Jeremy Sandford

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Jeremy Sandford
Christopher Jeremy Sandford

(1930-12-05)5 December 1930
London, England
Died12 May 2003(2003-05-12) (aged 72)
EducationEton College
Alma materNew College, Oxford
(m. 1957; div. 1979)

ChildrenRoc, Reuben, Jem[1]
Parent(s)Christopher Sandford
Lettice Sandford

Christopher Jeremy Sandford[2][3] (5 December 1930 – 12 May 2003) was an English television screenwriter who came to prominence in 1966 with Cathy Come Home, his controversial entry in BBC1's The Wednesday Play anthology strand, which was directed by Ken Loach. Later, in 1971, he wrote another successful one-off, Edna, the Inebriate Woman, for The Wednesday Play's successor series Play for Today.

Early life[edit]

Sandford was born in London and brought up at Eye Manor in Herefordshire, home of his father, Christopher Sandford, who was the owner of the Golden Cockerel Press. His mother was Lettice Sandford.[4] His paternal grandmother was the Anglo-Irish writer Mary Carbery; by her first marriage he had relatives in the Happy Valley set in Kenya.

Sandford was educated at Eton and New College, Oxford, where he read English. During national service, he was a Royal Air Force bandsman.


After his marriage to heiress Nell Dunn in 1957, they gave up their smart Chelsea home and went to live in unfashionable Battersea where they joined and observed the lower strata of society. From this experience he published the play Cathy Come Home in 1963, and she wrote Up the Junction.

In 1968, Sandford won a Jacob's Award for the TV production of Cathy Come Home. He wrote "Smiling David" about the death of David Oluwale.

Sandford became interested in gypsy causes (as his paternal grandmother had been) and for a time edited their news sheet, Romano Drom (Gypsy Road). He travelled the country seeking out gypsy stories, published as The Gypsies, and later reissued as Rokkering to the Gorjios (Talking to the non-Gypsies).[5]

For some time the family lived on a small hill farm called Wern Watkin, outside Crickhowell in South Wales. Their attempt at sheep farming is described by their neighbour, the young Carlo Gébler, son of novelist Edna O'Brien.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Jeremy Sandford and his wife Nell Dunn, a granddaughter of the 5th Earl of Rosslyn, had three sons.[7] The couple divorced in 1979.

He married Philippa Finnis in 1988.[8] They had performed "The Raggle Taggle Gypsy" song at an early Mind Body Spirit Festival,[9] and they co-wrote a BBC Radio 4 drama-documentary about the suicide of Jill Hoey.[10]

He died at his home, Hatfield Court in Leominster, Herefordshire,[11] at the age of 72.[2] His last words were: "I think I'll have a rest now."[12]


  1. ^ a b "Obituary: Jeremy Sandford". the Guardian. 15 May 2003. Retrieved 19 May 2021. He remained close to Nell Dunn, his first wife and the mother of his three much loved sons, Roc, Reuben and Jem. They and his second wife, Philippa, survive him.
  2. ^ a b Hayward, Anthony (15 March 2003). "Obituaries - Jeremy Sandford - Writer of 'Cathy Come Home'". The Independent. Archived from the original on 31 May 2009. Retrieved 21 August 2010.
  3. ^ Christopher J. Sandford (Results for England & Wales Marriages 1837-2008) at Find My Past.
  4. ^ "Jeremy Sandford", Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press
  5. ^ Sandford, Jeremy (2000). Rokkering to the Gorjios. Hertford: University of Hertfordshire Press. ISBN 1-902806-04-2.
  6. ^ Gébler, Carlo (2001). Father and I: A Memoir. ISBN 9781405529341.
  7. ^ Pratt, John (January 1967). "Married playwrights Jeremy Sandford and Nell Dunn with their two sons Roc and Reuben". Getty Images. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  8. ^ Newcomb, Horace (2014). Encyclopedia of television (2nd ed.). London. p. 1995. ISBN 9781135194727.
  9. ^ Priddy, Robert. "Mind,Body,Spirit Festival Olympia, 1980". Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  10. ^ "BBC Radio 4 FM - 4 September 1986 - BBC Genome". No. 3275. BBC. 4 September 1986. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  11. ^ Christopher Jeremy Sandford (Results for England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007) at Find my Past.
  12. ^ Obituary, The Times, London, 15 May 2003, p. 39.

External links[edit]