David Rose (producer)

For other people with the same name, see David Rose (disambiguation).

David E. Rose (born 22 November 1924, Swanage, Dorset) is a retired television producer and commissioning editor.

At the BBC

Following war service flying on 34 mission in Lancaster bombers,[1] he trained as an actor[2] at the Guildhall School of Drama,[3] but following graduation pursued a career in stage management. He became an Assistant Floor Manager for BBC television in London[4] in 1954,[3] working on the television adaptation of 1984 in his first week,[5] but by the end of the 1950s he was a director of dramatised documentaries for the BBC, including Black Furrow (1958) about open cast mining in South Wales.[3]

It is as a producer and production executive though, that he has had the greatest prominence. Rose was the original producer of Z-Cars (1962–65). Broadcast live at Rose's insistence[6] thinking the excitement generated by avoiding pre-recording was integral to the production. Rose was responsible for ending its original run thinking the format had become exhausted.[7] Softly, Softly (1966–69) was a spin-off series also produced by Rose.

Appointed by David Attenborough in 1971[1] to be head of the newly established autonomous English Regional Drama department at BBC Pebble Mill in Birmingham in 1971, Rose produced work by established writers like Alan Plater and encouraged new creative talent such as playwrights Alan Bleasdale, Willy Russell, David Hare and Mike Leigh. Some of this work appeared in the Play for Today (Peter Terson's The Fishing Party, 1972) or Second City Firsts anthology series.

Film on Four

In 1981 Rose left the BBC for Channel 4 where he was appointed the Commissioning Editor for Fiction by Jeremy Isaacs, the channel's founding Chief Executive. In particular he is identified with the Film on Four strand. With an initial overall budget of £6million a year, Rose invested £300,000 in twenty films annually.[8] Originally the project's films were intended for television screenings alone; the "holdback" system prevented investment in theatrical films by television companies because of the length of time (then three years) before broadcasters could screen them. An agreement soon concluded with the Cinema Exhibitors Association though, allowed a brief period of cinema exhibition if the budget of the films was below £1.25 million.[9]

During his time at Channel 4, Rose approved the making of 136 films, half of which received cinema screenings,[10] investing in a third of the feature films made in the UK during 1984.[11] By 1987, Channel 4 had an interest in half the films being made in the United Kingdom.[12] Rose remained in his post as Commissioning Editor until March 1990.[13] Rose is credited by many as being a significant figure in the regeneration of British cinema and particularly remembered for films such as My Beautiful Laundrette, Wish You Were Here, Dance With a Stranger, Mona Lisa, and Letter to Brezhnev.

David Rose was awarded a special prize for services to the cinema at Cannes in 1987[14] and in April 2010 the BFI Fellowship, whose other recipients include Martin Scorsese and Orson Welles.[15]


  1. 1 2 Graham Young "David Rose talks of his time with BBC Birmingham at Pebble Mill", Birmingham Post, 23 September 2009
  2. Interview, Theatre Archive Project, British Library, 21 October 2005, p.1
  3. 1 2 3 Lez Cooke "Rose, David (1924-)", BFI screenonline website
  4. Interview, Theatre Archive Project, British Library, 21 October 2005, p.5
  5. Interview, Theatre Archive Project, British Library, 21 October 2005, p.6
  6. "Live TV Drama", BFI screenonline
  7. "David Rose in conversation" BFI website (video)
  8. Hannah Rothschild "Labour of Love", C4 at 25, c.2007
  9. Michael Brooke "Channel 4 and Film", BFI screenonline website
  10. Jeremy Isaacs "Happy Birthday to the leader with the golden touch", The Independent, 8 November 2004
  11. Susan Emanuel "Channel Four - British Programming Service", Museum of Broadcast Communications website; Susan Emmanuel "Channel Four - British Programming Service", in Horace Newcomb (ed) Encyclopedia of Television: Volume 1, A-C, New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2004, p487
  12. David Rose quoted by Dorothy Hobson in Channel 4: The Early Years and the Jeremy Isaacs Legacy, London: I.B Tauris, 2008, p.64
  13. Jason Deans "Timeline: FilmFour - where did it all go wrong?" The Guardian, 8 July 2002
  14. Nicola Foster "Film on Four - British Film Series", Museum of Broadcast Communications
  15. "David Rose to receive BFI Fellowship", BFI website, 9 April 2010

External links

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