John B Hobbs obituary


John B Hobbs, who has died aged 87, fashioned his first theatre firm on the age of 12, and the stage remained his old flame. He even continued to write down and mount reveals throughout the nation whereas having fun with a profitable profession as a BBC workers producer-director on tv sitcoms.

Making the final two sequence of ’Allo ’Allo! (1991-92) in the direction of the tip of his days on the BBC not solely required Hobbs to show his expertise in crafting in style TV, but additionally his diplomacy in working with a solid that had established a success programme with out him.

Robin Nash, the top of comedy, dispatched him to dine with Gorden Kaye, who performed the cafe proprietor René Artois, on the centre of the motion in David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd’s creation set in German-occupied France in the course of the second world warfare and supposed as a parody of the BBC drama Secret Military.

“I’m happy to say we received on very effectively,” Hobbs advised the journalist Richard Webber. “The BBC have been eager to do one other sequence and have been making an attempt to maintain Gorden candy, so gave him the courtesy of assembly me first as an alternative of telling him I used to be going to be the subsequent producer.” Hobbs described the programme’s humour as like “seaside postcards with an incredible quantity of innuendo”.

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‘We received on very effectively,’ Hobbs stated of Gorden Kaye, who performed the cafe proprietor René Artois in ’Allo ’Allo! {Photograph}: Categorical/Getty Photos

The producer had arrived on ’Allo ’Allo! after equally finishing the ultimate two sequence of Bread (1990-91), Carla Lane’s sitcom a couple of jobless working-class Liverpool household taking part in the system, with Jean Boht because the acid-tongued matriarch, Nellie Boswell, holding them so as.

His document of manufacturing and directing sitcoms over the earlier decade was astonishing. He started with the fourth sequence of Terry and June (1982), starring Terry Scott and June Whitfield in suburban matrimony, earlier than seeing others by way of from starting to finish.

Most featured, by way of pure coincidence, folks dealing with life modifications: Keith Barron and Susan Hampshire scuffling with divorce in Leaving (1984-85), one other Lane creation; John Duttine turning hermit after a damaged marriage in Lame Geese (1984-85); Barron and Nanette Newman confronting mid-life parenthood in Late Expectations (1987); and Wendy Craig in chaotic situations following divorce in Laura and Dysfunction (1989).

Hobbs additionally took over from different producers to steer Three Up, Two Down (from 1986 to 1989), starring Angela Thorne as a snob and Michael Elphick, whom she seems to be down on as a cockney oik, and Brush Strokes (from 1990 to 1991), with Karl Howman taking part in an amorous home painter.

He was born in Bristol to Margaret (nee Britton) and Jack Hobbs, a milkman. Aged 12, he fashioned the Marivale Gamers, performing, producing, portray surroundings and making props with an organization of 40 girls and boys aged 11 to 17 who carried out in hospitals, village halls and YMCAs. Two years later, he wrote his personal model of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He additionally realized to tap-dance and appeared in Bristol Shakespearean Society productions.

On leaving St George’s grammar faculty at 15, Hobbs continued in newbie theatre however, in search of an everyday revenue, solid apart concepts of turning skilled to change into a junior clerk on the metropolis’s BAC aviation firm.

After performing on BBC radio’s Kids’s Hour at their Bristol studios, he discovered the lure of present enterprise nice sufficient to steer him to go away BAC to strive his luck as an actor, singer and dancer. He even donned a wig and a gown to face in for Arthur Lucan because the mom within the music-hall act Previous Mom Riley and Her Daughter Kitty, alongside Lucan’s spouse, Kitty McShane.

His efforts to affix the BBC resulted within the supply of a job as a junior accounts clerk on Radio Occasions in London. He moved on to the gramophone library earlier than changing into a ground assistant engaged on programmes such because the sci-fi serial A for Andromeda (1961), then a ground supervisor on Play College (1964) and different reveals.

He spent the Seventies as a manufacturing assistant. Among the many duties he undertook have been paying extras in francs from a briefcase whereas filming Clochemerle (1972) in France; discovering an articulated lorry and driver for a 1973 stunt in Some Moms Do ’Ave ’Em, with Michael Crawford rollerskating beneath the automobile; and clearing a Dorset seashore of 200 holidaymakers for the opening title sequence of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin (1976-79).

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Hobbs labored on the Carla Lane sitcom Butterflies within the late Seventies. {Photograph}: BBC/Allstar

By the point he had labored on To the Manor Born (in 1979) and one other Lane sitcom, Butterflies (1978-80) – when he added director and assistant producer to his CV – Hobbs had change into a completely fledged producer. His final sitcom was All the way down to Earth (1995), starring Richard Briers as a panorama gardener.

Exterior the BBC, he spent 21 years directing reveals for Sixty One, an newbie theatre firm he based in 1961. With it, he ran night lessons for the Interior London Schooling Authority and mounted each spring musicals and Christmas pantomimes at Acton city corridor. Its last efficiency was a particular manufacturing of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel on the Westminster theatre in 1982.

Hobbs then directed skilled actors on the Mill, Sonning, in Berkshire (1986-92), and throughout Britain for the main pantomime producer Nick Thomas Enterprises (1989-95).

On leaving the BBC in 1994, he continued directing stage productions. He toured with the musical Joyful As a Sandbag (1995), the farces Out of Order (2000) and Enterprise Affairs (2001), each reuniting him with Kaye, then Simply Pearl (2003), Juliette Kaplan’s one-woman present reflecting on her Final of the Summer time Wine character.

Much less profitable was his solely movie, La Passione (1996), written by the singer Chris Rea.

Hobbs is survived by Iain McCorquodale, his companion of 55 years, who acted with the Sixty One firm.


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