John O’Farrell

Highs and lows of comedy writer

Best selling author and Spitting image comedy writer John O’Farrell talks about some of the hilarious highs and lows of his literary journey on Sunday 7 November at 4.30pm at the Northcott Theatre. 

The event is part of the 'EXEtreme Imagination Children and Young People’s Literature Festival'.

One of Britain’s best known comedy writers was one of the lead writers for 'Spitting Image' and credited for the idea of making John Major permanently grey. His interest in politics included working as an MPs researcher in the House of Commons, until he lost his job following Labours defeat in the 1987 elections after which he became a full time comedy writer. At a later stage this strong connection with politics extended to O’Farrell standing as a Labour candidate for Maidenhead in the 2001 General Election.

In partnership with comedy writer Mark Burton the duo went onto to write and contribute to a number of BBC radio series including ‘Little Blighty on the Down’, ‘McKay the New’ and with the multi-award winning Peter Sinclair ‘A Look Back at the Nineties’ and ‘Look Back at the Future’ in which O’Farrell also performed. O’Farrell and Burton also wrote for ‘Clive Anderson Talk Back’, ‘Nick Hancock Room 101’, ‘Murder Most Horrid’ and co-wrote some of the ‘Smith and Jones’ sketches. In 1993 they became the first writers credited for the scripted parts of ‘Have I Got News For You’.

Prior to this success O’Farrell graduated from Exeter in 1983, he said 'My time at Exeter University was a very happy and productive one. Being an English and Drama graduate was a great grounding for a career writing TV scripts and books, and the university environment provided me with the outlet to start writing regularly for student publications and even try my hand at stand up comedy! Returning to the campus thirty years later I amazed that even more is on offer - it makes we wish I could do it all over again...'

Following his hugely popular account of the previous 2000 years, O’Farrell brings British history bang up to date with ‘An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain or 60 years of Making the Same Stupid Mistakes as Always’. This modern history book elucidates and laughs at all the bizarre events, ridiculous characters and stupid decisions that have shaped Britain’s story since 1945.

Professor Helen Taylor the University of Exeter’s Arts & Culture Development Fellow said, ‘John O'Farrell is a superb ambassador for Exeter English. A brilliant writer and humorist, he demonstrates the subtlety, intellectual rigour and acute sense of irony that characterise the best English students. John has achieved an impressive range of writing, broadcasting and political engagement, and he's also a lovely bloke!

She added, ‘He was specifically requested for EXEtreme Imagination by the Youth Steering Group at St James School - so there's a whole new generation wanting to hear him.’

Date: 7 November 2010

Read more University News