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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    From The Times

    August 25, 2009


    John Stroud: television producer and director

    John Stroud: television producer and director | Times Online Obituary

    Stroud: he formed his own production company, Big Bear Films, in 1996

    John Stroud was among the most skilled and respected of practitioners in the difficult and largely unappreciated field of directing television comedy.

    He combined an intelligent understanding of comedy with the ability to remain unflappable and to retain a sense of humour under the pressure that television schedules impose. He was popular with production crews and performers alike and he worked fruitfully with such talents as Harry Enfield, Caroline Quentin and Ardal O�Hanlon.

    He was born in Gillingham, Kent, in 1955. In the following year his father, an RAF squadron leader, was killed in an accident involving a Vulcan bomber. From Dover College Junior School, where he was head boy, he won a scholarship to Tonbridge School and went on to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he read English.

    Stroud got his training in comedy at Cambridge where he was a member of the Footlights. His fondest memory was playing the title role in the pantomime Robinson Crusoe with Griff Rhys Jones as his mother. He regarded the Footlights as invaluable experience in learning how to structure comedy and how to write for other people.

    Although he did much acting at university he accepted that he was no more than average and that having also directed productions he would do better in this area. On leaving Cambridge with a first-class degree he began his working life as a researcher with a small documentary company, Trans Atlantic Film, before joining Thames Television as a trainee director in 1978.

    After ten months spent mostly following other directors around with no clear idea of what he wanted to do, he opted to join the children�s department. As it covered the entire field of television, taking in drama, documentary, live shows and outside broadcasts, as well as comedy, it was ideal grounding.

    He worked on the children�s programme Rainbow and managed to sneak the punk rock band, U.K. Subs, into an episode of The Sooty Show. His first regular assignment was Educating Marmalade, a drama series by Andrew Davies about an awful teenager, of which he directed seven episodes in 1982.

    Leaving Thames to go freelance, he worked on the comedy sketch show, Who Dares, Wins, for Channel 4, and on the argument that he had handled puppets on Rainbow persuaded John Lloyd, producer of Spitting Image, to let him direct half of the second series of that irreverent show.

    He worked with Patrick Barlow and the National Theatre of Brent and directed the first series of Chelmsford (1988), a comedy set in Roman Britain and the first venture of the independent production company, Hat Trick. In the same year he directed Thompson, a sketch show written and performed by Emma Thompson, which was coolly received but was only a temporary setback in the star�s distinguished career.

    Another rare failure, this time for the writing team of Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, was Freddie and Max, which starred Anne Bancroft (in her only situation comedy) as a fading American actress domiciled in London. Stroud was co-producer as well as director. In 1991 he directed the first series of Packet of Three (Channel 4), an attempt to combine situation comedy and stand-up that starred the comedians Frank Skinner and Jenny Eclair.

    Among other sitcoms, such as So Haunt Me, with Miriam Karlin as a ghostly Jewish matriarch, and KYTV, a sketch show set in a spoof TV station and featuring Angus Deayton and Geoffrey Perkins, Stroud made occasional excursions into drama. He worked on Boon and in 1994 directed the penultimate episode of Minder, entitled Bring Me the Head of Arthur Daley.

    But comedy remained his forte, with shows such as Harry Enfield and Chums and Game On, which followed the sexual exploits among twentysomething flatsharers and ran for three series on BBC Two.

    Other BBC ventures included Kiss Me Kate, which featured Caroline Quentin and Chris Langham as psychotherapists, and Chambers, a legal comedy starring John Bird.

    Stroud�s longest commitment outside comedy was Bugs (1997-99), a tongue-in-cheek action-adventure series in the tradition of The Avengers. It was so strong on stunts and special effects that when Stroud found himself with just two people having a conversation across a desk he could not remember how to shoot it.

    In 1996, frustrated at being offered good ideas and scripts but having to give them to others to get made, Stroud formed his own production company, Big Bear Films, with a fellow producer and director Marcus Mortimer. They had met while working on Comic Relief.

    Their first big project was My Hero, a comedy for the BBC that featured the Irish comedian Ardal O�Hanlon as a superman figure who also runs a health food shop. As producer Stroud worked closely with the writers, and scripts could go into several drafts. In contrast to much TV comedy at the time, My Hero was firmly aimed at the family audience, eschewing bad language and relying on gentle humour and the charisma of the star.

    A feature of the show was talking babies, achieved by filming the mouths of Stroud and Mortimer�s own children and superimposing them on to shots of the baby and toddler who appeared on screen. My Hero ran for 44 episodes between 2000 and 2006 but audiences fell away towards the end after O�Hanlon was replaced by another actor.

    Stroud teamed up with the documentary maker Vikram Jayanti to bring the hirsute pair of Dave Myers and Si King to the screen: as the Hairy Bikers, they combined cookery and travelogue, touring the country on motorcycles and seeking out good food. After a successful pilot their first TV series, The Hairy Bikers� Cookbook, was shown in 2006 and others followed.

    Stroud is survived by his wife, Lesley, and a son and daughter.

    John Stroud, television producer and director, was born on January 27, 1955. He died of a brain tumour on August 15, 2009, aged 54

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: UK Windyridge's Avatar
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    Had the pleasure of working with John in the eighties. Lovely man. Very sad for his family. RIP John.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain GoggleboxUK's Avatar
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    I was a huge fan of Game On.

    My condolences to those he left behind. A good man gone too soon.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    Obituary: John Stroud

    Highly respected television comedy director

    by Marcus Mortimer and Charles Attlee, Tuesday 13 October 2009

    John Stroud Obituary | Television & radio | The Guardian

    John Stroud worked with Harry Enfield, Ardal O'Hanlon and Caroline Quentin

    John Stroud, who has died of brain cancer aged 54, was one of the most respected television comedy directors of his generation and worked with some of the best comic talents, including Harry Enfield, Ardal O'Hanlon and Caroline Quentin. His credits ranged from Channel 4's early hit comedy sketch show Who Dares Wins (1983-88) and Spitting Image (1984-96) to the flat-share sitcom Game On (1995-98), Kiss Me Kate (1998-2000), starring Quentin, and the family comedy My Hero (2000-06). He also produced and directed, with Vikram Jayanti, the factual entertainment series The Hairy Bikers' Cookbook (2006-).

    John was born in Gillingham, Kent, the only son of James Stroud, an RAF squadron leader who was killed in an air accident when John was one, and an ex-Wren, Heather Lovesey. He shone at Dover college junior school, becoming head boy and winning a scholarship to Tonbridge school, Kent.

    On his first day there he met Jayanti, another new boy and later an Oscar- winning documentary maker, who remembers John as "the golden prince of the class, brilliant, fun, generous and kind. We were locked into a lifelong friendly rivalry from day one, but I was always in awe of him. At 15 he had a polished rock band, belting out Suffragette City within days of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust album coming out."

    From Tonbridge, John went to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he gained a first-class degree in English, and was later made a life scholar of the college. He met Griff Rhys Jones and Clive Anderson at Cambridge, and played Robinson Crusoe alongside Rhys Jones in a Footlights panto. Rhys Jones remembers: "He was unstudied and easygoing, and despite his good taste and intelligence he liked a laugh and was alarmingly attracted to the cheap jokes of the Jimmy Mulville and Rory McGrath world."

    John's career started at Thames Television in 1978 as a trainee director. His first jobs were in the children's department, which offered great variety � drama, comedy, live outside broadcasts and location filming. Here he directed episodes of Rainbow as well as Andrew Davies's script of Educating Marmalade (1982), starring Charlotte Coleman.

    But it was as a freelance director from 1983 that he properly developed his comedy skills, working on Who Dares Wins and the second series of Spitting Image. The BBC teamed him up with Geoffrey Perkins and his writing partner Angus Deayton for KYTV (1989-93), which satirised early satellite television; John directed the second and third series of the show, which won the Silver Rose of Montreux. In 1994 he directed Harry Enfield and Chums, and later the Perkins-produced sitcoms Game On and Kiss Me Kate.

    While directing sketches for Comic Relief in 1995 John met the director and producer Marcus Mortimer, and in a bid to take more control over their projects they formed Big Bear Films the following year. Their first project, the BBC1 sitcom My Hero, had a strong ensemble cast headed by the comedian O'Hanlon as the mild-mannered shopkeeper George Sunday, alias Thermoman, alien from planet Ultron. John had a real ability to get the best out of actors and also helped craft the writing on the show. O'Hanlon remembers: "For five series, John presided over a very happy rehearsal room. Bouncing in every morning, he fostered a productive atmosphere, yet never shirked an opportunity to stop everything and share an anecdote or full-blooded debate."

    In 2004 he changed direction. He was approached by two unlikely northern lads � location manager Si King (with whom he had previously worked) and makeup artist Dave Myers � who had a yen for cooking and an idea to bike around the world seeking out the best local food. John spotted the potential and teamed up with his old schoolfriend Jayanti: "John could see they had some promise, which the documentary form might bring out. So between us, the Hairy Bikers were born."

    Three hit series and two bestselling books followed, with the bikers travelling to out of the way places such as Namibia, Argentina, Transylvania and India learning how to cook the customary dishes.

    John was a devoted family man. He is survived by his wife Lesley and his children, Scarlett and Finlay.

    John Steven Rule Stroud, television producer and director, born 27 January 1955; died 15 August 2009

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