The author and comedy writer David Nobbs died at the weekend at the age of 80. He will probably be best remembered as the creator of the wonderfully offbeat Leonard Rossiter comedy vehicle, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. Besides working on ground-breaking and hugely popular comedy shows such as The Frost Report and The Two Ronnies, he also provided material for comedians Ken Dodd and Les Dawson, and the comic actor Frankie Howerd.

Reggie Perrin was his memorable creation

Although his comedy CV was generally impressive, including teaming up with the late Sir David Frost as a writer on the popular satirical show That Was The Week That Was in the 1960s, many will view Reggie Perrin as his defining legacy.

It was quite simply dark humour at its very best and became one of the ‘must watch’ programmes during the 1970s. Reggie was the epitome of a married man in mid-life crisis, attempting to escape his mundane lifestyle by acting out a Walter Mitty-type alter-ego. Nobbs wrote the Books on which the series was based in addition to the screenplay for Television.

David Jason comedy series

In the 1980s, Nobbs wrote the drama / comedy series A Bit of a Do, providing the opportunity for David Jason and Gwen Taylor to spark off each other as the working class Simcocks. In a way it was a battle between the classes, as they came into contact with the middle-class Rodenhursts through a marriage between the two families.

Yet another excellent example of the writer’s acute observations of the interaction between different types of people in society.

Nobbs as an author

As an author of some repute, Nobbs wrote over 20 novels and saw the publication of his final work, The Second Life of Sally Mottram, last year. His autobiography was published in 2001, quite aptly taking the title I Didn’t Get Where I Am Today from the famous catchphrase that Reggie’s boss often used in the television series.

Humanist involvement

Nobbs was involved as a patron of the British Humanist Association, a group who support people seeking to live ethical lives on the basis ofreason and humanity. He became a passionate humanist (probably prompted by the death of his mother) and believed in the ideals of secularism. Indeed he has cited the influence of humanism in a number of his books and has requested a humanist funeral to commemorate his death.

Stephen Fry also shares an interest in humanism and paid a fitting tribute to Nobbs: “I liked him very very much. Such a brilliant comic writer and such a kind, wise man."

John Cleese tribute

John Cleese worked with Nobbs on The Frost Report and echoed Fry’s sentiments via Twitter: “Very sad today to hear of the death of David Nobbs.” In his opinion Reggie Perrin was his best creation, although he was also an admirer of his work on other leading shows and also his books.