Barry Took, one of Britain’s most famous comedians and comic writers who helped produce such shows as “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” died March 31 at a north London nursing home after a battle with cancer. He was 73.
Took had an unusually long career as a standup comic, radio scriptwriter writer, television executive and film critic.
He was responsible for celebrated radio series like “Round the Horne,” “The Army Game,” “Educating Archie” and “Bootsie and Snudge.” The shows were a vital part of British life in the austere decades after World War II, when food rationing lasted for years and the country struggled to adjust to its diminished role in the world.
Took also worked on the U.S. television show “Laugh In.”
London native left school at age 15 and worked as an office boy and cinema projectionist before serving in the air force, where he was involved in entertainment programs. He later worked as a stagehand and then as a comic. In his autobiography “A Point of View,” he recalled that he once did 12 shows in the city of Wolverhampton without raising a single laugh, but persevered. Indeed, throughout his life he was dogged by self-doubt, depression, domestic problems and ill health; his two marriages ended in divorce.
All the more reason, perhaps, that he pursued laughs relentlessly. In 1957 he began working with fellow comic Marty Feldman, and they went on to create and write some of the most successful radio shows of the 1960s. The pair turned out scripts at a rapid pace, often compiling four or five shows a week.
Dubbed Baron von Took by a television executive, he was involved in plans for a show called “Baron von Took’s Flying Circus” which eventually became “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”
In later life, Took wrote film reviews for Punch magazine and did panel shows on radio.
He is survived by two daughters and two sons.