Comedian Griff Rhys Jones to receive OBE

Griff Rhys Jones, who became a household name in the 1980s with Not The Nine O’Clock News and Alas Smith and Jones, will receive an OBE.

A celebrated comedian, writer, actor and presenter, he will be presented the honour for services to the National Civic Society Movement, charity and entertainment in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Rhys Jones first flexed his funny bone at Cambridge, where he joined the Footlights and the Mummers, as well as ADC Theatre.

Television – Not the Nine O’Clock News – Silver Rose Award
(Clockwise from left) Griff Rhys Jones, Rowan Atkinson, Mel Smith and Pamela Stephenson (PA)

After joining the BBC as a trainee radio producer, he had a selection of minor roles in the first series of Not The Nine O’Clock News.

Following the departure of Chris Langham he was brought in as a regular member of the cast alongside Rowan Atkinson, Pamela Stephenson and Mel Smith.

The relationship with Smith is one of the most significant of his career and after the show finished the duo founded Talkback Productions to produce their own shows and those of other performers.

It is responsible for some of the UK’s most successful comedies including Brass Eye, Da Ali G Show, The Day Today, Green Wing, I’m Alan Partridge, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Smack The Pony and Celebrity Juice.

Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

It also produced Alas Smith and Jones, making the duo one of the most successful and long running double acts on TV.

They reunited in 2005 for a Comic Relief sketch, which led to a revival of The Smith and Jones Sketchbook.

Their final appearance together was in a head-to-head sketch in 2012 for The One Griff Rhys Jones and when Smith died in 2013, Rhys Jones offered a moving tribute to his old friend.

Rhys Jones has also made frequent appearances in theatre, winning Olivier awards for his turns in Charley’s Aunt in 1984 and An Absolute Turkey in 1994.

He also appeared at the National Theatre as Toad in The Wind in the Willows and at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, as Fagin in Oliver!

More recently he has embarked on a career as a presenter of shows such as Bookworm and Restoration and has also written and presented documentaries on Arthur Ransome, Rudyard Kipling, John Betjeman and Thomas Hardy.

He has starred in the BBC’s Three Men in a Boat series with Dara O’Briain and Rory McGrath since 2006 and also hosted shows such as Rivers with Griff Rhys Jones,  Britain’s Lost Routes with Griff Rhys Jones and Griff’s Great Britain.

Acting roles have included parts in shows such as Mine All Mine, Riot at the Rite, Marple, Casualty and Jonathan Creek.

Rhys Jones and wife Jo, who he met on Not The Nine O’Clock News, have a son and daughter.

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