When Jimmy Perry's father asked him what he wanted to do when he left school, Jimmy told him that he was determined to be a famous comedian. "You stupid boy!" said Perry Senior. The dye was cast and although Jimmy never achieved his goal as a stand-up comic he has however provided more laughs to the British nation than most.
Born in Barnes (London) on 9th September 1923, Jimmy became fascinated with the variety theatre at an early age. His heroes were Arthur Askey, Ted Ray and the Crazy Gang. His knowledge of the glory years of music hall and variety is today unrivalled. He found himself in the Home Guard at 16 years of age, and based the character of Private Frank Pike in Dad's Army on himself. Upon being drafted in the army, Perry then wound up in India and Burma where he became part of the concert party which formed the basis of his second hit series with David Croft, It Ain't Half Hot Mum.
Following demob Jimmy won a place training as an actor at RADA and in the summer holidays became a Butlins Redcoat at Pwlhelli and Filey. Again his own experiences led him to create Hi-de-Hi!
From 1954 to 1965 Jimmy and his wife Gilda ran the Palace Theatre, Watford. A repertory company which produced a different play or show every week. It was whilst working for Joan Littlewood at the Theatre Workshop in Stratford East that Jimmy had the idea for a show based on the Home Guard he called "The Fighting Tigers". The rest is history...
The final collaberation with David Croft was You Rang, M'Lord ? which ended in 1993, cementing 25 years as one of British television's greatest ever comedy writing partnerships.
Aside from his four hit shows with David Croft, Jimmy has also written the television series The Gnomes of Dulwich (BBC, 1969), Lollipop Loves Mr. Mole (ATV, 1971/72), Room Service (1979) and High Street Blues (co-written with Robin Carr, 1989) Jimmy also scripted the music hall revue Wiltons - The Handsomest Hall In Town (BBC, 1970) Dad's Army was turned into a successful big screen movie in 1972.
Jimmy's almost unrivalled knowledge of the variety years saw him researching, writing and presenting the series Turns (BBC, 1982 / 1989) and The Old Boy Network (BBC, 1978/79).
Jimmy has written the theme songs to all his comedy shows with David Croft. "Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mister Hitler ?" and "Meet The Gang" with Derek Taverner, "You Rang, M'Lord ?" with Roy Moore and "Holiday Rock" by himself.
A comedy radio series London Calling lampooned the birth of the BBC and was broadcast on BBC Radio 2 in September 1994 with Jimmy himself playing one of the roles.
A lifelong ambition was realised in 1997 when Jim teamed up with composer Roy Moore to create his musical That's Showbiz which premiered at the Wimbledon Theatre. This production would feature the late Ted Rogers and Carmen Silvera, Su Pollard, Peter Baldwin, Linda Regan and John D. Collins in lead roles.
Jimmy was made an OBE in 1977 and has also been awarded the BAFTA Fellowship and the Writer's Guild Lifetime Achievement Award.
An autobiography entitled A Stupid Boy was published in 2002.