Griff was educated at Brentwood School, Essex. He was part of a group called The Clique by the school's headmaster: they would hang around making each other laugh, and Griff has remained a comic. While at University, Griff Rhys Jones joined the prestigious Cambridge Footlights Club (of which he became Vice-President in 1976). Griff was the presenter of the BBC's Restoration programme, and has done a considerable amount of fundraising work for the Hackney Empire theatre conservation project. He starred in Russell T. Davies's drama series Mine All Mine, on ITV1.