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Sunday, December 13, 1998 Published at 08:52 GMT


Media legend Grade dead

Lord Grade: East End boy made good

Legendary television and film tycoon Lew Grade has died at the age of 91.

His spokesman said Lord Grade died at the London Clinic early on Sunday morning surrounded by close members of his family.

He said: "Lord Grade went into the London Clinic for surgery two weeks ago and subsequently developed heart failure.

"He passed away at 12.45am today.

"His wife Kathie, his son Paul and other close members of his family were by his side."

Larger than life

Lord Grade brought some of the most famous programmes to the small screen the world has seen.

BBC Media Correspondent Torin Douglas: Lew Grade was a showbiz mogul of the old school
Through his company ATV and his involvement in the film industry, the larger-than-life mogul was associated with The Muppets, Jesus of Nazareth, Crossroads, The Saint, The Persuaders, Robin Hood, William Tell, The Buccaneers, Thunderbirds and Sunday Night at the Palladium.

Even with a rare, but spectacular flop, he was able to draw on his dry sense of humour.

One of his biggest gambles, the £18m film Raise the Titanic, was a box office failure, despite the expense.

But he shrugged off the calamity, adding: "It would have been cheaper to lower the Atlantic."

Media Correspondent Torin Douglas looks back at the colourful life of Lew Grade
Lew Grade, who was born on Christmas Day 1906, once claimed he would not retire before 2001.

He was a workaholic who took no holidays and had no hobbies.

Popular viewing

Lew Grade's association with master showman Val Parnell led him into television, setting up Associated Television which he controlled for 20 years. This established him as the most important figure in Independent Television.

ATV dominated TV from the 1950s into the 1970s and Lord Grade gave the public hits like Robin Hood, Sunday Night at the London Palladium, Emergency Ward 10, The Saint, Coronation Street and the Muppets.

He received the Queen's Award to Industry in 1967 - the first such award to Britain's entertainment business - and in 1969 was knighted for his services to export.

In 1976 he was made a Life Peer in Prime Minister Harold Wilson's Resignation Honours List.

TV's first family

The Grade family came to dominate British showbusiness.

[ image: Nephew Michael furthered family's domination of the media]
Nephew Michael furthered family's domination of the media
There was Lew as chairman of ATV, which he lost control of on reaching the directors' age limit of 70 only to burst out as the largest film-maker in the world as he built up Associated Communications Corporation, and then more.

His brother Bernie, later Lord Delfont, first was head of EMI, then was chief of Trusthouse Forte's leisure division which he bought out in 1983 to form First Leisure Corporation.

Lord Grade's nephew Michael, the son of his other brother Leslie, leap-frogged through TV, first as director of programmes at London Weekend Television, then director of programmes for BBC Television and on to the job of chief executive of Channel 4.

Lord Grade married his wife Kathie in 1942. They had one adopted son Paul and two grandchildren Daniel and Georgina.

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