Police seek new evidence on death of comedy guru Geoffrey Perkins

Richard Osley
Sunday 31 August 2008 00:00 BST

Traffic police investigating the death of comedy producer Geoffrey Perkins are reviewing footage from CCTV cameras to see if he had collapsed before being hit by a lorry. The BBC's former head of comedy died in Marylebone High Street in central London early on Friday.

The driver of the vehicle involved did not stop but was later traced, questioned and allowed to continue. One line of police inquiry is whether the driver had realised what had happened. Witnesses said Mr Perkins had seemed to faint before stumbling into the road. An inquest will open in Westminster tomorrow.

As investigators pieced together the tragedy, appealing for further witnesses, former colleagues paid tribute to his 30-year contribution to comedy. Barry Cryer, who worked with him on Radio 4's I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, said: "He had an impressive CV, he was a catalyst. He knew what he was doing because he had been a performer. Producers today are more likely to be young accountants, but Geoff wasn't interested in number crunching and focus groups. Geoff Perkins was always there. He knew so many people and had worked with everybody. People knew his face, it was twinkly and full of fun. I wouldn't see him for a while and then we'd bump into each other and it was like it was only yesterday."

Mr Perkins, who met his wife Lisa Braun when they worked together on the 1970s radio production of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, was responsible for hits such as The Fast Show and The Harry Enfield Television Programme. He is also credited with nurturing Catherine Tate's comedy talents. He left the BBC to work for the production company Tiger Aspect in 2001.

Graham Lineman, who originated the comedy cult classic Father Ted, said the programme was saved by Mr Perkins's intervention. He said he had given the show its "heart", adding: "He was the man who chose the house that became our iconic central location, poring over a pile of location photographs, stabbing it with his finger and saying, 'That's the one'. Without Geoffrey, Father Ted would have been a cacophonous riot, and not nearly as loved as it is today. He gave the show a heart." Peter Bennett-Jones, chairman of Tiger Aspect, said: "He genuinely made the world a funnier place."

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