John Thomson (comedian)

John Patrick Thomson (born Patrick Francis McAleer; 2 April 1969) is an English comedian and actor, best known for his roles in The Fast Show, Men Behaving Badly and Cold Feet.

John Thomson
Thomson in 2013
Birth namePatrick Francis McAleer
Born (1969-04-02) 2 April 1969
Walkden, Salford, Lancashire, England
MediumStand up, television
Years active1989–present
GenresCharacter comedy, improvisation
Samantha Sharp (m. 20052015)

Early life

Thomson was born in 1969 in Walkden, Salford, Lancashire, to Mary McAleer, who gave him up for adoption six weeks later. He was adopted from the Catholic Children's Rescue Society[1] by Andrew and Marita Thomson, a businessman and a bookseller from Didsbury.[2][3] He has one younger brother, Ben (born to his adoptive parents).[4] He attended All Hallows Catholic High School near Preston, Lancashire, leaving with three O-levels. He then attended Runshaw College between 1985 and 1987, studying for four A-levels, including theatre studies. He was described as "clearly [having] a talent for comedy".[5]

Following this, he turned down a scholarship in America to study drama at Manchester Polytechnic.


Comedy and television

While at university, Thomson met Steve Coogan, who secured him a job on Spitting Image.[4] They would continue to collaborate on such programmes as The Dead Good Show, a 1993 Granada TV pilot also starring Caroline Aherne, Coogan's Run, the Paul and Pauline Calf video diaries (where he played 'Fat Bob') and Knowing Me, Knowing You... with Alan Partridge, which he also contributed to writing. He also appeared in Coogan's live shows as compère Bernard Righton and the two would be reunited in the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People. The two won the Perrier Comedy Award in 1992 for their act at the Edinburgh Fringe.[4]

Thomson also played supporting roles in the first series of the Stewart Lee and Richard Herring vehicle, Fist of Fun.

In 1994 Thomson appeared in the BBC sketch series The Fast Show, remaining with it until it ended in 2001. Thomson played memorable characters such as Chip Cobb, the deaf stuntman, and Roger the Nouveau football fan, but it is as "Jazz Club" host Louis Balfour that he is most remembered, with the catchphrase, "Nice!"[4][6] He also appeared in The Fast Show Live and the spin-off Ted & Ralph.

In 1996 he appeared opposite Maureen Lipman as Bob Acres in The Rivals at the Royal Exchange, Manchester.[7][8]

He made guest appearances on various series such as Coronation Street, Soldier Soldier and Men Behaving Badly in the 1990s before being cast as Pete Gifford in the ITV comedy drama Cold Feet. Thomson was known to the producers, who had previously cast him in a one-off drama called The Perfect Match. A series was commissioned that ran until 2003 and earned him a nomination for Best TV Comedy Actor at the British Comedy Awards 2001. Granada Television filmed a comedy drama called Stan the Man in 2002 in which Thomson starred as Stanley Tully a would-be entrepreneur. Some of the filming was done in south Manchester suburbs.[9]

After Cold Feet wrapped, Thomson appeared in the Royal Exchange's production of Hobson's Choice (helped by his acclaimed performance in The Rivals[8]). The Independent described his performance as Willie as "an extremely well-judged performance. With the slightest physical gesture and merest facial expression he conveys disbelief, reluctance, panic and finally acceptance of his fate at the hands of manipulative Maggie".[10] His performance led to a Manchester Evening News Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role.[11]

That same year he participated in the BBC series Comic Relief does Fame Academy, being the fourth "student" to be "expelled".[12][13] and in 2004, he appeared in the musical drama Blackpool as Tony Corlette.

He has also lent his voice to the revived BBC children's series Bill and Ben and Mr Windfall in Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Another television series, New Street Law, about a Manchester chambers, started in 2006. Thomson plays "lovable rogue" barrister Charlie Darling alongside co-star John Hannah. The second series began in January 2007.[14]

In February 2007 he played Sir Alan Prentice, in Kombat Opera Presents... The Applicants, a spoof opera of the BBC series The Apprentice. The programme attracted 700,000 viewers according to unofficial overnights.[15] In March 2007 he appeared as hypnotherapist Ray Bould in the three-part ITV thriller, Mobile. The producers had Thomson lined up for the role of DI Fleming, but he wanted to read for Bould because he "was up against a friend for the same part".[16] Later that year he filmed a guest appearance as Nigel Pearson in a second series episode of Kingdom. He returned as a full-time cast member for the third series.[17]

In October 2008, Thomson filmed a three-episode guest stint on the ITV soap opera Coronation Street, playing electrician-cum-children's entertainer Jesse, which aired in December. In January 2009, it was announced that he would reprise the role for six months.[18] Jesse returned to Coronation Street in June, beginning a relationship with Eileen Grimshaw (Sue Cleaver). He left 2010, after his contract was not renewed.[19] Later that same year, he portrayed H.V. Kershaw in The Road to Coronation Street, a dramatisation of Coronation Street's development in the 1960s.

In 2011, it was announced that Thomson would be joining the cast of the BBC television series Waterloo Road.[20]

Later in 2011, it was announced that Thomson would be appearing next to the original cast (with the exception of Mark Williams) in six online-only episodes of The Fast Show sponsored by lager brand, Foster's [21] due to launch on 10 November 2011.

In 2011, John was a contestant on the ITV celebrity reality series 71 Degrees North.

In 2015 he joined the cast of After Hours as loveable Geoff, reuniting with his old friends Craig Cash and Caroline Aherne, who played his wife Sheila. During filming Thomson was attacked by a swan on set, footage being shown on ITV's This Morning.

Thomson was a contestant in the 2013 series of Celebrity MasterChef. Since 2015, Thomson has starred in The Keith Lemon Sketch Show, playing various characters.

He narrates the Channel 4 series Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners and in September 2015, he became the new narrator of Police Interceptors. He stars in the Sky1 comedy drama After Hours, directed by Craig Cash.

On 18 November 2017, Thomson was a contestant in the reboot of The Weakest Link for Children in Need.

In 2018, Thomson was a contestant in Dara O'Briain's 'Go 8 Bit'

In 2019, he's currently a star of the comedy clip show, Zone of Champions.


In January 2008 he played Mike (Topaz) in the BBC Radio 4 comedy drama series Pick Ups.[22] On 12 April 2008, Thomson began hosting the Saturday lunchtime slot on BBC Radio Manchester.[23] His stint ended on 22 November 2008.

Since 2016, Thomson has been a team captain on the BBC Radio 4 panel show Gaby's Talking Pictures, presented by Gaby Roslin.[24]

Personal life

Thomson married longtime girlfriend Samantha Sharp in 2005 and they have two daughters; Olivia (born 2002) and Sophia Melody (born 2010).[25] They divorced in 2015.


Year Title Role Notes
1995 The Young Poisoner's Handbook Nathan
1997 The Man Who Knew Too Little Dimitri
The Girl with Brains in Her Feet Mr. Loughborough
1998 Up 'n' Under Stan
2002 24 Hour Party People Charles
2005 Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit Mr. Windfall (voice)
2008 Inkheart Darius
2016 Grimsby Bob Tolliver[26]
Year Title Role Notes
1990 Spitting Image Various characters (voices)
1990, 2008–2010 Coronation Street Gary (1990)
Jesse Chadwick (2008–2010)
1994–2001 The Fast Show Various characters
1994 Knowing Me, Knowing You...with Alan Partridge Various characters
1995 Fist of Fun Various characters
1996 Men Behaving Badly Ken
1997–2001, 2003, 2016–2017, 2019- Cold Feet Pete Gifford
2001 Bill and Ben Bill, Slowcoach, Whoops, Tad & Narrator (voices)
2004 Blackpool Terry Corlette
2005 John Thomson's RedHotPoker Presenter
2007-2009 Kingdom Nigel Pearson
2009 Big Top Plonky the Clown/Uncle Geoff
2011 Death in Paradise Guest role
71 Degrees North Participant
2011, 2013 Waterloo Road Nelson Smith
2013 Celebrity MasterChef Contestant
Dementamania Mikey Moran
2013–2014 Strange Hill High Various characters (voices)
2013– Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners Narrator
2015– Police Interceptors Narrator
You Saw them Here First Narrator
Scream Street Various characters (voices)
2015 After Hours Geoff
Casualty Dave Barratt 1 episode
The Job Lot Kevin 1 episode
2015–2016 Obsessive Compulsive Country House Cleaners Narrator
The Keith Lemon Sketch Show Various characters
2016 Billionaire Boy Len One-off TV special
The Saturday Show Guest co-presenter 1 episode
Comedy Playhouse: Stop/Start Evan 1 episode
Bargain Shop Wars Narrator
Celebrity Haunted Hotel Live Participant
The Moonstone Sergeant Cuff
2017 Trollied Tim
2018 Go 8 Bit Contestant
2018 Shane The Chef Voice Of JG
2019 A Confession Ray


  1. Catholic Children's Rescue Society Archived 27 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. BBC Northern Ireland (2004) Patrick Kielty Almost Live John Thomson Profile. Retrieved on 2007-02-17
  3. Hockney, Karen (2002) "Everything is coming up roses for John the flowerpot man", The Sun. Retrieved on 2007-02-17
  4. Cooke, Rachel (2003-05-11) "Infamy, infamy ...", The Observer. Retrieved on 2007-02-17
  5. Shimmon, Katie (2006-06-06) "College days", Guardian Unlimted. Retrieved on 2007-02-17
  6. Rampton, James (1999-01-02) "Staying In: Interview John Thomson: The very fast show", The Independent. Retrieved on 2013-01-31
  7. Wainwright, Jeffrey (1996-02-17) "Theatre The Rivals, Royal Exchange, Manchester" Archived 24 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine, The Independent. Retrieved on 2007-02-17
  8. Bourke, Kevin (2003-04-25) "Thomson's Choice", Manchester Evening News. Retrieved on 2007-02-17
  9. South Manchester Reporter; 22 March 2002, p. 9
  10. Walker, Lynne (2003-05-27) "Theatre: A choice evening of comic charm" Archived 24 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine, The Independent. Retrieved on 2007-02-17
  11. Anonymous (2003-11-11) "Manchester Evening News Awards 2003" Archived 18 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine, The British Theatre Guide. Retrieved on 2007-02-17
  12. Press release (2003-03-03) "Comic Relief Does Fame Academy – celebrity students revealed", BBC Press Office. Retrieved on 2007-02-17
  13. Press release (2003-03-10) "Comic Relief Does Fame Academy – John Thomson packs his bags", BBC Press Office. Retrieved on 2007-02-17
  14. Press release (2006-04-25) "John Thomson plays Charlie Darling", BBC Press Office. Retrieved on 2007-02-17
  15. Deans, Jason (26-02-2007, "ITV's Lewis tops Sunday night TV", Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved on 2007-04-19
  16. Press release (undated) "Exclusive interview with John Thomson", ITV Dramas. Retrieved on 2007-03-15
  17. "Stephen Fry returns to his Kingdom". What's on TV. 1 July 2008. Archived from the original on 1 October 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2008.
  18. Green, Kris (21 January 2009). "Thomson to make permanent Corrie return", Digital Spy. Retrieved on 21 January 2009.
  19. Kilkelly, Daniel (16 February 2010). "John Thomson leaving Corrie role". Digital Spy. Retrieved on 16 February 2010.
  20. Daniels, Colin (29 May 2011). "'Waterloo Road' casts Paul Nicholls, John Thomson". Digital Spy. Retrieved on 31 May 2011.
  21. Foster's - The Fast Show
  22. BBC. "BBC Radio 4 - Pick Ups".
  23. Plunkett, John (31 March 2008). "Fast Show star John Thomson gets BBC Radio show". Retrieved 5 April 2008.
  24. Guide, British Comedy (17 November 2016). "Gaby Roslin to host Radio 4 film panel show".
  25. Kilkenny, Daniel (31 March 2010). "John Thomson welcomes baby girl". Digital Spy. Retrieved on 2 April 2010.
  26. "The Brothers Grimsby (2016)".
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