Mark Shivas

The Stage
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Former BBC head of drama Mark Shivas produced some of British television’s most acclaimed programmes. As a drama producer in the seventies, his successes included The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Dennis Potter’s Casanova, Jack Rosenthal’s The Evacuees and the adaptations of two Evelyn Waugh novels, Vile Bodies and Put Out More Flags.

Other hits included The Glittering Prizes by Frederic Raphael, Tom Stoppard’s Professional Foul and the popular series Telford’s Change, starring Peter Barkworth.

Mark Shivas was born in Banstead, Surrey on April 24, 1938. He was educated at Whitgify School in Croydon and Merton College, Oxford where he read law. His first job was working as an assistant editor on Movie Magazine.

In 1964, he joined Granada TV as a director, working on programmes such as What the Papers Say and Cinema, which he also presented. Four years later he joined the BBC as a drama producer.

When Shivas became head of BBC drama in 1988, he was responsible for Enchanted April, starring Joan Plowright and Miranda Richardson, as well as The Grass Arena by Frank Deasy and The Snapper by Roddy Doyle.

In 1997, he set up his own production company, Perpetual Motion Pictures, and produced the second series of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads, as well as the mini-series Cambridge Spies. He was also a feature film producer and his credits included A Private Function, Hideous Kinky, The Witches, Regeneration and I Capture the Castle.

Although his CV was hugely impressive as a producer, he experienced one flop, The Borgias, an eight-part BBC TV series which was disliked by viewers, not least for its impenetrable accents. However, when the series finished, he went on to produce the critically-acclaimed Moonlighting, starring Jeremy Irons, which was the hit of the Cannes Film Festival.

Two years ago, Shivas set up Headline Pictures with Stewart Mackinnon and Kevin Hood.

He had been suffering from cancer and died on October 11, aged 79. His is survived by his long-standing partner, Karun Thaker.

Patrick Newley

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The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, London. Photo: Noel Foster