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Geoffrey Perkins is dead
August 30, 2008 1:11 AM   Subscribe

Legendary British comedy producer Geoffrey Perkins died in a freak accident yesterday. Chances are if you watched some British comedy over the last 20 years, and liked it, Geoffrey Perkins had a hand in it.
posted by humblepigeon (34 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
He's up there with Armando Iannucci and the Pythons in the comedy pantheon, totally redefining the comedy landscape in Britain. He ushered into the mainstream what we used to call "alternative comedy" but which is now, because of him, mainstream comedy.

For a young fella like me, he was one of the names that used to scroll by in the list of credits for virtually all my favourite TV programmes---an invisible God (well, apart from his role on KY-TV and occasional cameos elsewhere). When I tune into BBC Three and Channel Four, and see nothing but absolute shite in their comedy output (Karen Taylor, anybody?), the genius of the man is underlined constantly. He had an ability to see and nurture genuine talent, and bring out the best from them. It's as simple as that.

RIP. This should be a day of national mourning.
posted by humblepigeon at 1:22 AM on August 30, 2008


Jeez, first Humph and now the creator of Mornington Crescent. This has been a dark year for the world of British comedy.
posted by armage at 1:23 AM on August 30, 2008


Here's his imdb page. He had quite an extensive career.
posted by amyms at 1:31 AM on August 30, 2008


Jeez, first Humph and now the creator of Mornington Crescent. This has been a dark year for the world of British comedy.

It's strange but, with these recent deaths of comedy giants, I can't help feeling as if it underlines the fact the era of alternative comedy is over. What was once edgy and fringe became mainstream, and has now become passe. The actors and comedians are now on the fringes again, but this time at the other end---the wrong end.

The comedy mantle now belongs to a different generation. As mentioned, I don't understand their comedy, but I guess that's how many middle-aged people responded to the likes of the Young Ones and even Douglas Adams back in the day.

I want to rail against the likes of Titty Bang Bang, or the Friday Night Project, or Karen Talyor, because I think they're all ceaselessly poor quality. But I can't help feeling that teenagers laugh like loons at them, just as I used to laugh at Saturday Night Live, or the Mary Whitehouse Project, or KY-TV.

Every generation throws a hero up the pop charts.
posted by humblepigeon at 1:33 AM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


What makes something a "freak accident" vs. a normal accident? To me, getting hit by a truck (I'm sorry, "lorry") while crossing the street would just be an accident, while a freak accident would be something like, I don't know, getting hit by a toilet seat from a space station as it fell from orbit.

Oh, and: .

(Anyone fancy a game of Mornington Crescent? I'll start with... hmm, Chiswick Park should make things interesting. The extended union rule is now in effect.)
posted by The Pusher Robot at 1:33 AM on August 30, 2008


What makes something a "freak accident" vs. a normal accident?

Apologies, I first read the story on the Independent's website, and then looked it up on the BBC to provide the link above. It appears he was killed when the contents of a flatbed lorry fell onto his car as he drove past. A one in a billion chance, hence a freak accident.

No games of Mornington Crescent today because Mourning Rules are in operation (created for the death of Queen Mary in 1558 and only used once since, on the death of Richard Whiteley, for some reason). Proceed directly to Morning Crescent. Once there there will be a buffet lunch and a chance to reflect.
posted by humblepigeon at 1:48 AM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Very sad. I bet he was responsible in one way or another for most of the laughs I've laughed watching telly or listening to the radio. And don't forget that he was a very funny performer, too - I used to get the serious giggles at Mike Flex and the Norwegian correspondent on Radio Active as a kid.

humblepigeon, surely you're aware of the Hapsburg Inversion, instituted immediately prior to Whitely's demise as a preventative measure, but shamefully ignored? Regardless, a game of Mornington Crescent is a far more fitting tribute to Perkins than the usual little dots.

I'm assuming we'll be playing a straight rules game as a mark of respect. No ungentlemanly lateral shifts, please.

Gloucester Road.
posted by jack_mo at 2:10 AM on August 30, 2008


I'm assuming we'll be playing a straight rules game as a mark of respect. No ungentlemanly lateral shifts, please.

Wouldn't dream of it. Contralateral shifts are, of course, fair game.

Let's see... there's an extra token in play, so in order to avoid the hibernation zone... Hatton Cross.
posted by The Pusher Robot at 2:20 AM on August 30, 2008


.

He produced the original radio series of Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy on BBC Radio 4. For that alone, he will be sorely missed.
posted by benzo8 at 2:53 AM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


aww, Sorry to hear of his death.

I had no idea who he was. British Comedy on American TV. Looked him up on IMBD and never saw a single one of his shows. But if he produced or wrote British comedy the world is less wonderful without him.

Looked him up on YouTube, here he is in red glasses: Angus Deayton and Geoffrey Perkins from the eighties Radio 4 comedy Radio Active are interviewed on The Pamela Armstrong show, an afternoon chat thing that was on BBC2 in 1986. A handsome man with that lovely, particularly British sense of humor.

So then YouTubed around and had to find clips of his Hippies series because that's my generation. Loved this clip from Muddy Hippies.

Yeah, that really was a freak accident, "a lorry in Marylebone High Street, London W1". Reading about Mornington Crescent, I want him to have had the last laugh.
posted by nickyskye at 3:12 AM on August 30, 2008


Other reports say he fainted, fell into the street and was run over

Lorry crash kills comedy producer
by Lawrence Conway of The Independent
Saturday, 30 August 2008

“One of the leading figures in British television and radio comedy was killed in a road accident yesterday. Geoffrey Perkins, a former head of comedy for the BBC, had written and produced shows for comedians including Harry Enfield, Catherine Tate and Angus Deayton. The 55-year-old was hit by a flatbed lorry on Marylebone High Street in central London. It is believed he may have collapsed and fallen into the path of the vehicle. A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said: "The 55-year old victim was given emergency first aid at the scene but was pronounced dead."
posted by A189Nut at 3:44 AM on August 30, 2008


I knew Geoffrey and still I don't know exactly what happened surrounding his death.

The posts above talking about Geoffrey's ability to nurture talent are spot-on: unlike many of his collaborators and peers he wasn't elitist and would help anyone out, however low and humble they might be.

He was also quite under-rated as an actual talent in terms of his writing and acting ability. I think because he did so well as a producer and executive, people forget that he was a great creator too.

I'm thinking of Geoffrey's wife, son and daughter at this sad time.
posted by skylar at 4:00 AM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Terrible news... Worked on some amazing stuff in his career. I mean, anyone with such an important involvement in the original H2G2 series gets gold in my book any day!
posted by opsin at 4:59 AM on August 30, 2008


I also totally agree with humblepigeon. To have stuff like KYTV or Mary Whitehouse Experience back would be a great treat. While Perkins may have had production involvement in Catherine Tate's show, I'll try not to hold that against him, given just how many of the good shows have been partially down to him in the last twenty or thirty years.
But, the closest it seems at all possible to get to shows like that, or Brass Eye for instance, would be things like The Bugle podcast from the Times, perhaps. TV just doesn't seem to cut it anymore for edgy, interesting comedy.
posted by opsin at 5:02 AM on August 30, 2008


Good lord, Hatton Cross? At such an early stage, oh my, what could you be up to?

Under these conditions I only really have one option, I invoke the Crimean War variation of January 1855 and therefore:

Dollis Hill
posted by knapah at 5:19 AM on August 30, 2008


So much laughter over the years... (and a reminder why BBC comedy is so rubbish nowadays with key figures like this gone)
Perhaps my favourite memories are back when I was a student listening to The Mary Whitehouse Experience, on the radio, drunk, eating a curry/Chinese on many a night.... "Henry Kelly... what a Henry Kelly!" God I'm laughing now just typing it.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:59 AM on August 30, 2008


.

I guess the reason we're discussing the freak accident is that if someone like that dies, we want it to be a freak accident, say, a clown committing suicide falling on him. A regular car accident isn't quite.... funny enough.

A huge loss for British comedy.

Here he is as Mike Fix.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:59 AM on August 30, 2008


I hate freak accidents.

.
posted by h00py at 8:00 AM on August 30, 2008


I texted a friend to tell him last night and he was unconvinced enough to text back saying "really?" That's how surprising this is.

We've lost Geoffrey far too early.
posted by feelinglistless at 8:08 AM on August 30, 2008


Every generation throws a hero up the pop charts.
posted by humblepigeon


OK this is driving me nuts, what damned song is that from?? Please help before the Alzheimer's insanity begins.
posted by timsteil at 8:25 AM on August 30, 2008


What a tragic loss. He had a hand in so many of the TV shows I still enjoy watching.

Totteridge & Whetstone is the quite obvious counter to any Dollis Hill play. And before you start complaining about what appears to be a double-shuffle, I will point out that the infamous 1972 settlement (which is, of course, still valid in August) this kind of move was deemed perfectly acceptable.
posted by iso_bars at 8:32 AM on August 30, 2008


OK this is driving me nuts, what damned song is that from??

Boy in Bubble - Paul Simon
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:36 AM on August 30, 2008


This is the shittiest news I've heard in a long time. The man was a comedy god and if there's any justice, the BBC will devote an evening to him and his work as writer, performer and producer. But I bet they won't.

RIP Geoffrey.
posted by ninthart at 8:57 AM on August 30, 2008


Boy in Bubble - Paul Simon
posted by fearfulsymmetry


Thank You Thank You Thank You!

I'm sure if it rattled around my skull long enough I would have figured it out, in fact I have the disc here somewhere. Was just sort of an earworm thingie. I can now mow my lawn in peace. Stay off it once I'm done.:)
posted by timsteil at 8:59 AM on August 30, 2008


.

Finest GP moment: he was interviewed for a schools educational program while making HHGTTG. It's clear that his patience is stretched to the limit, yet he's being polite and TV-enthusiastic throughout, and trying very hard to get the cast not to swear. It's on the HHGTTG DVD.
posted by scruss at 9:00 AM on August 30, 2008


.
posted by motty at 9:06 AM on August 30, 2008


I didn't know him by name, but apparently I did by laughter. ISIHAC, Father Ted, Big Train and The Fast Show are some of my favorite programs.

And he created Mornington Crescent! That's enough to put him in the pantheon right there.

What a loss this is. RIP Mr Perkins.
posted by droplet at 9:13 AM on August 30, 2008


Graham Linehan (of Father Ted and IT Crowd fame) mourns his passing.
posted by unsupervised at 9:33 AM on August 30, 2008


While Perkins may have had production involvement in Catherine Tate's show, I'll try not to hold that against him

Couldn't agree more. All I see in Catherine Tate is a sixth form drama student who's been given her own BBC TV show. It's nothing more than grotesque stereotypes, and is almost entirely devoid of actual jokes. That's why I think Perkins was so good (although not in this particular case) --- he knew what funny is, and he knew that no matter how talented a performer, he/she was sunk without actual substance.

Back in Perkins' day, comedy was satirical or observational. As a performer, Perkins seemed to specialise in gentle parody. It was all built on a foundations of jokes. Nowadays "cutting edge comedy" (how that phrase makes my heart sink) is all about being as outrageous as possible. We had outrageousness too, in the alternative comedy days, but it was isolated. It seems to me that shock and awe is a thin comedic vein to mine, with limited potential---shock can only work if it's isolated, and we quickly built a tolerance to it, leading to fewer and fewer laughs for more and more shock.
posted by humblepigeon at 12:09 PM on August 30, 2008


I will point out that the infamous 1972 settlement (which is, of course, still valid in August) this kind of move was deemed perfectly acceptable.

Clearly you're not familiar with the Queen's Plate Tournament amendment to the 1972 settlement. At the time, the referee ruled that the settlement was rendered null and void when Ealing Common is played immediately subsequent to an invocation of the settlement rules.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:39 PM on August 30, 2008


I still haven't found any news accounts about exactly where the accident occured. If it was within a couple blocks of Mornington Crescent, then it WOULD have been a freak accident.

The world is a little less odd and a little less funny today.

.




and I call Sierra Madre Villa
posted by wendell at 10:40 PM on August 30, 2008


Ted! Ted! I'm in tremendous pain here!

Oh, and - what, you thought I wouldn't recognize Napoleon's Gambit? Totteridge and Whetstone indeed. Behold, I give you - Boston Manor. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.
posted by kcds at 5:38 AM on August 31, 2008


Reverse 2:1 split to Southwark. Bet you didn't see that coming!
posted by grouse at 9:42 AM on August 31, 2008


He produced the original radio series of Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy on BBC Radio 4.

At the ripe old age of 21, I think. Kinda puts it into perspective.

.
posted by Sparx at 9:54 AM on August 31, 2008


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