Whose Line Is It Anyway? star John Sessions dies aged 67
Written by on 4 November 2020
Comedian and actor John Sessions has died at the age of 67, his agent has confirmed.
Alex Irwin of Markham, Froggatt & Irwin said in a statement: “It is with great sadness we can confirm that on Monday 2 November, the actor John Sessions died at his home in south London. He will be hugely missed.”
Sessions was best known for his regular appearances on TV panel shows including Whose Line Is It Anyway? and QI.
Starring in the inaugural episode of QI back in 2003, the team behind the fact-filled quiz were among the first to pay tribute, tweeting: “John Sessions was a panellist on QI’s first ever episode: Series A, Episode One, ‘Adam’.
“His incredible wit and encyclopaedic knowledge played a huge part in the show’s history and everyone at QI is deeply saddened to learn of his passing.”
They also shared a later clip from the show, in which Sessions impersonated actor Alan Rickman to perfection.
A gifted impressionist, Sessions also worked on satirical TV puppet show Spitting Image and later spoof celebrity mocumentary Stella Street.
Throughout the 1980s he practiced his improvisation skills with gigs in small live comedy venues and a one-man shows in London’s West End.
His big TV break came when as a regular panellist on the radio version of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, the show successfully transferred to the screen in 1988.
Hosted by Clive Anderson, Sessions regularly appeared alongside performers including Paul Merton, Josie Lawrence, Tony Slattery, Greg Proops and Mike McShane in the first three series of the show.
The following year, he got his own one-man TV show, titled simply John Sessions, which relied on objects and stories volunteered by the public on the night to come up with off-the cuff live routines.
Sessions went on to showcase his acting talent in a diverse range of TV shows of including Doctor Who, Skins, Sherlock and Shameless.
Tributes from fellow performers on social media included a tweet from Danny Baker, who said he was “shocked” by the news, and described Sessions as “terrific company always and a true talent”.
He went on: “His roles at the heart of this, my favourite radio series, have given endless pleasure to me and will continue to do so always. Travel easy, chum…”
Peepshow star Robert Webb wrote: “Bobby Ball and now John Sessions! Two very different performers who both absolutely inspired and delighted me at different times. Lovely, funny men.”
Blur musician Graham Coxon tweeted simply: “John Sessions… was mega bright and funny.. that’s a great shame. RIP.”
Born John Gibb Marshall on 11 January 1953, in Largs, Ayrshire, in Scotland, Sessions was one of three children and had a twin sister and older brother.
The family moved to Bedford when he was three-years-old, and Sessions went on to study English Literature in Bangor, Wales.
Although well known for his comedy roles, Sessions was a classically trained actor, and studied alongside Kenneth Branagh at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London (RADA) in the late 1970s.
The pair would go on to work together on many occasions throughout their careers including his comedic turn as Irish officer Macmorris in Branagh’s critically acclaimed 1989 adaptation of Henry V.
Sessions also appeared in other Shakespearean movies including a 1999 version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and opposite Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons in the 2004 movie of Merchant Of Venice.
An openly gay performer, Sessions had previously voiced his criticism of the European Union and support for the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
Despite his Scottish roots, he also opposed Scottish independence.
Sessions’ final TV role was in Channel 4 comedy drama about Catherine The Great, playing Bishop Tarcinkus opposite Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult.