Entertainment & Arts

Bandleader Jack Parnell dies aged 87

Jack Parnell with his band
Image caption Parnell continued to perform in jazz bands well into his 80s

Jack Parnell, the British jazz drummer who served as bandleader on The Muppet Show for its entire five-year run, has died at the age of 87.

Parnell died at his home in Southwold, Suffolk on Sunday following a year-long battle with cancer, his family announced.

As musical director at ATV from the late 1950s, he oversaw the music for Sunday Night at the London Palladium.

He also served as musical director on The Benny Hill Show.

Born in 1923 into a theatrical family, Parnell began drumming professionally as a teenager.

After World War II he joined the renowned Ted Heath jazz band, going on to lead his own ensembles from 1951 onwards.

During his time with ATV he composed theme tunes and produced specials featuring Tom Jones and stars.

In 1974 he won two Emmys for his work on Barbra Streisand... and Other Musical Instruments.

Parnell was never seen on The Muppet Show, his role being filled on screen by the puppet character Nigel.

He is survived by his third wife, two daughters and three sons, two of whom are drummers.

More on this story