Producer Geoffrey Perkins dies

U.K. TV exec created several hit comedies

LONDON — Geoffrey Perkins, one of the U.K.’s most influential and gifted TV comedy producers, has died in a road accident in London.

Perkins, 55, who began his show business career in BBC Radio, was responsible for some of the most successful British TV comedies of the past 30 years, nurturing performers such as Harry Enfield and Catherine Tate, and numerous scriptwriters.

Oxford educated — he read English at Lincoln College — Perkins was one of those quintessentially English humorists — ironic, irreverent and subversive in an understated sort of way.

At university, he joined the Oxford Theater Group Revue. After working briefly in industry, Perkins, whose own abilities as a comic were noted by a Sunday Times review following a perf at the Edinburgh Festival, joined BBC Radio Light Entertainment in 1976. There he was a prolific producer, but the show that helped win him his reputation was an audio version of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

A brief spell at Thames TV led to him joining the increasingly influential U.K. shingle Hat Trick Productions, whose hits included “Drop the Dead Donkey,” “Father Ted” and “Have I Got News For You.”

In 1995, he was poached by the BBC to runs its television comedy department. At the time, he said the gig “was the best job in the world,” but he became frustrated by the corp.’s addiction to process and other bureaucratic foibles.

Significantly, Perkins ensured that he was allowed to continue to work as a producer, despite joining the corp.’s hierarchy.

As executive producer at the BBC, Perkins credits included “The Fast Show,” “Happiness,” “My Hero,” “2 Pints of Lager,” “My Family,” “Coupling” and “Big Train.” Additionally, he co-produced both series of “The Thin Blue Line,” starring Rowan Atkinson.

In 2001, he left the BBC to rejoin Blighty’s independent sector — this time as an executive producer at Tiger Aspect. Latterly, Perkins’ shows numbered “Benidorm,” a rare comic success for ITV1, and a new series of “Harry & Paul,” which re-united him with Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse.

Personally, he was charming and regarded as a genuinely nice man in a business where sharp practice is never far away. His wife, Lisa, and the couple’s two children survive him.