TV controller educated in town dies at 96

STUART Hood, who was director of BBC Television during one of its most innovative periods, has died at the age of 96.

Unusually, the announcement of his death was almost a year after it happened on January 31, 2011.

Brian Winston Stuart Clink Hood was born on December 17, 1915, a native of Edzell whose father was the village dominie. He was educated at Montrose Academy and later took a degree in English Literature and Italian at Edinburgh University.

His first job was as a secondary school teacher but during the Second World War he saw action in Italian East Africa and the Middle East as an infantry officer, then as a staff officer on operational intelligence. He was captured in 1942 in the North African desert and was held in Italy.

However, in 1943 he escaped and lived with a peasant family for six months before joining the Italian partisans in Tuscany.

He returned to frontline service and was with the American 9th Army at the Rhine crossing; later he served in Germany doing political intelligence work.

He always had strong left-wing leanings, and in the 1930s joined the Communist Party. Throughout his life he retained his Marxist leanings, just as he never lost his Scottish accent.

But his political energies took a back seat when he joined the BBC after the war, and quickly got on the promotion ladder, shadowing the upward moves of Hugh Carleton Greene, later director-general.

With his fluent Italian and German linguistic skills he had started as a sub-editor in the European News Service and in 1955 was promoted to head of the General Overseas Service.

This led to the post of deputy editor of news and current affairs, where he emphasised that the facts and their crisp presentation took priority over a deferential manner of delivery.

And in April, 1961, he was made controller of television programmes at the BBC, which he did during the era of cutting-edge programmes such as ‘That Was The Week That Was’, ‘Dr Who’ and the cop show that made Dixon of Dock Green look like Andy Pandy, ‘Z Cars’. Such was its gritty reality that the Chief Constable of Lancashire, Colonel Eric St Johnston, travelled to London to beg Mr Hood to abandon the programme after the first episode.

But in 1964 Mr Hood shocked everyone by handing in his notice to the BBC and taking up a post with ITV company Rediffusion. It was never clearly explained why he had done so, although he described his departure as a matter of principle.

He then embarked on a career as a freelance writer and producer, and wrote a number of plays and novels, as well as documentaries.

Mr Hood was TV critic and columnist of The Spectator, and his left-wing principles again surfaced when he argued that TV programmes conveyed the ideology of a capitalist society.

He taught at the University of Sussex and was also a translator of Italian works.

Mr Hood was married four times and is survived by his wife, a son and two daughters.