Jimmy Perry in May 2011.
9 September 1923
Barnes, London, England
|Notable works||Dad's Army (1968–77)
The Gnomes of Dulwich (1969)
It Ain't Half Hot Mum (1974–81)
Room Service (1979)
You Rang M'Lord? (1988–93)
High Street Blues (1989)
Perry was born in Barnes, London. His father was an antiques dealer and he was educated at two independent schools: at Colet Court and St Paul's School, which at the time were both based in Hammersmith in West London (now in Barnes).
Life and career
Perry is credited with the original idea for Dad's Army, which was based on his experiences in the Home Guard during World War II. He also collaborated with Croft on It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Hi-de-Hi! and You Rang, M'Lord?
Many of the sitcoms Perry co-wrote with Croft drew heavily on his personal experience: at 16 he joined the Watford Home Guard (Dad's Army); two years later he was called up into the regular forces, and was sent to Burma with the Royal Artillery, where he joined the Royal Artillery Concert Party and reached the rank of sergeant. Demobbed and back in the UK, he trained as an actor at RADA, spending his holidays working as a Redcoat in Butlin's Holiday Camps.
The Dad's Army mummy's boy character Private Pike was partly based upon the teenage Jimmy Perry, who said, "She didn't go so far as making me wear a scarf, but she came pretty near". In an interview with the journalist Neil Clark, Perry said: "It amazes me. I think it’s because it’s the thing that all British people savour: we were on our own at that time and we didn’t turn away. Dad’s Army reminds us of our finest hour." The two men continued their collaboration with It Ain't Half Hot Mum (1974–81), inspired by Perry's wartime experience in the Royal Artillery Concert Party, and Hi-de-Hi! (1980–88), using his time working as a Butlin's redcoat as an inspiration.
A solo effort, Room Service, written without Croft for Thames Television in 1979, and High Street Blues (1989), co-written with Robin Carr, "remain contenders for the title of worst British sitcom". At the end of the 1970s, 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. In the sixth episode of the first series of Dad's Army, "Shooting Pains", Perry makes a cameo appearance as the entertainer Charlie Cheeseman.
Although best known for his comedy writing, Perry has also experienced musical success, composing the signature tunes to all of the above comedy series. The most well-known of these, the theme tune for Dad's Army, "Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Mr Hitler?", won the Ivor Novello Award in 1971 for Best TV Signature Tune.
During the early 1960s, Jimmy Perry was actor-manager at the Watford Repertory Theatre, a role (perhaps intentionally) emphasised by his penchant for heavy checked tweeds, Inverness cape and deerstalker cap.
His memoir, A Stupid Boy, was published in 2002.
He received the OBE in 1978.
- Neil Clark "Jimmy Perry turns 90: a tribute to the genius behind Dad's Army", telegraph.co.uk, 20 September 2013
- Kevin Gordon (24 May 2007). "Don't panic! It's only Walmington's finest". Sussex Express. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
- Daily Telegraph Don Estelle Obituary. Retrieved 29 November 2014
- Robin Turner (24 January 2009). "TV hit inspired by writer's days as a redcoat". Wales Online. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
- John Oliver "Croft, David (1922–) and Perry, Jimmy (1923–)", BFI screenonline
- Croft, David; Perry, Jimmy; Webber, Richard (2000). The Complete A-Z of Dad's Army. Orion. pp. 193–194. ISBN 0-7528-4637-X.
- Stuart Jeffries "Some like it hot", The Guardian, 3 February 2003