Tuesday 23 January 2018

Only Fools and Horses producer Gareth Gwenlan dies aged 79

Gareth Gwenlan, pictured on the day he received his OBE
Gareth Gwenlan, pictured on the day he received his OBE

Tributes have been paid to Gareth Gwenlan, the former producer of Only Fools And Horses who has died at the age of 79.

Actress Sue Holderness, best known for playing Marlene Boyce in the Peckham-based comedy, spoke with warmth about the late BBC producer on Twitter.

She said: "So sad to hear about Gareth Gwenlan - such a big part of my professional life. R.I.P."

Mr Gwenlan, appointed the head of comedy at BBC TV in 1983, commissioned some of the corporation's most popular comedies, including One Foot In The Grave, Blackadder, Yes Prime Minister and 'Allo 'Allo.

He was also behind Keeping Up Appearances, Birds Of A Feather, High Hopes and Bread.

To The Manor Born and The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin are among the producing credits of the respected television figure, who was awarded an OBE in 2013.

During his seven-year tenure in charge of BBC comedy, his department was the recipient of several Baftas and there was also recognition from America in the form of Primetime Emmys.

As the producer of Only Fools And Horses, Mr Gwenlan was in the studio when David Jason performed one of the comedy's most fondly remembered scenes.

Jason's character Derek 'Del Boy' Trotter toppled through an open bar hatch as he was attempting to impress some ladies.

Originally broadcast in 1989 episode Yuppy Love, it is a TV moment which continues to be recalled decades later.

Talking about the famous stunt, Mr Gwenlan said: "David timed it to perfection and it literally stopped the show."

Born in Brecon, Mr Gwenlan trained as an actor and teacher.

Reginald Perrin, starring the late Leonard Rossiter of Rising Damp fame, started him on his way as a young producer.

"I did 'Rise and Fall' in 1975, and it was my first big break, working with the wonderful Leonard Rossiter.

"It was a success, and the rest of my career sort of fell in behind it," he said at the time he received his OBE.

Mr Gwenlan was awarded a Royal Television Society Fellowship in 1997.

High Hopes actor Robert Blythe said in tribute: "Gareth was hugely successful, and rightly so, in the field of situation comedy.

"He was the man who knew more about it than anyone else alive. He will be sadly missed."

Press Association

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