Obituary: Susi Hush

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The Independent Online
The television producer and writer Susi Hush was a feminist before it was either politically correct or fashionable to admit to it and she remained steadfast to that cause long after many had relinquished their loyalty. She did not subscribe to the strident "in your face" brand of women's activism - hers was more the quietly tenacious kind which infused every activity of her life.

She was born in Thurgoland, in Yorkshire, in 1945. After going to grammar school she attended Sussex University, where she graduated in English and American Studies. She started her television career in 1969 at Granada as an interviewer and current affairs producer. In the early 1970s she transferred her interest to drama and became a script editor.

I first met Hush in 1975 when she was producing Coronation Street. She endeavoured not only to give aspiring women writers - like myself - their first break but also tried to imbue the narrative with controversial, gritty social realism. In short she tried to extend not only the parameters of the genre but also deepen the connection with the audience. She went on to produce in the same vein the court-room series Crown Court - several episodes of which she also wrote.

In the late 1970s Hush left Granada to go freelance and later became an independent producer. This may not seem so unusual now when every producer you encounter has their own production company but it was an unnervingly bold move 17 years ago - particularly as she had a young son to support.

After producing two series of the BBC serial Grange Hill (for which she won a Bafta award) and Channel 4's first drama series, Winter Sunlight, Hush joined the team of television luminaries responsible for setting up Limehouse Productions. She called me to say they were looking for "experimental" plays for a possible slot on Channel 4. I confessed to being rather sceptical about what "experimental" actually implied and that anyway I was then working on a story about a downtrodden ham radio operator who contacts a round-the-world yachtsman, an idea which was Frank Capra in tone and definitely linear in narrative.

Hush listened to the idea and then said, "OK, scrap the experimental bit - let's go with yours." In that sense, she was always idea- rather than market-led. The play, CQ, was later transmitted in a strand of plays Hush produced for Limehouse/ Channel 4, one of which - Home Video, by Lesley Bruce - won the International Prix Jean D'Arcy award for innovative work on video.

A litany of plays and drama series followed, including To Have and To Hold for LWT, an eight-part serial about the complexities of surrogacy. Through the late 1980s and early 1990s Hush worked freelance developing projects through her production company.

Susi Hush had an instinctive, mercurial intelligence which was both incisive and compassionate. She was endlessly intrigued by the subtleties of human nature and it was this which made her such an invigorating producer and a sensitive, stimulating friend. Like many innovative spirits she hit peaks and troughs in her professional and private life but she faced both with dignity and awesomely fierce stamina. It was no surprise that she fought her illness with exactly the same tenacity of spirit, never losing her wit or her luminous generosity.

Paula Milne

Susi Hush, television producer and writer: born Thurgoland, Yorkshire 12 December 1945; married 1968 Roger Tucker (one son; marriage dissolved); died London 27 October 1995.