|Born||Vincent Joseph Smith|
6 August 1928
Miles Platting, Manchester, England, United Kingdom
|Died||13 July 2009 (aged 80)|
Guildford, Surrey, England, United Kingdom
|Notable works||Here's Harry (1960–1965)|
Pardon the Expression (1965–1966)
George and the Dragon (1966–1968)
Never Mind the Quality Feel the Width (1967–1971)
Best of Enemies (1968–1969)
Nearest and Dearest (1968–1973)
Two in Clover (1969–1970)
For the Love of Ada (1970–1971)
Bless This House (1971–1976)
Love Thy Neighbour (1972–1976)
Spring and Autumn (1972–1976)
The Wackers (1975)
Rule Britannia! (1975)
My Son Reuben (1975)
Odd Man Out (1977)
Mind Your Language (1977–1979, 1986)
Young at Heart (1980–1982)
Never the Twain (1981–1991)
Bottle Boys (1984–1985)
Slinger's Day (1986–1987)
Cilla's Celebration (1993)
For Better Or For Worse (Radio 2, 1993–1996)
Powell was born as Vincent Joseph Smith to Roman Catholic parents in Miles Platting, Manchester. When he was five, his mother died; two years later, his father remarried. Powell began a career as a tailor following the lead of his father, while performing as a comedian in the evenings. It was on the local club circuit that Powell first met Harry Driver. A performing partnership under the name Hammond and Powell lasted until 1955 when Driver's health and physical mobility became severely impaired by the onset of polio.
With his writing partner, Harry Driver, the partnership was hired to write material for comedian Harry Worth in Manchester for the BBC in 1960. The show, Here's Harry (co-written with Frank Roscoe) ran for five years. The partnership, was better known for writing for ITV franchise holders from the early-1960s beginning with Coronation Street from 1961; Powell ceased writing for the programme in 1964, but Driver's involvement continued until he died in 1973. Powell and Driver created and wrote 11 sitcoms for ITV in an eight-year period, including the shows Bless This House (with Sid James) and Love Thy Neighbour, though other writers contributed scripts to both series. The latter programme, according to The Times, was "one of television’s most notorious, if at the time highly popular, comedies". While it was "intended to debunk racial stereotypes" it "came to be widely condemned for doing exactly the opposite."
Other popular series created and written by them for ITV include:
- Pardon the Expression (1965–66), starring Arthur Lowe reprising the role of Leonard Swindley, thus spinning-off from Coronation Street.
- George and the Dragon (1966–68), starring Sid James and Peggy Mount as chauffeur and housekeeper to Colonel Maynard (John Le Mesurier)
- Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width (1967–1971), set in the London rag trade, featuring an ethnically mis-matched pair of tailors, the Jewish Manny Cohen (John Bluthal) and the Irish-Catholic Patrick Kelly (Joe Lynch)
- Nearest and Dearest (1968–1973), set in a Pickle Factory in Colne, North-West of England, starring (Hylda Baker) and (Jimmy Jewel) as squabbling siblings Nellie and Eli Pledge, running the Pickle Factory business left by their late father. Powell and Driver left after the first series, though the show (then later penned by fresh new writers, such as Roy Bottomley and Tom Brennand) continued in their absence.
- Two in Clover (1969–70), starring Sid James and Victor Spinetti, as Clerks-turned-Farmers
- For the Love of Ada (1970–71), in which Irene Handl and Wilfred Pickles played romantically involved pensioners
- Bless This House (1971–76), starring Sid James and Diana Coupland, as Sid and Jean Abbott, along with Robin Stewart and Sally Geeson as their teenage son and daughter, living in Birch Avenue, Putney.
- Love Thy Neighbour (1972–1976), centred around a suburban white couple, with a black couple living as next-door neighbours in 1970s Twickenham near London, during an era, in which Britain was coming to terms with the population of Black Immigrants. The series featured Jack Smethurst and Kate Williams as Eddie and Joan Booth, with Rudolph Walker and Nina Baden-Semper as Bill and Barbie Reynolds.
- Spring And Autumn (1973–1976), starring Jimmy Jewel as a retired widower, parting ways from Up North to live with his daughter and her husband in a high-rise block, Down South, let alone making friends with a pre-teen cockney lad.
After Driver died, Powell went solo at scriptwriting and created later shows such as:
- The Wackers (1975), set in mid-1970s Liverpool, starring Ken Jones and Sheila Fay, along with Joe Gladwin.
- Mind Your Language (1977–1979, 1986), starring Barry Evans (fresh from success, on the Doctor... series) as the English-Foreign Language teacher Mr Jeremy Brown, set in an adult education college of foreign characters in late-1970s London.
- Young at Heart (1977–1982),
- Bottle Boys (1984–85), starring Robin Askwith as Dave Deacon, a football-obsessed Milkman in mid-1980's Britain.
Powell also penned a number of scripts for the popular 1980s sitcom Never the Twain (1981–1991) starring Windsor Davies and Donald Sinden, also for Thames Television, writing all of the final episodes from 1989 to 1991. Plus he wrote 3 series (20 episodes) of the Radio 2 sitcom For Better Or For Worse, starring Gorden Kaye and Su Pollard, between 1993 and 1996.
Powell died aged 80 in Guildford, Surrey. His first marriage ended in divorce; as did his second marriage, to Judi Smith. His third marriage, to Geraldine Moore ended when he died. He had a son from his second marriage, and a son and daughter from his third.
- Hayward, Anthony (18 July 2009). "Vince Powell: Prolific sitcom writer who co-created Love Thy Neighbour and Bless This House". The Independent. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
- Oliver, John. "Driver, Harry (1931-1973) and Powell, Vince (1928-2009)". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
- "Vince Powell: comedy writer of Love Thy Neighbour". The Times. 24 July 2009. Retrieved 23 January 2019. (subscription required)
- "Vince Powell". The Daily Telegraph. 22 July 2009. Retrieved January 23, 2019.