Saturday, 29 June 2013

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Goodbye" to an old tv drama director called Jim Goddard

Jim, who has died aged 77, a prolific and distinguished director whose hallmarks were bleak, violent atmosphere and vivid characterisation had more than 200 works under his belt over four decades.

What you possible didn't know about Jim, that he :

* was born and bred a Londoner in 1936 in Battersea, South London whose father, Alf, was a director of John Bolding & Sons and Thomas Crapper Ltd, sanitary engineers and led Jim to claim that if his day job failed, he knew how to repair a lavatory.,

* left school and studied art at the Slade in London and then his love of set design, led him after graduation to the Royal Opera House, contributing to productions by Franco Zeffirelli and Luchino Visconti before he joined the ABC tv design department and worked most notably on 'The Avengers' in his mid twenties in the early 1960s.

* first achieved recognition as a director for his work on five episodes of ABC tv's arts magazine show, 'Tempo' from 1965 to '67, which led to his close friendship Trevor Preston and Mike Hodges who were influential in establishing 'Euston Films', a company which played an important role in the support of his burgeoning career.

* with Preston, created 'Out' in 1978, starring Tom Bell as 'Frank Ross', who prowled through mean and rotten London streets and was a combination of arthouse film techniques and pulp-fiction storytelling,  reminiscent of the films of Sam Fuller.

* again working with Preston, made the 13 part drama 'Fox' in 1980, which established him as a major director and with its opening panoramic sequence, a sweep across London, was perhaps a homage to Alfred Hitchcock.

* in 1980, directed Alan Bleasdale's 'The Black Stuff'', the  BBC 'Play for Today' and two years later, 'Nicholas Nickleby' a Channel 4 version of the Royal Shakespeare Company production.

* in 1983 directed 'Reilly: Ace of Spies' and 'Kennedy' which was filmed entirely on location in the US, starring Martin Sheen as President John F Kennedy and was shown simultaneously in the USA, Britain and Germany and achieved the highest recorded viewing figures to that date for a tv drama and earned him three Golden Globe nominations and a Bafta in 1984.

* in New York City,  took an hour off from filming 'Kennedy' to visit Bloomingdale's' to buy his girlfriend a handbag and was helped in his choice by an elderly lady wearing a mackintosh, scarf and dark glasses who asked : "Who is the handbag for?" and when he explained said : "My advice is that only the most expensive will do. Here, buy this one" and when told the lady was Greta Garbo said : "Strange birds often sing to me."

* in  1986, elected to direct 'Shanghai Surprise' starring Madonna and Sean Penn which was a critical disaster dismissed by one critic as "flop suey" and was marginally notable for the cameo role as nightclub singer by one of the film's producers, George Harrison and was nominated for six Golden Raspberry awards, winning one for Madonna as worst actress.

* recovered his reputation with direction of Steven Berkoff's adaptation of Kafka's 'Metamorphosis' in 1987.

* apparently, had special empathy for actors who both respected and invariably loved him and to who he said : "Show me what you can do," and carried an encyclopedic knowledge of their abilities, mannerisms, gifts and faces, matched by an extraordinary facility to place regional accents, both British and American.

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