Griff first came to public attention in the seminal sketch show of the 1980’s ‘Not the Nine O’ Clock News’. This was followed by the prolific ‘Smith and Jones’, winning an International Emmy and several British Comedy awards during its successful 11 series run.
On stage he has worked with Sam Mendes, Alan Ayckbourn, Nick Hytner and Sir Peter Hall. He has directed for the RSC and played leading roles in West End productions of ‘An Absolute Turkey’, ‘Trumpets and Raspberries’, ‘Charley’s Aunt’, ‘Arturo Ui’ and ‘Plunder’. He was the original Toad in Alan Bennett’s ‘Wind in the Willows’ at the National and Hildy in ‘The Front Page’ at the Donmar. He has even played the Royal Opera House, performing Frosch in John Mortimer’s adaptation of ‘Die Fledermaus’. His latest stage work was as Fagin in ‘Oliver!’ at Drury Lane in 2010. Griff has won two Oliviers, the acting professions premiere award, and been nominated four times.
On film Griff has starred in ‘Morons from Outer Space’, ‘Wilt’ (for which he received a British Comedy award), ‘Puckoon’, ‘Up ‘n’ Under’ and ‘As You Like It’. Television drama includes Max in Russell T. Davies’ ‘Mine All Mine’ and ‘Demob’.
He worked extensively in advertising as a writer, director and performer and with Mel Smith he set up Talkback as a radio production company. It became the most successful radio creative house in the world and diversified into television in the early Eighties. Before it was sold in 2000, Talkback Television had produced multi award-winning television as diverse as ‘The Little Prince’, ‘Grand Designs’ and ‘The Apprentice’ and launched the careers of Chris Morris, Armando Iannucci, Steve Coogan and Sacha Baron Cohen amongst many others.
Recently, Griff has worked mainly as a television presenter, introducing Bookworm and The Nation’s Favourite Poem, making three series of the hit architecture show ‘Restoration’, and writing and presenting documentary films on Arthur Ransome, Rudyard Kipling, John Betjeman and Thomas Hardy. In 2007 Griff made ‘Mountain’ for BBC 1 and then two years later, ‘Rivers’. He has also travelled the world for ITV, making ‘Greatest Cities’. Two series of ‘A Pembrokeshire Farm’, showing Griff’s struggle to renovate a Welsh farm were broadcast in 2007 and 2009. He has recently filmed a fifth series of ‘Three Men in a Boat’ and is currently working on a series about Tribal Art for BBC 2.
He sailed his classic yacht to St Petersburg in 2002. The account of that trip ‘To the Baltic with Bob’ was followed by his second book ‘Semi Detached’, a memoir of suburban baby-booming, a best seller and one of Richard and Judy’s book club choices. He has also written books for the Mountain and Rivers TV series.
He has spent many years fund-raising to restore the Hackney Empire, is a patron of many other charities and the President of Civic Voice. He is married and has two grown-up children and a chocolate Labrador.
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