- Birth name:
- John Francis Junkin
- Date of Birth:
- 7 March 1930 Ealing, London, England, UK
An influential figure in the world of British television comedy during the 1960s and 70s, actor and comedian John Junkin wrote scripts for such shows as The Army Game, The World of Beachcomber, Queenie's Castle, plus scripts for many comedians, including Ted Ray, Jim Davidson, Bob Monkhouse and Mike Yarwood.As an actor he became familiar to TV soap viewers when he starred in East Enders (2001), playing Ernie, a mysterious stranger who suddenly appears at the Queen Vic.Junkin was born in Ealing, West London. Educated locally, he worked as a teacher in the East End of London but said he hated the job. "I loved the kids," he recalled. "But hated the adults and bores of the Education Authority."In 1960 he joined Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop in Stratford East and was in the original cast of Littlewood's production of Sparrers Can't Sing with Barbara Windsor.Throughout the sixties and seventies he was one of the busiest men on television, both as a performer and scriptwriter. The comedian Marty Feldman won the Golden Rose Award with a Junkin script in 1972 and with Barry Cryer and others, Junkin contributed to many of the Morecambe and Wise specials for the BBC. He also wrote, with Bill Tidy, The Fosdyke Saga, and The Grumbleweeds for radio.He had a prolific career in the cinema playing a variety of straight and comic roles and described himself as easy to cast: "I look like the bloke next door," he said. "I always seem to be wearing one of those sheepskin coats."In the latter part of his career, Junkin became disillusioned with show business, particularly television. He fell out with a producer - he never revealed which one - over the writing of a game show for which he had devised the format. Litigation cost him £70,000 and he was also in debt to the tax man to the tune of £120,000. He did, however, return to scriptwriting and contributed to The Crazy World of Joe Pasquale (1998) and The Impressionable Jon Culshaw (2004) and he was much in demand as an after dinner speaker.Close friend, former Radio 1 disc jockey Dave Lee Travis, said: If you were in conversation with John, you were always in a state of hilarity. He had no airs and graces."