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Christopher Morahan at the National Theatre Studio, November 2010
Christopher Thomas Morahan
9 July 1929
|Died||7 April 2017(aged 87)|
|Occupation||Stage and television director|
|Spouse(s)||Joan Murray (her death) |
Christopher Thomas Morahan CBE (9 July 1929 – 7 April 2017) was an English stage and television director and production executive.
Early life and career
Morahan was born in London in 1929, the son of film production designer Tom Morahan and Nancy (née Barker), his wife. His mother was an artist. He was educated at Highgate School followed by his national service. Originally thinking about a career as an architect, he realised it would be some years before he could earn a living and thus settled on working in the film industry. The director Thorold Dickinson advised him to learn about acting and the theatrical repertoire instead. He trained for the stage at the Old Vic Theatre School from 1947 with actor/director Michel Saint-Denis, designer Margaret Harris, and director George Devine.
Initially an actor, he briefly worked as a stage manager on Orson Welles' touring production of Othello, but refused to work on Welles' next production and found the theatre of the time unenthusing. In a career change of sorts, he joined ATV as a floor manager and, subsequently became a television director from 1957, on Emergency Ward 10, a new ITV series.
At the BBC and in the theatre
Later, he developed a rapport with writer John Hopkins while working together on Z-Cars. This led to Morahan directing Hopkins' Fable (1965), a Wednesday Play parable locating a reversed South African apartheid in Britain, and the BBC's version of Talking to a Stranger (1966). Morahan gained "brilliant performances from all his cast" wrote Michael Billington of Talking to a Stranger, Michael Bryant, Maurice Denham and Margery Mason being three of the four leads, "but it was Judi Dench as the daughter, forced to reveal her pregnancy to her tight-lipped parents, who astonished everyone. Morahan's first stage production was Jules Feiffer's Little Murders for the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Aldwych Theatre in July 1967, starring Brenda Bruce, Barbara Jefford, Derek Godfrey and Roland Curram.
From 1972 to 1976, he was the Head of Plays for BBC Television, a department responsible for such series as Play for Today and Play of the Month. In this role he commissioned Days of Hope (1975), a four-part serial written by Jim Allen and directed by Ken Loach which covers proletarian life from 1916 to 1926. He managed to appoint Roy Battersby as the director of Colin Welland's Leeds United (1974) despite negative vetting from MI5 which rejected Battersby because of his membership of the Trotskyist Workers Revolutionary Party. While working for the BBC, Peter Nichols was another dramatist with whom Morahan had a successful partnership, but another project with John Hopkins, the six-part play cycle Fathers and Families (1977), was a major disappointment.
He was involved in creating the 14-part television drama The Jewel in the Crown (1984), of which he was co-director and producer. The series won a Primetime Emmy Award and a BAFTA TV Award in 1985. The film Clockwise (1986), with John Cleese in the lead, was a minor hit.
Personal life and honours
Morahan's first wife was Joan Lucie Murray (d. 1973), with whom he had two sons, including director Andy Morahan; a daughter from the marriage predeceased him. After his first wife died, Morahan married actress Anna Carteret; the couple have two daughters: theatre director Rebecca, also involved in human rights activism, and actress Hattie Morahan.
Selected directing credits
- Fable (The Wednesday Play, 1965)
- Talking to a Stranger (BBC 1966)
- Lay Down Your Arms (ITV Sunday Night Theatre, 1970)
- Uncle Vanya (Play of the Month, BBC, 1970)
- Old Times
- Fathers and Families (BBC series, 1977)
- The Jewel in the Crown (Granada 1984, three episodes, also producer)
- In the Secret State (1985)
- After Pilkington (BBC, 1987)
- The Heat of the Day (1989)
- Ashenden (1991)
- Unnatural Pursuits (Simon Gray two-part play, 1992)
- A Dance to the Music of Time (eight-part mini-series 1997)
- Diamonds for Breakfast (1968)
- All Neat in Black Stockings (1969)
- Clockwise (1986)
- Paper Mask (1990)
- Element of Doubt (1996)
- This Story of Yours (John Hopkins), Royal Court (December 1968)
- Flint (David Mercer), Criterion Theatre (May 1970)
- The Caretaker (Harold Pinter), starring Leonard Rossiter at the Mermaid Theatre (March 1972)
- State of Revolution (Robert Bolt), National Lyttelton (1977)
- Sir Is Winning (Shane Connaughton), National Cottesloe (1977)
- The Lady from Maxim's (Georges Feydeau), National Lyttelton (1977)
- Brand (Ibsen), National Olivier (1978)
- The Philanderer (George Bernard Shaw), National Lyttelton (1978)
- Strife (John Galsworthy, National Olivier(1978)
- The Fruits of Enlightenment (Tolstoy), National Olivier (1979)
- Richard III, National Olivier (1979)
- The Wild Duck (Ibsen), Nartional Olivier (1979)
- Line 'Em (Nigel Williams), National Cottesloe (1980)
- Man and Superman (Shaw), National Olivier (1980)
- Wild Honey (Chekhov/Michael Frayn), National Lyttelton (Evening Standard Best Director Award, 1984) and New York (1986)
- Melon (Simon Gray), Theatre Royal Haymarket, (1987)
- The Devil's Disciple (Shaw), National Olivier, (1994)
- A Letter of Resignation (Hugh Whitemore), Comedy Theatre (October 1997)
- Ugly Rumours (Tariq Ali/Howard Brenton), Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn (November 1998)
- Semi-Detached (David Turner), Chichester Festival Theatre (May 1999)
- The Importance of Being Earnest (Wilde), Chichester Festival Theatre and Theatre Royal Haymarket (1999)
- Quartet (Ronald Harwood), Albery Theatre (September 1999)
- Heartbreak House (Shaw), Chichester (May 2000)
- Naked Justice (John Mortimer), West Yorkshire Playhouse and tour, (January 2001)
- The Importance of Being Earnest, Savoy Theatre (2001)
- The Dwarfs (Pinter novel, adapted by Kerry Lee Crabbe), Tricycle Theatre (April 2003)
- The Linden Tree (J.B. Priestley), Orange Tree Theatre (February 2006)
- Legal Fictions (double bill: The Dock Brief/Edwin, by John Mortimer) Richmond Theatre and touring (November 2007)
- Simon Callow The National: The Theatre and its Work 1963–1997 by Nick Hern Books/NT, 1997 ISBN 1-85459-323-4
- Leslie Halliwell and Philip Purser Halliwell's Television Companion, Third edition, Grafton, 1986 ISBN 0-246-12838-0
- Theatre Record and Theatre Record annual indexes
- John Walker (ed) Halliwell's Who's Who in the Movies, Fourth edition, HarperCollins, 2006 ISBN 0-00-716957-4
- Who's Who in the Theatre 17th edition, Gale, 1981 ISBN 0-8103-0235-7
- Billington, Michael (11 April 2017). "Christopher Morahan". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
- "Christopher Morahan". The Times. London. 18 April 2017. Retrieved 18 April 2017. (subscription required)
- "Christopher Morahan Awards". Retrieved 9 April 2017.
- Morahan, Andy. "andy morahan about". AndyMorahan.com. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
- "Hattie Morahan pulls it off at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards". Evening Standard. 27 November 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- Ann McFerran Interview with Anna Carteret and Hattie Morahan, The Sunday Times Magazine, 30 November 2008
- "No. 59808". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 June 2011. p. 8.
- "Main list of the 2011 Queen's birthday honours recipients" (PDF). BBC News UK. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- McKee, Ruth; Billington, Michael (7 April 2017). "Actor Tim Pigott-Smith dies aged 70". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
- British Theatre Guide review
- The Daily Telegraph article re production of Legal Fictions