John Sparkes

John Sparkes (born 6 January 1954) is a Welsh actor and comedian.[1][2] He portrayed Barry Welsh, presenter of the HTV Wales series Barry Welsh Is Coming. He also had major roles in Naked Video, Absolutely, Fireman Sam, Shaun the Sheep, and Jeff Global's Global Probe, and is the narrator of the children's TV show Peppa Pig.[3]

John Sparkes
Born (1954-01-06) 6 January 1954 (age 67)
Swansea, Wales
  • Actor
  • comedian
MediumFilm, stand-up, television
Years active1986–present
GenresSketch comedy, improvisational comedy, character comedy
Notable works and rolesBarry Welsh Is Coming
Fireman Sam
Peppa Pig
Shaun the Sheep

Early lifeEdit

Sparkes was born on 6 January 1954 in Swansea, Wales.[4] He began his working life at Lloyds Bank in Mumbles. After a time as an English teacher, in the 1980s, he turned to comedy and moved to London, becoming an established performer in the first years of London's alternative cabaret circuit alongside Alexei Sayle, Jo Brand, Paul Merton, and Rik Mayall.[1][5]

TV comedy careerEdit

Naked Video and AbsolutelyEdit

Sparkes starred in the sketch show Naked Video, where he played Siadwel, the geeky South Wales poet who wore an anorak and glasses.[6] The character also appeared when Sparkes was part of the BBC Radio 4 comedy programme Bodgers, Banks & Sparkes.

He was one of the team behind the Channel 4 sketch show Absolutely, which ran for four years between 1989 and 1993.[7] Following an award-winning radio special, a new series for BBC Radio 4 was commissioned for broadcast in September 2015.[8]

Barry WelshEdit

Barry Welsh Is Coming was a long-running comedy series for HTV Wales. As well as playing Barry Welsh, the hapless host of a chat show, Sparkes also plays other characters within the programme, such as pub singer Gwyn, old Mr. Ffff and Fishguard news reporter Hugh Pugh. Although the series ended in 2004, it returned in 2007 for a series of one-off specials.

Throughout its original run, the series also won four BAFTA Cymru awards for Best Light Entertainment.[citation needed]

Children's TVEdit

Sparkes provides the voice of the narrator and some other characters in the children's animated series Peppa Pig, in which the voice of fellow Absolutely star Morwenna Banks is also featured.[6] In Shaun the Sheep he voices Bitzer the Dog and the Farmer. He also voices Mr. Elf and King Marigold in Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom, Professor von Proton in The Big Knights, Steven in A Town Called Panic, and the lead character Fireman Sam in the 2005 series.


After killing off Siadwel in Naked Video, Sparkes revived the character in 2014 for a new series of radio shows for BBC Radio Wales, which was recommissioned a year later.


Sparkes has written and presented three ongoing television series of Great Pubs of Wales for ITV Wales. He has voiced the unseen character of archivist Goronwy, in a section of Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention for BBC One and has written and presented Ghost Story, in which he spent the night alone with a camcorder in haunted houses around Wales. He has also co-written and presented Doug Strong's Special Places, a factual comedy series for ITV Wales and ITV Central.

Other workEdit

In 2005, Sparkes performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Absolutely Presents John Sparkes and Pete Baikie with his Absolutely colleague Peter Baikie.[9]

For Welsh television, he starred in Jeff Global's Global Probe (ITV Wales), and he resurrected the character Frank Hovis, originally devised for the Absolutely series, in Pub Quiz (BBC Wales).

Personal lifeEdit

Sparkes is married to Beverley and the couple have two daughters.[1][10][11]



Year Title Role Notes
1989 Melancholia [de] Roger Dere British-German film by Andi Engel, starring Jeroen Krabbé
2003 Calendar Girls Welsh Photographer
2015 Shaun the Sheep Movie The Farmer, Bitzer Voice role
Peppa Pig: The Golden Boots Narrator
2017 Peppa Pig: My First Cinema Experience
2019 A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon The Farmer, Bitzer


Year Title Role Notes
1986 Naked Video Siadwel 6 episodes
1988 Cabaret at Jongleurs Unknown role 1 episode
1989–1993 Absolutely Various characters 28 episodes
1992 Angry George Irons Unknown role (voice) 1 episode
Saturday Zoo Glaswegian Matron 1 episode
1994–1995 The All New Alexei Sayle Show Various characters 8 episodes
1996–2004 Barry Welsh Is Coming Barry Welsh, Hugh Pugh, various characters
1998 Comedy Nation Various roles
1999-2000 The Big Knights Various roles
2000 The Strangerers Bilbo 2 episodes
2001–2005 Pub Quiz Frank Hovis
2002 A Town Called Picnic Unknown role (voice) 1 episode
2004 Jeff Global's Global Probe Various roles
2004–present Peppa Pig Narrator, Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Potato, Uncle Pig, Mr. Pony (voices)
2005 Fireman Sam Fireman Samuel "Sam" Jones, Fireman Elvis Cridlington, Station Officer Basil Steele, Norman Price, Dilys Price, Trevor Evans, Tom Thomas, Mike Flood, Dusty (voices) 26 episodes
Not Tonight with John Sergeant Barry Welsh TV movie
2007–present Shaun the Sheep The Farmer, Bitzer (voices)
2009–2012 Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom Mister Elf, King Marigold, Zoe Baker (voices) 44 episodes
2015 Shaun the Sheep: The Farmer's Llamas The Farmer, Bitzer, Hector (voices) TV special


Year Title Role Notes
2006–2007 Fireman Sam: On Stage Fireman Sam (voice), Elvis Cridlington (voice), Dilys Price (voice), Norman Price (voice), Tom Thomas (voice)


  1. ^ a b c "The return of Siadwell: John Sparkes resurrects the character that launched his career". 30 November 2013.
  2. ^ "UK Satellite News". Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  3. ^ Mainwaring, Rachel (25 June 2011). "John Sparkes: Bringing home the bacon". Wales Online.
  4. ^ "Rotten Tomatoes: Movies | TV Shows | Movie Trailers | Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes".
  5. ^ Solutions, Powder Blue Internet Business. "John Sparkes, comedian : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  6. ^ a b Mainwaring, Rachel (12 June 2011). "Siodwell creator John Sparkes is Welsh voice of Peppa Pig". Wales Online.
  7. ^ White, Jim (20 January 1993). "Absolutely fabulous. Not: Baikie, Banks, Docherty, Hunter, Kennedy & Sparkes. Who? The comics from Absolutely tell Jim White why they're basking in obscurity". The Independent.
  8. ^ Absolutely back for a full series – sketch team's comeback gathers pace,, 15 July 2015
  9. ^ "Absolutely Presents John Sparkes and Pete Baikie". Chortle. 2005. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  10. ^ "Return of the mac and Siadwel". 17 March 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  11. ^ "John Sparkes".

External linksEdit