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Morley, Peter (1924-)

Producer, Director, Presenter

Main image of Morley, Peter (1924-)

Morley started his career as a rewind-boy in London's Dominion Theatre, graduated to being a film editor and, from 1955, worked for the newly launched commercial broadcaster ITV as a producer/director. For ITV (and as a freelancer) he made over 200 programmes, mostly documentaries but also opera, music specials and OBs (outside broadcasts) of state occasions.

Among his most memorable productions were 'Fan Fever' (ITV, 1958), part of the People Are Talking series which looked at fan worship and hysteria and was considered 'shocking' at the time; the Conflict series (ITV, 1958), in which host Wolf Mankowitz conducted heated debate on a number of contemporary subjects; Tyranny - The Years of Adolf Hitler (tx. 4/3/1959), ITV's first hour-long documentary (sadly missing from the archives), which studied the Third Reich and featured unique interviewees including Hitler's sister Paula Wolf; a studio production of Benjamin Britten's opera The Turn of the Screw (ITV, 25/12/1959), made in collaboration with Britten; many editions (between 1960-63) of This Week (ITV, 1955-92) and Black Marries White - The Last Barrier (ITV, 29/4/1964), a groundbreaking hour-long documentary which allowed the subjects of the piece to argue out their differences without interference from an interviewer.

However, Morley's magnum opus came in 1965, when he masterminded ITV's colossal coverage of The State Funeral of Sir Winston Churchill (tx.30/1/1965). Easily the biggest OB ever mounted in the UK, the live, five-hour transmission employed 45 cameras in its coverage of the historic event. The coverage won that year's BAFTA award (beating its BBC rival) and was also awarded the prestigious 1965 Cannes Grand Prix.

More impressive projects followed, including The Life and Times of Lord Mountbatten (ITV, 1969) an epic, 12-part historical documentary series; the live OB of Prince Charles' Investiture at Caernarfon (ITV, tx. 1/7/1969); and Europe - The Mighty Continent (BBC, 1974-75) a 13x60 minute study of Europe in the 20th century.

In 1979 he delivered the remarkable Kitty - Return to Auschwitz (ITV, tx. 29/8/1979) in which concentration camp survivor Kitty Hart returned to Auschwitz-Birkenau to emotionally re-live her time there. The programme was a multi award winner (RTS, Berlin Prix Futura, Tokyo World Television Prize, etc.), the idea of which came to Morley while researching for Women of Courage (ITV, 1980) a four-part documentary series he delivered the following year.

From 1980 onwards Morley pioneered interactive productions on videodiscs, laserdiscs and subsequently digital disc formats.

Dick Fiddy

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