The Official Mega Inter-Galactic Worldwide Space Gypsy Website
"Come and visit our website", said the spiders to the flies.
(Space Gypsy narrator)
Leicester, England, Earth.
Favourite Space Gypsy Character
"As a voice artist I find them all unspeakable! (not really)"
Mini Biography -
After leaving school John worked in a bookshop, and then as a porter at Leicester Royal Infirmary. He joined the Leicester Dramatic Society and then applied for and ultimately won a place at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. After leaving RADA he worked extensively in repertory and in West End theatre productions.
During his time in the theatre John appeared in;'The Chiltern Hundreds', 'Ten Little Indians', 'Miss Carraway Investigates', 'The Hollow Crown', 'The Taming of The Shrew', 'Wuthering Heights', 'Give A Dog A Bone', 'As You Like It', 'A Winter's Tale', 'Hay Fever', 'The Rivals', 'MacBeth', 'Hindle Wakes', 'The Deep Blue Sea', 'Diary of Anne Frank', 'A Doll's House', 'That Scoundrel Scapin', 'Measure for Measure', 'Hobson's Choice', 'Julius Caesar', 'The Hostage', 'Much Ado About Nothing', 'Plaza Suite', 'Flint', 'Don't Start Without Me', 'See How They Run', 'Sweet Wine of Youth', 'Bedroom Farce', and 'Hamlet'.
It was while he was understudying as 'Mole' in the London production of 'Toad of Toad Hall' he met his future wife, Judy.
John's first television role was a walk-on part in a BBC play called 'The Wedding Feast'. He appeared in the 1968 presentation 'The Spanish Farm' before going on to appear in numerous situation comedies including; 'Dad's Army','My Wife Next Door','Sorry' and ''Allo,'Allo'. TV dramas 'Take Three Girls', 'The Barretts of Wimpole Street', 'Tucker's Luck', 'Crown Court', 'Crossroads', 'The Bill', 'Oscar' and 'Bugs'. Costume Dramas 'Vanity Fair' and 'Longitude'. He played the original Bungle Bear in the children's tv series 'Rainbow' and the voices of 'Jig' and 'Biggum' in the BBC kid's show 'Jigsaw'.
John also helped Jeremy Beadle play pranks on the unsuspecting public in the 'Candid-Camera'-type show, 'Beadle's About'.
When not appearing before the camera John has provided questions for 'Mastermind' and voice-overs for Channel 4 Television.
As a playwright John has collaborated with Anthony Marriott (author of 'No Sex Please We're British') on stage comedies 'Under The Bench' and 'Nipped In The Bud' as well as the drama 'What'll The Neighbours Say?'. He also co-scripted the pilot situation comedies 'We Never Closed' and 'Rosalind & Julie'.
In 1977 he joined the regular cast of 'Dr. Who' and became the voice of K-9, the Doctor's computerised robot dog - the part for which he is probably best known today. Also, at the same time as appearing in 'Who' he also made a couple of appearances in the BBC's other cult sci-fi show of the time, 'Blake's 7'.
In 1979, during some time off from Dr. Who, John appeared in the controversial film 'Tarka The Otter' playing the Secretary of The Hunt. Other film roles have included cameos in 'Whoops Apocalypse' and 'Miami Connection'.
Since his time as a regular on Dr. Who John has continued to act and provide voiceovers for many TV companies including The BBC. He has provided the voices of our Space Gypsy characters on an intermittent basis since 1986.
In 1995 he appeared in the independently produced Dr. Who spinoff drama 'Downtime', playing a disc jockey. More recently he has been involved with The Big Finish Productions' audiobooks revising his role of K-9.
In July 2005 John played the part of The Prosecutor in The Hyde Fundraisers' Dr. Who spin-off stage drama 'The Trial of Davros' For more details look here.
In April 2006 John returned to the world of Dr. Who to revise his role of K-9 once again in the story 'School Reunion', (Check here for details). He also worked with ex-Dr. Who assistant the late Elizabeth Sladen on the Children's BBC serial 'The Sarah Jane Adventures'. More recently K-9 helped to save the universe again in the 'Doctor Who' episode 'Journey's End', and was given his own series in 2009 when one of his original creators, Bob Baker, produced the Australian-backed series, 'K-9'.
Order John Leeson's autobiography 'Tweaking The Tail' by clicking here
Prior to his return to Dr. Who, John began venturing out with his own one man stage show, 'A Dog's Life'. Watch this space for details of his next appearance.
Outside the entertainment world, John is a fully accredited wine tutor and a deputy chairman of his local magistrates bench.
Note from the author -
What can I say about John Leeson, except that he's a really great guy! With all the accreditation he has behind him he has every right to be the archetypal Ac-tor, but he's not. It's maybe a tired phrase (and maybe it isn't really appropriate for someone who works in the realm of science fiction), but John is a really down-to-earth bloke.
He has no qualms about meeting his public - and, believe me, I say that from the heart. During my time in broadcasting, I think I can say that I've met my fair share of primadonnas!!
I first became aware of John's voicework on tv back in about 1972, although I didn't realise it at the time, as I was only @**&& years old. John was the original Bungle Bear in the kid's tv series 'Rainbow', and I was an avid fan. I remember the programme being off air for a few months. When it came back I noticed that the bear's face had changed slightly and so had it's voice. I didn't know it at the time, but it was when John had left the show and a new actor had taken over. No disrespect to the replacement, but Bungle was never quite the same again after he lost the rich tones of John's voice!
The first time I became properly aware of John as an actor was in 1977 when he joined the cast of 'Dr. Who' as the voice of K9. K9 is probably the bain of John's life, but I loved the character. It was while Dr. Who was celebrating it's 20th anniversary in 1983 that I first contacted John to ask if he wouldn't mind helping with a radio show about the good Doc....And the rest, as they say, is history.
John & The Space Gypsies -
While Mark (Smith) is responsible for what Gemma and Company look like, and I'm to blame for what they say and do, John is fully responsible for how they sound. When we first began back in 1986, I sent some rough drawings of each character down to John in London along with the scripts. He used these drawings as a guide to how the characters should sound.
Personally, I didn't have any preconceived ideas of how the characters should sound except for Gemma. I always thought of her as having a husky, broken voice - similar to that of singer Bonnie Tyler. John doesn't come anywhere near Bonnie Tyler and, ruddy heck!, I wouldn't have expected him to!! But, I do like his Gemma very, very much. I remember being totally knocked sideways when first hearing her. If I hadn't known it was a bloke doing the voice of the character I would have sworn it was a woman!
John's Damien is spot-on. In earlier recordings Damien sounds more like a teenager. As time went on John perfected the voice by somehow making him sound younger.
My other favourites out of John's vocalizations are Leah, Spiker, Bones (Aye, Guv), Fluff and Jehlise - the squeaky high voice he gives to that character puts 'tiny little kitten' firmly in my mind!