Producer behind The Two Ronnies and BBC comedy classics dies


Producer and director James Gilbert, who brought together the talents of Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett for The Two Ronnies, has died aged 93.

The BBC's former head of comedy was also responsible for The Frost Report and The Last Of The Summer Wine.

Smiles from television's Two Ronnies, comedians Ronnie Corbett (l) and Ronnie Barker, at Buckingham Palace after receiving the OBE from Queen Elizabeth II at an investiture.

The broadcaster's Director-General Tony Hall hailed him as "an absolute giant" in his field.

Gilbert was behind a string of comedy classics including Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?

Lord Hall said: "Jimmy was an absolute giant of BBC Comedy and Entertainment, who made millions laugh over so many decades with shows like The Frost Report, The Two Ronnies, and The Last Of The Summer Wine.

Peter Sallis, Bill Owen and Michael Bates celebrate the return of their BBC comedy series Last of the Summer Wine

"He had that magic understanding of how great comedy worked, and he constantly surprised us too with innovation after innovation. Our thoughts are with his friends and family."

Born in Edinburgh in 1923, Gilbert is credited with bringing together Barker and Corbett for their beloved show after he spotted their comic chemistry when working with them on The Frost Report.

He won a Bafta in 1974 for best situation comedy for Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? and was also nominated in the same category for The Last Of The Summer Wine.

Gilbert was head of BBC comedy from 1973 to 1977 before he was appointed head of BBC light entertainment from 1977 to 1982.