Peter Hammond: Stage and screen actor who went on todirect classic television shows

 

Among directors of television drama, Peter Hammond, who has died one month short of his 88th birthday, was unquestionably in the front rank. With his penchant for unusual angles and sudden cuts between cameras, his work on the early years of The Avengers, from 1961 to 1964, helped to move it from noir-type beginnings towards a playful, off-kilter brand of its own. Once the medium's technology had caught up with him, his prowling camera and inclination towards reflections added greatly to the atmosphere of Granada's Sherlock Holmes adaptations in the 1980s and early '90s, and consolidated the success of Inspector Morse (Central, 1987-2000).

He had originally been an actor, with some success as a juvenile lead. His West End début was in March 1943 at the Saville, in Junior Miss, an American comedy. Audiences for a light suburban piece, Fly Away Peter, at the King's, Hammersmith in May 1947, responded well to the lean, fair-haired Hammond as a shy, rejected suitor, nicknamed "Pie-Face". On the opening night, they urged him to make a curtain speech, but he declined. In August it transferred to the St James. He was not short of female attention during the run; the following year, he married the actress Maureen Glynne.

He continued to be cast in domestic situations, his film début coming in a melodrama, They Knew Mr Knight (1945). He was then Jack Warner and Kathleen Harrison's son in Holiday Camp (1947). The pair re-teamed for Here Come the Huggetts (1948), with Diana Dors running riot as their flirtatious niece, Vote for Huggett and The Huggetts Abroad (1949). Hammond also returned for these, albeit playing a different character.

He repeated his stage role in the film of Fly Away Peter (1948), and its sequel, Come Back Peter (1952). Later, his only film as director was Bill Naughton's Spring and Port Wine (1970), with James Mason as a Northern patriarch.

At the Lyric, Hammersmith in 1948, he starred in An English Summer, centring on the RAF. Eleven years later, for the BBC, it would be one of his first directorial assignments for television.His first small-screen work was Man of Two Minds (1950), an hour-long, specially written play set in a repertory company. In one of his last parts he was a regular as a colonial aide in The Buccaneers (ATV/ITC, 1956-57).

His first directorial credit was a half-hour BBC play, Meeting with Johnny (1960). Leonard White, producer of The Avengers in its vestigial days, described Hammond and his fellow director Don Leaver as "the main strength of the team pulling together the on-air style of the series." Brian Clemens, eventually to become the series' show-runner, subsequently singled out "the brilliant Peter Hammond" as a major contributor. "The budget often limited, say, a general store to a few loaves and fishes – and Hammond, following exceptional precedent, turned those loaves and fishes into multitudinous and stimulating foreground shots."

However, Hammond was not involved in the series' best-remembered, filmed period, preferring to follow White to Armchair Theatre. Crossing over to the BBC, he did their Sunday classic se-rial for autumn 1964, The Count of Monte Cristo, contributing a distinctive overhead shot of Dantes (Alan Badel) being taken to the Château d'If. In the same slot, he shot on location around coastlines for Hereward the Wake (1965).

On BBC2, The White Rabbit (1967) was the story of a real-life war hero, Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas (Kenneth More). Hammond went as far as to use real rats for scenes depicting imprisonment by the Gestapo; however, due to copyright issues, the BBC had to wipe the tapes after one broadcast. In colour, Hammond employed a bold style for Cold Comfort Farm (BBC, 1968). Alastair Sim headed the cast, which included Aubrey Morris, a co-star from Fly Away Peter.

Hammond's series episodes included the Graham Greene anthology Shades of Greene (Thames, 1976) and Rumpole of the Bailey (Thames, 1979). He imbued an air of menace, and contrasted realism with fantasy, in King of the Castle (HTV, 1977), an uncompromising children's series.

Having directed Jeremy Brett as D'Artagnan in The Three Musketeers (BBC, 1967-68), he oversaw Brett's best remembered, intense performance in The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Granada, 1986-88). He also lent a touch of Gothic (incorporating a nod to Hitchcock's Vertigo) to the third episode of Inspector Morse in 1987, making further segments in 1988 and 1990. By the time of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1994), Hammond's eye for composition had become practically painterly.

Gavin Gaughan

Peter Charles Hammond Hill (Peter Hammond), actor, director and producer: born London 15 November 1923; married 1948 Maureen Glynne (died 2005; three sons, two daughters); died 12 October 2011.

15.11.1923

On the day he was born...

The crisis in the Weimar Republic deepened as hyper-inflation reached its peak at 4.2 trillion Papiermarks per US dollar. The chancellor, Gustav Tresemann (above), abolished the currency

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk