Belfast Telegraph

'A bright and lovely light has gone out'... warm tributes to pioneering UTV director Derek Bailey

Obituary: Derek Bailey

Producer and director Derek Bailey, who has died in England aged 85
Producer and director Derek Bailey, who has died in England aged 85
Ivan Little

By Ivan Little

A pioneer of Ulster Television who was the driving force behind a number of the station's earliest shows 60 years ago and who once tipped Sir James Galway for stardom has died in England.

Derek Bailey (85) was a producer and director at Havelock House in Belfast before moving across the water where he established a reputation as a behind-the-scenes giant of British television with hundreds of credits for his work.

Only a few weeks ago he travelled to Northern Ireland to attend a party in Belfast to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Ulster Television.

Yesterday former colleagues paid heartfelt tributes to Mr Bailey who suffered a stroke last week.

Writer and broadcaster Anne Hailes, who was a production assistant to Mr Bailey at the outset of Ulster Television, said he was a "director of superb talent".

She added that guests at the October gathering, who included ex-news presenter Gordon Burns and former news editor Robin Walsh, had enjoyed Mr Bailey's company and his talk of the early days in Havelock House.

"A bright and lovely light has gone out but the wonderful memories linger on," Anne said.

Broadcaster Candy Devine who now lives in Australia said Mr Bailey's death was "sad news" and she added: "He had a face that made you trust him."

Mr Bailey directed a huge number of TV movies, series and specials in England, specialising in music and dance projects.

Among the subjects of his films were Faust, Don Giovanni, Haydn, Charles Dickens and Madame Butterfly, and he also directed a number of shows fronted by the late David Frost.

He also made documentaries about the birth of blues music and about Belfast. Mr Bailey was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for 'outstanding individual achievement' in cultural programming for his work on a 1976 series Great Performances: Dance in America.

He also received a BAFTA nomination for best specialised programming for the LWT cultural series Aquarius.

He was senior director on the series which was edited by Humphrey Burton and he took over the editorial role from him when he left to go the BBC.

Theatre icon Peter Hall was Mr Bailey's presenter.

Mr Bailey went on to receive a number of nominations for his work on the South Bank Show on ITV and a series called Dancer about great exponents of dance around the world.

Renowned Spanish harpist Marisa Robles revealed some years ago that Derek Bailey had once told her about an up and coming Belfast flautist who he was convinced was going to be a big star.

That man was James Galway and Robles said she was supposed to have him as a guest on an Ulster Television series she was working on but a strike forced the cancellation of the programme.

The late Belfast Telegraph sports editor Malcolm Brodie, who used to occasionally work for UTV, spoke in glowing terms in 2003 about Mr Bailey who produced the early sports shows and who he said went on to become a "distinguished, internationally acclaimed director".

In later years Mr Bailey returned to Northern Ireland to direct a number of TV shows for the BBC including one on the opening of the Waterfront Hall in Belfast in 1997 when Prince Charles was the guest of honour at a concert starring opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

Mr Bailey also directed the BBC'S Proms in the Park broadcasts and a number of people who worked with him on the shows were among the first to pay tribute to him yesterday.

BBC Radio Ulster presenter Kim Lenaghan said he had been "lovely to work with" and broadcaster Marie Louise Muir described him as a "gentleman".

Award-winning Co Tyrone cameraman Eugene McVeigh worked with Mr Bailey in his post-UTV days on music projects.

He tweeted: "A good producer and an interesting man to sit with over dinner. Another good one is gone."

In 2013 Mr Bailey went in front of the cameras to take part in a TV show about his erstwhile colleague in Ulster Television, Gloria Hunniford who had started as a secretary in Havelock House. Mr Bailey was one of the first guests on Piers Morgan's Life Stories which was dedicated to Gloria.

Mr Bailey lived with his wife Gillian in the West Suffolk village of Denston where he will be buried in the coming days.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph