Since you’re unlikely to know enough about Johnny to test your knowledge, this quiz is perhaps a more interesting way to find out a few trivial, unusual and not necessarily true facts about him.

For a less interesting version, here’s his CV. And if there’s anything you don’t believe, why not contact Johnny to check?

1)  Johnny discovered a new species of spider.

Well, sort of. 

While working on a conservation project with echidnas (spiny anteaters) on Kangaroo Island off the south coast of Australia, Johnny spotted what looked like one of those silver ball cake decorations, but with legs. He collected the specimen and showed it to the biologists in charge of the project who, having spent over 20 years doing little other than studying the local fauna, had become quite expert. They both said they’d never seen anything like it and that the invertebrate species of the island had never been properly catalogued and quite a lot that was unique to the area was likely to be new to science.  They promised to send the specimen off to the university and let Johnny know the outcome.

He never heard either way. So, the answer is probably ‘false’, but, who knows, there may be an aranea richi out there somewhere. 

2)  Johnny has performed on the West End stage. 

True, but only in the loosest sense. 

He once gave a talk to sixth-formers about university – as he has done literally hundreds of times – from the stage of a West End theatre, but only because it happened to be the venue for a careers event. 

Johnny has however appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe, in many student productions and, as a boy, in a number of semi-professional off-off West End productions. 

3)  During his time as a TV executive, Johnny discovered both Ricky Gervais and Sacha Baron-Cohen. 

False, obviously – but nearer the truth than you might imagine. 

At the time, Johnny was Head of Development at Clark TV which – because of its record making weekly topical programmes – was invited by Channel 4 to team up with the famous comedy producer Paul Jackson to develop a ‘That Was The Week That Was’ for the 1990s. It was Johnny who developed and wrote the format for the topical comedy show which was to be called ‘The Eleven o’Clock Show’. 

Before the series could be commissioned, however, Paul Jackson was made Head of Light Entertainment at the BBC and could no longer commit to the show. Without him, Clark TV didn’t have the comedy credentials and the project – including Johnny’s format – was passed to another production company. The series went on to be a significant hit. It didn’t attract massive ratings, but it was notable for regular appearances by both Gervais (who was not popular on the show) and Ali G (played by Baron-Cohen).  

While Johnny’s format did specify roles similar to those played by Gervais and Baron-Cohen, neither of them was named and Johnny hadn’t heard of either. The format didn’t name many performers, but coincidentally, Mackenzie Crook was mentioned. Although Crook never appeared in ‘The Eleven o’Clock Show’, he did subsequently find fame in ‘The Office’, appearing alongside Ricky Gervais in the series which finally proved to be a breakthrough for them both. Rather more significantly so for Gervais, but Crook’s comedy series ‘Detectorists’ is a work of touching genius.

4)  Johnny has an identical twin. 

False. 

Although he has been compared in looks to Johnny Depp (flatteringly), Michael McIntyre (less so) and Nigel Lawson (even less so).

Once when visiting his brother at Oxford University, some of his friends asked Johnny which of the two was older. When he replied (falsely) that they were twins, they quizzed him further, “But which of you is older?”It shouldn’t necessarily be taken as a indication of the level of intellectual ability among Oxford’s undergraduates that none of them expressed surprise when Johnny then answered, “I am. By nineteen months.” 

5)  In his first radio interview, Johnny tipped ‘Islands in the Stream’ by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers as a hit.

True.

On LBC’s Juke Box Jury in 1983. ‘Islands in the Stream’ subsequently reached number 7 in the UK charts. And, did you know, it was written by the Bee Gees?

And what about the other two songs which faced the Simon Cowell-esque scrutiny of the 14-year old Johnny? Suffice to say, he said they would ‘miss’ and, without his approval, both sank without trace. 

6)  Johnny once dated a Danish royal. 

False. 

And even if he had, he would be far too discreet to kiss and tell.

7)  Johnny has played croquet at a national level. 

True, but only in the under 18s category. Once. 

And he lost.

8)  Johnny’s work was once praised by Margaret Thatcher.

True. 

In 1995, the CD-Rom version of Push’s guide to universities (which later evolved into www.push.co.uk) was being launched at the BETT educational technology fair at Olympia. Thatcher (who had been out of office for about five years by then) was for some reason being given a VIP tour of the fair. 

She came to the McGraw-Hill stand (Push’s publishers at the time) where Push CD was on demonstration. After a few minutes, she declared herself thoroughly impressed and insisted every sixth form in the country should have one. Being Thatcher, however, she felt the show her usual understanding of social realities by adding, “And if the schools claim they can’t afford it, they should get parents to buy it for them.”.

9)  Johnny once won a quiz involving 100 questions about Cardiff. 

True. He scored 98/100.

Johnny is not an expert on Cardiff and would probably not be able to answer more than a dozen of the questions today. However, the quiz in question encouraged participants to use external resources and – so it seems – Johnny’s either a better or more determined Googler than most. Either that or he has a distorted view of the importance of quizzes. 

He won a pewter Welsh love spoon.

10)  Johnny has no wisdom teeth.

False.

The claim that he has no wisdom teeth, that is, not the teeth themselves. Johnny has a full complement of wisdom teeth, if not a full complement of wisdom. And, for the record, all his teeth are his own.

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