We were shocked and saddened to hear today, via this emergency TOS article, that Charles Armitage passed away on Monday 6th February.
Charles had been with Red Dwarf since the Manchester days, as the co-founder, with Paul Jackson, of Noel Gay Television, one of the early pioneers of independent TV production. Paul Jackson Productions – as credited on Series 2 and III – was part of the Noel Gay empire, which was also responsible for, amongst other things, producing the Series III VHS release, publishing the sheet music of the theme tune and representing the likes of Chris Barrie and Howard Goodall. In the early 90s, Charles co-founded Grant Naylor Productions with Rob and Doug, and the rest is history.
Away from Red Dwarf, Charles started his career in music, eventually joining the family business (legendary songwriter Noel Gay was his grandfather) and managing acts such as David Soul, Tony Macauley and The Drifters. He co-produced the multi-award-winning stage musical Me & My Girl in the 80s, before expanding into film and TV where his various companies’ credits include Frank Stubbs, Dave Allen, Rob and Doug’s The 10%ers, Dog Soldiers and a little film called Trainspotting. He also did important work alongside Trevor Phillips OBE to tackle diversity issues in the media and business.
But it’s his contribution to Red Dwarf that we’ll always remember, and Charles was a quiet, unsung but hugely important figure behind the scenes for so long. It was Charles who received the famous call from Janet Street-Porter complaining that Gunmen was impossible to shoot, only for him to inform her that they’d finished it the previous week. He clocked up a cameo appearance in Back To Earth as a man at the bus stop, and was credited as Executive Producer on this and Series X. We’re Smegged indicated that not everything was rosy during this period, and Charles stepped away from this role for Series XI and XII, but his contribution to the long-running success of Red Dwarf cannot be overstated, and the tributes are already flooding in:
We’re very sad to hear Charles Armitage has passed away. We worked with him for many years & he was instrumental in bringing Red Dwarf back.
— Dave (@davechannel) February 8, 2017
Very sad news. I didn’t want to say anything until the official RD site had announced it.https://t.co/bdRdOTFMYU
— Robert Llewellyn (@bobbyllew) February 8, 2017
Yup. Sad indeed. https://t.co/XAJNxTluSF
— Danny John-Jules🇩🇲 (@DannyJohnJules) February 8, 2017
Charles Armitage was first person I met whilst terrified about starting to work on Red Dwarf. He was warm, welcoming & fear-dissolving. RIP
— Ian Boldsworth (@Boldsworth73) February 8, 2017
Gutted. A properly lovely guy, not to mention extremely gifted, with a mind that was always ahead of the game. Dwarfers owe him much. https://t.co/cywvvvKyNZ
— Mark Dexter (@RealMarkDexter) February 8, 2017
Goodbye, Charles, and thank you.