Friday, 2 August 2013

Goodbye Charlie


My dear friend and fellow writer Charlie Adams has died. For those of us who worked on British television entertainment shows of the 80's and 90's Charlie was the Gagmeister supreme - his Twitter account was @gagfather. His lines graced early Saturday evening shows on both BBC and ITV. He wrote for Bob Hope, Bob Monkhouse, Jimmy Tarbuck, Les Dawson, Mike Yarwood, Bradley Walsh, Lilly Savage, Roy Hudd, Bobby Davro...and so many more. 

He had the gift. He once told me that his father had said to him "If your jokes make just one person'd just as well pack it in". Charlie's jokes made millions of people laugh. 

In his own words he said he'd spent "...twenty five happy years writing gags and sketches, introductions and put-downs for the World's greatest comedians, superstars, legends, wannabes and the not-even-close. Then one day show business closed down and no-one told him". We pondered long and hard about how to bring some of the fun back into comedy.

He'd been weaned on a certain kind of comedy, he loved the put down but it was never vitriol; he loved the people he was sending up - well some of them - and he knew that if he was too vicious they wouldn't come back for more.

I first met him when I was producing what used to be called 'light' entertainment shows for the BBC. We worked with Noel Edmonds, then the darling of Saturday night telly. Charlie and I hit it off like a house on fire, he was a a Scotsman and I bought the teas. His material always arrived later than requested but was always worth waiting for. Like all writers he could never actually bring himself to sit down and write until he absolutely had to - and then it tumbled out of him.

From that early producer/writer relationship we went on to become close friends and write together. He attempted a number of sitcom pilots on his own but his forte wasn't character and structure his forte was the gag. When I wrote comedy pilots the first place they went was to Charlie - he was a great punch up man. If he'd stayed in America, where he lived for a while, he'd have made his fortune making unfunny sitcom lines zing. 

Not all comedy writers like to laugh, for some it's a serious business and no laughing matter but Charlie loved to laugh. He'd walk into a room and put it down, he was rarely impressed by star wattage but he gave his laughter freely. 

His idols were mostly American, he loved Garry Marshall and Larry Gelbart, The Dick Van Dyke Show and Rhoda. When the latter was mooted as a show that might cross the ocean he was given the job of turning a New York Jew into a waspish Scot. 

We'd talk for hours on the phone about detective fiction and 60's songs. 

Latterly he'd been working on ways to make businessmen lighten up with comedy courses, a children's book he'd asked me to illustrate and, as always, there was a new idea for a sit-com he was noodling away with in the background. 

Charlie found life funny, his son Paul inherited the gene and was lucky enough to have one of the best writers of gags as a dad. Charlie and Shona were always great hosts and his family will miss him terribly.

So shall I. 

So will everyone who worked with Charlie.


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  2. Hi this may sound strange but oh well, im the nephew of charlie and shona and i havent seen or spoken to them in almost 15 years. My names Robert Cruickshank and i was hoping you could help me get in contact with any of there family because i have questions. My email address is if there is any way u could help.