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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    The 7th Baron Brabourne, CBE, film and television producer., Director

    of Thames Television, 1975-93 (Chairman 1990-93), died at his home in

    Kent, Friday 23 September, 2005. He was aged 80.

    Lord Brabourne was a son-in-law of Earl Mountbatten of Burma, and a

    survivor of the IRA bomb which killed Mountbatten, and Brabourne's

    mother and son, and others, at Mullaghmore, Ireland, in August, 1979.

    John Ulick Knatchbull was born 9 November, 1924, son of the 5th Baron

    Brabourne (1895-1939) by his wife Lady Doreen Geraldine Browne (Order

    of the Crown of India; DStJ), daughter of the 6th Marquess of Sligo,

    and was educated at Eton and Oxford.

    He succeeded to the barony (UK 1880) and the Baronetcy (England 1641),

    on the demise of his elder brother, the 6th peer, 15 September, 1943.

    The elder brother, Norton, was shot by the Nazis after he had escaped

    from a prison train in Italy and was recaputred.

    He married 26 Oct, 1946, Lady Patricia Edwina Victoria Mountbatten,

    elder daughter of Admiral of the Fleet the 1st Earl Mountbatten of

    Burma, KG, PC, OM, GCB, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO. His wife succeeded to

    her father's peerages under the terms of the special remainder, 27 Aug,


    Films produced (as John Brabourne): Harry Black (1958); Sink the

    Bismarck! (1959); HMS Defiant (1961); Othello (1965); The Mikado

    (1966); Romeo and Juliet: Up the Junction (1967); Dance of DEath

    (1968); Tales of Beatrix Potter (1971); Murder on the Orient Express

    (1974); Death on the Nile (1978); Stories from the Flying Trunk (1979);

    The Mirror Crack'd (1979); Evil Under the Sun (1982); A Passage to

    India (1984); Little Dorrit (1987), &c.

    Lord Brabourne is survived by his wife, Countess Mountbatten, and by

    four sons and two daughters. The fourth of his five sons, Nicholas,

    died in the IRA outrage, 1979.

    He is succeeded in the peerage and baronetcy by his eldest son, Norton

    Louis Philip Knatchbull (a godson of the Duke of Edinburgh and Queen

    Louise of Sweden), who has been styled Baron Romsey since 1979. He was

    b. 8 Oct, 1947.

    Source: BBC News

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
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    From Roger

    Obituary: The Independent

    26 September 2005

    Lord Brabourne

    Film and television producer who almost died at the hands of the IRA

    By Tom Vallance

    John Ulick Knatchbull, film and television producer: born London 9 November

    1924; succeeded 1943 as seventh Baron Brabourne; President, Kent Trust for

    Nature Conservation 1958-97; chairman, Mersham Productions 1970-2005;

    director, Thames Television 1975-93, chairman 1990-93; Pro-Chancellor,

    University of Kent 1992-98; CBE 1993; Provost, Wye College 1994-99; married

    1946 The Hon Patricia Mountbatten (succeeded 1979 as Countess Mountbatten of

    Burma; four sons, two daughters, one son still-born and one son deceased);

    died Mersham, Kent 22 September 2005.

    John Brabourne forged a notable career as a film producer after rising

    through the ranks of the film industry in meritocratic fashion, despite

    being the seventh Baron Brabourne and the husband of Patricia Mountbatten,

    the daughter of Earl Mountbatten of Burma. He confessed himself slightly

    embarrassed by his title, which he used as little as possible, and was much

    prouder of his achievements as a film producer, his credits including Lewis

    Gilbert's Sink the Bismarck!, Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet, Sidney

    Lumet's Murder on the Orient Express and David Lean's A Passage to India. He

    was a key figure in the founding of the British Academy of Film and

    Television Arts (Bafta), a pioneer of cable and pay-TV, and later the

    chairman of Thames Television.

    In 1979 he was lucky to escape with his life when he was one of the seven

    people on board Earl Mountbatten's small fishing boat the Shadow V, in the

    harbour of Mullaghmore Bay, County Sligo, when it was blown up by a bomb

    planted beneath the steering wheel and remotely set off by the Provisional

    IRA. Mountbatten, Brabourne's mother, the Dowager Lady Brabourne, his

    14-year-old son Nicholas and a local boy working as crew were killed, and

    Brabourne, his wife and another son, Tim, were all badly injured.

    Tim, Nicholas's identical twin, recently praised the attitude of his

    parents, who were determined to feel no bitterness ("such a corrosive

    emotion" said his mother). "They are a tower of strength both to each other

    and to me," he said. The couple's devotion was apparent to all who knew

    them, and Stewart Granger, who starred in the first film produced by

    Brabourne, Harry Black (1958), recalled in his autobiography a weekend he

    spent with Brabourne and his wife in Kent:

    I remember envying them their perfect life. They obviously adored one

    another, had a beautiful home with a magnificent park, lovely children and

    no money problems. How tragic that this happy life was to be shattered by

    some murdering madmen many years later.

    Lord Brabourne was born John Ulick Knatchbull in 1924, the second son of the

    fifth Lord Brabourne, the Conservative MP for Ashford until his own father's

    death in 1933 and then Governor of Bombay, from 1933 to 1937, and Bengal.

    (In 1938 he served as acting Governor-General of India.) John was educated

    at Eton and Brasenose College, Oxford, where, he later confessed that,

    instead of going to lectures, "I went to the cinema - twice a day and three

    times on Sundays". In the Second World War, he served as an officer in the

    Coldstream Guards in France. He succeeded to the title when his brother, two

    years and nine months his senior, was killed in 1943. Norton, a lieutenant

    in the Grenadier Guards who had become the sixth Baron after their father

    had suddenly died aged 43 in 1939, was shot by the Germans while trying to

    escape from a prisoner-of-war train.

    Later, John was appointed aide-de-camp to General William Slim in India, and

    he served in the same capacity for Rear-Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten,

    Supreme Allied Commander in South-East Asia (created a Viscount in 1946, and

    the following year Earl Mountbatten of Burma). In 1946 he married

    Mountbatten's elder daughter, Patricia, in a ceremony attended by King

    George VI and Queen Elizabeth, with the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret as

    bridesmaids. Described as "the society wedding of the year", it was also

    attended by the 600 employees of the Mountbatten estate.

    Mountbatten knew of his son-in-law's ambition to work in the film industry -

    in 1942 Brabourne had been an extra in the Dunkirk sequence of Noël Coward's

    film In Which We Serve, based on the sinking of Mountbatten's ship the HMS

    Kelly - and after the war he introduced him to Alexander Korda. "He put me

    in touch with [the producer] Ian Dalrymple," Brabourne recalled,

    who gave me a job on the escape story The Wooden Horse [1950] as a

    "production assistant", which was just a name to get me on the set. It is

    literally a runner, which is what I was at the beginning.

    Other films on which he worked as an assistant, location manager or unit

    manager included six produced by Herbert Wilcox, among which were Odette

    (1950), The Lady with a Lamp (1951) and "one or two very bad films, like

    Laughing Anne [1953] and Trouble in the Glen [1954], with Orson Welles in a

    kilt!" He also worked in the cutting room, and was production manager

    ("which involves all the financial matters") on an intriguing thriller

    filmed in Venice, The Stranger's Hand (1955):

    Graham Greene wrote the script. It was a film I always liked very much and

    Greene worked so hard, he really believed in it. I got to know him very

    well, and wouldn't have missed the experience for anything.

    He also served as production manager on the Powell-Pressburger film The

    Battle of the River Plate (1956) and several Daniel Angel productions

    including The Sea Shall Not Have Them (1954), Reach for the Sky (1956) and

    Seven Thunders (1957), on which he was associate producer, having meanwhile

    abandoned his initial ambition to direct:

    The things that interested me were the story, which is number one for me;

    the script is certainly number two; and the third really important factor is

    the editing. I found that, although I liked to work with actors, I didn't

    really have a feeling for

    directing. Richard Goodwin says that the director makes the film but the

    producer gets it made. That is a very important distinction and it was what

    I liked to do.

    John Brabourne's first film as a producer was Harry Black (put out in the

    United States as Harry Black and the Tiger):

    I had quite a lot of connections with India as my father was Governor of

    Bombay, and had been Viceroy for a short time, and my father-in-law was the

    last Viceroy. I wanted to make a film about India, and then found the book

    Harry Black [David Walker's 1956 novel]. I took on Richard Goodwin as

    location manager. He had been born in India, and although he was only 23, he

    had such a way with people that I knew he could do the job. He built the

    camp, found the tiger and did all those things.

    Brabourne had met Goodwin when they both worked for Ian Dalrymple, and he

    later hired him to work on Seven Thunders:

    From then on, every step I took, Richard came with me. Our last film was

    Little Dorrit, in 1987, so we worked together for over 30 years, which in

    this business is very rare.

    Brabourne's next production was Sink the Bismarck! (1960), an exceptional

    war story for which Brabourne hired first-class talents including the writer

    Edmund H. North, the photographer Christopher Challis, the director Lewis

    Gilbert and, as star, Kenneth More. Brabourne remembered:

    It is one of those extraordinary films that people go on watching.

    I've been getting a cheque every six months since it was made! It just

    goes on running and everyone likes it.

    Brabourne then became part of a company named British Home Entertainment, a

    cable service which planned to bring the arts, particularly theatre, film

    and opera, to viewers who would pay by putting coins into a meter. One of

    its coups was acquiring the rights to show the Cassius Clay/Henry Cooper

    boxing match to several thousand subscribers in London.

    For BHE, Brabourne co-produced, with Anthony Havelock-Allan, film

    transcriptions of stage hits which, if not entirely successful, preserved

    valuable parts of theatre history, such as Laurence Olivier's remarkable

    performance with Maggie Smith in Othello (1966) and the D'Oyly Carte Opera

    Company in The Mikado (1967). The pair also produced Zeffirelli's energetic

    and flamboyant Romeo and Juliet (1968), a movie so perfectly attuned to the

    air of youthful rebellion in the Sixties that it became an outstanding


    The play had been ruined for me by seeing people in it who were much too old

    for the parts. It occurred to me that this was really a modern play, a

    ballad of youth. So Tony and I talked to Zeffirelli, and when we said that,

    he said, "We must make this."

    The pay-per-view scheme, meanwhile, had collapsed when the

    Postmaster-General refused to allow the company to exceed the imposed limit

    of 150,000 customers. "We were years before our time," Brabourne commented

    wryly some years later.

    Brabourne's next movie, Up the Junction (1968) was a bleakly realistic tale

    of working-class travails. It was followed by another innovative movie of

    which Brabourne was particularly proud, Tales of Beatrix Potter (1971), the

    idea for which originated with Richard Goodwin and his wife, the designer

    Christine Edzard. Starring members of the Royal Ballet performing Frederick

    Ashton's choreography, it was a completely dialogue-free movie that proved

    surprisingly successful at the box office:

    We were extremely lucky that Bryan Forbes was head of production at EMI. He

    thought it was a terrific idea and he was in the position to say that they

    would put up the money.

    Murder on the Orient Express (1974), a big hit, was the first of four Agatha

    Christie stories that Brabourne produced on film, with star-laden casts

    including such heavyweight names as Bette Davis, Ingrid Bergman, Lauren

    Bacall, Sean Connery, Elizabeth Taylor and David Niven. Christie was on

    record as disliking all the film versions of her stories except Billy

    Wilder's 1957 Witness for the Prosecution, but she admired the Beatrix

    Potter film so much that she let Brabourne have the rights to her books.

    Though Death on the Nile (1978), with Peter Ustinov assuming the role of

    Hercule Poirot played in the first film by Albert Finney, was considered

    even better than its predecessor, the next two Christie movies, The Mirror

    Crack'd (1980) and Evil Under the Sun (1982), were less impressive.

    In 1975 Brabourne joined the board of Thames Television, and in the same

    year he was active as a member of Harold Wilson's Working Party on Films.

    "What Wilson did then," he said,

    was create a means of circulating money through the industry without taking

    government money, and it kept the industry alive. That ended when the

    Thatcher government took away all its support in the Eighties.

    He and the documentary producer Peter Morley, who made the 1969 series The

    Life and Times of Lord Mountbatten, were instrumental in raising the funds

    necessary for the merging of the British Film Academy and the Society of

    Film and Television Arts into Bafta, with its own equivalent of the

    "Oscars". He was to remain a director of Thames Television from 1975 to

    1993, and served as its chairman from 1990 to 1993.

    When Brabourne and Goodwin decided to make a film of E.M. Forster's

    enigmatic novel A Passage to India, the first director they thought of was

    David Lean, who had not made a film for 14 years:

    I rang him, and when he picked up the phone the first thing he said was,

    "What happened in the caves?" He told me that he, too, had been trying to

    get the rights since 1958.

    Brabourne and Lean disagreed on one point - Lean's choice of Alec Guinness

    to play the mystic Professor Godbole. Guinness himself was so unhappy with

    the role that he offered to leave the film after the first week's shooting

    without being paid, and after the film's completion he wrote to Lean

    regretting that his offer had been refused. "John Brabourne was right in his

    original objection," he wrote, describing his performance as "sickeningly

    awful". A Passage to India (1984) gained 11 Oscar nominations, including one

    for Brabourne, but the only winner was Peggy Ashcroft, as best supporting


    The last film Brabourne and Goodwin produced was Little Dorrit (1987), an

    adaptation of Dickens written and directed by Christine Edzard. Though its

    excessive length (six hours) limited its success in the cinema, it proved

    popular on television and video. In recent years, the Brabournes lived

    quietly in their family home in Kent, where he served as President of the

    Kent Trust for Nature Conservation, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of

    Kent and Provost of Wye College.

    In 1998 Thomas McMahon, who made and planted the bomb that devastated their

    lives, was released from prison as part of the Ulster peace agreement. Last

    year, the couple gave a substantial amount of money towards setting up a

    bursary in their fourth son Nicholas's name at the Dragon prep school in

    Oxford, which has been associated with the Mountbatten family for 50 years.

    Patricia, who succeeded as Countess Mountbatten of Burma on her father's

    death, broke a long, self-imposed silence on the tragedy to say,

    The past 25 years would have been far more difficult without my husband. In

    fact, it would have been unbearably ghastly. We have been married a long

    time, but I dare say that if we had a spare lunch or dinner and had to pick

    one person we'd still choose each other.

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