Jimmy Perry, 1923 – 2016
Best known for his work with David Croft on some of the greatest sitcoms ever made. It was Jimmy Perry who had the original idea for Dad’s Army.
However despite his famous links with co-writer David Croft, Perry was also an author, producer and an actor.
Jimmy Perry was born in Barnes, West London on 9th September 1923. Educated at two independent schools: Colet Court and St Paul’s School, which at the time were both based in Hammersmith in West London (now in Barnes).
At the age of 16 he joined the Watford Home Guard, two years later he received his call up for the regular forces where he was posted to Burma with the Royal Artillery. Whilst stationed there he joined the the Royal Artillery Concert Party.
Once demobbed he found himself back in Britain where he trained as an actor at RADA, whilst spending his holidays working as a Redcoat in Butlin’s Holiday Camps.
In 1978 he was awarded the OBE.
During the early 1960’s Jimmy Perry worked as an actor-manager at the Watford Repertory Theatre.
Work With David Croft
It was in 1968 when Dad’s Army first hit TV screens that Perry and writing partner David Croft first came to prominence. Dads Army, like many of Perry’s hit sitcoms was based on his own experiences in the Home Guard, in fact the Private Pike character was based on himself.
His second TV comedy was The Gnomes of Dulwich which aired for 1 series in 1969. Next in 1974 came another classic collaboration with David Croft, It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, again based on Perry’s own experiences in the Royal Artillery Concert Party. On his own for ITV he wrote a sitcom Room Service, which along with another solo effort High Street Blues are said to be contenders for Britain’s worst sitcom. Jimmy Perry’s other sitcom success were with David Croft Hi-De-Hi (based on his experiences as a Redcoat) and You Rang M’Lord (which drew on tales from his Grandfather who had served as a butler).
Change Of Direction
At the end of the 1970’s, Perry became involved as presenter in a BBC series called Turns, dedicated to films of nearly forgotten music hall acts of the 1930s and 1940s
Although sitcoms provided Jimmy Perry with his greatest successes he also had success with the theme tune to Dad’s Army that he wrote. Who Do You Think you Are Kidding Mr Hitler? won the 1971 Ivor Novello Award for the best TV signature tune.
He published his memoirs “A Stupid Boy” in 2002.