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."
Mr Perkins made his name at the BBC producing The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy – one of the most successful radio shows ever made. During his six years at BBC Radio, he produced 20 different programmes and 200 individual shows, and created the game Mornington Crescent for Radio 4's I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue.
He became BBC TV's head of comedy in 1995, having previously been director of Hat Trick Productions, one of the leading independent production companies, for eight years.
He left the BBC again in 2001 to join Tiger Aspect Productions. Former colleagues were shocked by his death. Jana Bennett, the BBC's director of vision, said last night: "Geoffrey was an outstanding creator of countless comedy hits. He embraced comedy talent to create unique programmes which will be enjoyed for a very long time to come.
"All of our thoughts are with Geoffrey's family at this very sad time."
A life in laughter
Geoffrey Perkins had many radio and television credits. At the BBC, he produced The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, the first BBC Radio comedy in stereo. As a director of Hat Trick Productions, his shows included Have I Got News For You. Other early successes included the popular Spitting Image, Saturday Night Live, Friday Night Live, and Ben Elton – The Man From Auntie. Later, as BBC TV head of comedy he oversaw The Royle Family, Men Behaving Badly and The League Of Gentlemen. After leaving the BBC again in 2001 to join Tiger Aspect Productions as its creative director, he produced several shows for the corporation, such as The Catherine Tate Show and The Fast Show. He co-wrote The Harry Enfield Television Programme. His latest production, Harry And Paul, with Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse, is due to start on the BBC next week.