Barrie Edgar: Television producer who worked on 'Come Dancing' and 'Gardeners' World'

 

In a television career spent entirely with the BBC, Barrie Edgar demonstrated a parallel loyalty to his home area of Birmingham. Specialising in outside broadcasts and bearing the title TV Producer, Midland Region, he established his reputation in the single-channel era of the 1950s, continuing as the city's production centre became Pebble Mill in the early 1970s. While his credits were as disparate as children's programmes, variety shows and the 1962 consecration of Coventry Cathedral, he also made programmes that reflected his own interests; as a keen horticulturist, he produced BBC2's Gardeners' World, one of several shows that survive him, in varying formats.

The changes within the entertainment industry of the 20th century were delineated in his own bloodline. His father Percy Edgar had been a singer and songwriter before becoming a regional director of what was then the British Broadcasting Company in 1922. His son David Edgar remains a vital and respected playwright, once noting that "my father's career bridged the first great transformation of television: from a witness of existing events to a creator of new ones, from a site to a medium."

Educated at Oundle School, Barrie Edgar gained experience at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, although he later claimed that he had been "the world's worst actor". There would later be some very occasional excursions in front of the cameras. During wartime he served in the Fleet Air Arm and the Royal Navy before joining BBC TV as it resumed live transmissions in 1946.

At Alexandra Palace he produced Three Blind Mice (1947), publicised as "a half-hour work of crime detection written by Agatha Christie". It had originated on radio earlier that year, as part of Queen Mary's 80th birthday celebrations. Edgar's version came and went in one night, but five years later and after extensions and rewrites by Christie, it made its stage debut as The Mousetrap.

He worked on a 15-minute filler, The Memory Man (1950) – "Barrie Edgar asks the questions" of Leslie Welch and his "phenomenal memory". He was also a commentator for the TV coverage of Billy Smart's Circus in 1950, and was still producing highlight shows from circuses 20 years later; the Chipperfield Circus from Birmingham's Bingley Hall became an annual speciality.

He was one of several producers for The Centre Show (1950-51), a showcase for emerging talent, largely ex-forces, broadcast from the Nuffield Centre, hosted during Edgar's tenure by the eternal comedy stooge Frank Thornton, with the future broadcaster Steve Race at the piano. Returning to his home city in 1951, he was sometimes credited on screen as having "presented", rather than produced. His outside broadcasts included the second act of The Merry Wives Of Windsor (1955), from the Memorial Theatre at Stratford, with Anthony Quayle as Falstaff. It incorporated a nervous introduction for viewers from the critic Alan Dent, and pre-filmed explanations of the characters and their plot functions.

On 29 December 1955, the Midlands studio in Gosta Green, Birmingham opened. Edgar's contribution was Hey Presto!, a magicians' showcase, magic being another of his off-screen interests. Other productions included another vehicle for new performers, Next Week's Calls (1956), and Children's Playtime (1956) – unusually presented by Bobbie Kimber, a female impersonator. Edgar also appeared as an interviewer on The Midlander (1958-59), presented by the naturalist Phil Drabble and screened only locally.

An attempt to transfer My Word! (1960) to television with Frank Muir and Denis Norden, was judged unsuccessful, and the rest of the decade saw Edgar increasingly involved with religiously themed documentaries. By contrast, and from 1958 onwards, he was executive producer of Come Dancing, then presented by Peter West (whom he would also use to front his circus specials), and whose competitive element consisted of inter-regional heats. Edgar would later select Terry Wogan, who had then largely concentrated on radio, to host its 1974 series. He did not regard Strictly Come Dancing as quite the same animal.

In the London Review of Books in 2005, David Edgar observed that his father "saw many of his programmes hived off from outside broadcasts to specialised (and centralised) BBC departments; over the years, he lost the King's College Christmas carols to Music, Songs of Praise to Religion and Come Dancing to London." None the less, Edgar produced the latter, and Gardeners' World, until his retirement from the BBC in 1979.

The following year he was among signatories of a letter to The Times registering disapproval of cuts in BBC regional broadcasting. Equally in character, he refused to accept lucrative offers from ITV, or to set up his own production company, as contemporaries of his had done. He spent 10 years on screen, taking care of the Pebble Mill garden on Pebble Mill at One and its successor Daytime Live, before retiring again in 1989.

Round-faced, bespectacled and habitually smoking a pipe, Edgar is survived by his son, two daughters, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Gavin Gaughan

Anthony Barrie Edgar, television producer and director: born Birmingham 26 April 1919; married 1943 Joan Burman (died 2005; one son, two daughters); died Birmingham 28 December 2012.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back