Who also co-wrote
in his spare time. At 16, he joined the 10th Hertfordshire Battalion – the Watford Home Guard. His mother didn’t like him being out so late at night. “She didn’t go so far as making me wear a scarf,” Perry later recalled – but she came close. Called up to the Royal Artillery, he was posted to the Far East, where he joined his unit’s concert party – an experience that would provide the inspiration for another of his and Croft’s comedies, and his personal favourite, It Ain’t Half Hot Mum (1974 to 1981). Still dreaming of becoming an actor, he then enrolled at Rada, but not until he’d spent a season working as a red coat at Butlins. In the mid-1960s, he was working as a bit-part actor when he had the bright idea of writing his own comedy, and casting himself in it. The result was a script for what he called The Fighting Tigers, which he gave to Croft, then a BBC comedy producer. Perry never did get to play the part he’d created for himself – the cockney spiv Private Walker – as he was too busy writing; but Dad’s Army turned him and Croft into one of the hottest partnerships in British comedy. Like Perry, Croft had done a stint at Butlins, and in 1980, they produced Hi-de-Hi!, set in a dismal postwar holiday camp called Maplins. It ran for nine series. Their final collaboration was You Rang, M’Lord? (1988 to 1993). It was Croft’s idea to end each programme with the caption You Have Been Watching, but Perry wrote the theme tunes, and for Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Mr Hitler?, sung by Bud Flanagan, he won an Ivor Novello Award. He was appointed OBE in 1978. He married the actress Gilda Neeltje in 1953 (her sister, Diane Holland, played the snooty dancer Yvonne in Hi-deHi!). They had no children.
Perry: based Private Pike on himself