Obituary: Gethyn Stoodley Thomas

Gethyn Stoodley Thomas was one of Wales's best known television film-makers, contributing to a tradition of documentary film-making firmly rooted in the BBC's Welsh operation. He worked for the corporation for 30 years - in Belfast and London as well as Cardiff, to which he returned in 1959 despite efforts to keep him in London.

He began in 1950 as a radio producer for the BBC in Northern Ireland and was one of the first broadcasters to switch to television. In London, from 1957 he was the producer of the acclaimed Tonight current affairs programme where his chief was Donald Baverstock and his assistant producer Alasdair Milne, who later became the BBC's director-general. Back in his native Wales a string of documentaries marked him out as a film-maker par excellence. They included The Fire and the Fountain (1975), a vivid portrait of the artists Augustus John and his sister Gwen, and A Love Affair With Life (1969), which brought to the screen Sir Clough Williams- Ellis, the creator of the Italianate Welsh village Port Meirion. His much praised series on the history of the Rhondda, The Long Street (1965), is an important record of industrial south Wales which today has changed almost beyond recognition. Towers Out of Time (1970) paid tribute to the 19th-century architect William Burges who renovated Cardiff Castle and reconstructed Castell Coch (Red Castle), a medieval fantasy perched above the M4 a couple of miles north of the Welsh capital. One of his inspirations, the series Songs of Praise, still draws a faithful BBC1 audience on Sunday evenings 36 years on.

The son of a Pontypridd butcher, Stoodley Thomas was educated at Maesteg Grammar School and London University, graduating at University College Cardiff in Botany and Zoology in 1936. During the Second World War he served with the Royal Navy. After the war he taught in Cardiff and in his spare time wrote extensively for radio - an activity which paved the way for a long and fruitful career at the BBC.

When he retired some 20 years ago he became television critic at the Western Mail.

Gethyn Stoodley Thomas, film maker and producer: born Pontypridd, Glamorgan 11 October 1912; married 1942 Phyllis Evans (one son, two daughters); died Cardiff 18 March 1997.

Comments