known in the UK for his work with John Fortune and Rory Bremner in Bremner, Bird and Fortune , which won several awards. In the series of sketches with John Fortune, known as The Long Johns, one of the two men interviewed the other in the guise of a senior figure such as a politician, businessman or government consultant, invariably called George Parr. For one of these sketches ("The Last Laugh"), which was recorded for The South Bank Show and broadcast on 14 October 2007, they were afterwards credited with having been among the first to predict the seriousness of the financial crisis of 2007–2008. [7] [8]

Related Research Articles

Spike Milligan British-Irish comedian

Terence Alan "Spike" Milligan was a British-Irish actor, comedian, writer, musician, poet, and playwright. The son of an Irish father and an English mother, Milligan was born in India, where he spent his childhood, relocating to live and work the majority of his life in the United Kingdom. Disliking his first name, he began to call himself "Spike" after hearing the band Spike Jones and his City Slickers on Radio Luxembourg.

Angus Deayton English television presenter, actor, writer, comedian

Gordon Angus Deayton is an English actor, writer, musician, comedian, and broadcaster. He was the original presenter of the satirical panel game Have I Got News for You and the host of British panel show Would I Lie to You? from 2007 to 2008, and a regular cast member of the David Renwick sitcom One Foot in the Grave from 1990 until 2000. He also played George Windsor in the final three series of Waterloo Road.

Rory Bremner Scottish comedian

Roderick Keith Ogilvy "Rory" Bremner, is a Scottish impressionist and comedian, noted for his work in political satire and impressions of British public figures. He is also known for his work on Mock the Week as a panellist, award-winning show Rory Bremner...Who Else? and sketch comedy series Bremner, Bird and Fortune.

John Fortune was an English satirist, comedian, writer, and actor, best known for his work with John Bird and Rory Bremner on the TV series Bremner, Bird and Fortune.

Bill Kerr British and Australian actor, comedian, and vaudevillian

William Henry Kerr was a British and Australian actor, comedian, and vaudevillian.

Janet "Jan" Ravens is an English actress and impressionist, known for her voices on Spitting Image and Dead Ringers.

<i>Jonathan Creek</i> British mystery crime drama series

Jonathan Creek is a long-running British mystery crime drama series produced by the BBC and written by David Renwick. It stars Alan Davies as the title character, who works as a creative consultant to a stage magician while also solving seemingly supernatural mysteries through his talent for logical deduction and his understanding of illusions.

Alan Coren was an English humourist, writer and satirist who was a regular panellist on the BBC radio quiz The News Quiz and a team captain on BBC television's Call My Bluff. Coren was also a journalist, and for almost a decade was the editor of Punch magazine.

Andrew Paul Marshall is a British comedy screenwriter, most noted for the domestic sitcom 2point4 children. He was also the inspiration for Marvin the Paranoid Android in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Although he had also previously adapted stories for Agatha Christie's Poirot, in 2002 he made a further move into writing "straight" drama, with the fantasy horror series Strange. He has also written several screenplays.

David Peter Renwick is an English television writer, actor, director and executive producer, best known for creation of the sitcom One Foot in the Grave and the mystery series Jonathan Creek. He was awarded the Writers Guild Ronnie Barker Award at the 2008 British Comedy Awards.

<i>Comedy Playhouse</i>

Comedy Playhouse is a long-running British anthology series of one-off unrelated sitcoms that aired for 120 episodes from 1961 to 1975. Many episodes later graduated to their own series, including Steptoe and Son, Meet the Wife, Till Death Us Do Part, All Gas and Gaiters, Up Pompeii!, Not in Front of the Children, Me Mammy, That's Your Funeral, The Liver Birds, Are You Being Served? and Last of the Summer Wine, which is the world's longest running sitcom, having run from January 1973 to August 2010.

John Bluthal was a Polish-born radio, stage, television and film character actor, comedian and voice artist, noted for his six-decade career internationally in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. He started his career during the Golden Age of British Television, where he was best known for his comedy work in the UK with Spike Milligan, and for his role as Manny Cohen in the television series Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width. He became best known to television audiences as the bumbling Frank Pickle in The Vicar of Dibley. At 85 he played Professor Herbert Marcuse in the Coen Brothers' film Hail, Caesar! (2016).

<i>Q...</i> (TV series)

Q... is a surreal television comedy sketch show written by Spike Milligan and Neil Shand, and starring Spike Milligan with a number of supporting players, usually including Julia Breck, John Bluthal, Bob Todd, and John Wells. The show ran from 1969 to 1982 on BBC2. There were six series in all, the first five numbered from Q5 to Q9, and a final series titled There's a Lot of It About. The first and third series ran for seven episodes, and the others for six episodes, each of which was 30 minutes long.

<i>Bremner, Bird and Fortune</i>

Bremner, Bird and Fortune is a satirical British television programme produced by Vera Productions for Channel Four, uniting the longstanding satirical team of John Bird and John Fortune with the satirical impressionist Rory Bremner. It had 16 series, followed by several one-off episodes. Fortune died in December 2013, three and a half years after the last episode was broadcast.

Robert Dorning

Robert Dorning was a musician, dance band vocalist, ballet dancer and stage, film and television actor. He is known to have performed in at least 77 television and film productions between 1940 and 1988.

Andrew Dunn is an English actor, best known for the role of Tony in the BBC sitcom dinnerladies between 1998 and 2000. He later played Roger Stiles in Coronation Street from 2007 to 2008. He was born in Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire, but was brought up in North Shields, eight miles (13 km) east of Newcastle upon Tyne, before leaving for London at the age of 20. He trained as a teacher but decided he wanted to act. He later moved to York.

Barunka O'Shaughnessy is a British actress, writer and producer.

<i>Curry and Chips</i> Television series

Curry and Chips is a short-lived British sitcom broadcast in 1969 which was produced by London Weekend Television for the ITV network.

Alexandra Dane is an English actress who appeared in many films including Carry On Doctor, Carry On Loving, other Carry On films, The Ups and Downs of a Handyman, Le Pétomane and Terry Gilliam's Jabberwocky.

The Melting Pot is British television situation comedy starring Spike Milligan. It was written by Milligan and his regular collaborator Neil Shand. The pilot episode was broadcast only once on BBC1 in June 1976, with a full series recorded the following August but never broadcast.


  1. "Video". Retrieved 15 July 2020.[ dead link ]
  2. Milligan, Spike; Shand, Neil (1983). The Melting Pot. London: Robson Books. introductory pages. ISBN   0-86051-195-2.
  3. McLean, Adam, ed. (2015). It was Alright in the... (Television production). Series 2 Episode 6 "1970s". United Kingdom: Objective Productions , Channel 4 via All 4.
  4. "BBC Radio 4 Extra - Desolation Jests - Available now".
  5. "Desolation Jests (Radio Series)".
  6. "John Bird".
  7. James, Harold (25 December 2008). "The Marx Renaissance | by Harold James". Project Syndicate.
  8. "The Last Laugh: John Bird and John Fortune Reviews". Archived from the original on 4 June 2011.

Further reading