John Sparkes

John Sparkes (born 9 January 1954) is a Welsh comedian, actor and voice artist,[1][2] who is best known for his character Barry Welsh, presenter of the award-winning (Best Light Entertainment, Welsh Baftas, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004) series Barry Welsh is Coming. He also had major roles in Naked Video, Absolutely, Pub Quiz, and Jeff Global's Global Probe, and is the narrator of children's TV show Peppa Pig.[3]

John Sparkes
Born (1954-01-09) 9 January 1954
Swansea, Wales
MediumStand-up, television, film
Years active1986–present
GenresSketch comedy, improvisational comedy, character comedy
Notable works and rolesBarry Welsh is Coming
Fireman Sam
Peppa Pig

Early years

Sparkes was born in Swansea, Wales. He began his working life at Lloyds Bank in Mumbles. After a time as an English teacher, in the 1980s, he turned to comedy and moved to London, becoming an established performer in the first years of London's alternative cabaret circuit alongside Alexi Sayle, Jo Brand, Paul Merton and Rick Mayall.[1][4]

Naked Video and Absolutely

Sparkes starred in the sketch show Naked Video, where he played Siadwel, the geeky poet who wore an anorak and glasses.[5] The character also appeared when Sparkes was part of the BBC Radio 4 comedy programme Bodgers, Banks & Sparkes. After killing off Siadwel in Naked Video, Sparkes revived the character in 2014 for a new series of radio shows for BBC Radio Wales, which was recommissioned a year later.

He was one of the team behind the Channel 4 sketch show Absolutely, which ran for four years between 1989 and 1993.[6] Following an award-winning radio special, a new series for BBC Radio 4 was commissioned for broadcast in September 2015.[7]

Barry Welsh

Barry Welsh is Coming was a long-running comedy series for ITV Wales. As well as playing Barry Welsh, the hapless host of a chat show, Sparkes also plays other characters within the programme, such as pub singer Gwyn, Old Mr Ffff and Fishguard news reporter Hugh Pugh. Although the series ended in 2004, it returned in 2007 for a series of one-off specials.

Throughout its original run, the series also won four BAFTA Cymru awards for Best Light Entertainment.

Children's TV

He provides the voice of the narrator and some other characters in the children's animated series Peppa Pig[5] (in which the voice of fellow Absolutely star Morwenna Banks is also featured), in Shaun the Sheep he voices Bitzer the Dog and the Farmer. He also voices Mr. Elf and King Marigold in Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom. He also voices Professor von Proton in The Big Knights, Steven in A Town Called Panic, and Fireman Sam in the 2005 series.

Other work

In 2005 he performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Absolutely Presents John Sparkes and Pete Baikie with his colleague from Absolutely.[8]

For Welsh television he starred in Jeff Global's Global Probe (ITV Wales), and he resurrected the character Frank Hovis, originally devised for the Absolutely series, in Pub Quiz (BBC Wales).

Sparkes has written and presented three ongoing television series of Great Pubs of Wales for ITV Wales. He has voiced the unseen character of archivist Goronwy, in a section of Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention for BBC One and has written and presented Ghost Story in which he spent the night alone with a camcorder in haunted houses around Wales. He has also co-written and presented Doug Strong's Special Places, a factual comedy series for ITV Wales and ITV Central.

Personal life

Spakes is married.[1] | children = 2[1]



Year Title Role Notes
1989MelancholiaRoger Dere
2003Calendar GirlsWelsh Photographer
2015Shaun the Sheep MovieThe Farmer, BitzerVoice role
2015Peppa Pig: The Golden BootsNarratorVoice role
2017Peppa Pig: My First Cinema ExperienceNarratorVoice role
2019A Shaun the Sheep Movie: FarmageddonThe Farmer, BitzerVoice role


Year Title Role Notes
1986Naked VideoSiadwel6 episodes
1988Cabaret at Jongleurs1 episode
1989–1993AbsolutelyVarious characters28 episodes
1992Angry George IronsVoice role
1992Saturday ZooGlaswegian Matron1 episode
1994–1995The All New Alexei Sayle ShowVarious characters8 episodes
1996–2004Barry Welsh is ComingBarry Welsh, Hugh Pugh, various characters
1998Comedy NationVarious roles
2000The StrangerersBilbo2 episodes
2001–2005Pub QuizFrank Hovis
2002A Town Called PicnicVoice role
2004Jeff Global's Global ProbeVarious roles
2004–presentPeppa PigNarrator, Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Potato, Uncle Pig,Mr PonyVoice role
2005Fireman SamSamuel 'Sam' Peyton Jones, Elvis Cridlington, Station Officer Steele, Norman Price, various charactersVoice role
2005Not Tonight with John SergeantBarry WelshTV movie
2007–presentShaun the SheepThe Farmer, BitzerVoice role
2009Ben & Holly's Little KingdomMister Elf, King Marigold, Zoe BakerVoice role
2015Shaun the Sheep: The Farmer's LlamasThe Farmer, Bitzer, HectorVoice role; TV special


  1. "Interview: Swansea-born comedian John Sparkes on the return of Siadwel". 17 March 2014. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  2. "UK Satellite News". Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  3. Mainwaring, Rachel (25 June 2011). "John Sparkes: Bringing home the bacon". Wales Online.
  4. Solutions, Powder Blue Internet Business. "John Sparkes, comedian : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  5. Mainwaring, Rachel (12 June 2011). "Siodwell creator John Sparkes is Welsh voice of Peppa Pig". Wales Online.
  6. White, Jim (20 January 1993). "Absolutely fabulous. Not: Baikie, Banks, Docherty, Hunter, Kennedy & Sparkes. Who? The comics from Absolutely tell Jim White why they're basking in obscurity". The Independent (UK).
  7. Absolutely back for a full series – sketch team's comeback gathers pace,, 15 July 2015
  8. "Absolutely Presents John Sparkes and Pete Baikie". Chortle. 2005. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
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