Sitcom producer/director John B Hobbs dies

Friday 8th March 2024, 10:45am

John B Hobbs
  • Producer and director John B Hobbs has died at the age of 87
  • He worked on some of the BBC's biggest sitcom successes from the early 1970s onwards
  • His credits include making shows such as Terry & June, Bread and Brush Strokes

Prolific sitcom producer and director John B Hobbs has died. He was 87.

Showing a keen interest in the performing arts from a young age, he started work at the BBC in Radio Times's accounts department, he progressed to become one of the corporation's most trusted narrative comedy makers.

Hobbs's credits include Brush Strokes, 'Allo 'Allo!, Terry & June, Butterflies and Mulberry.

Before becoming a fully-fledged producer and director in his own right, he worked as a floor manager on landmark television series including Dixon Of Dock Green and That Was The Week That Was, and assistant producer on The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin, To The Manor Born and Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em.

Born in Fishponds, Bristol, in 1936, he began staging shows in his parents' garden for other children and quickly progressed to a local church hall. By 1950 Hobbs had formed his own semi-professional theatre group, the 1961 Company, through which he met his life partner, Iain McCorquodale, who survives him.

Entering the BBC as a junior accounts clerk in the latter 1950s, reasoning that it was at least a foot in the door, he gradually worked his way up over the course of the following two decades. By 1971 he was a production assistant and worked on Galton & Simpson's comedy Clochemerle.

An adaptation of a French comic novel and filmed on location in the country, The Times reports that he was tasked with organising locals as extras, paying them from a briefcase stuffed with francs. He soon became known to them as 'Monsieuer Le Capitaliste'.

During his time working on Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, he filled a similar role, and was tasked with finding the lorry and driver willing to take part in the notorious roller-skating stunt - one of the most iconic scenes in sitcom history. The driver was paid £50 for his time.

After starting work on Butterflies, star Wendy Craig championed him as a potential director and he went on to film the entire first two series of the comedy staple.

Before being forced to leave the BBC in the 1990s, his other comedy credits included Three Up, Two Down, Little And Large, Laura And Disorder, Late Expectations, Lame Ducks, Leaving and Down To Earth.

He then returned to the theatre, forming his own production company and staging a range of touring plays.

Born on 14th May 1936, he died last Thursday, 29th February, at the age of 87 after a long illness.

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