Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Goddard, Jim (1936-2013)

Director, Designer

Main image of Goddard, Jim (1936-2013)

Jim Goddard studied at the Slade School of Art, and, after a brief period at the Royal Opera House, in 1959 he joined the ABC Television design department where he worked as a production designer on such notable series as The Avengers (ITV, 1961-69). He then went on to make an early impact as a director on the arts show Tempo (ITV, 1963-1968), and subsequently formed an association with ABC and its successor Thames Television that saw him direct episodes of the companies' most memorable serials. The crew of Tempo also included Mike Hodges and Trevor Preston, who were later to be key figures in the founding of Euston Films Ltd, another production company that would play an important role in Goddard's career.

After leaving Tempo, Goddard established himself as a director of videotaped studio drama. He worked on Sat'day While Sunday (ITV, 1967), a controversial drama starring a young Malcolm McDowell, and subsequently directed many episodes of Public Eye (ITV, 1968-1975), Callan (ITV, 1967-1972), and several plays in the Armchair Theatre (ITV, 1956-1974) strand. As well as directing these popular series, Goddard later contributed to an innovatory period of drama production at Thames by working on 'The Lifeswappers' (Plays for Britain, ITV, tx. 13/04/1976), and so he was well placed to take advantage of the creative opportunities offered by the formation of Euston Films. Although Goddard, like everyone else, needed time to acclimatise to Euston's radical new system of production, after making episodes of Special Branch (ITV, 1969-1974) and The Sweeney (ITV, 1975-1978) he was ready to collaborate with his old friend Trevor Preston on a groundbreaking new series.

Out (ITV, 1978) was Preston's attempt to break out of the already entrenched and clich├ęd restrictions of the Euston action format, and Goddard responded spectacularly to the challenge. Tom Bell was superbly cast as Frank Ross, a poised avenger who moved through Goddard's brilliantly lit interiors before exploding into action amid the washed out landscapes of urban London. This fusing of art-house cinema with action thriller received lasting popular and critical acclaim, and Goddard's reputation was further enhanced by another collaboration with Preston on the family epic Fox (ITV, 1980). Goddard shot this ambitious serial as an eleven hour film, opening the first episode with a panoramic shot of London and combining this cinematic breadth of vision with more intimate character drama.

But Goddard's work was not restricted to the criminal milieu traditionally associated with Euston, and his growing reputation led to his involvement in some of the most influential and prestigious television drama of the early 1980s. He directed Alan Bleasdale's important play The Black Stuff (BBC2, tx. 02/01/1980), and also brought to television the RSC's The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1982), one of the first drama series shown on the fledgling Channel 4. Soon after this, he co-directed (with Martin Campbell) Troy Kennedy Martin's epic series Reilly - Ace of Spies (ITV, 1983) and in the same year directed Central Television's Kennedy (ITV, 1983). These two series were lavish co-productions made with an eye on the international market. As well as sealing his reputation as a high-profile director, they demonstrated that he was able to work with material far beyond Euston Films' Hammersmith ghetto.

After this success, Goddard moved seamlessly into the cinema, collaborating again with Preston on the enigmatic Parker (1984) before helming the high-profile Madonna vehicle Shanghai Surprise (1986). The latter was a notorious disaster that earned a volley of critical abuse, and Goddard returned to television work soon afterwards. He returned to form with Steven Berkoff's adaptation of Kafka's 'Metamorphosis' (Theatre Night, BBC, tx. 21/5/1989), and then went on to make further films for the BBC, as well as several international mini-series.

In recent years, Goddard has continued to work on filmed series such as The Ruth Rendell Mysteries (ITV, 1987-2000), but he has also returned to videotaped episodic drama with his contributions to The Bill (ITV, 1984-) and Holby City (BBC, 1999-). From his earliest work as a production designer, Goddard has flourished in the collaborative environment of the television and film studio, while retaining a distinctive style in his best work. Despite remaining unknown to the public and many critics, he is responsible for some of television's most popular and critically acclaimed drama.

John Williams

More information


From the BFI's filmographic database

Related media

Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Avengers, The (1961-69)Avengers, The (1961-69)

Ultra-stylish '60s spy drama that all but invented cult TV

Thumbnail image of Bill, The (1984-2010)Bill, The (1984-2010)

Police drama series set in London

Thumbnail image of Budgie (1971-72)Budgie (1971-72)

Cult comic drama about a small-time crook with big dreams

Thumbnail image of Callan (1967-72)Callan (1967-72)

Tough spy drama which made a star of Edward Woodward

Thumbnail image of Fox (1980)Fox (1980)

Ambitious 13-part drama following a South London family

Thumbnail image of Guardians, The (1971)Guardians, The (1971)

Neglected drama set in a future totalitarian Britain

Thumbnail image of Hazell (1978-80)Hazell (1978-80)

The cases of wisecracking cockney private eye James Hazell

Thumbnail image of Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, The (1982)Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, The (1982)

Televisation of the RSC's acclaimed Dickens production

Thumbnail image of Out (1978)Out (1978)

Gritty crime drama about a man seeking revenge on a police informer

Thumbnail image of Public Eye (1965-75)Public Eye (1965-75)

Life on the edge with a down-at-heel private eye

Thumbnail image of Reilly, Ace of Spies (1983)Reilly, Ace of Spies (1983)

Highly-rated Great War espionage drama

Thumbnail image of Ruth Rendell Mysteries, The (1987-2000)Ruth Rendell Mysteries, The (1987-2000)

Crime thriller series adapted from the novels of Ruth Rendell

Thumbnail image of Special Branch (1969-74)Special Branch (1969-74)

Crime/espionage drama series, the forerunner of 'The Sweeney'

Thumbnail image of Sweeney, The (1975-78)Sweeney, The (1975-78)

Tough 1970s police drama with John Thaw and Dennis Waterman

Related collections

Related people and organisations

Thumbnail image of Preston, TrevorPreston, Trevor


Thumbnail image of Euston FilmsEuston Films

Production Company