Nov. 8th, 2008

angelophile: (Seventh Seal - Got to laugh)

Michael Crichton died this week. Another loss.

And not the only one this year, by a long way. One death I've only been vaguely aware of was given detail tonight by a tribute to him on BBC. On 29th August 2008, after an accident involving a lorry in Marylebone High Street, London, Geoffrey Perkins died of his injuries. He was 55.

It's not a name that will immediately trigger the memories of a lot of people. When he was paid tribute to by the cast of sitcom Benidorm at last week's British Television Awards I recalled the name as someone who was involved in other sitcoms. Blackadder or something?

Tonight, seeing the tribute to him scheduled, I looked him up on IMDB.

Geoffrey Perkins started his career in radio, revitalizing the enduring BBC comedy quiz show I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, inventing the incomprehensible Mornington Crescent game.

That would be enough to put him down in the annals of British comedy by itself.

But then he went on to produce The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, often co-scripting with Douglas Adams.

That, again, would have been enough.

But, nah, apparently not. He made the move to TV, producing, writing and appearing in comedy show KYTV and then satirical puppet show Spitting Image as well as the British Saturday Night Live. Not quite done, he went on to develop (and co-write for) Ben Elton's The Man from Auntie, Norbert Smith - A Life and the Harry Enfield Television Programme at the BBC and eventually becoming their Head of Comedy.

Apparently that wasn't enough still, so he went on to create, produce, commission, write for and appear in series like Drop the Dead Donkey, Father Ted, Game On, Have I Got News For You, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Operation Good Guys, The Fast Show, The Thin Blue Line, The Vicar of Dibley, One Foot in the Grave, A Very Open Prison, Father Ted, Big Train, Coupling, Happiness, My Family, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Coogan's Run, My Hero, The World According to Smith and Jones, Benidorm, Jonathan Creek, The Royle Family, and The Catherine Tate Show. Amongst others.

The tribute tonight saw a lot of people paying tribute to him. It's telling that plenty of people had anecdotes about him insisting on another take for a comedy, asking for the line to be "one second faster" and he'd be proved right, or Catherine Tate talking about him sneaking in in the middle of the night and altering scripts, then denying he'd done any such thing. This was someone who was so hands on as a producer to be essentially part of the writing team as well and even going so far as to appear onscreen on a number of occasions.

This man was the king of British comedy. He's up there with the Pythons in the comedy pantheon, totally redefining the comedy landscape in Britain.

As he said of Douglas Adams: "You left too soon."

July 2013


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