Dutton in 2015
Described as one of "the best vocal performers around," (BBC Comedy) he was one of the driving forces behind the hit BBC One comedy show The Big Impression with Alistair McGowan, and has also written and starred in several of his own series on BBC Radio 4, as well as writing extensively for many other TV and radio shows. His series Truly, Madly, Bletchley was described by The Independent on Sunday as "The most confident new sitcom since The Navy Lark", and Time Out praised his series The Harpoon, written with Peter Baynham, as having achieved "classic status."
His children's sitcom Scoop for CBBC, which Dutton wrote and performed in, ran for 3 series of 39 episodes between 2009 & 2011, and the hit impressions show "The Secret World," written with Bill Dare, in which Dutton performs alongside star impressionists Jon Culshaw, Lewis Macleod, Duncan Wisbey and Jess Robinson, ran for four series. The show was described by the Daily Express as "...definitely one of the funniest things I've heard on R4 for a while," and on 12 May 2014 won the Radio Academy Gold Award for Best Comedy.
He is the author of four books: the historical travelogue Shakespeare's Journey Home: a Traveller's Guide through Elizabethan England, The Bumper Book of Curious Clubs, a comic journey through the world's oddest societies, Keeping Quiet: Visual Comedy in the Age of Sound, published by Chaplin Books, April 2015., and a humorous book for children, The Secret Diary of Samuel Pepys, aged Ten & Three Quarters
In 2018 he wrote and performed a one-man stage tribute to the actor John Le Mesurier, "Do You Think That's Wise?" which he took to the Edinburgh Fringe festival in August and which toured the UK into 2019, culminating in a West End run in London in April & May. In 2020 he will embark on a UK stage tour of his own adaptation of Roy Clarke's sitcom Last of the Summer Wine, a one-man impressions show.
Born in central London, Dutton grew up in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, attending Reading Blue Coat School and Great Marlow School. Fellow pupils included Olympic Champion Steve Redgrave and the artist Paul Wilmott.
Like Alistair McGowan, Dutton attended the University of Leeds where he studied English and History, whilst performing extensively with the University Theatre Group. After leaving university he began work as an actor, touring with his own theatre company and writing and performing in his own play The Candidate at the New End Theatre, Hampstead.
Early professional work included touring working men's clubs in the Midlands and North of England with a children's variety show; appearances in the West End with Charlton Heston and Ben Cross in The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial; and a national tour with Ralph Bates in Alan Ayckbourn's Absent Friends.
Dutton then aged several decades to portray 'Morganhall', the eccentric barrister in John Mortimer's comic two-hander The Dock Brief, performed with Canadian actor Jonathan Hartman.
He also toured Europe in productions of The Taming of the Shrew and The Importance of Being Earnest, appearing in Rotterdam, Cologne, Antwerp and Amsterdam; as well as TV appearances in Tucker's Luck, The Bill, Dempsey and Makepeace and Rockliffe's Babies.
Comedy, stand-up & radio
In the early 1990s he turned from the theatre to comedy, performing an impressionist act on the stand-up circuit in London, and at this time began writing comedy shows for BBC Radio, including Week Ending which he worked on with Peter Baynham, Richard Herring, Stewart Lee, Harry Hill, Ben Moor, Armando Ianucci, Harry Thompson, and Sarah Smith; and The News Huddlines, Roy Hudd's weekly topical sketch show. As well as performing cabaret on the club circuit, from 1991 to 1997 he wrote more than eighty half-hour radio comedy shows, including The Harpoon, the latter jointly with Peter Baynham and starring himself with Alistair McGowan, Peter Baynham, Susie Brann and Mary Elliot-Nelson. Three series of The Harpoon were broadcast, plus two Christmas specials, all produced by Sarah Smith, from 1991 to 1993. During this time Dutton also dramatised and performed in six P. G. Wodehouse stories for BBC Radio 4, Ukridge, in which Griff Rhys Jones played the eponymous anti-hero, starring alongside Robert Bathurst.
The following year, in 1994, he was given his own series, Truly, Madly, Bletchley, which he wrote and starred in, along with David Battley, Liz Fraser, Simon Godley and Toby Longworth. Truly, Madly, Bletchley, produced by Dirk Maggs, was the first sketch show in the history of radio comedy to have been written by one person – apart from Harry Hill's Fruit Corner, which was being broadcast at the same time and which Dutton also performed in.
As a result of his radio work Dutton won the Peter Titheradge Award for Radio Comedy Writing, along with Richard Herring and Stewart Lee. At this period he was touring widely as a stand-up comedian, supporting Harry Hill in the West End, and performing with Al Murray, Jim Tavare and Jenny Eclair.
Early TV appearances at this time included The Bore of the Year Awards, in which he appeared in sketches with Peter Cook and John Sessions, Time Gentlemen Please, Al Murray's sitcom for Sky, and Does China Exist?, performing with Paul Merton. Dutton was also cast in many TV commercials, including playing the new Secret Lemonade Drinker in adverts with Ronnie Corbett, Frankie Howerd, and John McEnroe. He was also cast as the Canon Man in the copier ads.
In 2000 he co-created, wrote and performed in Alistair McGowan's Big Impression, later to be renamed The Big Impression, which was BBC One's first sketch show for many years and their first impressions show since Mike Yarwood's. The show, produced by Charlie Hanson, proved a massive hit: in addition to writing the series Dutton was one of the supporting performers along with Ronni Ancona, Alan Francis, Roger Blake and Duncan Wisbey, and performed impressions of, among others, Dustin Hoffman, John Le Mesurier and James Stewart. He wrote and performed in four series of the show and two Christmas Specials, and won a British Comedy Award in 2001, and a BAFTA. A spin-off series, Ronni Ancona & Co was commissioned in 2007, which Dutton wrote with Ancona, Alan Francis and Alex Lowe.
Dutton also writes extensively for children's television, including the sketch shows Spoof and Driving Me Mad, the long-running legendary sitcom ChuckleVision, and the 13-part sitcom Scoop, recommissioned for a second series of 13 episodes for screening in 2010, and a third series for screening in 2011. Dutton was also commissioned to create and write a pilot for a new CBBC sitcom, Little Chucks, the adventures of Paul and Barry Chuckle as children, broadcast in 2010.
Recent television appearances include the Emmy Award-nominated My Life as a Popat for ITV, The Sarah Jane Adventures, a Doctor Who spin-off for CBBC produced by Russell T Davies, Nuzzle and Scratch, a children's comedy series, and Scoop with Shaun Williamson.
In 2006/7 he performed a London run of his impressions show Look Back in Hunger, a one-man history of film and TV, and in early 2009 wrote and performed two new radio comedy series, Inside Alan Francis, with fellow comedian and actor Alan Francis, and a new impressions show, The Secret World, produced by Bill Dare, in which Dutton performs alongside star impressionists Jon Culshaw, Lewis Macleod, Duncan Wisbey and Jess Robinson.
A third series of 13 episodes of his children's sitcom Scoop was commissioned and filmed in the Autumn of 2010 for screening in 2011.
He has also written columns for The Sunday Times, The Independent on Sunday, and the London Evening Standard, a historical travel book, Shakespeare's Journey Home: a Traveller's Guide through Elizabethan England, and The World's Top 50 Craziest Clubs, a comic journey through the world's strangest associations and societies
A lifelong fan of silent comedy, in 2012 Dutton began developing an all-visual TV comedy show with comedian Matt Lucas and producer Ashley Blaker, with Lucas' own company, John Stanley Productions. They created and co-wrote a pilot script which they delivered to the BBC in December 2012, and a 6-part series was commissioned for BBC 2. The first all-visual TV series since Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean, Pompidou was an experimental series aiming to revive visual comedy for the twenty-first century, and create a show that would appeal to international audiences. Pompidou is currently showing in 192 countries on Netflix.
Dutton is an active member of the Liberal Democrats, identifying as a classical liberal. In May 2017 he was selected as candidate for the local elections in his constituency of Llandovery, which he lost to Plaid Cymru, the dominant party in that area of Wales. On the right of the party, he is a supporter of Orange Book liberalism, a combination of social progressivism and libertarian economics.
In 1995 he married Laura Sutton, p.a. to former Head of BBC Radio Comedy Jonathan James-Moore, with whom he has two children, Jack and Florence. He lives in the town of Llandovery, Carmarthenshire, Wales.
Radio series as a writer and performer
- Week Ending
- The News Huddlines
- Mackay the New
- Flying the Flag
- The Christopher Marlowe Mysteries
- The Harpoon
- Struck Off and Die
- Truly, Madly, Bletchley
- Harry Hill's Fruit Corner
- Gush - Radio Series
- The Oldest Member
- Richard Barton, General Practitioner
- Inside Alan Francis
- The Secret World
- Les Kelly's Britain
- Brian Gulliver's Travels
- Doctor Who: UNIT Dominion
- Lewis Macleod is Not Himself
TV Series as a writer and performer
- The Bill
- Dempsey and Makepeace
- The Gentle Touch
- Rockliffe's Babies
- Tucker's Luck
- Friday Night Armistice
- Jim Tavare Presents
- Does China Exist?
- Bore of the Year Awards
- Time Gentlemen Please
- The Big Impression
- Ronni Ancona & Co
- My Life as a Popat
- The Stephen K. Amos Show
- Driving Me Mad
- The Sarah Jane Adventures
- Coronation Street
- Pompidou (TV series)
- Little People
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