Andrew Gosling obituary
By Ian Keill
May 31, 2016
Director and producer involved in many successful television ventures, including The End of the Pier Show and Late Night Line-Up
Andrew Gosling, who has died aged 71, was a television pioneer. In 1974, he was one of the first to use blue screen, a by-product of colour television, while he was directing (and I was producing) the musical comedy series The End of the Pier Show for BBC2.
The show featured John Wells, John Fortune, Madeline Smith and the composer and conductor Carl Davis, with three new songs and a couple of guests each week. Wells once described it as “a programme for dirty-minded insomniacs”. Andrew had heard that if a particular colour were isolated, he could make our microscopic studio look bigger by inlaying artwork behind (and sometimes in front) of the performers, and give perspective by “drawing” the scenery. The illustrator Bob Gale agreed to create dozens of artwork captions for each programme. But the studio size restricted our efforts, and an infuriating blue halo would keep appearing round the performers.
So when we did The Snow Queen (1976), an hour-long fairy tale with live actors and animated cartoon animals in the same shot, we graduated to a larger studio. Until that moment there had been an edict that “the BBC does not do fairy tales”. They were considered too difficult. But bolstered by sheer ignorance, and the new possibilities of blue screen, Andrew and I ignored the rule and went for it. The Snow Queen certainly had plenty of rough edges but, as noone had seen anything quite like it before on television, we got away with it. The programme, shown on BBC2 on Christmas Day, sold all over the world.
Andrew was born in West Tytherley, Hampshire, one of four children of Robin, a farmer, and his wife, Angela. The success of his Eton production of Murder in the Cathedral resulted in Andrew being selected for a job with the Oxford Playhouse. He then worked as an “ASM and small parts” at the Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond, Yorkshire, followed by a stint with the Century travelling theatre. He became a trainee at Associated Redifussion television in the 1960s, and learned film editing. At the Gordon Bradley production company he edited early pop promos, including Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields by the Beatles.
Joining BBC2 in the late 1960s, Andrew edited films for arts features. Then he worked on the long-running Late Night Line-Up and a film celebrating Wordsworth’s bicentenary (1970), which was our first collaboration. Andrew switched to studio directing for LNLU and its spin-off Up Sunday (1972-73), with Willie Rushton, Clive James, James Cameron (“the conscience of Fleet Street”) and Kenny Everett. There was something of “the Fringe” about it; we were certainly strapped for cash.
After the Snow Queen came an “experimental musical”, with artwork by Graham McCallum, In the Looking Glass (1977). The Light Princess (1978) and The Mystery of the Disappearing Schoolgirls (1980) both featured artwork by the children’s illustrator Errol le Cain. Andrew directed them with a reassuring calmness that he did not necessarily feel.
The Ghost Downstairs (1982) received a Design and Art Direction award for the best use of graphics in a drama – and caught the eye of the animation director Richard Williams, celebrated for his Oscar-winning film of A Christmas Carol (1971). He suggested we make a Hollywood feature using the new techniques, but the BBC was not into that sort of thing – so Williams did it himself, as animation director on Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988).
Andrew worked with blue (and green) screen for the TV movies Moving Pictures (1980), with Alison Steadman and Wells, and The Pyrates (1986), an adaptation of George Macdonald Fraser’s book. He and I also made rather more conventional programmes, including two series of the sketch show Rutland Weekend Television (1975-76) with Eric Idle and The Innes Book of Records (1978-81) with Neil Innes.
Then Andrew saw a copy of the Mirror’s “Jane” strip cartoons in a Soho bookshop and in 1982 we did two series featuring Glynis Barber as the accident-prone glamour girl. The programme won a Royal Television Society original programme award, two Baftas for McCallum’s wonderful artwork, and featured on a Radio Times cover.
Together Andrew and I made an assortment of gardening programmes for Catalyst TV, including Geoff Hamilton’s Gardener’s World. Andrew directed a Canadian musical, The King of Friday Night (1985) and a musical documentary in Australia, Song of the Outback (2010). He was a prime mover in several TV development projects in Kenya (1995) and Uganda (1998-99), including soap operas that promoted important underlying messages on health and education. Our April fool spoof A Question of Fact (1986), which suggested that Hitler had visited the UK at the invitation of Unity Mitford, featured in a retrospective screening at the National Film Theatre on 1 April 2014.
For many years Andrew and his second wife, Imogen Halahan, and their daughter, Matilda, lived an idyllic existence on the island of Osea in the Blackwater Estuary, Essex. The island was the subject of his 1981 film Causeway’s End. Andrew enjoyed sailing, and loved cycling (10 miles every day, minimum). That interest was immortalised in Bicycle Clips (1983). His outlook on life was always cheerful. Even during his last long illness he emanated a feeling of optimism. He was a great family man, the perfect work colleague and a wonderful friend.
He is survived by Imogen, whom he married in 1977, and Matilda; by two daughters, Amanda and Catherine, from his first marriage, to Rosie, which ended in divorce; and by his sister, Annabel, and brothers, Alexander and Robert.
• Andrew Gosling, television director and producer, born 26 October 1944; died 11 May 2016
GOSLING, Andrew (Andrew Edward Gosling)
Born: 10/26/1944, West Tytherley, Hampshire, U.K.
Died: 5/11/2016, Essex, England, U.K.
Andrew Gosling’s western – film editor:
Scenes from Django Unchained - UK Winner - 2013