Dave Heather

Director of Glyndebourne telecasts

Dave Heather's career in television began as a 15-year-old, holidaying with his older brother John in Manchester, when he was given the opportunity to work in the studios of ABC. This experience persuaded him that his future lay in television and he joined ATV in London three years later, then moving in the early 1960s to Southern Television.

David William Heather, television director: born Tunbridge Wells, Kent 17 February 1941; married 1983 Annie Thompson (one son, two daughters); died Tonbridge, Kent 16 April 2005.

Dave Heather's career in television began as a 15-year-old, holidaying with his older brother John in Manchester, when he was given the opportunity to work in the studios of ABC. This experience persuaded him that his future lay in television and he joined ATV in London three years later, then moving in the early 1960s to Southern Television.

In 1966, aged 25, he became the youngest director in British television, working on, amongst many other programmes, the game show Wheel of Fortune (1969-71), with Michael Miles as host. In 1976 Heather wrote, produced and directed an innovative children's show - Get This - starring Harry Fowler and Kenny Lynch. It set new standards for anarchic entertainment and earned Heather the first of five Bafta nominations.

In 1971 Southern Television signed a long-term contract giving it the rights to broadcast two operas from Glyndebourne Opera Festival every summer on ITV (unthinkable these days). I was brought in as a freelance producer for these rather specialised transmissions but Southern TV selected one of their own staff directors - Heather - to be in charge of the cameras. This involved writing the camera script, directing the cameramen and working closely with the singers and the stage director.

Heather loved music and got on well with everybody at Glyndebourne - from the prima donnas to the stage hands. Hitherto telecasts of operas had generally been last-minute affairs undertaken by busy directors of outside broadcasts who had many other irons in the fire. Heather pioneered the planning technique of spending weeks in advance of the production date familiarising himself with every nuance of the production during its rehearsal period.

The first Glyndebourne opera he directed was Verdi's Macbeth in 1972. Later recordings (many of them now available as DVDs or VHS cassettes) include Peter Hall's vintage production of The Marriage of Figaro (1973, with Kiri Te Kanawa as the countess) and the David Hockney- designed Rake's Progress (1975). In 1974 Heather also directed the telecast of Welsh National Opera's world premiere production of Alan Hoddinott's grand opera The Beach at Falesa. He continued to direct opera relays when TVS took over the ITV contract later in the 1970s, but the new company was less ambitious culturally.

In addition to the nationally transmitted operas Heather was responsible for some notable regional arts programmes - the studio-based Music in Camera with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Owain Arwel Hughes, and Theatre in Camera, featuring television versions of new plays from different theatres in the Southern TV area.

But, perhaps to his own disadvantage, Heather also excelled as a journeyman director of live television. As well as numerous local programmes for Southern and TVS, he had a seven-year stint with Robert Kilroy-Silk's chat show Kilroy and also originated The General, later to be retitled City Hospital, a daily live programme from Southampton General Hospital, which continues on BBC1. This aspect of his career culminated in his award-winning overall direction of the ITV coverage of the funeral of the Princess of Wales in 1997.

His skill in these areas perhaps detracted from his reputation as a music specialist, although he continued to freelance in this area, including work in the early 1980s on the Judith de Paul video series of Gilbert and Sullivan productions.

Dave Heather's personal charm was of a no-nonsense, down-to-earth character. He and I attended the same school - the Judd School, Tonbridge, Kent - where Dave spoke at an Old Juddians reunion function on Saturday evening shortly before he was struck down by a fatal heart attack.

Humphrey Burton

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
news
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
tvChristmas special reviewed
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
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

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all