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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 March 2006, 11:38 GMT
Obituary: John Junkin
John Junkin
John Junkin: Master of mirth and noted character actor
John Junkin, who has died aged 76, was a familiar face in dozens of films, TV plays, comedies and game shows, but he was also a prolific scriptwriter for many of Britain's top comedians.

Together with Barry Cryer, Neil Shand, Eddie Braben and Spike Mullins, John Junkin was one of a select band of comedy writers responsible for scripting some of the most popular television shows of recent years.

John Junkin was born in Ealing, west London, in January 1930 and began his working life as a school teacher.

He turned to scriptwriting, supporting himself at first as a liftman and labourer while writing for comedians like Ted Ray and Jimmy Logan, and got into acting in 1960 with Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop.

Indeed, within a fortnight of first meeting Littlewood, he was playing a leading role in the original production of Sparrers Can't Sing.

Nice to see him: Junkin (r) with Bruce Forsyth and Elizabeth Larner
Junkin (right) worked with Bruce Forsyth and Elizabeth Larner
During the following year, Junkin played a wide variety of stage roles, from a gay Liverpudlian tennis player to a mad German scientist.

After leaving Littlewood's company he featured alongside Rex Harrison in August for the People, at London's Royal Court.

The 60s saw him appearing as an actor in a vast array of television shows, including Z Cars, Emergency Ward 10 and Dr Finlay's Casebook, as well as in films like A Hard Day's Night, which provided a snapshot of Beatlemania.

At the same time, Junkin was writing, often in his garden shed, for some of the biggest comedy names in the UK: Morecambe and Wise, Marty Feldman and Ronnie Barker.

Sought-after writer

He went on to appear in films like A Handful of Dust and Chicago Joe and the Showgirl, plus hundreds of television and radio programmes, including EastEnders, Coronation Street, and The Professionals.

Beyond that, there were four series of his own show, Junkin, on ITV, and the cult radio hit Hello Cheeky!, which he wrote with his long-time collaborators Barry Cryer, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Denis King.

John Junkin with Perry Fenwick in EastEnders
John Junkin appeared with Perry Fenwick in EastEnders
And he remained a much sought-after scriptwriter, working on television programmes like All Creatures Great and Small and for top comedians including Les Dawson, Bruce Forsyth, Joe Pasquale and Jon Culshaw.

Junkin's wit, and his obvious contempt for much of today's television output, was pithily displayed in the following letter to The Times, published in October 1998:

"May I confess to not being quite as upset as many people at the loss of first-class cricket by BBC Television, principally because it will give viewers a chance to see the three new series I have devised.

"These consist of 26 programmes on gardening, 26 on travel and 26 on cooking, with a Christmas special in which a well-known gardener is invited to take a celebrity chef to some glamorous location and cook him."

John Junkin was married, and had a daughter.




SEE ALSO:
Comedy veteran John Junkin dies
07 Mar 06 |  Entertainment


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