John Junkin

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John Francis Junkin (29 January 1930 – 7 March 2006) was an English radio, television and film performer and scriptwriter.

In 1960 Junkin joined Joan Littlewood's Stratford East Theatre Workshop, and played the lead in the original production of Sparrows Can't Sing. A few years later he joined the Royal Court Theatre company and was the foil to Tony Hancock in some of Hancock's last work for British television. He played a diverse range of roles on the small screen; however he is best remembered for his comedy roles, and his appearances as a television quiz master. Worldwide moviegoers will remember him best for playing "Shake", the assistant to Norman Rossington, in the Beatles movie A Hard Day's Night. In comedy roles, Junkin was rarely short of work, on account of his outstanding ability to play the stoney-faced symbol of low level, petty-minded and unquestioning authority, whether the army sergeant, police constable or site foreman. One of his rare leading roles was in the BBC series The Rough with the Smooth, in which he and Tim Brooke-Taylor played comedy writers (with both actors contributing scripts to the series as well).[1]

Junkin has an entry in the Guinness Book of Records as the voice of "Mr Shifter", one of the chimps in the PG Tips tea advertisement, the longest-running series of commercials on television.[1]

Junkin died on 7 March 2006 in the Florence Nightingale House, Aylesbury. He had been suffering from lung cancer, emphysema and asthma.[2] His life and work were honoured at the British Academy Television Awards in 2006.


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