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John Shuttleworth to perform gig at Lincoln Drill Hall

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: November 03, 2012

County-based comedian: Graham Fellows in character as his most popular alter ego John Shuttleworth

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If you have ever wondered what happens to the demo tapes that never make it to the recording studio, then character John Shuttleworth may hold a clue.

Created by Graham Fellows in 1986, inspiration for the fictional singer, songwriter and radio presenter came from the funniest of those tapes when the Lincolnshire-based comedian was working at Chappell Music.

"I was trying to be a successful songwriter for pop acts during the 80s," says Fellows, who had his first brush with fame as Jilted John, a character who had a hit single in 1978.

"Some of the demo tapes were very funny. I remember one tape where this guy was playing the guitar I think, or maybe keyboards, but you could hear someone washing up in the background.

"I made my own spoof tape in that style and sent it to Chappell Music and they loved it.

"I didn't start on the comedy circuit with John Shuttleworth until around 1991 though. It was absolutely nerve-wracking, that first gig, although I had supported acts.

"But the full transition to the world of comedy was more difficult.

"When you do a character you are asking an audience to try a bit harder and buy into that world you've created – not everyone wants to do that.

"There are more character comedians around now but when I started the only other person I knew doing it was Barry Humphreys."

John Shuttleworth: Out of our Sheds tour will arrive at Lincoln Drill Hall on November 9 and sees the Sony and Perrier nominated Shuttleworth venture beyond the garden gate to meander the streets of Britain and find out which is better – city life or country living?

Fellows, who was born in Sheffield, has lived in Lincolnshire for the past 19 years. I wonder if life in our county has changed Shuttleworth?

"He used to be more concerned about making it in the music industry. But I don't think John would embrace the new world of music.

"He is now less obsessed about music and more about jet washing the outside of his bin – something I actually saw someone doing recently.

"I do think he has been affected by living in Lincolnshire. When I picture the arcades and garden centres he visits, I do picture Louth where I live and it's quaintness. It seems quite traditional here and that definitely has affected him.

"I have tried out other characters over the years and they haven't been as popular and enduring.

"I think he is basically a nice bloke. His view of the world is fairly benign and he is not angry, it's not aggressive humour. The 'victim' is usually him – whereas quite a lot of comedy can be cruel. People will also say: 'my dad was just like that'.

"I think people like the music as well. As John I have written well over 100 songs.

"Recently I did a gig at The Bloomsbury Theatre in London in aid of Breakthrough Breast Cancer and the premise of the evening was for these stars to sing the songs of John Shuttleworth."

The event, John Shuttleworth and Friends, was held in September with guests Barbara Dickson, Heaven 17, Mike Flowers, Reverend And The Makers and Vic Reeves.

"John has been trying for years to get people to sing his songs, so to get these stars singing them was great for him."

If you can't wait until his gig in Lincoln, follow his antics on Twitter at @johnshuttlewrth

And if you miss the Lincoln date, put February 27, 2013, at the Riverhead Theatre in Louth in your diaries.

John Shuttleworth: Out Of Our Sheds at Lincoln Drill Hall on Friday, November 9 (8pm). Tickets: £16 (£15 concs). Box office: 01522 873894, www.lincolndrillhall.com

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