Obituary: Bill Podmore

Edgar William Podmore, television producer: born Gainsborough, Lincolnshire 15 August 1931; twice married (one son, one daughter); died Cheadle, Cheshire 22 January 1994.

BILL PODMORE was dubbed by the tabloid press the godfather of Coronation Street, supposedly because of his power to eliminate unwanted characters. In fact, as the longest-serving producer of television's longest-running serial - he masterminded the show from 1975 until 1988 - his influence was decidedly paternal. Podmore's good nature, blunt northern approach and, when occasion warranted, his ability to use a firm hand admirably equipped him for the job.

Coronation Street needs more, however, than executive skills. It requires a sense of passionate commitment. No one could have identified more than Bill Podmore with the Street's vivid, larger-than-life world, alive with a pungent sense of human comedy, but poised always at a sharp angle to reality. With its seemingly indestructible hold on its millions of followers, a grip not slackened in 35 years, such a phenomenon commands an atavistic loyalty from audience and creative team alike. This quality Podmore both embodied and inspired. Working closely with his writers he relished the development of some novel story-line, the startling revelation of a character's secret life or the opportunity for an episode to erupt into a sudden comic climax.

Because Coronation Street is now set fair to last even longer than life itself, Podmore had also to ensure that the show survived, feisty and unimpaired, when the natural processes of attrition took their toll and such long-time favourite characters as Ena Sharples, Albert Tatlock, Elsie Tanner, Minnie Caldwell and Stan Ogden made their final exits. Podmore's avuncular common sense was well suited, too, for smoothing ruffled feathers and healing wounded vanities.

He was born in Lincolnshire, the son of a butcher. At the age of 16 he left school to join the RAF as an apprentice. After six years' service he entered the world of entertainment and worked for both the BBC and ATV before joining Sidney Bernstein's new company Granada as a television cameraman. He stayed behind the camera for nearly 10 years working on light entertainment and comedy shows such as Chelsea at Nine and The Army Game. Comedy proved to be his natural forte and after training as a director he became associated with several successful Granada comedy shows. After directing many episodes of Nearest and Dearest, with Hylda Baker and Jimmy Jewel, he became producer and director of The Last of the Baskets starring Arthur Lowe and written by his friend and colleague John Stevenson.

In the mid-Seventies he also produced and directed another comedy by Stevenson, How's Your Father?, and in the early Eighties he was executive producer of the same writer's Brass, that cheerful, comic send-up of northern melodrama. Another in his long run of comedy hits was My Brother's Keeper, by Jonathan Lynn and George Layton.

Podmore's appearance was that of a seasoned campaigner in the battle of life who had thankfully survived with his sense of humour intact. He looked ripe to play Shakespeare's Pistol and his ruddy complexion and his expression that seemed permanently on the edge of laughter gave out an immediate sense of warmth and kindliness. It also contained a slightly more subversive suggestion that if one stayed around with him long enough things might become decidedly lively. For Bill Podmore the end of the working day was a time to be properly celebrated in a favourite Granadaland pub with a convivial, sometimes boisterous, and occasionally uproarious session with old friends and colleagues from the Street.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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 People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
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