Johnny Vegas

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Johnny Vegas
Johnny Vegas backstage at the filming of an episode of QI in 2007
Birth nameMichael Joseph Pennington
Born(1970-09-05) 5 September 1970 (age 43)
St Helens, Lancashire, England
MediumStand-up comedy, television, film
Years active1997–present
SpouseCatherine Donnelly (m. 2002–2008; divorced)
Maia Dunphy (m. 2011)
WebsiteOfficial website
Jump to: navigation, search
For the character in Tim Dorsey's novels, see Johnny Vegas (character). For the golfer, see Jhonattan Vegas. For the footballer, see Johnny Vegas Fernández.
Johnny Vegas
Johnny Vegas backstage at the filming of an episode of QI in 2007
Birth nameMichael Joseph Pennington
Born(1970-09-05) 5 September 1970 (age 43)
St Helens, Lancashire, England
MediumStand-up comedy, television, film
Years active1997–present
SpouseCatherine Donnelly (m. 2002–2008; divorced)
Maia Dunphy (m. 2011)
WebsiteOfficial website

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

His television roles have included playing Geoff "The Oracle" Maltby in the ITV sitcom Benidorm. He has also regularly appeared in comedy panel shows such as QI and 8 Out of 10 Cats.

Early life[edit]

Vegas was born in Thatto Heath, St Helens, Lancashire, the youngest of four children of Laurence and Patricia Pennington. He has two older brothers (Robert and Mark) and an older sister (Catharine). He was brought up as a Roman Catholic. At the age of eleven, he attended St Joseph's College in Upholland, a Roman Catholic boarding-school seminary, to train for the priesthood, but came back homesick after four terms.[4] He also attended West Park School, Alder Hey Road, St Helens.

After studying art and ceramics at Middlesex University for three years and gaining a third class degree,[4] he returned to Thatto Heath, and took various short-term jobs including working in an Argos warehouse, selling boiler insurance door-to-door and packing bottles of Jif in a factory, before eventually becoming a barman at the Brown Edge pub in Thatto Heath.[5]


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". His appearance was briefly shown during Channel 4's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups and BBC Three's Almost Famous 2. In the mid-nineties, Vegas spent time living in London and Glasgow with the intention of becoming a stand-up comedian. In London, he was mentored by 'comedy godfather' Malcolm Hardee.[citation needed]

In 2002, he 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.[6][7][8] It was a runner-up for best comedy at the Sony Radio Academy Awards.[9]

He starred in the BBC Three sitcom Ideal (playing Moz) from 2005 until its axe in 2011.[10][11]

Between 2007 and 2009, Vegas played Geoff "The Oracle" Maltby in the hit ITV sitcom Benidorm. It was announced in 2014 that he was to reprise this role for the seventh series which will air in 2015.[12]

In 2012, Vegas played Mr. Croombe in a television adaptation of David Walliams' children's novel Mr Stink.[13]

In 2014, Johnny voices the character of Fat Baz in the ITV4 animated sitcom Warren United.[14]


He played Jackie Symes in the 2003 film The Virgin of Liverpool, Alf Prince in the 2003 film Cheeky and Trevor in the 2003 film Blackball. He played Dave in the 2004 film Sex Lives of the Potato Men and the voice of Uncle Stewart in the 2004 film Terkel in Trouble.

Johnny was the voice of Abu the hamster in the 2013 British film The Harry Hill Movie.[15]

Other projects[edit]

Johnny Vegas as Al with Monkey as shown on one of ITV Digital's adverts

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 tea brand PG Tips.

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.[16][17] 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.[citation needed]

In 2005 he participated in the celebrity special edition of The Generation Game demonstrating how to make a pot, before judging the participants' attempts.

2014 found him behind the camera, as director of a music video for Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Vegas married Catherine "Kitty" Donnelly in August 2002 and sold pictures of the wedding to Viz magazine for a pound.[18] The couple separated in 2004. They reunited briefly (twice) in 2005. Vegas and Donnelly were divorced by agreement on 11 March 2008 after having lived apart for more than two years. In early April 2011, Vegas married columnist and Irish television producer, Maia Dunphy in Seville.[19]

Vegas admitted on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross in May 2008 that he has been losing weight after being diagnosed with gout. On 30 October 2008, on an episode of 8 out of 10 Cats, he mentioned that he had lost 4 stone (25 kg).

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

Vegas is a Christian, having recently returned to religion after having lapsed during adolescence.[20]


2003The Virgin of LiverpoolJackie Symes
CheekyAlf Prince
2004Sex Lives of the Potato MenDave
Terkel in TroubleUncle Stewart (voice only)
The LibertineSackville
2013The Harry Hill MovieAbu
2001-03HappinessCharlie Doyle (12 episodes)
2002Shooting StarsRegular panellist
200518 Stone of IdiotHost
2005-11IdealMoz (53 episodes)
2005-128 Out of 10 CatsRegular panellist
2007—QIRegular panellist
2007-09, 2015—BenidormGeoff "The Oracle" Maltby
2012Mr StinkMr. Croombe
2013Still Open All HoursWet Eric
2014Warren UnitedFat Baz
TV Guest appearances


  1. ^ Shennan, Paddy (30 November 2009). "Johnny Vegas: I lost myself in 'Johnny Vegas'". Liverpool Echo. 
  2. ^ a b "Johnny Vegas turns out for Saints". BBC News. 3 February 2005. 
  3. ^ a b Heaton, Paul. "@paulheatonsolo". Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Aitkenhead, Decca (13 March 2006). "Here's Johnny ...". The Guardian. 
  5. ^ Sturges, Fiona (2 July 2011). "Johnny Vegas: 'I never liked being the centre of attention'". The Independent. 
  6. ^ Lezard, Nicholas (September 1, 2002). "Radio: Comedy turns on the potter's wheel; Night Class Radio 4". The Independent (London, England). 
  7. ^ Thompson, Ben (2004). Sunshine on Putty: The Golden Age of British Comedy. HarperCollins. p. 383. 
  8. ^ "Arts Diary: Night Class for Vegas. (Features)". Daily Post (Liverpool, UK). August 12, 2002. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  9. ^ "Just a Minute wins Sony Award". May 9, 2003. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ [3]
  13. ^ [4]
  14. ^ [5]
  15. ^ [6]
  16. ^ "Johnny Vegas biography". [dead link]
  17. ^ "Johnny Vegas biography". BBC website. [dead link]
  18. ^ Clennell, Andrew (28 September 2002). "Comic sells pictures to Viz for £1". The Guardian. 
  19. ^ "Comedian Johnny Vegas marries girlfriend Maia Dunphy in Spain". Ghana MMA. Retrieved 3 May 2011. [dead link]
  20. ^ BBC One, The One Show, 17 December 2012. Interview with Nicky Gumbel and Johnny Vegas
  21. ^ [7]
  22. ^ [8]
  23. ^ [9]

External links[edit]