Forum for former BBC staff
>> Notices, obituaries and tributes >> Jonathan James-Moore

Message started by Forum Admin on Nov 24th, 2005, 10:01am

Title: Jonathan James-Moore
Post by Forum Admin on Nov 24th, 2005, 10:01am

This is taken from The Independent:

Jonathan James-Moore
Ebullient BBC Radio head of light entertainment who presided over a golden era of comedy
Published: 24 November 2005

Jonathan Guy James-Moore, radio producer and theatre administrator: born 22 March 1946; founder director, Oxford and Cambridge Shakespeare Co 1968-71; general manager, Sir Nicholas Sekers Theatre at Rosehill 1971-72; administrator, Mermaid Theatre 1972-74; administrator, St George's Theatre 1975-76; staff, BBC Radio Light Entertainment 1978-99, Head of Light Entertainment 1991-99; managing director, Commedia 1999-2005; married 1975 Jenny Baynes (one daughter); died London 20 November 2005.

An exceptionally entrancing instance of a funny man who had also the gift of inspiring comedy in other people, Jonathan James-Moore had a career aptly stamped by a pleasing, somewhat eccentric, diversity. After an early spell in theatre administration, his finest hour undoubtedly was his period as the BBC's head of radio comedy, 1991-99, when he gave the corporation's output, mostly signally on Radio 4, a consistently wide-ranging excellence, astutely blending established talent with emergent voices, many of whom would go on to glittering careers.

Jonathan James-Moore was born in 1946 and educated at Bromsgrove School, his happy childhood shattered in his teens when his parents were killed in a car crash. Although he rarely mentioned this, the tragedy undoubtedly contributed to the vein of melancholia in his nature, later to surface more testingly. It perhaps also goes some way to explaining his comedic sense; a triumphantly hilarious performance from Alastair Sim in Pinero's The Magistrate reduced James-Moore to helpless laughter, illustrating for him the truth of Edith Evans's theory, "You have to have been desperately unhappy before you can really play comedy, so that nothing can frighten you any more."

At Cambridge, where he read Engineering at Emmanuel College, the somewhat Falstaffian flannelled figure of James-Moore, with his shock of russet hair and usually bristlingly unkempt beard stood markedly apart from late 1960s crushed-velvet and denim undergraduate fashion, yet he became a Footlights star even amongst a fiercely competitive generation including Clive James, Germaine Greer and Miriam Margolyes, regularly performing in revue on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Along with a few other bright undergraduates, James-Moore created the Oxford and Cambridge Shakespeare Company (OCSC), assembling an annual Shakespeare production using talent from both universities under a professional director, with the production touring the American eastern seaboard campus circuit during the Christmas vacation after their local runs.

The administration, together with the financial and sponsorship aspects of the company, was time-consuming and demanding, but the OCSC was run with formidable flair. James-Moore also regularly appeared in the company's earliest productions - a dodderingly pedantic Quince in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Diana Quick was Helena) in 1968 and, under Jonathan Miller, Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night (1969), and an offbeat, crypto-Fascist Claudius with a black-gloved hand in a mono-chrome Hamlet which subsequently played a West End season (Fortune, 1971).

Many encouraged James-Moore to turn professional and undoubtedly he could have had a profitable character-actor career. Instead he chose to capitalise on his administrative skills. Always drawn to large-scale personalities, he became general manager for the eupeptic fabrics tycoon Sir Miki Sekers of his jewel-box private theatre at Rosehill, where he had a splendid time luring personalities such as Joyce Grenfell and Donald Swann, all of them delighted by Rosehill's hospitality and James-Moore's buoyant energy.

In London, he then worked as general manager for the gloriously eccentric one-off that was Bernard Miles at the old Mermaid Theatre in Puddle Dock, rapidly acquiring a potent fusion of guile and tact with which to cope with Miles's volatile personality and becoming greatly loved by the Mermaid staff (even Miles's resident parrot, a vile-tempered and malodorous creature with an indiscriminately nasty peck, took to James-Moore).

The Mermaid's finances were so often precarious that nobody noticed that they were progressively exercising James-Moore, who disguised his concerns with characteristic blitheness. Despite the 1972 success of Cowardy Custard, a musical revue at the first night of which James-Moore helped stage-manage not one but three standing ovations for Noël Coward (he also created an unplanned diversion by laughing so much during John Moffatt's rendition of "Nina" that he fell off and noisily broke the usher's wall-seat on which he had perched - "Mice!", Moffatt crisply responded before resuming unperturbed), by the time of the Cole Porter show Cole (1974) the theatre was in a parlous financial state. On the opening night it became clear that James-Moore's nerves had snapped; the next morning's notices would guarantee Cole a lengthy run but by then he was in a Hackney hospital for the first of several stays during his battle with manic depression.

The BBC - together with his own resilient spirit and his profoundly happy marriage to Jenny Baynes - became Jonathan James-Moore's salvation. When he joined in 1978, the Corporation was still home to a huge variety of talent, still essentially producer-led and often anarchic, a more congenial home than the hothouse world of the theatre for this ebullient personality, always defying sartorial elegance and certainly a stranger to Armani suiting.

As a producer, prior to his elevation to Head of Light Entertainment, James-Moore's output covered literally hundreds of assorted programmes and he continued occasionally to produce even as a department head. He was especially enthused by his many collaborations with Russell Davies, by the series Choice Grenfell for Radio 3, with Maureen Lipman exploring less familiar Joycean material, and by several landmark series (also for Radio 3) in collaboration with the critic Robert Cushman, covering musical theatre and - one of James-Moore's passions - the special but endangered art of the cabaret performer.

As Head of Light Entertainment, he was canny enough to maintain radio traditions including News Huddlines (he greatly admired the versatility of performers such as Roy Hudd and June Whitfield) and staples such as Just a Minute but he also championed Radio 4 sitcom, sometimes adapting from television (To the Manor Born included) or, as in the case of After Henry with Prunella Scales, launching series later taken up by television.

Most vitally, James-Moore ceaselessly encouraged fresh writing and performing talent, notably a whole new wave led by such gifted newcomers as Armando Iannucci, Chris Morris and Steve Coogan, with programmes including The Now Show, Week Ending and, most innovatively, The Day Today. Under James-Moore, radio comedy enjoyed a genuinely golden era.

It was his misfortune to coincide later in the 1990s with the chill wind of change sweeping through Broadcasting House when drama and comedy most suffered under the pervasive brutalism of Birtish bureaucracy. Pen-pushers, the men in suits, favour order and categories, while James-Moore's priceless strength was the sheer uncategorisable range of what he saw as his comedic remit.

Early retirement in 1999 enabled him to spend more time in a small retreat in Umbria where he and his wife and daughter enjoyed some of their happiest times. James-Moore continued, as an independent, to produce for radio; his most recent project, a dramatisation of James Hamilton-Paterson's Tuscan-set novel Cooking with Fernet Branca (2004) which had James-Moore literally weeping with laughter on reading it, will not now proceed under him as planned.

Alan Strachan

Title: Re: Jonathan James-Moore
Post by Forum Admin on Nov 24th, 2005, 10:03am

This is taken from a BBC Press Release:

Tributes have been paid to Jonathan James-Moore, BBC Head of Radio Light Entertainment from 1993 to 1998, who has died aged 59.

Jenny Abramsky, BBC Director of Radio and Music, said: "If you ever had a meeting with Jonathan you knew it would be a laugh. He was an absolutely lovely man, terrific fun.

"I will miss seeing that huge galumphing figure with the mass of red hair wandering down the road. He was a real human being who didn't shut himself away.

"He cared about radio as a medium and was interested in all aspects of it."

Jon Plowman, BBC Head of Comedy, said: "This is a very sad moment. Jonathan James-Moore was always a larger than life character with a real love of comedy and a very good eye for spotting new talent.

"Many of today's mainstream comedy artists passed through his hands and tutelage.

"He was a huge asset to BBC Radio and to the whole comedy community. He will be sadly missed."

Title: Re: Jonathan James-Moore
Post by Forum Admin on Nov 28th, 2005, 3:47pm

This is taken from The Times:

Jonathan James-Moore
March 22, 1946 - November 20, 2005
Ebullient former head of Light Entertainment for BBC Radio with a dynamic disregard for fashion

LIKE “an explosion in a mattress factory” is the way the comic actor Roy Hudd described Jonathan James-Moore, the ebullient former head of Light Entertainment for BBC Radio.

This captured some of the dynamic disregard for fashion that the ginger-bearded and wild-haired James-Moore displayed — excepting perhaps his beloved Garrick Club tie — and the way he burst into rooms with an energy that was endlessly reflected in his enthusiasm for performers, and the comic art in particular; participating in, encouraging and discovering some of the best comedy that ever emerged in Britain.

Jonathan Guy James-Moore was born in 1946, the son of William Seward and Alana James-Moore. He was educated at Bromsgrove School and Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and it was at university that he first made his mark in one of those coming-together years that so often marked Cambridge and the Footlights in particular.

It was the era of Clive James and Pete Atkin, and Russell Davies, Rob Buckman and Julie Covington, and more than the annual pilgrimage to the Edinburgh Festival, the 1968 company made a landmark appearance on BBC Two in a broadcast, The Cambridge Footlights Dramatic Club, in which James-Moore shared credits as actor, writer and director.

He had found another talent as well, for organisation, and it became clear to his contemporaries that he had a gift for getting artists into theatres and on stage, even halfway round the world. He became a founding director of the Oxford and Cambridge Shakespeare Company in 1968, and gathered some of the brightest talents from both universities, which would include Atkin and Covington from Cambridge, with James and Covington directing. Promising talents from Oxford were brought in, such as the actress Diana Quick and Michael Coveney who went on to become a leading theatrical critic. They had fond memories of an American tour where Covington would rap the less musical members of A Midsummer Night’s Dream on the head until they found their notes.

James-Moore would become the general manager of the Sir Nicholas Sekers Theatre at Rosehill in Cumbria in 1971, but found time in 1972 to appear for the Oxford and Cambridge Company again, as Caesar in Julius Caesar under the direction of Jonathan Miller. Milton Shulman described it: “Caesar [is] dressed like a top-hatted, frock-coated Victorian merchant while every other Roman wears ballet tights and neat bullfighters’ jackets.”

Producing comedy would become his passion, but he was always particularly proud of his performance as the non-speaking match-seller in a production of Harold Pinter’s A Slight Ache, maintaining he was the bullock of Pinter’s description.

In 1972 he also made a crucial move to the Mermaid Theatre at Blackfriars, London, which he managed for Bernard Miles for two years, in a commitment which would last until his death when he was still campaigning against plans to knock down the theatre. A less happy move took him to the St George’s Shakespearean Theatre in Tufnell Park, London, but that disappointment would lead him to the BBC in 1978 where he moved into the office of Douglas Adams and immediately made an impact across light entertainment.

Although comedy was his profession, he also suffered two severe bouts of depression. He was in a car crash in which his father died in 1965. The depression was eventually conquered by drugs, and from 1975 until his death he found considerable happiness with his wife, the academic Jenny Baynes, and their daughter.

Much of their happiness emanated from their alternative home in Umbria, where they spent four months of the year. He became an impassioned advocate for Italy, though he made it clear that there were quite enough English there already while remaining a famously welcoming host.

His BBC career was full of main stage comedy, with many of the most famous names in the business, but also had fine quirky diversions, including two series of Are You Still Awake?, written by his old Footlights colleague Russell Davies, which featured famously married acting couples, including Judi Dench and Michael Williams, portraying couples in bed at the end of the night about to turn off the lights as Radio 3 shut down.

During his tenure as head of Light Entertainment, from 1991 to 1999, James-Moore had fostered and developed the close relationship between radio comedy and television that has so benefited the BBC’s new digital channels, and was held in wide regard across the BBC. Alan Partridge, The League of Gentlemen and Goodness Gracious Me were among the shows he champ- ioned, and which found fur- ther life on the BBC’s main channels.

Just a few weeks before his death he had been heard hosting a Comedy Controller’s choice of radio laughter for BBC 7.

He might have stayed longer in the BBC, before setting up as an independent in 1999, had he succumbed to the doctrinaire Birtist revolution, but he found life outside the corporation welcoming when a sense of humour was less welcome inside it.

In recent years he was called back to produce a number of series for radio, including The Private World of Kenneth Williams with David Benson, and he took on significant senior roles such as council member for the Directors Guild of Great Britain, for which he fought many battles, and member of the council for the Liverpool School of Performing Arts.

He is survived by his wife and daughter.

Jonathan James-Moore was born on March 22, 1946. He died on November 20, 2005, aged 59.

Title: Re: Jonathan James-Moore
Post by Forum Admin on Nov 29th, 2005, 9:27am

This is taken from the Daily Telegraph:

Jonathan James-Moore
(Filed: 29/11/2005)

Jonathan James-Moore, who died on November 20 aged 59, was head of Light Entertainment on BBC Radio from 1991 to 1999 and a representative of the best aspects of the pre-Birtist corporate culture.

A large, amiable, rumpled man with round spectacles, a mane of red-gold hair and a beard out of Edward Lear (Roy Hudd described him as "an explosion in a mattress factory"), James-Moore saw his job as being team captain, creating conditions in which producers, directors and actors could give of their best.

When the BBC separated commissioning from production, he sought to make the best of a bad job. His tendency to fall asleep during management meetings was interpreted by colleagues as encouraging evidence of his defiance of the new order, although in fact it probably had more to do with the sleep apnoea from which he suffered.

James-Moore's years at the helm came to be regarded as a golden age in BBC Radio. A natural comedian himself, he proved astonishingly successful in finding new ideas and people, and his producers introduced a series of shows, such as Goodness Gracious Me, The League of Gentlemen and Knowing Me, Knowing You, which transferred successfully to television. Though the merger of his department with its equivalent in television effectively did him out of a job, he supported the move in public, describing it not as a downgrading of radio but "more a case of television being upgraded to join the senior service".

The son of an accountant, Jonathan Guy James-Moore was born at Stourport on March 22 1946 and educated at Bromsgrove School and at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he was involved in student theatricals, both as an actor and a manager, becoming the first student to be president of Footlights and the Amateur Dramatic Club at the same time.

As an actor, he performed in Footlights revues with Clive James, Russell Davies and Julie Covington. His imposing physical presence and defiantly untrendy ginger moustache made him a natural for "English gentlemen" roles; he was celebrated for a solo musical sketch called James, my Elephant Gun and I, a parody of empire which invariably brought the house down.

While still an undergraduate, he founded the Oxford and Cambridge Shakespeare Company, which brought graduates of the two universities together for productions directed by Jonathan Miller and other well-known figures. The company, which included Diana Quick, Jeremy Treglown and Hermione Lee, undertook a successful tour of Ivy League campuses in 1968 and James-Moore continued to run it until 1971, appearing as Julius Caesar, as Quince in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Claudius in Hamlet and Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night under Miller's direction.

His administrative flair took him to the Sir Nicholas Sekers Theatre, Rosehill, as general manager, and then to the Mermaid Theatre as administrator under Bernard Miles. In 1975 he founded, with George Murcell, the St George's Theatre, Tufnell Park, converting a round church into an Elizabethan theatre space for productions of Shakespeare. Though the theatre attracted actors of the calibre of Eric Porter and Alan Badel, the enterprise rather faded after James-Moore moved on to broadcasting in 1978.

During the 1980s, James-Moore worked as a producer, script editor and chief producer, responsible for such programmes as Just a Minute, News Huddlines and WeekEnding. He particularly enjoyed working with Robert Cushman on Book, Music and Lyrics, a series about musicals, with Sue Limb on The Wordsmiths at Gorsemere, a parody on the Lake poets, and with Maureen Lipman on Choice Grenfell.

On one occasion during the first Gulf War, he was alarmed to be told that Number 10 had phoned and that John Major wished to talk to him. Assuming that he would be taken to task about some irreverence in WeekEnding, he approached the phone with some trepidation. He was much relieved when the Prime Minister explained that he had been a bit tied up and had missed an episode of his favourite programme - a repeat of Much-Binding-in-the-Marsh. Could James-Moore send a recording?

After parting company with the BBC, James worked as a freelance producer and founded Voice Quality, a radio and voice-over equivalent of the theatrical and screen directors' bible, Spotlight. He served as chairman of the Radio Group of the Directors' Guild and on the council of the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts.

In his later years, James-Moore and his wife Jenny spent several months of every year at their house near Perugia, where he grew his own grapes and made his own wine.

His wife and daughter survive him.

Title: Re: Jonathan James-Moore
Post by Forum Admin on Dec 1st, 2005, 8:17am

This is taken from The Guardian:

Jonathan James-Moore

Gifted radio producer whose skills enabled original comedy and drama to thrive
by Pete Atkin
Wednesday November 30, 2005

Jonathan James-Moore, who has died of cancer aged 59, was an extraordinary physical presence. His untameable ginger hair and beard, and his body that seemed constructed specifically to cause any tailor to weep in despair, should have won him an award as Physically Least Likely Senior Manager in the BBC. The path that took him to become head of BBC Radio Entertainment (from 1991 to 1997) was equally free-form.

He was born in Stourport, Worcestershire, and went to Bromsgrove school. He read engineering at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, but only after a delay of a year, having broken his back in one road accident and suffered the loss of his father in another. From that point on, engineering played only a small part in his life; a much larger part was taken up by undergraduate theatre, most notably in the Footlights of 1967 and 1968, when he was also the club's president.

His appearance (even without the beard) as an archetype of the traditional Englishman, together with his performing skill, gave focus and identity to many shows that might otherwise have seemed unexceptionally undergraduate. He bemoaned his inability to write sketches, but he always performed scripts far better than their writers could. His effortless authority made him a great team captain for the Footlights, and he was an instinctive entrepreneur.

While still a student he organised, with his friends Stephen Wright and, from Oxford, Bruce Kerr, the Oxford and Cambridge Shakespeare Company, in which students from both universities toured campuses in the US in professionally directed productions. Richard Cottrell directed the first in 1969, a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream which featured, among others, Diana Quick, Mark Wing-Davey, Russell Davies, Julie Covington, Michael Wood, Hermione Lee and Robert Buckman, as well as Jonathan himself as Quince. Later productions of Twelfth Night, Hamlet and Julius Caesar were directed by Jonathan Miller.

In 1971 he became general manager of the Rosehill Theatre in Whitehaven, Cumbria, and, the following year, returned to London as manager of the Mermaid Theatre. From 1975, he was a driving force in the establishment of the theatre at St George's in Kentish Town, north London, which prefigured a lot of what happened much later at Shakespeare's Globe in Southwark.

Jonathan joined the BBC in 1978 as a producer in what was then Light Entertainment, Radio, filling the post vacated by Douglas Adams. He became script editor in 1987, chief producer in 1989, and, finally, head of the department.

He produced many of the staples of the department's output - panel games and scripted comedies - and quickly built a reputation as someone people wanted to work for. His gift as a producer, and later as a producer of producers, was to make the "creatives" feel that he was on their side. If Jonathan produced you, you knew he would fight for you - he would argue with the management and usually win; if he didn't, he would make any concession feel like a victory. His purpose was always to create the circumstances in which people felt confident to do the best they could, across a huge range: from Sue Limb's sublime literary satire The Wordsmiths at Gorsemere for Radio 4, to Laurie Rowley's Huddwinks with Roy Hudd for Radio 2, which won the Sony Gold Award in 1987.

Meanwhile, without even appearing to be a rebel, Jonathan used his entrepreneurial skills to subvert the rules by persuading his bosses to commission programmes which were simply good ideas, even if they didn't fit the brief of what Light Entertainment was generally supposed to be: there were, for example, several series for Radio 3 (not natural LE territory) of Robert Cushman's Book, Music and Lyrics; or Russell Davies's Are You Still Awake?, a series of seven-minute, pre-closedown dramas, also for Radio 3.

In the mid-1980s, he initiated Pirate Radio Four, a wavelength-split project specifically aimed at a young audience, which led directly to the expanded coverage for children on the original version of Radio Five Live, and then to what is happening now on BBC7. Jonathan also laid the groundwork for its other main element, the exploitation of the BBC radio archive. As head of Radio Entertainment, he oversaw the success of such series as Knowing Me Knowing You, Goodness Gracious Me, The League of Gentlemen, The Million Pound Radio Show, and No Commitments.

In 1994, Jonathan and his wife bought what he called a cowshed in Umbria, and when he left the BBC in 1999 they bought the cottage next door, intending to spend more time there in between the work he had no intention of giving up: producing radio programmes, of course; a close involvement with the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts; developing Voice Quality, a new actors' registry aimed at radio; flying the radio flag with the Directors' Guild of Great Britain; enjoying his membership of the Garrick Club; and writing about Italy.

Occasionally a colleague, and a friend since the mid-1960s, I can confirm that he was riotously unfashionable, extremely good company and generous in his many enthusiasms; he took immense pride in Jenny, his wife of 30 years, in his daughter Kate, and in everyone whose work he ever supported and enabled. And that's a long list.

· Jonathan Guy James-Moore, radio producer and executive, born March 22 1946; died November 20 2005

Title: Re: Jonathan James-Moore
Post by Forum Admin on Dec 7th, 2005, 7:35pm

Clive James offered this tribute, in The Guardian:

Jonathan James-Moore
by Clive James
Friday December 2, 2005

In his obituary for Jonathan James-Moore (November 30), Pete Atkin was right to stress the ability of the young Jonathan, king of the Footlights in our late-60s era, to perform a script at a level beyond the dreams of its writer. Since his performer's understanding of a written line was at the heart of the judgment he brought to his influential career as a radio producer, it might be worth recalling just how good he could be at what we used to call "doubling the laugh".

The laugh can't be doubled unless the performer understands exactly how the joke works, and there was nobody quite like Jonathan for wanting to know what every comma in the script was up to. One of my own scripts, called Hell Below Zero, was a monologue for an all-purpose BBC winter sports commentator whom we called Alexander Palace. Suitably dressed in a white crew-neck sweater with Olympic rings, Jonathan would get his first laughs as soon as the spotlight came on. The bobble-topped beanie probably helped.

But as the disaster of Alexander Palace's jingoistic commentary developed like a fatuous avalanche, what helped most was Jonathan's capacity to pause after the latest solecism and let the audience enjoy the implications. At one point, he had to express his doubts that the British ski champion, who had done a personal best in the downhill, would do quite so well over the same course ("I, for one, would be very surprised...") in the next day's twin event of the downhill, the uphill.

The line got a solid laugh, which pleased me very much. But the laugh doubled when Jonathan's face registered the helpless defiance of a patriotic bone-head, who knows that he has got something wrong yet takes pride in his determination to press on regardless. It was a character study, and an object lesson in how to let a line breathe.

From then on, I always tried to give the performer time, after getting a laugh with his voice, to get another with his face. In later years, the performer was usually myself, but I learned how to write it that way from watching Jonathan perform. I could never have learned how to perform from watching him perform: he was just too good.

He had everything as a stage performer, except eyesight. Despite those heavy-duty spectacles of his, the world was a bit of a blur even in daylight, and in sudden darkness he was slow to adjust. One night on the Edinburgh Fringe, where his routines were helping to sell out the late-night Footlights revue in the Lauriston Hall (we had to put on extra performances), the lights went out on Alexander Palace's final verbal catastrophe, and the black-clad assistant stage manager, who had been assigned to go out and get him, forgot to do so.

A physical catastrophe duly followed. All too aware that the lights would soon be coming up again, Jonathan tried to get off stage by himself. He did, but instead of going off through the door at the side, he went off over the front of the stage and 5ft straight down into the audience, where he landed beanie-first. By the time the lights went up again, he had included himself in the front row.

The two people who made room for him thought it was part of the show, and they were right. Where Jonathan James-Moore was, it was always part of the show, and largely because of his penetrating respect for comic writing, the gift he wasn't given but was born to help bring alive - and that, of course, was his gift.

Title: Re: Jonathan James-Moore
Post by Forum Admin on Dec 14th, 2005, 9:50am

This is taken from The Independent:

Jonathan James-Moore
Published: 13 December 2005

In 1966 at Cambridge, as the May Week show for the university's Amateur Dramatic Club, I directed a Feydeau farce, Hotel Paradiso, writes Robert Cushman. In the supporting role of Monsieur Martin, a barrister of overflowing geniality somewhat impeded by a spectacular stammer, I cast, on impulse and without audition, an imposing red-haired first-year undergraduate who had begun to establish himself as a magisterial comic presence at the Footlights and whose name was Jonathan James-Moore [obituary by Alan Strachan, 24 November].

It turned out to be the smartest casting decision I ever made. In the short term, Jonathan gave a virtuoso performance that stopped the show every night of the run; in the long, our association began a friendship that, reversing the usual order of things, developed into the longest, happiest and most productive working relationship I have known - though this time he was the one doing the directing.

It was in the BBC Radio Light Entertainment Department, some 15 years after our first meeting, that I wandered into his office at one end of Light Ent's fabled corridor to say that I had an idea for a Radio 3 programme on musicals, and would he kindly produce it? We made a pilot, which led to a series - eventually to half a dozen of them - which at his suggestion we called Book, Music and Lyrics; and which in turn led, over the course of 20 years, to other shows, both series and one-offs, of which our joint favourite - not only because it involved a series of wonderful trips to New York - was Sweet and Low Down, an informal history of Manhattan cabaret. We proved, I think, that it was possible to treat popular music on radio and to be entertaining without compromising anyone's intelligence: our subjects', our listeners' or our own.

As a producer, Jonathan was simply the best: shrewd, encouraging and endless fun to work with. About halfway through our two decades, he became head of the department. Jonathan prided himself on his political skills, but he must have been the least bureaucratic of BBC chiefs, and certainly one of the best-loved.

Forum for former BBC staff » Powered by YaBB 2.3.1!
YaBB © 2000-2009. All Rights Reserved.