Johnny Vegas

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Johnny Vegas
Johnny Vegas - 2007 (cropped).jpg
Vegas in 2007
Michael Joseph Pennington

(1970-09-05) 5 September 1970 (age 50)
Kitty Donnelly
(m. 2002; div. 2008)

(m. 2011; div. 2017)
Comedy career
MediumFilm, stand-up, television
Years active1996–present
WebsiteOfficial website

Michael Joseph Pennington (born 5 September 1970), better known as Johnny Vegas, is an English actor, comedian, director and writer. He is known for his portly figure, angry comedic rants,[1] surreal humour, St Helens accent and husky voice.[2][3]

His television roles have included Al in the ITV Digital and PG Tips adverts, drug dealer Moz in the BBC dark comedy Ideal, Geoff Maltby aka "The Oracle" in the ITV sitcom Benidorm, and Eric Agnew in the BBC sitcom Still Open All Hours. Besides acting and stand-up appearances, he is a frequent panelist on shows such as QI and 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown.

Early life[edit]

Vegas was born Michael Joseph Pennington on 5 September 1970[4] in the Thatto Heath area of St Helens, Lancashire, the youngest of four children of Lawrence and Patricia (née Jones) Pennington. He and his elder siblings Robert, Mark, and Catharine were brought up as Roman Catholics. At the age of 11, he attended St Joseph's College in Upholland, a Catholic boarding-school seminary, to train for the priesthood, but came back homesick after four terms.[5]

After studying art and ceramics at Middlesex University for three years and gaining a third class degree,[5] Vegas returned to Thatto Heath and took various short-term jobs including working in an Argos warehouse, selling boiler insurance door-to-door, packing bottles of Cif in a factory, and bartending at the Brown Edge pub.[6]

Between 1994 and 1997, he was a member of Cluub Zarathustra, a comedy performance group led by Stewart Lee, Roger Mann and Simon Munnery.[7]


Television and radio[edit]

In 1996, Vegas made his television debut as a contestant on Win, Lose or Draw in the UK under his real name of Michael, but made references to the fact he wanted to be a comedian and that his stage name was "Johnny Vegas". He featured on The Big Breakfast during the programme's final months before it ended in March 2002.[8]

His appearance was briefly shown during Channel 4's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups and BBC Three's Almost Famous 2. Vegas gained a wider audience as a regular member of Shooting Stars. His character was a pitiable sort always nursing a pint of Guinness. In 2001 he appeared on the Weakest Link, in a comedians special and beat Barry Cryer to win the jackpot of £10,200.[9]

In 2002, Vegas starred in the BBC Radio 4 sitcom Night Class, which he co-wrote with Tony Burgess and Tony Pitts, with Dirk Maggs as director. Vegas played a former Butlin's redcoat teaching evening classes in pottery.[10][11][12] It was a runner-up for best comedy at the Sony Radio Academy Awards.[13]

He starred in the BBC Three sitcom Ideal as Moz from 2005 to 2011.[14][15]

Between 2007 and 2009, Vegas played Geoff Maltby aka "The Oracle" in the ITV sitcom Benidorm and from 2015 to 2017.[citation needed]

In 2012, Vegas played the role of Mr. Croombe in a television adaptation of David Walliams' children's novel Mr Stink.[16]

In 2014, Vegas voiced Fat Baz in the ITV4 animated sitcom Warren United.[17]

In August 2014, Vegas took part in ITV's two-part documentary series Secrets from the Clink.[18] In May 2013, Vegas played the role of Lord Ratspeaker in a BBC radio adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, adapted by Dirk Maggs.

Since 26 December 2013, Vegas has played Wet Eric Agnew in the revived BBC sitcom Still Open All Hours.[19] Vegas has guest presented numerous episodes of Sunday Brunch for Channel 4.[citation needed]

In August 2015, he narrated the four-part series Travel Guides for ITV. In 2016, he took part in ITV's celebrity driving show Drive, hosted by Vernon Kay.[20]

In August 2016, Vegas starred in a one-off comedy pilot called Home From Home, playing the lead role of Neil Hackett. Filmed at Skiddaw View Holiday Park,[21] the episode aired on BBC Two on 30 August 2016. In December 2016 it was announced that Home From Home had been commissioned for a full series to air on BBC One in 2018.[22][23]

Beginning in September 2019 Vegas has starred as the voice of the title character in the surreal children's animated series The Rubbish World of Dave Spud.

He is a regular panellist on the quiz show QI, having starred in 12 episodes as of 2019.

Johnny has appeared as a guest panellist and team captain on Channel 4's 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, appearing in 11 episodes. On 9 September 2017 he gained critical acclaim for his long poem about a drunk patron during last calls before bars closing.[24]


In 2003, Vegas played Jackie Symes in the film The Virgin of Liverpool, Alf Prince in the film Cheeky and Trevor in the film Blackball. In 2004, he played Dave in the film Sex Lives of the Potato Men and voiced Uncle Stewart in the film Terkel in Trouble.[citation needed] In 2013, Vegas was the voice of Abu the hamster in the British film The Harry Hill Movie.[25]

Vegas provided the voice for Asbo in the 2018 Aardman Animations film Early Man.[26]

Other projects[edit]

Vegas appeared in Joe Orton's The Erpingham Camp at the 2000 Edinburgh Festival. In 2001, Vegas starred as Al in adverts for ITV Digital with a puppet named Monkey (voiced by Ben Miller). In 2007, he reprised the role in adverts for PG Tips tea.

Having achieved fame in entertainment, Vegas received plaudits for his ceramic work. Ceramic Review praised him, leading to a role in Pot Shots (collaborating with Roger Law), a film made for an international gathering of potters.[27] This led to his work being acquired for a collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum and a commission from Old Spice to design a bottle for their aftershave.[28]

In 2014, he directed a music video for Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott.[3] That year he also published his autobiography.[29]

In May 2017, it was announced Vegas would be starring in new comedy feature Eaten by Lions opposite Antonio Aakeel and Jack Carroll, directed by Jason Wingard.[30]

Personal life[edit]

In August 2002, Vegas married Catherine "Kitty" Donnelly and sold pictures of the wedding to Viz magazine for a pound.[31] The marriage ended in the run-up to Christmas 2006, after which they divorced.[32]

In April 2011, Vegas married Irish television presenter and producer Maia Dunphy in Seville.[33] In January 2015, the couple announced that they were expecting their first child together.[34] On 14 May 2018 Maia Dunphy confirmed that she and Johnny had separated in late 2017.[35] The couple reconciled in November 2018,[36] but were separated as of April 2020.[37]

Vegas said in 2012 that he had returned to his Catholic faith in the previous few years, crediting his parents' faith for his good upbringing.[38]

He has spoken of being proud of being born and brought up in St Helens, and he is active in supporting the community where he still lives.[39][40]

Vegas fulfilled a lifetime ambition by appearing for St Helens in Keiron Cunningham's testimonial rugby league game, a friendly against Hull F.C. in 2005.[2]

In July 2014, Vegas was awarded an honorary doctorate from Edge Hill University.[41]

Vegas is a supporter of the Labour Party and has spoken about his appreciation for the NHS.[42][43]



Year Title Role Notes
2003 The Virgin of Liverpool Jackie Symes
Cheeky Alf Price
Blackball Trevor
2004 Sex Lives of the Potato Men Dave
Reuben Don't Take Your Love to Town Café owner Short
Terkel in Trouble Uncle Stewart (voice) English version
The Libertine Sackville
2005 Blake's Junction 7 Blake Short
2010 The Green Dad
2013 Blood and Nuts Gordon Bennett
The Harry Hill Movie Abu (voice)
2015 Dark_Net Alan Short
2016 Grimsby Milky Pimms U.S. title: The Brothers Grimsby
Womble Movie Giro
2017 Tulip Fever Apothecary
The Drowning of Arthur Braxton Arthur Braxton Sr.
2018 Early Man Asbo (voice)
Eaten by Lions Ray
2019 Tales from the Lodge Russell
Paul Dood's Deadly Lunchbreak Rexsan


Year Title Role Notes Channel
1996 Win, Lose or Draw Himself Contestant (1 episode) ITV
2001 Attention Scum! 24-hour news man 6 episodes BBC Two
The Weakest Link Himself Comedians special
2000–2013 Never Mind the Buzzcocks Guest / Team captain / Host (5 episodes)
2001–2003 Happiness Charlie Doyle 12 episodes
2002 Shooting Stars Himself Regular panellist (19 episodes) BBC Choice
Black Books Fran's landlord Episode: "Fever" Channel 4
Staying Up Frank O'Hanlon TV film BBC Choice
Tipping the Velvet Gully Sutherland TV mini-series (1 episode) BBC Two
2003 Ed Stone Is Dead Waiter Episode: "All You Can Eat" BBC Choice
Top Gear Himself Guest (series 3, episode 8) BBC Two
2005 Dead Man Weds Lewis Donat 6 episodes ITV
18 Stone of Idiot Himself Host (6 episodes) Channel 4
Bleak House Krook TV mini-series (6 episodes) BBC One
ShakespeaRe-Told Nick Bottom TV mini-series (episode: "A Midsummer Night's Dream")
2005–2011 Ideal Moz / Roger Regular role (54 episodes) BBC Three
2005–2019 8 Out of 10 Cats Himself Regular panellist (13 episodes) Channel 4
2007–2009, 2015–2017 Benidorm Geoff Maltby aka "The Oracle" Regular role (34 episodes) ITV
2007–2019 QI Himself Regular panellist (12 episodes) BBC Four / BBC Two / BBC One
2008 Alan Carr's Celebrity Ding Dong Contestant / Team leader (1 episode) Channel 4
Massive Tony 6 episodes BBC Three
2009–2018 The Graham Norton Show Himself Guest (3 episodes) BBC One
2010 Checkov Comedy Shorts Tolkachov Episode: "A Reluctant Tragic Hero" Sky Arts 2
Dave's One Night Stand Himself Headline act (1 episode) Dave
2011 Show Me the Funny Guest judge ITV
The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff The Artful Codger Episode: "Christmas Special" BBC Two
Little Crackers Kevin Episode: "Johnny Vegas's Little Cracker: I Was a Teenage Santa!" Sky One
2011–2020 Celebrity Juice Himself Regular panellist (30 episodes) ITV2
2012 The Matt Lucas Awards Guest (1 episode) BBC One
Rude Tube Computer 2 episodes: "Utter Fails" & "Animal Anarchy" Channel 4 / E4
The Cow That Almost Missed Christmas Brian (voice) TV film CBeebies
Mr Stink Dad (Mr. Croombe) BBC One
2012–2014 A League of Their Own Himself Guest panellist (2 episodes) Sky One
2012–2015 Moone Boy Crunchie Haystacks 6 episodes
2013 Common Ground Rupert Episode: "Rupert" Sky Atlantic
It's Kevin Billy Pike 1 episode BBC Two
Moving On Drive-through burger server / Taxi controller (voices) Uncredited (2 episodes: "That's Amore" & "Back by Six") BBC One
The Jonathan Ross Show Himself Guest (1 episode) ITV
2013–2014 Have I Got News for You Guest (2 episodes) BBC One
2013–2018 Sunday Brunch Guest / Presenter (7 episodes) Channel 4
2013–2019 Still Open All Hours Wet Eric Agnew Regular role (40 episodes) BBC One
2014 Warren United Fat Baz (voice) 6 episodes ITV4
All Star Mr & Mrs Himself Contestant (with wife Maia Dunphy; 1 episode) ITV
Secrets from the Clink Participant
Crackanory Host / Presenter (1 episode: "Self Storage & the Obituary Writer") Dave
Psychobitches Salome TV mini-series (1 episode) Sky Arts
2014–2015 Celebrity Fifteen to One Himself Guest (2 episodes) Channel 4
2014–2016 Duck Quacks Don't Echo Panellist (3 episodes) Sky One
2015 Travel Guides Narrator (4 episodes) ITV
House of Fools Bradford butcher Episode: "The Botox Affair" BBC Two
Brilliantman! Mrs. Wardale TV short Sky Arts
The Jonathan Ross Show Himself Guest (1 episode) ITV
2015–2016 Drunk History Vicar Andrew / Baby Jesus 2 episodes Comedy Central
Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled Himself Guest (2 episodes) Dave
2015–2019 Through the Keyhole Celebrity panellist (3 episodes) ITV
8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown Contestant / Team captain (12 episodes) Channel 4
The Last Leg Guest (12 episodes)
2016 The Comedy Strip Presents... Red Top Johnny TV film Gold
Neil Galman's Likely Stories Daniel TV mini-series (episode: "Closing Time") Sky Arts
Lip Sync Battle UK Himself Contestant (episode: "Jonny Vegas vs. Vic Reeves") Channel 5
Drive[44] Contestant; finished in fourth place ITV
Travel Man Guest (episode: "48 Hours in Dubai") Channel 4
Celebrity Storage Hunters Main buyer (episode: "Banbury") Dave
Tipping Point: Lucky Stars Contestant (1 episode) ITV
Alan Carr's 12 Stars of Christmas Guest Channel 4
2016–2017 The Funny Thing About... Presenter (6 episodes) Channel 5
2016–2018 Home from Home Neil Hackett Regular role (7 episodes) BBC Two (pilot) / BBC One (series)
2017 The 2,000,000 Calorie Buffet Himself Narrator, TV film documentary Channel 4
The Great Pottery Throw Down 1 episode BBC Two
Red Dwarf Crit Cop Episode: "Timewave" Dave
Murder on the Blackpool Express Terry TV film Gold
2018 Death on the Tyne
The Queen and I Spiggy Sky One
2019 Celebrity Catchphrase Himself Contestant (1 episode) ITV
All Round to Mrs. Brown's Guest (1 episode) BBC One
Good Omens Ron Ormorod TV mini-series (episode: "The Doomsday Option") Amazon Prime Video
Dial M for Middlesbrough Terry TV film Gold
The Rubbish World of Dave Spud[45] Dave Spud Voice role (26 episodes) CITV
2020 Meet the Richardsons Himself 3 episodes[46] Dave
Celebrity Gogglebox Channel 4
Taskmaster Contestant
2021 Johnny Vegas: Carry on Glamping Host / Presenter TV mini-series Channel 4
James Martin’s Saturday Morning Himself / Guest 1 episode[47] ITV
Murder, They Hope Terry Bremmer TV mini-series[48] Gold
Sunday Brunch Himself / Guest 1 episode; 9 May 2021[49] Channel 4
Martin & Roman's Weekend Best! Himself / Guest 1 episode; 16 May 2021[50] ITV


Year Title Role
2008 The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists Easton[51][52]
2010 Chequebook & Pen Les Dawson
2012 Diary of a Nobody Charles Pooter


  1. ^ 1971-, Vegas, Johnny (2014). Becoming Johnny Vegas. London. ISBN 9780007382712. OCLC 872700225.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b "Johnny Vegas turns out for Saints". BBC News. 3 February 2005.
  3. ^ a b Heaton, Paul. "@paulheatonsolo". Archived from the original on 1 October 2018. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  4. ^ Shennan, Paddy (30 November 2009). "Johnny Vegas: I lost myself in 'Johnny Vegas'". Liverpool Echo.
  5. ^ a b Aitkenhead, Decca (13 March 2006). "Here's Johnny ..." The Guardian.
  6. ^ Sturges, Fiona (2 July 2011). "Johnny Vegas: 'I never liked being the centre of attention'". The Independent.
  7. ^ "Go Faster Stripe".
  8. ^ "Guest presenters - A Load Of Bow Locks, The Big Breakfast fansite". Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  9. ^ James Strevens (24 August 2001), Weakest Link - Comedians Special, retrieved 30 March 2017
  10. ^ Lezard, Nicholas (1 September 2002). "Radio: Comedy turns on the potter's wheel; Night Class Radio 4". The Independent (London, England). Archived from the original on 11 April 2013.
  11. ^ Thompson, Ben (2004). Sunshine on Putty: The Golden Age of British Comedy. HarperCollins. p. 383. ISBN 9780007181322.
  12. ^ "Arts Diary: Night Class for Vegas". Daily Post (Liverpool, UK). 12 August 2002. Archived from the original on 10 June 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
  13. ^ "Just a Minute wins Sony Award". 9 May 2003. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  14. ^ "Johnny Vegas sitcom 'Ideal' to be made into film". Digital Spy. 29 June 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  15. ^ "Johnny Vegas blasts BBC Three exec Zai Bennett over 'Ideal' axe". Digital Spy. 23 November 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  16. ^ "Sheridan Smith, Johnny Vegas join David Walliams's Mr Stink". Digital Spy. 4 October 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  17. ^ "World Cup celebrated on ITV with new animated football comedy". Digital Spy. 24 February 2014. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  18. ^ "Secrets from The Clink". ITV Press Centre. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  19. ^ "Johnny Vegas to return for Still Open All Hours". Nottingham Post. Archived from the original on 2 July 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  20. ^ Ben Lee (14 January 2016). "Louis Walsh, Professor Green and Angus Deayton to go head to head on the track in ITV's new racing show Drive". Digital Spy. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  21. ^ "BBC Home from Home location - Skiddaw View Holiday Park".
  22. ^ "BBC orders full series of Home From Home". 7 December 2016. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  23. ^ "BBC orders Home From Home to series : News 2016 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide".
  24. ^ "Everyone Is Genuinely Surprised By Johnny Vegas' Very Good Poem! | 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown" – via
  25. ^ "Harry Hill Movie premiere guests: From Sheridan Smith to a giant hamster". Digital Spy. 20 December 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  26. ^ Guide, British Comedy. "Early Man cast and crew credits". British Comedy Guide.
  27. ^ "Johnny Vegas biography". BBC website. Archived from the original on 28 April 2005.
  28. ^ Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast Episode 71 - Johnny Vegas. Leicester Square Theatre: British Comedy Guide.
  29. ^ "Becoming Johnny Vegas - Paperback / The Official Johnny Vegas Website". 22 May 2014. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  30. ^ "Details on new film Eaten by Lions". Scoop Nest. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  31. ^ Clennell, Andrew (28 September 2002). "Comic sells pictures to Viz for £1". The Guardian.
  32. ^ "Hard-living Johnny Vegas divorces wife over HER drunken behaviour". 11 April 2012. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  33. ^ "Comedian Johnny Vegas marries girlfriend Maia Dunphy in Spain". Ghana MMA. Archived from the original on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 3 May 2011.
  34. ^ "Johnny Vegas and wife expecting first baby". Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  35. ^ "'No story and no-one else involved...' - Maia Dunphy reveals separation from comedian Johnny Vegas".
  36. ^ Egan, Barry (26 November 2018). "Happy Christmas! Johnny and Maia together again". Irish Independent. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  37. ^ Gallagher, Katie (6 April 2020). "Maia Dunphy opens up on splitting from comedian Johnny Vegas for second time". DublinLive.
  38. ^ "Alpha's Nicky Gumbel speaks on BBC's The One Show". YouTube. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  39. ^ "The double life of Johnny Vegas". The Guardian. 21 April 2002.
  40. ^ "Johnny Vegas 'miffed' Celebrity Gogglebox said he was in Liverpool and not St Helens (but made up they changed it)". St Helens Star. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  41. ^ Staff (28 July 2014). "Johnny Vegas awarded Honorary Doctorate". Edge Hill University. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  42. ^
  43. ^ "Johnny Vegas: Why I care so much for the NHS".
  44. ^ "Drive". ITV Press Centre. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  45. ^ "CITV commissions new series from IFC". Kidscreen. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  46. ^ "Meet The Richardsons set to return for Series 3". British Comedy Guide. 6 April 2021. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  47. ^ "James Martin's Saturday Morning". Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  48. ^ "Murder, They Hope". Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  49. ^ "Sunday Brunch". Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  50. ^ "Martin & Roman's Weekend Best!". Retrieved 16 May 2021.
  51. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Classic Serial, the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Episode 1".
  52. ^ "Johnny Vegas to star in Ragged Trousered Philanthropists on Radio 4". The Guardian. 12 December 2007.

External links[edit]