Derek Granger: This Sunday in Eastbourne

Derek Granger, producer of the Granada TV series Brideshead Revisited will appear this Sunday, 24 April at 2 pm in Eastbourne College. He is 101 tomorrow, Saturday, 23 April. He will be in conversation with David Grindley at Eastbourne. Here are the details:

Derek Granger (Powell 1935–39) was born on 23 April 1921. After the Second World War, in which he served as a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, Derek worked as a journalist in Brighton, before being headhunted by the Financial Times as their first drama and film critic. That led to an invitation from Sidney Bernstein, the head of Granada, to work in television. He was a producer of Coronation Street in its early days, as well as being a scriptwriter, and later became Granada’s head of drama.

Derek has spoken at the College several times in recent years including giving a fascinating talk to the sixth form about his lifelong relationship with Hamlet, and inspiring pupils with his knowledge of countless productions. He worked with and was a close friend of Laurence Olivier who also appeared in Brideshead Revisited as Lord Marchmain for which Derek is probably most famous as its producer for Granada Television. It won a BAFTA award for best drama series in 1982. When he gave a talk about this production in 2014, he was joined by cast members Anthony Andrews and Nickolas Grace. We are delighted that Derek has accepted an invitation to come to talk, on the day after his 101st birthday, about his life. The audience will be invited to help him celebrate after the talk with something bubbly and some birthday cake.

David Grindley (Wargrave 1986–88) read English literature and philosophy at the University of York and then became a theatre director. His keynote productions are LootAbigail’s PartyJourney’s EndThe PhilanthropistWhat The Butler SawThe American PlanCopenhagen, and The Gigli Concert. In 2007, David’s production of Journey’s End won the Tony Award for Best Revival. He and Derek have recently met at Derek’s Thames-side flat to put together this afternoon’s talk.

£15.00 each (plus £1.50 booking fee), including a glass of champagne and birthday cake, available from

All proceeds will go to the Eastbourne College Bursaries Fund.

The bar will be open before and after and we are happy to accept donations in cash only.

Here are some excerpts from an interview of Derek that appeared earlier this week in the Daily Telegraph:

…For his next big thing Granger […] filmed what turned out to be 11 hours of Brideshead Revisited entirely on location. The original adaptation was the work of John Mortimer but, dissatisfied with it, Granger rewrote the lot himself, inserting the languid voiceover delivered by Jeremy Irons as Charles Ryder.

“He responded rather fiercely by demanding that he see the whole version of what I’d written. He saw it and not a word did I hear back. I mean not a word.” Who got the royalties? “He did. And again and again. So he’s not on a bad deal.” (Mortimer died in 2009.)

Granger hasn’t revisited Brideshead since it was broadcast, though years later he asked Plowright how he’d got away with reinventing the language of television drama almost by accident. “He said, ‘Oh we rather liked what you were doing and we just thought you ought to get on with it.’ ”

Granger tacked across into cinema to produce and co-write Waugh’s A Handful of Dust and, his swansong in 1991, EM Forster’s Where Angels Fear to Tread. “I would have gone on but the opportunities had slightly drifted away by then.” The latter closed the circle as Forster was the writer who first opened his young mind. […]

It is the burden of centenarians to be pumped for the secret of longevity. What’s Granger’s? He chuckles.

“I always want to know what happens next. I really am an old journalist at heart and I think God, when I die it’s going to be a terrible day when I’m not going to know. And that will be shocking for me.”


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