John Junkin – a short recollection…


Right, so I was clearing some old files from my computer when I came across an old correspondence file and in it some letters that formed my half of a ‘conversation’ with John Junkin. If you don’t know the name, you must look him up (more of which to come below)…

In 1998 my great friend and then writing partner, Chris, came to me with an idea he had for a stage show based on an LP record he had of songs from the radio show ‘Hello Cheeky!’ We devised a working model for the show and began to write the script. Now, for those of you who do not know ‘Hello Cheeky!’, it was a radio comedy written and performed by, amongst others, John Junkin, Barry Cryer and Tim Brooke-Taylor. The songs were daft, even at the time they were written, but given the passage of time they had become little gems of nonsense (my own favourite, I recall, was ‘Tickling Mrs Adcock With A Lettuce’) and the premise of the show relied on multi-role playing, on-stage costume changes and basic chaos. It was a fun show and I liked it. Now, and here’s the point, so did Mr Junkin.

Let me tell you about John Junkin. John Junkin was a gifted actor and writer. He wrote and appeared in a number of radio comedies; he appeared in countless films – including ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ with the Beatles – on TV he worked with Tony Hancock, Spike Milligan and Marty Feldman – for three years he co-wrote the Morecambe & Wise TV shows for goodness sake! In later years he became an accomplished straight actor and he even had his own show on ITV. He had difficult times in his private and professional life, but to me, he remained a big deal. And he agreed to travel half the length of the country to spend some time with us and work on the script. He did this for no other reason than he believed in the show and he wanted it to go ahead. Unfortunately, for reasons I do not want to go into here, it became clear that the show would not be able to go ahead and the project petered out. This is not my point.

John Junkin later went on to find new fame as Ernie Johnson in Eastenders (2001-2), but when we met, a couple of years earlier, he had told me that he could not even find a publisher for his autobiography. This is a man who had worked with The Beatles and Marty Feldman; who had helped to re-shape radio comedy; who had written for Morecambe and Wise godammit! We kept in touch sporadically over the next two or three years and whilst enjoying his newly found soap-opera fame he asked me to update the stage play and send it to him. I did, of course. He did this because he remembered his very short time with us and thought that he still might be able to ‘do something’ with the show. This, also, is not my point.

John Junkin died on 7th March 2006. The show never got made. Now, here is my point. The John Junkin that I met was kind and funny. He was incredibly generous with his time. Chris and I were then ‘nobodies’ (a lofty position that I at least, still maintain), but he gave us time because he liked us, he liked the idea and he liked the script. Today I looked him up on Wikipedia. It lists his films, his TV and his radio work (it doesn’t even mention Morecambe & Wise). There are no eulogies. It is short and it is largely without praise and it left me wanting to tell this very short story because I can’t do anything about his Wikipedia page, but I really hope that somebody can…

NB I found this obituary from the Guardian. It tells a bit more of his story…

2 thoughts on “John Junkin – a short recollection…

  1. Great memories… I remember asking him in advance of his visit what he’d like for lunch… “Anything” he said.. “Don’t go to a lot of trouble”… So I did! I prepared enough food for a Gypsy’s funeral!! I was still eating pork pie and salad two weeks later… Whenever anyone comes to the house, I point to a chair in the corner of the room and with a sigh of nostalgia say… “John Junkin sat there”. “Who” they say… as I murmur the word Philistine!


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