There were glowing tributes and warm memories as friends and loved ones said their final farewells to a giant of British sitcom.
Hundreds packed into Mortlake Crematorium on Monday afternoon, with many having to stand, as stars from Jimmy Perry’s hit comedies remembered “a gentleman to the core”.
The long version of Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Mr Hitler?, the famous theme tune Jimmy wrote for Dad’s Army, was played to open the service.
It included the verse that was never used:
“So watch out, Mr Hitler,
You have met your match in us.
If you think you can crush us,
We’re afraid you’ve missed the bus.”
Eulogies were paid by John Clegg and Michael Knowles (Captain Ashwood and “La-De-Dah” Gunner Graham in It Ain’t Half Hot Mum), and by Ruth Madoc (Gladys in Hi-de-Hi!), who said, “Jimmy was a very caring man and he wanted to share his success.”
Su Pollard (Peggy in Hi-de-Hi! and Ivy in You Rang, M’Lord?) sang a song called Goodbye Jimmy, and comedian Barry Cryer delivered a poem that ended with the words “Don’t Tell Him, Pike”, probably the most famous line from Dad’s Army.
The guests were told of Jimmy’s west-London childhood, and one school report informing his parents, “Your son shows little ability for anything”. Jimmy’s antique-dealer father had said to him, “You stupid boy”, which later became a regular catchphrase in Dad’s Army.
And we were reminded of the huge audiences for all of his shows – though it’s been repeated numerous times, Dad’s Army still draws around two million to BBC2 every Saturday.
TV comedy producer Jon Plowman said, “The quality of his work was consistently brilliant”, adding that Jimmy and his co-writer David Croft came as a package. He described them as “comedy revolutionaries”, saying, “They made it look easy; we know it is not.”
Jimmy was an enthusiastic member of the Grand Order of Water Rats and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, and both were well represented at the service.
Other guests included Nicholas Parsons, 93, and actors Jeffrey Holland, George Layton and Nikki Kelly.
There were plenty of laughs throughout, and Jimmy was described as a “true gentleman” with an “enthusiasm for life” and an “elegance of style”. For someone who created laughter, however, Jimmy did face his fair share of tragedy and sadness. He and his wife Gilda lost their son, also called Jimmy, in a road accident. And Jimmy faced and beat cancer a number of times.
Jimmy Perry died on 23rd October, aged 93. A day later the Cold Stream Guards paid their own musical tribute to him outside Buckingham Palace.
He is survived by his partner, the costume designer Mary Husband.