Ken Stephinson

Working as a BBC Television producer and director in Manchester, Ken Stephinson furthered the careers of many media personalities. He gave Rowan Atkinson his first break, made a star of the charismatic historian Michael Wood and screened the popular tenor Russell Watson for the first time on Songs of Praise.

After National Service, Stephinson worked as a film projectionist, and became fascinated with how films were put together. This interest helped him land a job with the newly established Tyne Tees Television in Newcastle in 1958.

Fifteen years later, he moved to the BBC, working first for the current affairs programme Nationwide. But it was in entertainment features that he made his mark.

Working with Richard Stilgoe on And Now the Good News, he arranged Atkinson’s BBC Television debut, persuaded Michael Palin to abandon comedy temporarily and present Great Railway Journeys, and took Russell Harty around the world.

During the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Stephinson used a satellite to beam back to Manchester interviews that Harty carried out by the rooftop swimming pool of a hotel on Sunset Boulevard with such Hollywood luminaries as James Coburn, Jackie Collins, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Stewart Granger.

In the 1990s, he set up his own production company, Stephinson Television.

Ken Stephinson, who was born on September 16, 1933, died on November 2, aged 79. He is survived by his wife, the eminent broadcaster Marjorie Lofthouse.