OBITUARY: Shauna Brown

It was late December 1992, some months after her brother and father had succumbed to brain and stomach cancer respectively, when Shauna Brown discovered she had Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. She was entitled to be bitter - the illness had been initially misdiagnosed - but, in the final stages of producing BBC2's Christmas Advent Calendar, she would admit only to shock, frustration, and being "pissed off". After years of wondering what she wanted from life, she had come to the realisation that the challenges of being a television producer and director were what gave her most satisfaction. She had made that welcome discovery at the age of 36, and the arrival of a potentially terminal cancerseemed cruel. But then such thoughts would be banished: "I'm going to have to beat this. I've made plans."

She had already done so much. A stroppy teenage feminist who decided at the age of 17 to live on her own terms, Shauna Brown (almost magically) made good on her ideals. She sometimes joked that her CV was a "mess" and she must sound like a anti-everything headbanger but, actually, all her friends thought her early days extraordinary. A founder member of Lesbian Line, coming out as gay in the Guardian at 20, committing herself to four years at Homeless Action, performing as one half of the camp campaigning cabaret duo Lottie and Ada (astringent song parodies a speciality) . . . Shauna Brown's life was her commitment to social justice, to making a difference, and it was a commitment rendered with a rare and graceful wit, qualities that, a decade on, would distinguish her television work.

She learnt the ropes as a researcher on the Channel 4 documentary I Shot My Husband and Nobody Asked Me Why - a title that always made her laugh - and there was no looking back. She was instrumental in putting together the world's first lesbian and gay television series, Out on Tuesday, and her contributions to BBC2's 1992 Saturday Night Out, To Be or Not to Be, a study of homosexuality in the theatre, and The Gay Rock 'n' Roll Years, were acclaimed as the evening's hits, the latter garnering a nomination for a BFI Archive Achievement Award. Shauna Brown loved it all. It somehow completed her.

It also kept her going. During the shooting last year of Sick Women, Smart Doctors (ironically for the Channel 4 Women's Health season), she drove herself to the limit and beyond, getting up early, working to midnight, wanting everything - editing, script, photography, sound - to be as perfect as could be, as if she knew, despite her protestations, that time was running out. So driven was she, she completed Smart Doctors only to rush into Diwali Nights, a study of the Hindi festival, ringing friends on the nights it was screened to seek reassurance: "It was good, wasn't it? Bright and colourful - people should know about it. It's amazing what people don't know."

The voice was still strong and it still wanted the world to take notice of those outside the mainstream.

John Lyttle Shauna McDonald Brown, television producer/director: born Walton-on-Thames 7 May 1957; died London 21 December 1994.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific