70s comedy chief dies

Jones 'influenced millions'

The ITV executive who poached Morecambe and Wise from BBC and helped make Benny Hill an international star, has died at the age of 76.

Philip Jones, who was awarded an OBE for his services for broadcasting, was head of light entertainment at Thames TV in the Seventies and Eighties.

During that time he worked with such stars as Tommy Cooper,  Mike Yarwood, Eric Sykes, Kenny Everett and Jim Davidson, and helped launch a string of sitcoms including Man About The House, George And Mildred and Robin’s Nest.

His obituary in today’s Times says: “Philip Jones was a major influence on the careers of many household names and the entertainment of millions of households.

“The stars regarded Jones as a true friend. His word was as good as a contract, and they knew that he would do most of their worrying for them.”

Their respect for Jones was one of the reasons Eric and Ernie made their controversial switch to commercial television in 1978 – although at the time it was thought that money was the only factor.

Under Jones, Thames also marketed Benny Hill around the world, repackaging his British shows for a global audience – shows it still profits from today.

Jones was also the executive behind the groundbreaking Kenny Everett Video Show, the sitcom Shelley and long-running success Give Us a Clue.

After leaving Thames, Jones worked on the BBC sitcom As Time Goes By, which ran for more than ten years.

He died on Friday, leaving a wife and one of their two sons.


Times obituary >>

Published: 11 May 2004

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