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Jimmy Perry OBE


20.09.1923 - 23.10.2016

Water Rat number 733, Initiated: 28.03.1982

Born in Barnes, the son of an antique dealer, who was initially bemused by his son's love of the entertainment profession.

In 1939, aged 16, when World War 2 broke out, Jimmy joined his local Home Guard unit, furnishing him with the experience which would eventually inspire him to create one of the greatest and best loved T.V. situation comedy series ever. At 18 he was able to join the regular Army and was sent to serve in Burma with the Royal Artillery where he obtained the rank of sergeant. Pursuing his love of performing to an audience, Jimmy toured with the military concert party, yet again gleaning knowledge which he would use in yet another of his highly popular TV shows.

Demobbed and back in the U.K., he became a serious student of acting at RADA, but, even then, he spent his summer holidays working as a Redcoat at Butlins Holiday Camps. These interludes were also to be put to highly profitable use in his later writing career.

Becoming a jobbing actor, Jimmy toured in rep for a few years until finding a more secure grounding as actor/manager of Watford Repertory Theatre in the early 1960s.

His original idea to write a comedy television series based around the wartime Home Guard was not well received by the powers that be, but his dogged insistence paid off and he formed a partnership with established producer David Croft who fought from his corner. Together, they at last managed to get the first series of Dad's Army commissioned and the rest is history.

Writing together, Croft and Perry proved to be a winning team. Apart from Dad's Army which ran from 1968-77, they also had huge success with the series It Ain't Arf Hot, Mum (1974-81), Hi De Hi(1980-88) and You Rang, M' Lord (1988-93), all for the B.B.C..

Writing alone, Jimmy also penned other T.V. comedy series such as The Gnomes of Dulwich (1969 - B.B.C.) and Room Service (1979 - for Thames T.V.).

There was also a B.B.C. television series called Turns, in which Jimmy presented film clips in tribute to a host of music hall and variety artistes.

Jimmy possessed notable musical talent, composing the theme tunes/songs to all of his television creations, the most memorable of which was Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Mr. Hitler? which won the 1971 Ivor Novello Award.

He received the OBE in 1978 and released his autobiography, A Stupid Boy, in 2002.

As long standing Curator of the GOWR Museum, Jimmy was a proud and very active member of the Order whose generosity knew no bounds. On a personal level, he was very approachable and humble about his success, always insisting that he wanted to "give back" because he considered himself so lucky. And he was a complete old school gentleman too. (His wonderful first hand stories about the eccentric cast of Dad's Army were a pure delight!)

He has his rightful, prominent place in British show business history.

ScR Mike Martin.
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