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Biography

David was born in Orpington, Kent, in March, 1935. His father, Gordon, was Senior Maths Master and Deputy Headmaster of the City of London School. His mother, Gwen, from Swansea, had also been a maths teacher, and both his grandfathers were headmasters. An only child, he never for one minute considered a career in teaching.

After Bickley Hall, a long defunct prep school, and Marlborough College in Wiltshire, David did national service in the Royal Signals in Catterick, Devon and Germany, ending up, just as he had started, with the rank of Signalman. He can’t tell you exactly what he did, for two reasons - he can’t remember and he signed the Official Secrets Act.

At Cambridge, where he read Classics before taking up the easier option of English, he got a second class degree and wrote for various publications. He planned to go to Vienna (then Europe’s cheapest city) to starve in a garret and become a writer. Somehow he found himself on the Sheffield Star instead. He claims to have been the world’s worst newspaper reporter. In the evenings he either went to pubs or wrote his first novel. He also became friends with fellow comedy writer and cricket lover Peter Tinniswood.

After he’d handed in his notice (to the editor’s great relief), he moved to a bedsit in West Hampstead and wrote several unperformed and probably unperformable plays.

His break came when he telephoned the BBC satire show, That Was The Week, That Was. He soon began to contribute regularly to the show, at first on his own and then with Peter Tinniswood. This led to many other shows. He contributed to The Frost Report, Frost on Sunday and to The Two Ronnies throughout its long run, writing the Pisprununciation monologue and the Rook Restaurant sketch, but not Four Candles!

He also wrote for Dick Emery, Ken Dodd, Tommy Cooper, Frankie Howerd, Jimmy Tarbuck, and, with his great friend Barry Cryer, did no less than 68 shows with Les Dawson.

His first novel, The Itinerant Lodger, was eventually published. The Daily Telegraph described the plot and said, ‘Presumably all this is meant to be funny’. A film cameraman rang from Lisbon on the strength of this review and commissioned a film. He wanted the main character to become a girl because he knew Lynn Redgrave. This would have involved changing the sex of every major character in the book. Not surprisingly, the film never happened.

David wrote two more novels before his breakthrough happened with Reggie Perrin, which is described elsewhere, as are his books and plays.

In 1980 he moved, with his first wife Mary, to an old black and white house in glorious countryside in Herefordshire. It was as near as he could get to his beloved Wales without having his house burnt down when he went away. He frequented country pubs, and became a passionate supporter of Hereford United.

In 1992, when his marriage broke up, he moved to North Yorkshire to join Susan, the lady who is now his second wife. After two years living in a flat in Harrogate, they moved to an old house in an idyllic valley outside a delightful Yorkshire village. Its exact location must remain a secret. He didn’t get where he is today by revealing to all and sundry where he is today.

David has four step-children, three, Dave, Chris and Kim from his first marriage, Briget from his second, and he also has eight step-grandchildren, who give him hope for the future of the world.

 

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