Jimmy Perry, creator of TV classic Dad’s Army, dies at 93

Jimmy Perry (left) and David Croft with their lifetime achievement award during for the annual British Comedy Awards.
Jimmy Perry (left) and David Croft with their lifetime achievement award during for the annual British Comedy Awards.
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Tributes poured in from the world of television last night for writer Jimmy Perry who has died at the age of 93.

He will be remembered most for creating long-running sitcom Dad’s Army, which was first shown in 1968.

It was screened until 1977 with 80 episodes based upon the Home Guard during the Second World War.

Working with producer David Croft, Perry was also responsible for It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, Hi-de-Hi and You Rang M’Lord?

He drew on his life experiences for his writing, as a young member of the Home Guard during the Second World War and as a Butlin’s holiday camp Redcoat.

Perry was born on September 20 1923 in Barnes, south-west London. He was too young to join the Army when war broke out in 1939, so joined his local home guard, later basing many of the characters for the sitcom on the soldiers he met at that time.

After the war, he trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and spent time entertaining holidaymakers at Butlin’s camps.

He ran the Palace Theatre at Watford, putting on a different show each week and played bit parts in TV sitcoms before he began to write them himself.

He showed his ideas for Dad’s Army – initially called The Fighting Tigers – to Croft, who took it to the BBC.

The character Private Pike was based on Perry himself.

One of the most memorable scenes is when the Home Guard was confronted by a German soldier who demanded the name of the hapless Private Pike to which the hapless Capt Mainwaring replied, “Don’t tell him Pike.”

He won an Ivor Novello Award in 1971 for the Dad’s Army theme Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Hitler and penned Holiday Rock for Hi-de-Hi.

He was awarded an OBE in 1978 and he leaves a wife, Gilda Perry.

Shane Allen, BBC controller of comedy commissioning, said Perry’s work spanned decades and his shows will be remembered for a long time to come.

He said: “Jimmy Perry is a Goliath of British comedy writing. He was behind some of the longest running and most loved sitcoms on British television spanning the 60s, 70s and 80s.

“His work will be enjoyed and appreciated for many years to come. Our thoughts are with his friends and loved ones at this sad time.”

’Allo ’Allo star Vicki Michelle said Perry had left “such a legacy” in his wake and that he, Croft and writer Jeremy Lloyd were responsible for the “golden age of British comedy”.

She tweeted: “So sad we have lost #JimmyPerry a brilliant comedy writer & true gentleman. He leaves us such a legacy.”

Comedian Jack Dee tweeted: “RIP Jimmy Perry. Amazing contribution to British telly. Watched Dad’s Army only yesterday. Still as funny as when I watched it as a kid.”

Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson echoed the sentiment, adding: “We grew up laughing at Jimmy Perry’s hilarious characters. One of our greatest TV writers who will not be forgotten.”