Actor and comedian John Sessions dies aged 67

Tom Butler
·Senior Editor
·3-min read

Watch: Who was John Sessions?

Comedian John Sessions has died aged 67.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, his agent Alex Irwin said that the Stella Street star had died from a heart condition.

“It is with great sadness we can confirm that on Monday 2nd November, the actor John Sessions died at his home in South London. He will be hugely missed,” the statement read.

(Getty)
John Sessions pictured in 2011. (Corbis via Getty Images)

Born John Marshall in Ayrshire in 1953, Sessions studied alongside Kenneth Branagh at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in the 1970s, adopting the stage name of Sessions after joining actors’ union Equity.

He later provided voices for the original series of Spitting Image and was a regular panellist on improvisation show Whose Line Is It Anyway? in the 1980s.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - JUNE 26:  Actors Fenella Woolgar and John Sessions attend the EIFF Closing Night Gala and World Premiere of 'Whisky Galore!' during the 70th Edinburgh International Film Festival at Festival Theatre on June 26, 2016 in Edinburgh, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images)
Actors Fenella Woolgar and John Sessions at the 70th Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2016. (Getty Images)

Alongside fellow impressionist Phil Cornwell, he co-created hit Channel 4 comedy Stella Street which saw the pair playing A-list stars such as Michael Caine and Al Pacino in a surreal suburban soap opera. It ran for four seasons from 1997-2001.

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He returned to straight drama acting, landing many film and television roles throughout his career including playing Edward Heath opposite Meryl Streep in 2011’s Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady, and Lord Boothby in Tom Hardy’s Kray twins drama Legend in 2015. He also appeared in Martin Scorsese’s 2002 period drama The Gangs of New York.

In 2015 he played Arthur Lowe in the television film We’re Doomed!: The Dad’s Army Story.

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 15:  Actor John Sessions  attends a photocall promoting the film "Rag Tale" at the Scion Boat CD2 during the 58th International Cannes Film Festival May 15, 2005 in Cannes, France.  (Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)
John Sessions (Getty Images)

His most recent film appearance came in 2017’s hit comedy Finding Your Feet.

Sessions was a regular panellist on the BBC trivia show QI, and made regular television appearances in recent years in shows such as Friday Night Dinner, Upstart Crow, and Father Brown.

In an interview in 2015, Sessions declared the idea of Scottish independence to be “absolutely ridiculous”.

Actor / comedian John Sessions, at the Royal Television Society Programme Awards at London's Grosvenor House Hotel.   (Photo by Peter Jordan - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
John Sessions (PA Images via Getty Images)

“I think it's a waste of money. Och, it's just nonsense. Have one parliament, Westminster. Get rid of the European bloody Parliament, the Scottish assembly, or Parliament, I should say, the Welsh Assembly. They're just money spinning… oh God, they make me so angry."

He also declared support for UKIP in the same interview saying: "I get so bored with people going, 'Ukip are a bunch of racists.'

“They're nothing of the kind. Nigel Farage talks more sense than the rest of the politicians put together.”

Stars flocked to pay tribute to the comedian. Rev Richard Coles tweeted: “Very sad to hear about the death of #JohnSessions. He was brilliantly talented, made me laugh a lot, and was a friend for twenty five years. RIP.”

Fellow comedian Rory Bremner said on Twitter: “Jeez. Another one. John Sessions. Just the best, he’d blow everyone away on Whose Line with his speed of thought & breadth of reference. Utterly absorbed by Hollywood, its characters and stories, brilliant raconteur, genius mimic. A flash of brilliance just went out.”

Meanwhile, Have I Got News To You regular Ian Hislop told the BBC: “John could do anything. Film acting, improvisation, voices....

“He was an amazing actor and amazingly versatile. And I think he’d have been very flattered at the attention he’s been given.”

Watch: Royals and Trump star in Spitting Image