John Vyvyan

John Vyvyan
John Vyvyan (1908 – September 1975)

John Vyvyan was born in the 1920s in Bogibri, Australia. He left Australia in the late 1940s, and in the early 1950s, when Ray Galton and Alan Simpson first began writing jokes at five shillings a time for radio star Derek Roy, it was Johnny Vyvyan, who, as Derek's right hand man, paid Alan in cash direct from Derek's cash box.

John was a comedy natural, appearing frequently in 1950s and 60s comedy shows, most notably 'Hancock's Half Hour'. He appeared in over 20 episodes with Tony Hancock between 1957 and 1960, including 'Sid in Love', 'The Emigrant', 'The Missing Page', 'The Football Pools', 'Ericson the Viking' and 'The Lawyer: The Crown V Sid James'.

John's diminutive size (he was just five feet tall) and lugubrious face were well exploited in comedy situations, and he offered a different kind of challenge to Hancock's authority and pomposity in the shows, generally affecting an air of disgust. His lack of height was exploited to great comic effect in 'The Football Pools', when Hancock, who needs to fix the football result of the final match of the day to secure the jackpot, puts John Vyvyan in goal. As a long-standing friend of Hancock, John also supported Tony in his stage tours, taking part in the sketches and also acting as Tony's dresser and confidante.

Between 1961 and 1962, Vyvyan appeared in 20 episodes of the comedy 'Our House' which also starred Hattie Jacques. The plot behind the series concerned a group of very diverse people who pool together their resources to buy a house large enough to accommodate them all. Sadly very few episodes of this programme still exist. In the early 1960's he also appeared as a regular on Ned Sherrin's 'Laugh Lines', a production for the BBC which combined cartoon drawings and live actors.

John's other work includes appearances on shows starring Les Dawson, Morecambe and Wise, Spike Milligan, Benny Hill and Des O'Connor. Johnny Vyvyan's last credit appears to have been in 'It's Your Move' (Thames, 1982), one of a number of silent comedies made for television by Eric Sykes. John Vyvyan died in September 1984 in Godalming, Surrey.