Where Fast Show cast is now – life-saving op, ‘dark thoughts’ and gone too soon

From pub bore Billy Bleach and office joker Colin Hunt to the ‘Suits You’ tailors and The Fat Sweaty Coppers, The Fast Show swiftly became one of the best-loved comedy shows of the 90s.

The series created by Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson featured 27 sketches in 30 minutes and went on to inspire fast-paced comedy shows such as Little Britain and The Catherine Tate Show.

The Fast Show made Paul Whitehouse a household name and introduced TV audiences to new talents, including Caroline Aherne who went on to huge stardom as Mrs Merton and as Denise in The Royle Family.

So what happened to the cast members of this hilarious show, which was first aired 27 years ago? Here’s a round-up of where they are now.

Paul Whitehouse

Paul Whitehouse played multiple characters in The Fast Show, including drunk judge Rowley Birkin QC, football pundit Ron Manager, sleazy aristocrat The 13th Duke of Wymbourne and Ken, one of the ‘Suits You’ tailors.

Whitehouse went on to work extensively with Harry Enfield in the shows Harry & Paul and Harry Enfield & Chums.

In recent years, he appeared with his old friend Bob Mortimer in Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing, during which the two comedians share their love of angling but also their experiences of heart conditions.

Whitehouse needed life-saving surgery when it was discovered that he had one artery with 10% function.

He said: "I ended up with three stents leading to my heart."

In 2019, he teamed up with Jim Sullivan, the son of Only Fools and Horses creator John Sullivan, to write a West End musical based on the hit TV sitcom. He played Grandad in the show.

Charlie Higson

Former singer in 1980s band The Higsons, Charlie Higson met Paul Whitehouse at university and the pair co-wrote The Fast Show.

Higson’s best known characters in The Fast Show were smarmy car salesman Swiss Toni, office joker Colin Hunt and Bob Fleming, the rosy-cheeked presenter of an afternoon TV show about life in the countryside with an increasingly bad cough.

Since The Fast Show, Higson has concentrated more on producing, directing and writing, including adaptations of Agatha Christie for ITV.

The father of three has also written several books for children and young adults including the Young Bond series.

Simon Day

Simon Day’s most famous role in The Fast Show was Tommy Cockles, the music hall performer but he also played many notable characters including ‘Competitive Dad’, Dave Angel the Eco-Warrior and Billy Bleach with his catchphrase ‘someone’s sitting there mate’.

Day has continued to work in TV, with parts in Holby City, Heartbeat and Skins.

In his 2012 autobiography, Comedy and Error: They Really Were Marvellous Times, he talked about his teenage addiction to alcohol, drugs and gambling.

Mark Williams

Alongside Paul Whitehouse, actor Mark Williams appeared in The Fast Show’s hilarious ‘Suits You’ tailors sketches.

He also played memorable parts like Patrick Nice and Jesse, who would emerge from his shed to inform viewers about his diet, always with the words, 'This week I 'ave mostly been eating…’

A serious actor who appeared with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre, Williams went on to play Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter films and in Stardust alongside Robert de Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer.

John Thomson

John Thomson is best remembered by fans of The Fast Show as Louis Balfour, the chilled out jazz club host with the catchphrase, ‘Nice’, but he also played deaf stuntman Chip Cobb and football fan Roger the Nouveau.

In the 1990s, Thomson appeared regularly on TV in Coronation Street, Soldier Soldier, Men Behaving Badly and ITV comedy drama Cold Feet.

Thomson has also been in demand as a narrator on series such as Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners and Police Interceptors.

He's spoken about slipping into a depression when the acting work dried up for a period, admitting he had "dark thoughts" but didn't act on them because of his children.

In 2017, he said women had begun sliding into his DMs after he underwent a hair transplant to thicken up his thinning locks.

Earlier this year, he appeared on The Masked Singer performing as Bush Baby, but finished in eighth place.

Arabella Weir

Actress Arabella Weir made her name in The Fast Show thanks to characters like 'Insecure Woman' and her 'does my bum look big in this?' catchphrase.

She went on to work extensively on TV in Posh Nosh and BBC Scotland sitcom Two Doors Down.

Weir also turned up in the 2011 Dr Who Christmas special, The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe, and on stage in Calendar Girls.

Born in California, Weir actually considers Scotland her home and Scottish actor David Tennant is godfather to one of her children.

Caroline Aherne

Mancunian actress Caroline Aherne played a number of roles in The Fast Show including chatterbox northern wife Renée who was married to her silent and submissive husband Roy.

But her best-known character was meteorologist Poula Fisch and her catchphrase “Scorchio!”.

A hugely talented writer and actress, Aherne is best known as the fictional chat show host Mrs Merton and chain-smoking mum Denise in The Royle Family.

Tragically, Aherne died of lung cancer in 2016, aged just 52.

Felix Dexter

Caribbean-born stand-up comedian Felix Dexter made his name as Nigerian accountant Nathaniel in the 1990s BBC series The Real McCoy. Sadly, Dexter died in 2013, aged 52. He had been suffering from bone marrow cancer.

In an obituary written by Charlie Higson and Paul Whitehouse, the creators of The Fast Show said: “We needed an actor for a sketch where a young black guy is talking in heavy urban slang to his "brother", who is utterly mystified and can't understand a single word. Felix came in and improvised the whole thing spectacularly.”

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