Netflix’s docuseries, ‘Robbie Williams,’ dives into the story of its eponymous subject, taking the audience into the turbulent world of fame and celebrity. Williams recounts his journey, tracing his origins with the band ‘Take That,’ and his solo career following his departure from it. He reveals the many ups and downs in his personal and professional life, especially focusing on his mental health. Through it all, there was one person who stood by him and became his rock in the times when Williams thought he couldn’t trust anyone. This person was his best friend, Jonny Wilkes, who has had quite a career of his own.
Who is Jonny Wilkes?
A few years younger than Robbie Williams, Jonathan “Jonny” Wilkes was born and raised in Stoke-on-Trent. He and Williams became friends at a young age and formed a bond that is going strong even now. While Williams became one of the most successful pop artists in the world, Wilkes crafted a niche for himself in the entertainment industry, spanning everything from theatre and television to live shows and music. He showed interest in drama and theatre at an early age and joined a local drama society to perform at the Queen’s Theatre in his town.
— Jonathan Wilkes (@Jonny_Wilkes) May 15, 2020
Wilkes eventually starred in theatre productions of shows like ‘The Rocky Horror Show,’ ‘Chicago,’ ‘Grease’, and ‘Guys and Dolls,’ to name a few. He ran his own show for three years at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. In 1996, he won the Cameron Mackintosh Young Entertainer of the Year award and later joined the BBC, appearing in several programs over the years. Apart from acting, Wilkes has also had a career in singing. He released an album, with the song “Just Another Day” becoming one of the top five songs in eighteen countries.
Wilkes and Robbie Williams worked on a song called “Me and My Shadow” and have performed together on stage several times, including at The Royal Albert Hall. He has joined his best friend on his world tours and has been a constant presence at his shows. He is one of the co-creators of Illusion, the P&O Cruises flagship show. He has also been awarded the Honorary Doctorate from Staffordshire University in appreciation of his contribution to the performing arts, in addition to the work he has done with UNICEF, representing Stoke-on-Trent as its ambassador.
Jonny Wilkes Today Runs a Performing Arts Academy
Jonny Wilkes is married to Nikki Wilkes, whom he met while working for the BBC. They have been married since 2004 and have two children, Mickey and Ralph. Together, the lovely couple founded The Wilkes Academy of Performing Arts in Swindon, with him serving as the Director and her serving as the Principal and Director, a responsibility she shares with another faculty member. As for his friendship with Robbie Williams, as mentioned by the pop star in the documentary, Wilkes has been a rock for him. The duo have been best friends for decades now and are considered “inseparable” by people around them.
— Jonathan Wilkes (@Jonny_Wilkes) August 5, 2018
Reportedly, Wilkes’ wedding took place in William’s mansion in LA, with the singer serving as the best man. It has also been joked by Nikki Wilkes that Williams would forever be the third wheel in their relationship, revealing that the trio have been great friends and used to go everywhere together. Jonny Wilkes’ collaboration with Robbie Williams extends to a charity event called Soccer Aid, which they founded together in 2006. The charity has raised millions of pounds over the years. Reportedly, Wilkes’s interest in soccer stems from his own talent for the sport at an early age.
— Robbie Williams (@robbiewilliams) June 1, 2016
Wilkes used to play for Everton Youth until 16 but chose not to go into professional soccer, mainly because he wasn’t as dedicated to it as he was to theatre and acting. In the docuseries, Williams has described Wilkes as “a moving, walking, talking part of Stoke-on-Trent” that accompanied him on his tours. His presence in Williams’ life was especially important to the singer during his turbulent years, where Wilkes made him “feel safe” and “feel like the part of [Williams] that existed before [he] joined Take That was still there.”
Wilkes has also cited Williams as his close friend and revealed that despite the challenges, they have stuck together and helped each other brave several storms. He added: “I’m very lucky; there aren’t many people that I have special relationships with like that, and we’ve been through thick and thin together. It’s rare to have that, but I take it for granted at times and Rob would say the same, because people don’t have friends from the age of four or five, but we’re still strong and so close – he’s my best mate.”