Matthew James Holness (born 1975) is an English comedian and actor.
Early life and education
Born in Whitstable, Kent, Holness attended Chaucer Technology School in Canterbury and read English at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. As a member of the Footlights, he was involved with and appeared in a number of shows at theEdinburgh Festival Fringe in the mid nineties. He also served as vice-president when David Mitchell was president and his contemporaries included Robert Webb and Richard Ayoade.
Holness continued his studies at Cambridge and finished an MA, graduating in absentia due to his comedy work.
Before he was on television, he played Bob Fossil and was the first choice for the role, however contract limitations between Channel 4 (Garth Marenghi's Darkplace) and the BBC (Mighty Boosh) saw Rich Fulcher take the role permanently, in The Mighty Boosh stage show. He is currently the only regular cast member (of six) from the TV version of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace who has yet to feature in the TV version of The Mighty Boosh. He is the only main character from Darkplace (of four) not to have appeared in The IT Crowd.
Holness first appeared on television as a cast-member of the 2000 BBC Choice TV series Bruiser.
In 2000, Garth Marenghi's Fright Knight, a stage show written by Holness and Richard Ayoade, and starring Holness, Ayoade and Alice Lowe, was nominated for the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe. The show was built around Holness's spoof horror writer character Garth Marenghi, with additional parts played by Ayoade and Lowe. The sequel to Fright Knight, Garth Marenghi's Netherhead, won the Perrier Award the following year.
Garth Marenghi transferred to UK television in the 2004 Channel 4 horror comedy Garth Marenghi's Darkplace. Despite critical acclaim and a cult following on the Internet the series suffered from relatively low ratings, and Holness is perhaps better known by TV audiences for his cameo as Simon (the Computer Guy) in series two of The Office. He played a similar character (among others) in the 2000 TV series Bruiser.
From 2004, Holness played the regular character of Keith Bilk in the BBC Radio 4 series The Department, written by Chris Addison (series 1, 2), John Oliver, andAndy Zaltzman.
Holness's comedy character, Merriman Weir, a guitar-picking folk singer, has performed at small comedy clubs in London and around the UK. Merriman Weir has also appeared as a guest in the pilot episode of the Channel 4 comedy chat show Man to Man with Dean Learner (2005) (then known as Deano's After Dark) where he was interviewed by Garth Marenghi's publicist Dean Learner — a character created by Richard Ayoade.
Following on from the above successful pilot show, Holness and Ayoade recorded a six-part series for Channel 4 entitled Man to Man with Dean Learner in late May and early June at Teddington Studios, which was broadcast on terrestrial television on Friday 20 October 2006 at 11.05pm on Channel 4 and continued for 6 weeks. Holness played Dean Learner's different guests in each episode (although the Merriman Weir episode was recorded first, it was the fourth one to be broadcast in the series).
In 2006 he appeared in the BBC Two comedy programme Time Trumpet. In 2009 he appeared in the Channel 4 sitcom Free Agents.
In 2010 he appeared in the Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant film Cemetery Junction. In 2011 he played a minor role in the first episode of Friday Night Dinneras 'Chris Parker'.
Holness has had several short stories published, including pieces in the anthology 'Phobic'; a collection of horror stories, and Black Static magazine.
In 2011 recently appeared in Life's Too Short, a sitcom written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant and starring Warwick Davis.
In 2012 he wrote and directed a one off play for Sky Arts Playhouse Presents series entitled 'The Snipist'. It starred Douglas Henshall in the titular role, protecting the citizens of a dystopic alternate 1970s Britain against the threat of rabies. John Hurt provided 'The Voice of The Ministry'