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Sir Antony Rupert Jay, CVO, CBE (20 April 1930 – 21 August 2016)[1] was an English writer, broadcaster, and director, famous for co-authoring, with Jonathan Lynn, the British political comedies Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister (1980–88).[2] He wrote The Householder's Guide to Community Defence Against Bureaucratic Aggression (1972).

Sir Antony Jay
Born Antony Rupert Jay
(1930-04-20)20 April 1930
Paddington, London, England
Died 21 August 2016(2016-08-21) (aged 86)
  • Writer
  • broadcaster
  • director

Jay had a distinguished career as a broadcaster and in public relations, for which he received a knighthood in the 1988 New Year Honours.[3] He also wrote the BBC television documentary Royal Family and co-wrote Elizabeth R,[2] after which he was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order for personal services to the Royal Family in the 1993 New Years Honours list.


Early life and educationEdit

Jay was born in Paddington, London, the son of a character actor.[4] He was educated at St Paul's School and Magdalene College, Cambridge, graduating with first-class honours in Classics and comparative philology.


After National Service in the Royal Signals, he joined BBC Television in 1955, and was a member of the team that launched the current affairs programme Tonight, of which he was editor from 1962-63. From 1963-64 he was Head of Television Talk Features, before leaving the BBC to take up a career as a freelance writer and producer. He was knighted in 1988 and remained a mordant observer of politics, including those of the broadcasters themselves. He was interviewed in the BBC TV documentary series Tory! Tory! Tory! and The Trap. Jay was a partner with John Cleese in the Video Arts training film production company.[5]

In 2007 Jay criticised the anti-establishment thinking of the BBC and similar media outlets such as The Guardian. He stated "we were not just anti-Macmillan; we were anti-industry, anti-capitalism, anti-advertising, anti-selling, anti-profit, anti-patriotism, anti-monarchy, anti-Empire, anti-police, anti-armed forces, anti-bomb, anti-authority. Almost anything that made the world a freer, safer and more prosperous place, you name it, we were anti it." In particular he criticised how the opinions of BBC staff "were at odds with the majority of the audience and the electorate".[6]

His 2008 report for the Centre for Policy Studies How to Save the BBC provoked fierce debate by advocating a radical reduction of the scale of the Corporation's activities. He has written Management & Machiavelli[7] and compiled the Oxford Dictionary of Political Quotations.[8]

Jay died on 21 August 2016 at the age of 86.[9]


Jay married Jill Watkins in 1957; they had four children.


  1. ^ "Birthdays today". The Telegraph. 20 April 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2014. Sir Antony Jay, writer and producer, is 82 
  2. ^ a b "A long reign and a lost republic". Inside Story. 19 April 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "No. 51292". The London Gazette. 7 April 1988. p. 4089. 
  4. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 9 June 2017. 
  5. ^ "Video Arts sells out in pounds 25m deal". 5 January 1996. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  6. ^ "Here is the news (as we want to report it)". The Daily Telegraph. 14 July 2007. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  7. ^ "Managment [sic] and Machiavelli". Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  8. ^ "Oxford Dictionary of Political Quotations - Oxford Reference". doi:10.1093/acref/9780199572687.001.0001/acref-9780199572687 (inactive 2017-08-14). Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  9. ^ Bates, Stephen (23 August 2016). "Sir Antony Jay obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 

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