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Graham David Fellows was born Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, 22 May 1959 and is an English comedy actor and musician, best known for creating the characters of John Shuttleworth and Jilted John. Fellows lives in Louth, Lincolnshire.
Born the same day as Morrissey, Fellows attended the King Edward VII School (Sheffield) (when it had newly become a comprehensive), where he was a head boy. He studied drama at Manchester Polytechnic.
Fellows first came to prominence as "Jilted John", a character who had a hit single in 1978 that was named after his own alter ego. The single was performed in the aggressive, minimalist style of the then-prevailing punk style, but with poppier influences, somewhat akin to the Buzzcocks. The novelty hit was most memorable for its biting, out-of-tune lyrics ("I was so upset that I cried all the way to the chip shop" for example), a first-person narrative of a bitter teenager named John whose girlfriend Julie had left him for another guy named Gordon, 'just 'cause he's better lookin' than me/just 'cause he's cool and trendy. The character of Gordon on the record sleeve was played by Bernard Kelly, who had met Graham in his drama club.
Produced by Martin Hannett for his Rabid Records label, the song was first played on national radio by John Peel who commented that if the single was promoted by a major record label he could see it being a huge hit. This proved to be the case when it was picked up by EMI International. The song was introduced by David Jensen on Top of the Pops as 'one of the most bizarre singles of the decade', and the song went on to reach number 4 in the UK singles chart.
Two follow-up singles were released the same year under the guise of 'Gordon the Moron'. A pseudo-concept album also produced by Hannett followed, entitled True Love Stories, charting John's love-life - and two further singles, neither of which were hits. No other recordings followed these, making Jilted John a one-hit wonder. However a cash-in single by Julie and Gordon sold moderately well as did lapel badges bearing the legends "Gordon is a moron" and "Gordon is not a moron". The phrase has also been used politically, referring to the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Fellows revived the Jilted John character at the 2008 Big Chill festival, along with Bernard Kelly, premiering a new song about Keira Knightley's ultra-thin figure.
In 1986 Fellows created John Shuttleworth, an aspiring singer/songwriter in his late 40s from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, with a quiet manner and slightly nerdish tendencies. His musical talents are usually expressed through his Yamaha PSS portable keyboard, and include such greats as Pigeons in Flight - a song which Shuttleworth attempted to have selected for the Eurovision Song Contest.
Fellows has also created many supporting characters, including John's wife Mary Shuttleworth, and next-door neighbour and incompetent manager and sole agent Ken Worthington, who came last on the TV talent show New Faces in 1973.
Their various adventures have featured on several radio shows, including The Shuttleworths, Shuttleworth's Showtime and Radio Shuttleworth, with Fellows supplying all the voices and performing on his organ. He also made a four-part TV series supposedly filmed by Worthington, 500 Bus Stops (the title being a parodying reference to Frank Zappa's 200 Motels), about a UK national tour thwarted very early on by the demise of his beloved Austin Ambassador Y Reg but then continued by public transport. The venues visited were invariably mundane and uninspiring, and situations experienced usually demoralising, but were optimistically dealt with as if they were defining moments in his career. There followed a television special, Europigeon, following the success (or otherwise) of Pigeons In Flight.
In 2004, Fellows (as Shuttleworth) made a film with photographer Martin Parr, entitled It's Nice Up North, in which Shuttleworth tests his theory that British people are nicer the further north one ventures by visiting the Shetland Islands, the most northerly part of the United Kingdom. In summer 2007 he travelled to the Channel Islands to shoot another, 'Southern Softies'. Featuring an appearance again from Parr, Shuttleworth aims to discover whether people are softer the further south you go. In May 2008 Fellows appeared in the BBCs Comedy Map of Britain in which he discussed the origin of his Shuttleworth character.
Shuttleworth is a very affecting character. Essentially decent and benevolent, but with a painful lack of self-awareness, the unfortunate gap between his actual musical talent and his steadfast belief in the possibility of his eventual pop super-stardom is the main source of the character's tragi-comedy. The not-too-competent Ken Worthington is more of a hindrance than a help to John's life.
The character was inspired by some demo tapes sent in to Chappell Music where Graham worked as a songwriter in the 1980s, and takes some of his mannerisms from Graham's father and from mouse breeders he knew as a young man in Sheffield (a character prototypical of John Shuttleworth appeared on the single 'Men Of Oats And Creosote').
In April 2007, Shuttleworth started touring with a new stage show 'With My Condiments'. It was inspired by Jamie Oliver's promotion of healthy food for school children. Fellows thought "what would happen if Shuttleworth did the same for a slightly older age group". In June, Shuttleworth's 4 Rather Tasty Tracks was released as a download or CD. Having been recorded in a wardrobe, it reached the appropriately modest number 96 in the UK charts and number 29 in the Indie Charts in July 2007.
In November 2008 John commenced the Minor Tour - and other Mythological Creatures tour.
In 2009, Shuttleworth appeared in a UK television advertising campaign for Yorkshire Tea.
Two more recent Fellows creations followed, firstly Brian Appleton, a rock musicologist and media studies lecturer from a college of further education in the Newcastle-under-Lyme area although originally he hails from Selly Oak in Birmingham. His girlfriend Wendy is an aromatherapist, but unfortunately upon qualifying she became allergic to the essential oils she uses. He is convinced that he has been instrumental in helping many rock acts to achieve megastardom and yet received no credit for his efforts, such as being the cause for the gap in "Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)" by Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, inadvertently launching the vocal career of Phil Collins at a failed audition for the lead singer of Genesis after the departure of Peter Gabriel and giving Howard Jones the idea for using a mime artist in the hit "New Song" while working opposite him at a Clingfilm factory in High Wycombe. Brian also claimed to have a significant bearing on the career of the Thompson Twins (for example he inspired the hit 'Love On Your Side' while directing Alannah Currie towards her hat which he accidentally knocked off her head).
His newest character is Dave Tordoff, a builder from Goole specialising in 'laser screed' concrete flooring. He has ambitions to become a popular after dinner speaker having seen how easy it was for Kevin Keegan. The topic he enjoys discussing the most is his accumulated wealth, followed by life on his ranch-style property with wife Mandy and daughter Courtney. Hobbies earmarked for 2007 included falconry.
Graham Fellows released one more album in 1985 under his own name titled Love at the Hacienda. It was well received but was not a commercial success. It does, however, have a cult following in Japan. Prior to creating Shuttleworth, Fellows appeared in Coronation Street as Les Charlton, a young biker chasing the affections of married Gail Platt (then Tilsley). During his fame as Jilted John, Fellows had first appeared on Coronation Street in a very brief cameo role in which he meets Gail, single at the time, on the street in Manchester. In 2007 he appeared in an episode of ITV's Heartbeat.
He presented a programme of his favourite poetry and prose on Radio 4's With Great Pleasure in January 2007.
In July 2009, he read Radio 4's Book of the Week, You're Coming With Me Lad by Mike Pannett, a Metropolitan Police officer's semi-autobiographical account of his experiences in the North Yorkshire town of Malton.
A one-off UK 7" single was released in 1980 under the band name Going Red - "Some Boys"/"Tune Kevin's Strings" - with a picture sleeve depicting Graham in the shower, fully clothed. The band consisted of Graham Fellows (vocals/guitar), Russell Giant (percussion), Mervin Cloud (guitar/vocals) and Francis Charlton (bass guitar). The A-side was an up-tempo new wave-style rocker, whilst the humorous B-side features fake crowd noises and predictable heavy metal riffing.