Griffith "Griff" Rhys Jones is a Welsh comedian, writer, actor, television presenter and personality. Jones came to national attention in the early 1980s for his work in the BBC television comedy sketch shows Not the Nine O'Clock News and Alas Smith and Jones along with his comedy partner Mel Smith. With Smith, he founded television production company Talkback Productions, now part of RTL Group. He went on to develop a career as a television presenter and writer, as well as continuing with acting work.
While at Brentwood School he met Douglas Adams (who would later write The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). Rhys Jones followed Adams to Cambridge, reading history and English at Emmanuel College. While at university, Jones joined Cambridge Footlights Club (of which he became Vice-President in 1976). He was also president of the ADC (Amateur Dramatic Club) during his time at Cambridge.
He then joined BBC Radio Light Entertainment as a trainee producer, with his output including the satirical show Week Ending and Brain of Britain. An evening planned to spend watching his hero Frankie Howerd at the invitation of friends Clive Anderson and Rory McGrath, who were writing the show at the time, resulted in Rhys Jones replacing the show's producer, who had suffered from a stress-related illness from dealing with the comedian. He later produced Rowan Atkinson's show The Atkinson People for the BBC and has appeared twice on Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
Rhys Jones filled in several minor roles in the first series of Not the Nine O'Clock News, and was brought in as a regular cast member from the second series onwards, replacing Chris Langham, alongside Rowan Atkinson, Mel Smith and Pamela Stephenson.
In 1981, Smith and Rhys Jones founded TalkBack Productions, a company which has produced many of the most popular British comedy series of the past two decades, including Smack the Pony, Da Ali G Show, I'm Alan Partridge and Big Train. From 1984, Smith and Rhys Jones appeared in the comedy sketch series Alas Smith and Jones (the show's title being a pun on the American TV series Alias Smith and Jones). After the first series, the pair appeared on the big screen in Mike Hodges' sci-fi comedy movie Morons from Outer Space and then in 1989, the LWT production Wilt.
Rhys Jones has developed a career as a television presenter, beginning as the co-host on several Comic Relief programmes. He presented Bookworm from 1994 to 2000 and is the presenter of the BBC's Restoration programme (he began filming its third series at Lincoln Cathedral on 3 June 2006), and has done a considerable amount of fundraising work for the Hackney Empire theatre conservation project. In 2004, he led a demonstration at the Senate House in Cambridge University for the purpose of saving architecture as a degree in Cambridge.
Rhys Jones has written or co-written many of the programmes he has appeared in, and a number of spin-off books. In 2002, he started writing a book called To the Baltic with Bob, describing his adventures on the high seas with his sailing friend Bob, as they make their way to Saint Petersburg, port by port. Rhys Jones released the book in 2003. His early life has been captured in his autobiography, Semi-Detached, published in 2006 by Penguin Books. His book to accompany the BBC1 series Mountain was published in July 2007.