John Fortune

John Fortune (born John C. Wood; 30 June 1939 – 31 December 2013) 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.[1] He was educated at Bristol Cathedral School and King's College, Cambridge, where he was to meet and form a lasting friendship with John Bird.[2] He was a member of the semi-secretive Cambridge Apostles society, a debating club largely reserved for the brightest students.

John Fortune
John C. Wood

(1939-06-30)30 June 1939
Died31 December 2013(2013-12-31) (aged 74)
OccupationSatirist, comedian, writer, actor
Spouse(s)Susan Fry Waldo, also known as Susannah Waldo Wood (1962, divorced 1976), Emma Burge (1995 until his death)

Life and career

Fortune was born John Wood in Bristol in 1939.[2] His early career included contributions to Peter Cook's Establishment Club team[2] in 1962, and as a regular member of the cast of the BBC-TV satire show Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life, both alongside Eleanor Bron and John Bird. Fortune and Bird also worked together on the TV show A Series of Birds in 1967, and Fortune and Bron wrote and performed a series of sketches for TV in Where Was Spring? in 1969. In 1971, with John Wells, he published the comic novel A Melon for Ecstasy, about a man who consummates his love affair with a tree. He appeared with Peter Sellers in a Barclays Bank television commercial in 1980, shortly before Sellers' death.

Along with writing several series for the BBC, in 1982 Fortune appeared in an episode of the BBC sitcom Yes Minister, as an army officer who brings the minister's attention to British-made weapons getting into the hands of terrorists. In 1999, he starred with Warren Mitchell and Ken Campbell in Art at Wyndham's Theatre in London's West End.[2] He also appeared in the films Take A Girl Like You (1970), in which he shared a TV debate with John Bird, Kenny Everett's horror spoof Bloodbath at the House of Death (1983), England, My England (1995), Maybe Baby (2000), and Saving Grace (2000), and had a guest part in the sitcom Joking Apart.

Fortune's other work with John Bird included their series of satirical sketches The Long Johns, in which one interviewed the other in the guise of a senior figure such as a politician, businessman or government consultant. The sketches earned several BAFTA award nominations, winning the Television Light Entertainment Performance award in 1997.[3] In one episode, they were two of the very first to predict the financial crisis of 2007–2010 during an episode of The South Bank Show broadcast on 14 October 2007.[4][5] In Fortune's latter years, he featured in the award-winning Radio 4 sitcom Ed Reardon's Week, in which he played the head of a literary agency.  In 2008 he played theatrical agent Mel Simons in New Tricks (S8:E2, “Final Curtain.”)

Fortune died on 31 December 2013, aged 74.[6][7] His agent Vivienne Clore said he died peacefully, with his wife Emma and dog Grizelle at his bedside.[6]

See also


  1. "Bremner, Bird and Fortune". Film & TV Database. British Film Institute. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  2. Kennedy, Maev (31 December 2013). "John Fortune dies at 74". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  3. "BAFTA Awards – Television | Light Entertainment Performance in 1997". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  4. Harold James (25 December 2008). "The Marx Renaissance". Project Syndicate. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  5. "The Last Laugh: John Bird and John Fortune Reviews". Archived from the original on 4 June 2011.
  6. "Comedian John Fortune Dies Aged 74". Sky News. 31 December 2013. Archived from the original on 31 December 2013. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  7. "Comedian John Fortune dies aged 74". ITV. 31 December 2013. Retrieved 31 December 2013.

Further reading

  • Wells, John; Fortune, John (1971). Melon for Ecstasy. ISBN 978-1853754708.
  • Bird, John; Fortune, John (1996). The Long Johns. London: Hutchinson. ISBN 978-0-09-180216-5.

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