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HUMPHREY BARCLAY

Biography

Humphrey Barclay, who between 1967 and 2000 was one of the UK's foremost prolific and innovative producers of television situation comedy, was born on March 24th 1941 in Dorking, Surrey, to a barrister father John Barclay and artist mother Patricia Slade. The Barclay family of Mathers and Urie, of which he is currently the Head, traces its history back to before the Norman Conquest in 1066, and founded Barclays Brewery as well as Barclays Bank. Ancestors of his held lands in Scotland for 800 years and were active in the leadership of the Quaker movement, prison reform and the Anti-Slavery Society, and included the renowned Regency sportsman and walker Captain Robert Barclay, known as The Pedestrian. On his mother's side he is a great-great-great grandson of Mary Hyde who arrived in Sydney Australia as a convict in 1798, and he was a first cousin of the late Julian Slade, the composer of "Salad Days".
 

Humphrey Barclay, UK producer of television comedy and long-standing friend of the late actor Gyearbuor Asante (who played the African ‘student’ Matthew in Humphrey’s hit barbershop series Desmond’s) was adopted into the Royal family of Asona at Gyearbuor’s funeral in 2000, and enstooled one year later as Nana Kwadwo Ameyaw Gyearbuor Yiadom I, Nkosuohene of Kwahu-Tafo. Humphrey was born in 1941 and is the head of a 900-year old Scottish family which founded Barclays Brewery and Barclays Bank and includes the author of the seminal work of the Quaker religion Robert Barclay’s ‘The Apology”. He carries the title of Chief of the House of Barclay of Mathers and Ury.

In recognition of the honour paid to him by Nana Tafohene and the Elders, and in tribute to his late friend, Nana Ameyaw Gyearbuor took the chair of the revitalised Kwahu-Tafo Development Council, founded the UK charity Friends of Tafo to support its work, and built a residence in Kwahu-Tafo. Between 2001 and 2015 he spent up to three months in Tafo each year, working with the Development Council and subsequently Kwahu Tafo Progress Council to achieve notable results; and Friends of Tafo raised over £900,000 to assist its efforts.

Humphrey was educated at The Old Malthouse in Langton Matravers in Dorset, and at Harrow, at both of which schools he was Head Boy. In 1960 he won a Classical Scholarship to Trinity College Cambridge, and once there his career in comedy began with appearances in two Footlights Revues, and then developed into the role of Director for a third, which featured John Cleese, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graham Chapman, David Hatch, and Bill Oddie. This show Cambridge Circus played in London, New Zealand and on Broadway and was instrumental in Humphrey’s appointment as a producer for BBC Radio. His principal success there was I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again, which led to an invitation from Rediffusion TV to create a children’s comedy series Do Not Adjust Your Set. For this show he put together for the first time Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam (subsequently of Monty Python’s Flying Circus fame), and discovered David Jason and the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. In 1968 he joined the newly formed London Weekend Television, and began a 13 year period which saw the creation of the Doctor in the House series, Hark at Barker with Ronnie Barker, Two’s Company with Elaine Stritch, A Fine Romance with Judi Dench, Agony with Maureen Lipman, and Whoops Apocalypse! written by David Renwick and Andrew Marshall, and his eventual appointment as Head of Comedy. In 1983 he left LWT to form Humphrey Barclay Productions, which over the next 3 years was responsible for Matthew Kelly in Relative Strangers, Emma Thompson’s Thompson, Imelda Staunton in Up The Garden Path, Nichola McAuliffe in Surgical Spirit, and Desmond’s. A subsequent spell at London Weekend Television as Controller of Comedy also saw the creation under his aegis of the ground-breaking sitcom Spaced.

After Humphrey had taken on the role of Development Chief of Kwahu Tafo, his television work took second place, but when he began his retirement in 2014 he was asked to produce the ITV revival of the smash hit Birds of a Feather.

Humphrey is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers and Freeman of the City of London, and in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2013 he was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to Kwahu Tafo.