In the first of a new series profiling famous people from SE London and north Kent, Ken Tracey looks at the rise of a comedy legend.

When David Nobbs was a boy, he loved the radio shows of the comedians of the 40s and 50s; Kenneth Horne, Richard Murdoch and Tommy Handley. He was shy but bright and devoured all the boys' books of the time, a favourite being Biggles the pilot hero of author Captain WE Johns.

The combination of these interests sowed the seeds for him to write comedy. Later he created the TV masterpieces, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin and A Bit of a Do, based on his own novels.

David was born in a Petts Wood nursing home in 1935 and grew up with his parents in Sevenoaks Road, Orpington.

When he attended Bickley Hall School in Chislehurst he travelled on trains packed with businessmen in pin-striped suits and bowler hats. These encounters later inspired the creation of his character, the middle-aged manager in crisis, Reggie Perrin.

After higher education at Marlborough College, he did national service in the Royal Corps of Signals.

News Shopper: Reginald Perrin creator David Nobbs dies at 80

In the military he witnessed bizarre situations worthy of a sit-com. In one case the old hands played a joke on the recruits. They lined them up, gave the order to ‘quick march’ and left them to it. They marched through five miles of countryside before anyone dared turn around to discover that they were alone.

While reading classics at Cambridge he wrote sketches for the university productions and worked with rising stars including Peter Cook.

MORE: Author David Nobbs talks Tommy Cooper, Two Ronnies and how Reginald Perrin was born in Orpington

His breakthrough came when he telephoned the BBC with a sketch for David Frost’s That Was The Week, That Was. He became a regular contributor and went on to write for The Two Ronnies, Les Dawson, Ken Dodd and many more.

David died in 2015 at the age of 80 leaving his second wife Susan, stepchildren and step-grandchildren.