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Joe McGrath

Wednesday, 20 February 2008 15:03

A serious producer of the best in British comedy ...

 

Born in Glasgow in 1930, Joe McGrath’s credentials as a writer, producer and director in British film and television comedy are almost second to none.

Beginning as a producer on Michael Bentine’s surreal sketch show It’s a Square World, he co-wrote and directed the television play Justin Thyme starring Leonard Rossiter and produced the first of two BBC shows for the Soviet Union’s leading comedian Arkady Raikin, and the short-lived sitcom The Big Noise which starred Bob Monkhouse as brash pop disc jockey.

In 1965 he produced and contributed material to the first series of the classic Not Only... But Also starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. After producing East of Howerd which filmed Frankie Howerd entertaining British forces in Malaysia, Joe directed The Goon Show for Thames Television. A recording of Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe performing The Tale of Men’s Shirts, the programme was deemed unsuccessful and scuppered plans to transfer the classic radio comedy to television.

He produced Spike Milligan’s surrealistic sketch show Oh In Colour and directed the television series Zodiac starring Anouska Hempel and Anton Rodgers. Both director and producer of the sitcom The Losers written by Punch editor Alan Coren and starring Leonard Rossiter as a cockney wrestling promoter, he executive produced and co-wrote Good Night and God Bless with Donald Churchill who played a stand-up comic fronting a television game show.

In a film career that began as one of six directors on the James Bond spoof "Casino Royale", Joe co-wrote and directed "The Magic Christian" with Terry Southern and star Peter Sellers, "The Great McGonagall" with Spike Milligan playing the Scotsman eager to become Poet Laureate and the Sherlock Holmes spoof "The Strange Case of the End of Civilisation as We Know It" with John Cleese and Jack Hobbs.

In recent years Joe co-wrote the book "Now That’s Funny!" with David Bradbury, a collection of interviews with some of the greatest writers of British comedy including Spike Milligan, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, and John Sullivan.

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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