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Natasha Kroll

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The designer Natasha Kroll revolutionised production design at the BBC during the fifties and sixties, particularly on talk shows and current affairs programmes. Head of the BBC Design Unit, she was noted for her effective use of screens, panels and boldly cropped large photographs on shows such as Monitor.

Born in Moscow on May 20, 1914, she moved to Germany at the age of eight. In Berlin she studied design – including shop window display – at the Reinmann School of Art. When the school moved to England in 1936, she was given a job as an assistant teacher.

In 1940 she became a display manager for a store in Yorkshire and two years later moved to London where she was display manager for Simpson Piccadilly. Kroll became famous for her innovative and creative displays at Simpson and in 1954 wrote a definitive book, Shop Window Display.

In 1956 she was invited to join Richard Levin’s design department at BBC television and she worked initially on talk and factual programmes. A champion of modern design, she brought a whole new style to the BBC. She worked closely with the controversial director Ken Russell on his TV documentaries on the lives of the composers and of Isadora Duncan. She worked again with Russell on his 1970 feature film on Tchaikovsky, The Music Lovers, starring Glenda Jackson and Richard Chamberlain.

She left the BBC in 1966 to work as a freelance Ê- the year she was elected a Royal Designer for Industry by the Royal Society of Arts – and worked for LWT, Yorkshire Television as well as returning to the Corporation occasionally. She designed numerous period dramas including The Lower Depths, The Three Sisters, Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale and The Cherry Orchard.

In 1973 she won a Bafta Award for Best Art Direction for her work on The Hireling, the cinema version of LP Hartley’s novel, starring Robert Shaw and Sarah Miles.

She died on April 2, aged 89. She is survived by her brother Alex.

Patrick Newley

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