Obituary: Charlie Adams remembered

Charlie Adams Charlie Adams wrote for Bob Monkhouse and Bob Hope

Producer and director Alan Nixon recalls the life and work of comedy writer Charlie Adams, who worked on Noel's House Party and other shows.

If you knew Charlie Adams, you liked Charlie Adams.

He was one of nature's sunniest personalities whose life seemed a series of happy accidents.

Charlie bounced into my world when I was producing Radio 2's long running topical comedy The News Huddlines.

He had first tried his hand at writing for Radio 4's satirical show Week Ending and was bumped off for basically being "too funny". His "punishment" was to write for one of the country's top comedians, Roy Hudd - a task he relished for many years as a writer, and eventually head writer.

Charlie not only penned many memorable one-liners - "looking through the obituary columns for news of my agent" comes to mind - but created one of the programme's legendary characters, the compulsive "flasher", Mr Friggins, voiced by Chris Emmett.

The figure lived long after Charlie's term on the show and he happily collected the royalties.

Famous clients

It's difficult to appreciate the sublime skill required in constructing a "quickie" or near-perfect line that can lift any programme above the ordinary in seconds. It was Charlie who, responding to an item on the death of the great blues singer Muddy Waters, had the cast sing, "Well, I didn't wake up this morning…" Short, sharp, succinct and hilarious. That was Charlie.

Start Quote

I remember him telling me that Mr Blobby was, underneath it all, really a drunken Glaswegian who wants to be everybody's pal”

End Quote Alan Nixon

His ability to deliver finely tuned topical material in bulk and on time brought him to the inevitable attention of television and many top comedians of the day. Charlie's contribution to most of the variety and sketch shows throughout the 1980s and 1990s can hardly be measured. He boasted among his many clients, Bradley Walsh, Shane Ritchie, Bobby Davro, Bob Monkhouse, Marti Caine and countless others.

Charlie was thrilled to have written for the legendary Bob Hope on one of his visits to London. He would recall how the relationship continued after that and Bob would ring up at unseemly hours of the night from Chicago asking for "topicals" on people he'd never even heard of.

Charlie, of course, obliged.

American experience

He was a font of terrific anecdotes and we made a pact at our "business meetings" to limit stories to just three-quarters of our time together. The truth is, I could have listened to him for hours.

Charlie spent time in the States and he was a font of knowledge on the American comedy scene having read almost every book on great sit-coms from I Love Lucy, through Mary Tyler Moore to Everybody Loves Raymond. (Young writers check these out).

The sadness of his great one-liner skills is it left little time for him to pen the classic sit-com of which he was capable. He had begun several and one, at the BBC, was highly regarded but considered "too American".

I think they meant "too funny".

Mr Blobby

Start Quote

To work alongside Charlie was a pleasure and a privilege and, often, a punctuation lesson”

End Quote Alan Nixon

At the peak of his profession he was the main creative force behind the BAFTA award-winning Noel's House Party. Its host Noel Edmonds described Charlie as "the best writer he's ever worked with".

Again, it's hard to appreciate how much of a powerhouse of ideas Charlie Adams was behind the scenes in these top-rated series, continuously inventing and re-booting comic segments, keeping the show fresh week after week, series after series.

He also created the character of Mr Blobby. I was walking through Glasgow Central station on the day Charlie passed away, the town where we were both born, as a live brass band was playing Someone to Watch over Me.

I suddenly remembered Charlie telling me that Mr Blobby - who had no words, just bubbly sounds and would try to hug anyone at inappropriate moments - was, underneath it all, really a drunken Glaswegian who wants to be everybody's pal.

To work alongside Charlie was a pleasure and a privilege and, often, a punctuation lesson.

My heart goes out to those who knew him best, his family. To Shona, his wife; to his comedian son, Paul, carrying on the family flame; to Jane, his daughter; and to all the grandchildren.

He oozed pride at being a granddad - "I was born to born to do this" he told me.

When Charlie walked into a room every second line was an attempt to make you laugh or smile. And it was always humane, warm, witty, and highly entertaining. Just like Charlie.

Rest In Peace.

Charlie Adam's funeral will be held at 1.40pm, Wednesday 21 August at Blue Bell Hill Crematorium in Kent (also known as Medway Crematorium).

Features

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.