British actor, comedian and voice artist known for his improvisational skills in television shows such as Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
John Sessions gained his education at Bedford Modern School, an independent school for boys which is now co-educational, and Verulam School, St Albans, followed by Bangor University, from which he graduated with an MA in English literature.
He developed his acting and improvisational skills at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in the late 1970s, studying alongside Kenneth Branagh, and the two would work together on many projects later in their careers.
John played to his strengths in improvisation and comedy with his one-man stage show Napoleon, which ran in London’s West End for some time in the mid-1980s. Sessions and Stephen Fry were the only two regular panellists on the original radio broadcast of Whose Line Is It Anyway? in the late 1980s. When the show, still hosted by Clive Anderson, transitioned to television, Fry departed from regular appearances, but Sessions remained the featured panellist for the first series.
In 1989, John starred in his own one-man TV production, John Sessions. Filmed at the Donmar Warehouse in London, the show involved Sessions performing before a live audience who were invited to nominate a person, a location and two objects from a selection, around which Sessions would improvise a surreal performance for the next half hour.
Sessions also starred in Stella Street, a surreal “soap opera” comedy about a fantasy suburban British street inhabited by celebrities such as Michael Caine and Al Pacino, conceived with fellow impressionist Phil Cornwell with the two of them playing several parts in each episode.
In between appearing in regular film and TV roles, Sessions has made appearances on Have I Got News for You and, more recently, as a semi-regular panellist on QI.
On radio, John appeared on the BBC Radio 3 show Private Passions, presented by Michael Berkeley, not as himself but as a 112-year-old Viennese percussionist called Manfred Sturmer, a character inclined to telling anecdotes so realistically that some listeners did not realise that the whole thing was a hoax.
Following the death of Willie Rushton, John has taken over the role of narrating the popular Asterix stories for audiobook.
John Sessions also voiced a TV commercial for Specsavers in 2009.