Angus Wright (producer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Angus Mackenzie Nicholson Wright (11 April 1934 – 15 June 2012) was a British television producer; he was co-founder and managing director of The Britt Allcroft Company plc until his retirement in 1999.[1]

Early life[edit]

Wright was born in Sunderland. His father was an Anglican vicar and his mother worked as a nurse and a school matron during her life as well as being an active member of the church and a Samaritan. Angus was the eldest of two children - his sister was Alison.

Educated at Durham School, he served two years of national service in the Durham Light Infantry. He went to university at Trinity College, Oxford to read law from 1954 to 1957, where he met his first wife Jill Graham, with whom he had his first three of five children.

At the BBC[edit]

Though being of an accomplished legal mind, his interest was drawn to theatre and the performing Arts. Both he and Jill were members of The Oxford Footlights which had fellow members of the time; Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett. Jill Graham continued acting as her career as did their eldest son. Angus was a talented pianist and this was his main contribution to the Footlights.

Having had his interest in performing arts sparked, after graduation he joined the BBC as a sound studio manager, moving to BBC Television Light Entertainment and then to Southern Television, the commercial television franchise for the south and south east of England. He and Jill moved to the Southern T.V. base in Southampton and after their marriage ended he remained in Southampton where he then shared a home with his second wife, Britt Allcroft with whom he had two children, from 1973 until the end of their marriage in 1997.

At Southern television he was a prominent member of staff in Children's television. He had now become a producer and director of programmes in Jack Hargreaves’ children’s television department. He was responsible for one of ITV’s longest-running children’s favourites ‘How’ as well as ‘Little Big Time' and ‘Oliver in the Overworld’ starring Freddy Garrity and the Dreamers. He also created the popular 'Houseparty' for light entertainment with celebrity cook Mary Morris and guests.

With the change of the Southern TV franchise he stayed on at Southampton, becoming Head of Religious programmes, first for TV South and then for Meridian Television.[2] He was producer and occasional director for the weekly Sunday evening programme 'Come Sunday' Through this he had opportunities in programmes to work with the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, activist Terry Waite and Archbishop Desmond Tutu which he appreciated greatly, having a huge interest in history, religion and politics. It was also during this time that he created two television specials in partnership with Winchester Cathedral where worked with Choir Director Martin Neary and the Bishop John Taylor, with whom he became good friends. A highlight of his career was the show produced at Winchester which included performances by Cleo Laine and John Dankworth.

The Britt Allcroft Company[edit]

In 1985 he resigned from network television to join an independent production company which he had founded in 1980 with his then wife Britt Allcroft, also a working and accomplished television producer. In the course of a freelance assignment, Allcroft met The Rev. Wilbert Awdry and together she and Wright acquired a license for television rights for Awdry’s ‘ The Railway Series’ of books featuring Thomas the Tank Engine. David Mitton of The Clearwater Films company directed scripts which Britt Allcroft had developed from Awdry’s stories. Mitton’s live model animations which he made with Terry Permane, Steve Asquith and a talented crew, became beloved of children for decades to come. The production team was completed with the now iconic music by Mike O'Donnell and Junior Campbell and the first of the series storytellers, Ringo Starr. Under the cottage industry style company, Angus, Britt and two assistants ran the production and licensing business from rooms in the family home with their business lawyer Nigel Palmer. The business hired two more members of staff before the company moved to its first premises.

With the support of Lewis Rudd, then of Central Television, the first series of Thomas the Tank Engine films launched nationally on UK ITV in October 1984. Licensing already began with Michael Stanfield board games and jigsaws in 1983. Angus Wright had credit as Executive Producer on the series. The company continued to grow in countries around the world and Wright made frequent trips to countries such as Japan and the U.S where the company would have future offices as well Toronto, Canada.

In 1986 the company was joined by Price Waterhouse accountant William Harris who became Finance Director in 1988, and in 1989 Sue Sangway, who later became Wright's third wife joined the Marketing Department which she then became head of in 1991.

In 1987 work began to bring Thomas the Tank Engine to the U.S where it became established on the US Public Television Network (PBS), home of children’s TV classic Sesame Street. The resulting success of the characters enabled them to be established in Japan on Fuji Television. In just over ten years the Britt Allcroft Company grew from a two-person start-up to a worldwide operation with offices in New York City, Tokyo and Toronto. At the time of its launch on the London Stock Exchange in 1996 it was producing £6.3 million gross profit on annual turnover of £53 million.

Further productions followed: Britt Allcroft’s Magic Adventures of Mumfie in 1994; Wright acted as executive producer for Kate Canning’s ‘James the Cat’ and John Carey’s production of ‘The New Adventures of Captain Pugwash’ in 1998.

Retirement[edit]

In 1997 at age 65, Wright retired from the Britt Allcroft Company. He moved to France in 1998 where he and Sue Sangway were married in 2001 and where they lived together until he died.[3] He enjoyed his life in France with a dedicated commitment to the village in which he lived. He was involved in the village council and Protestant church where he played the organ for services and organised singing groups. He and Sue enjoyed travelling, spending time with friends from their new home and visits from old friends and family. Wright was a much loved father and grandfather and between them Angus and Sue shared 15 grandchildren.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Death of TV producer (From Hampshire Chronicle)". Hampshirechronicle.co.uk. 2012-07-09. Retrieved 2012-10-14. 
  2. ^ ITV Annual reports 1970-1980
  3. ^ Correspondant. "Le 'Monoblétois anglais' Angus Wright nous a quittés". Midilibre.fr. Retrieved 2012-10-14.