How We Met: Jon Holmes & Jon Culshaw

'I turned to watch my wife come down the aisle, and there was Jon, leaning out, blocking her'

Interviews,Rhiannon Harries
Sunday 23 October 2011 03:05

Jon Holmes, 40, is a writer, comedian and broadcaster. He is co-creator of the BBC radio and TV series Dead Ringers, writes and appears on Radio 4's The Now Show and hosts a music show on BBC 6 Music. He lives in Canterbury with his wife

I met Jon in a room full of impressionists, which was quite a strange experience as they all "do" the same people, but some do them better than others. It was the Dead Ringers pilot read-through and everyone was vying to be the best John Humphrys that day. I'd heard of Jon and vaguely remembered his name from Spitting Image. When writing Dead Ringers I'd thought, "He'd be good," and I was right – he was very good at what he did.

Jon and I clicked right away; we'd go for a beer after a recording, and when we weren't working together, we'd meet up for a pint in Soho and throw ideas around. He slips into character all the time. I don't think I have ever had a conversation with Jon where he hasn't done a funny voice at some point.

Jon started doing some corporate gigs and, through him, I was asked to write the material, and we would get whisked off on these all-expenses paid weekends by large companies. We once found ourselves on a rather bizarre break in Paris doing all the classic romantic-couple things, like going up the Eiffel Tower. We had a bit of a laugh about the slight weirdness of it and ended up coming up with the concept for Jon's ITV series, The Impressionable Jon Culshaw, on top of the Arc de Triomphe, so it was productive at least.

We have a very similar sense of humour, though we come at it from different angles when we are working together. I'm the evil one, so we have to compromise a bit.

He will ring me up occasionally before he goes on a chat show in need of a gag on a particular subject. He might be backstage on Loose Women and call me for a joke about Dale Winton and I'll have to think of something on the spot – it's a good test for me and I don't mind at all, because Jon is very loyal. He's the famous one, he's the face of it all, but he is very faithful to everyone who works behind the scenes and is quick to credit everyone else.

Jon and I both like to keep our personal and work lives quite separate, which is difficult in this industry. I think we feel we are both in the industry and a little bit outside it, so we can watch all the madness with an amused, jaundiced eye together.

My favourite memory of Jon is from my wedding. I turned around to watch my wife come down the aisle and saw Jon instead. He was leaning out into the aisle – almost blocking her way – to take a picture on his mobile. Jon takes a picture a day as a visual record and that was his image of the day.

Jon Culshaw, 41, is a comedian and impersonator best known for his work on Dead Ringers on BBC2 and Radio 4. Tony Blair, Russell Crowe and Ozzy Osbourne are among his most famous impersonations. He lives in north London

I first met Jon at the read-through of the pilot Dead Ringers script 10 years ago. He was there with the other writers sitting around a table, looking like he was listening very intently. I didn't know Jon or his work at that point, but he was always described as the "muscle" behind the Dead Ringers team because, in his writing at least, he likes to hit hard and can be very incisive and scathing.

My first impressions of him were from a professional point of view – I just thought he was a great gag-writer – but we hit it off immediately, too. It was as though we had already known each other for years. Jon's personality is nothing like his style of writing. He is intensely mischievous in real life too, but he is jolly and jocular and there is none of the spikiness. If we'd known each other in school we would have been the kids the teacher had to separate – we distract each other too much.

Our personalities are totally different, though – which might be why we work and get on so well together. He is the devil with the red horns and I am on the more angelic side, trying to rein him in. Creatively, you always need to clip Jon's wings a little. I'll often read through his script and find myself chuckling at bits before putting a big red line through them and saying, "No! We can't say that... or that!"

Jon is a great fan of rock music and is quite rock'n'roll himself. The two of us once went to see Ozzy Osbourne, because I was going to play him in a Children in Need sketch. Jon was meeting Ozzy for the first time and I could tell he was really excited about meeting the king of metal. But when Ozzy came in, Jon was like a different person. He said, "Sir, it's a great honour and delight!" It was very funny.

Jon has been a long-time ally of mine in the business and we've worked on a few TV and radio projects together over the years. As a performer, you're quite inextricably linked with your writer so it's nice when you build up a really good rapport. Jon and I just get each other, which makes everything so much quicker. We cut out a lot of the talking because we already know what the other thinks. It means we can get in and out of the studio in an afternoon and be down the pub for a few pints together. n

Jon Holmes' one-man show 'Rock Star Babylon' is at the Gilded Balloon Teviot (0131 622 6552) at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from tomorrow until 30 August

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