Obituary: David Attwood 1952–2024

Obituary: David Attwood 1952–2024

Thursday, 9th May 2024
David Attwood on set (credit: BBC)
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David Attwood, director of such TV series as Granada’s 1996 adaptation of The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders starring Daniel Craig and Alex Kingston, has died aged 71.

Benedict Cumberbatch hailed him as “a great first audience and builder of confidence and worlds”.

He was born into a working-class family in Sheffield in 1952. David’s first job in TV was as an assistant floor manager at BBC Glasgow. He moved to BBC Birmingham, then a drama powerhouse, where his approach to work was influenced by the likes of Stephen Frears, David Hare and Philip Saville.

From 1989, he spent five years as a director on the ITV cop show The Bill, a nursery slope for budding talent. His break came helming Moll Flanders, adapted by Andrew Davies. David directed the 1998 HBO TV film Shot Through the Heart and the 2000 BBC Two crime drama Summer in the Suburbs.

He first worked with the then largely unknown Cumberbatch in 2005, on an adaptation of William Golding’s To the Ends of the Earth, also for BBC Two, then in 2007 on Stuart: a Life Backwards for HBO and the BBC.

“David really knew what he was doing with actors. He sat next to the camera and was so lost in the scene…. He was brilliant and fun and kind and trusting, a friend as much as a director,” said Cumberbatch.

The producer Hilary Bevan Jones said: “I was lucky to work with David more than once. When we were filming… To the Ends of the Earth we could only afford a few days on a real boat. Our line producer suggested constructing a marquee/studio over a dock in Richards Bay, South Africa, and then ­building floating sets inside.

“David embraced this totally unorthodox proposal and we sped forward, with David achieving a lavish production through creativity, determination and courage.”

David is survived by his children Jo and Maddy, his former wife, Jane Tranter, the founder of Bad Wolf, and his brother Philip Attwood.

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