Person details

Humphrey Barclay
Former Independent Producer and Controller of Comedy LWT

Between 1967 and 2000 Humphrey Barclay was one of the UK’s most prolific and innovative producers of sketch and situation comedy. His career was launched when he directed the Cambridge Footlights revue ‘Cambridge Circus’ in London and on Broadway, starring John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Bill Oddie and Tim Brooke-Taylor. This led to the iconic BBC Radio series “I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again”, which in turn opened the way for the children’s comedy series “Do Not Adjust Your Set”, in which he put together for the first time Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam – not to mention the hitherto undiscovered David Jason. His first sitcom was “Doctor in the House”, which with its sequels ran to 177 episodes. Subsequently, while he found time to produce sketch shows with Emma Thompson, Ronnie Barker, Peter Cook, Stanley Baxter and Rowan Atkinson, and comedy drama with Judi Dench, his sitcoms ranged from popular to satirical and innovative and included “No – Honestly”, “Agony”, “A Fine Romance”, “Metal Mickey”, “Two’s Company” (with Elaine Stritch), “That’s Love”, “Hot Metal”, “Whoops Apocalypse!”, and “Surgical Spirit”, and often focussed on black writing, producing and performing talent in shows such as “Party At The Palace”, “No Problem!” and “Desmond’s”. He served as Head and eventually Controller of Comedy at London Weekend Television (where he was responsible for the break-through series “Spaced”), ran Humphrey Barclay Productions for 13 years, developed sitcom for Granada in Australia and the US, and has conducted a comedy writing workshop in Johannesburg and Capetown.

On retiring from full-time TV in 2000 he was made a Chief in Ghana, where he devotes his energies to a different kind of development – the future of the small town of Kwahu-Tafo (www.friendsoftafo.org).