Dennis Main Wilson

Dennis Main Wilson (1 May 1924 20 January 1997)[2] was a British producer of radio and television programmes, mainly for the BBC. Main Wilson has been described by Screenonline as "arguably the most important and influential of all comedy producers/directors in British radio and television".[3]

Dennis Main Wilson
Born(1924-05-01)1 May 1924
Dulwich, London, England[1]
Died20 January 1997(1997-01-20) (aged 72)
Surrey, England
OccupationRadio and television producer

Life and career

After wartime work for the German service of the BBC, he worked in comedy. He was producer of The Goon Show's first two series. Spike Milligan, aware of Main Wilson's predilection for consuming alcohol, affectionately nicknamed him "Dennis Main Drain".[4][5] Subsequently he produced the first four series of Hancock's Half Hour[6] on radio, before leaving to train in television. Till Death Us Do Part, also for the BBC, is his best remembered television work.

Other shows he produced include Sykes and a... with Eric Sykes and Hattie Jacques, Here's Harry with Harry Worth, It's Marty starring Marty Feldman and The Rag Trade (which he also directed). He had less success with Private Eye TV, an attempt to turn the magazine Private Eye into a television programme.

In 1976, a scene-shifter at the BBC handed him a script he had written. Main Wilson turned it into Citizen Smith. The scene-shifter was John Sullivan, who later wrote Just Good Friends, Dear John and Only Fools and Horses. Main Wilson gave TV breaks to Stephen Fry,[4] Hugh Laurie, Griff Rhys Jones and Emma Thompson.

Main Wilson died of lung cancer at the age of 72.


  1. Only Fools and Horses, Author: Graham McCann, Canongate Books 2011, p.21
  2. GRO Register of Deaths: JAN 1997 A1B 212 WEST SURREY - Dennis Main Wilson, DoB = 1 May 1924, aged 72
  3. BFI screenonline, Wilson, Dennis Main (1924-1997) Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  4. Fry, Stephen (August 25, 2011). "The Fry Chronicles". Penguin Books Limited. p. 237 via Google Books.
  5. Lewis, Roger (August 25, 1995). "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers". Arrow. p. 196 via Google Books.
  6. Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life Of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 360. ISBN 1-84854-195-3.
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