Reginald Collin: TV producer and director of Bafta

 

Taking over as producer of one of television's most memorable spy dramas, Callan, presented Reginald Collin with an enviable dilemma. "Our problem is that this latest series has been fantastically successful," he told TV Times in 1969. "A year ago, we felt that this would be the last of it. Now we are not so sure."

As a result, he arranged for two different endings to be shot for the second series – one killed off the unglamorous, clinical hit-man David Callan, played by Edward Woodward; the other left viewers unsure whether the writer James Mitchell's creation was dead or not.

This led to the switchboard at Thames Television being jammed by viewers. If there was an intention to drum up PR, it certainly worked.

Even the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, called for Callan's return. When the programme did come back for two more series (1970 and 1972, both produced by Collin), he wrote in a letter to the London Evening News: "All of us mourned for long weeks the death of Callan and rejoiced in his recall to life – nothing like it since Sherlock Holmes returned from his memorable encounter with Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls."

Russell Hunter was ever-present throughout Callan as Lonely – Callan's smelly, petty thief contact and the blueprint for Gollum in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

Reginald Thomas Collin was born in 1927 in Islington, north London, where his father worked as a greengrocer and designed women's handbags. After the family moved to Harrow, Middlesex, at the start of the Second World War, Collin attended Wembley Grammar School.

Collin did his National Service (1945-48) in the RAF, where he trained as a shorthand typist. At Bomber Command Headquarters, in High Wycombe, he ran an amateur dramatics group.

With an ambition to act professionally, he won a scholarship to the fledgling Old Vic Theatre School, London. From there, he acted with a repertory company in Huddersfield, then directed summer seasons and pantomimes. In 1959, he moved into television as a director with the ITV company ABC.

He directed two episodes of the 1961 children's serial Pathfinders to Venus, but, more significantly, worked on Tempo (1961-67), which declared itself "a fortnightly magazine programme which measures art in terms of enjoyment." By 1963, Collin was also producing the show, which covered everything from music, film and literature to ballet, mime and architecture. Tempo ended before the 1968 ITV franchise reshuffle that saw ABC merging with Rediffusion to become Thames Television.

At ABC, Collin also produced Sat'day While Sunday (1967), a 14-part drama serial – starring Malcolm McDowell – about the lives of teenagers in the north of England.

In 1960, he had married Pamela Tucker, who as Pamela Lonsdale directed several episodes of Tempo and went on to produce many popular children's programmes. While working at Thames in 1972, she was asked to devise a pre-school series and came up with Rainbow. Her initial idea included a bear called Rainbow, invented by Collin and played by Tim Wylton. It appeared only in a pilot episode, but was transformed into Bungle for the long-running programme.

After the second series of Callan ended, Collin produced most of the first run of Special Branch (1969). Derren Nesbitt donned bright ties and floral shirts in his role as Detective Chief Inspector Jordan, and the officers of the Scotland Yard division tackling government security leaks, people-trafficking and anarchists were sometimes seen employing strong-arm tactics in a way that would later become commonplace in The Sweeney.

As both producer and director, Collin made the first series of Six Days of Justice (1972), set in a magistrates' court, The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes (1973) and Napoleon and Love (1974), following the early years and romantic conquests of the future French emperor.

Collin left Thames in 1975 after making two Armchair Cinema drama productions. Two years later, he was appointed director of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, at a critical time in its history. In his 2008 book BAFTA: Behind the Mask, he recounts his successes in improving fundraising and establishing regional centres, as well as an office in Los Angeles.

He retired in 1987 and was awarded a fellowship by the Royal Television Society that year in recognition of "an outstanding contribution to the furtherance of television".

Anthony Hayward

Reginald Thomas Collin, producer and director: born London 7 July 1927; married 1960 Pamela Lonsdale; died Shaftesbury, Dorset 16 December 2011.

Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home