Former BBC boss Christopher Bland dies aged 78
Former BBC chairman Sir Christopher Bland has died at the age of 78, his family has said.
Sir Christopher, who headed the BBC's board of governors before moving on to senior roles at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and BT, was brought up in Co Down. He passed away on Saturday morning after battling prostate cancer.
Bland was born in Japan in 1938, where he lived for his first two years.
But his father moved around the world a lot for Shell Oil, and the young Bland and his younger brother Godfrey were largely brought up by relatives, the Perceval Price family, at the magnificent Saintfield House in Co Down.
His Northern Irish wife Jennie is the daughter of the Donegal-born unionist MP for Ards, William Morrison May, a Minister for Education under Lord Brookborough in the 1950s.
The couple met at Newcastle when he was eight and she was six.
"We were sweethearts at 17 and 15; love came much later," he told the Belfast Telegraph in 2014.
The couple married and settled in Hampshire in 1982.
He also leaves behind a son, Archie, and four step-children, William, Georgia, Tara, and Jamie.
The businessman was widely recognised for turning around the fortunes of the telecoms giant BT in the early noughties after penning a 10-point plan.
He then moved to lead the RSC where he oversaw a major redevelopment of the main theatre - as well as managing to cram in performances of all of Shakespeare's works in a year.
He fenced for Ireland at the 1960 Olympic Games, was an avid wine collector and after retiring penned his first novel, Ashes In The Wind, in his 70s.
He also wrote a play which was produced in London, called Easter Rising And Thereafter.
In a statement, his family said: "Christopher died peacefully at home. He had defied cancer for three years and continued to live with his usual extraordinary warmth, generosity, energy and humour."