Jon Plowman

Jon Plowman

Jon Plowman, best known as the producer of Absolutely Fabulous, French And Saunders and The Vicar Of Dibley, had a 27-year career with the BBC, ultimately rising to head of comedy.

Plowman began his career in theatre at the Royal Court, before moving into broadcasting at Granada. From there, he moved to the BBC in 1980 where he produced Harty, Pop Quiz and Terry Wogan’s twice-weekly chat show.

In 1989 Jon co-produced with Richard Curtis, the first seven-hour Comic Relief telethon, which raised more £25million.

His producers’ credits include Murder Most Horrid, French And Saunders, Fry And Laurie, Smith And Jones, Bottom and Absolutely Fabulous.

In 1994, Plowman was made head of comedy entertainment at the BBC, but remained as producer of several of his hit shows.

As an executive, he worked a generation of comedy shows, including The Office, Little Britain, Shooting Stars, The League of Gentlemen, People Like Us, Gimme, Gimme, Gimme and The Thick Of It.

In addition he was responsible for The Office 2003 Christmas Specials which won at the Royal Television Society and Bafta awards, as well as securing the BBC's first awards at the Golden Globes in Los Angeles, in 2004.

The following year, Plowman was made the BBC’s head of comedy in following a reorganisation of departments.

In 2006, he won the Royal Television Society Judges Award for outstanding achievement in broadcasting.

And in 2007 he announced his retirement from the corporation to go freelance.

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Births, deaths and racists

Your weekly fix of comedy trivia

  • Let’s start with a little exclusive: Nighty Night star Julia Davis gave birth to twin boys this week. The Mighty Boosh’s Julian Barratt is the dad.

  • Bernard Manning’s reputation has received some support from an unlikely source - his Indian next-door neighbour. Although the comic used the worst racist insults in his act, and was known to end his gigs with the line ‘keep your friends white’, Satya Rao Rudravajhala insisted Manning was a 'perfect gentleman'. She lived next door to Manning in Manchester for 20 years, and wrote to a eulogy to her local newspaper, saying: ‘You were no racist. You were multiracial yourself. You had a “shalom” hung by your door. People who understood you have no problem. People who didn't understand aren't worth the worry. Farewell to thee, Mancunian Manning. May your soul rest in peace.’

  • Rory Bremner admits his career has been ‘dependent’ on Tony Blair, and admits: ‘I'll miss him professionally, but not politically.’

  • Virgin radio DJ Christian O'Connell became hugely excited when offered a part in the Extras Christmas special, boasting to his friends of his starring role. ‘Chris originally told us Ricky wanted him to star in the show,’ says one. ‘The next day, after speaking to Ricky, he was forced to withdraw the claim: it turns out that his voice will appear, as background noise, but he won't get any actual screen time.’

  • Talking of Extras, Ashley Jensen’s career has taken off in the US to such an extent that she has just bought a £1.7 million house in the Los Angeles celebrity haven of Los Feliz. Meanwhile, Ricky Gervais celebrated his 46th birthday at the Ivy with the likes of Jonathan Ross and David Baddiel.

  • Watford’s Tory MP David Gauke, right, says he is always being mistaken for Jimmy Carr.

  • Jennifer Saunders has a story about BBC comedy boss Jon Plowman, who this week announced he is quitting the corporation after 27 years. On a sodden set in Cornwall, the esteemed producer was being worn down by the nagging elderly, rain-soaked extras until he dispatched them with a diplomatic: ‘I am terribly sorry. You seem to have mistaken me for a man who gives a shit.’

  • David Walliams says that the proudest moment of his life was seeing model Lisa Snowdon naked.

  • Marcus Brigstocke has admitted he hated working with Anne Robinson on the BBC One Show What’s The Problem? ‘By the end of that series, Anne and I weren’t speaking – which is difficult on a show you’re both co-hosting,’ he said. He added that the difference between her and his current co-host Trevor McDonald ‘is that Trevor’s nice.’ Mee-ow.

  • David Mitchell says it can be ‘frightening’ getting recognised in public with Robert Webb: ‘Sometimes if we're walking around, people do recognise us and get a bit confused,’ he said. ‘They don't know where they know you from, or they don't quite believe that someone off the TV can exist in this reality. It's a bit frightening if they get excited. Especially because we don't know who they are - they have all the power.’

  • Keith Allen blubbed tears of joy as his daughter Lily played Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage last weekend. We don’t know his reaction to her arrest yesterday for allegedly twatting a photographer outside a nightclub.

  • Death Row prisoner Patrick Knight, who asked for suggestions of which joke to tell as his last words, had second thoughts when he was actually strapped to the chair awaiting his lethal injection in Texas. Choking back tears, the convicted murderer announced: ‘I said I was going to tell a joke. Death has set me free. That's the biggest joke. Go ahead. I'm finished.’

SOURCES: Chortle, Middleton Guardian, Sunday Mirror, Independent, Hello magazine/thelondonpaper, Independent, MediaGuardian, thelondonpaper, Metro, Observer, Sunday Mirror, Houston Chronicle, Time Out

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Published: 29 Jun 2007

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