Last Of The Summer Wine producer Alan J. W. Bell dies aged 85

Wednesday 1st November 2023, 8:30am

Alan J. W. Bell

Comedy producer and director Alan J. W. Bell has died aged 85.

An obituary in The Guardian reveals he passed away on 19th October after suffering from dementia.

Bell is best known for producing and directing long-running BBC sitcom Last Of The Summer Wine across nearly 30 years. He took over the show for Series 6 in 1982, and ran the comedy up until its final series in 2010.

Speaking to British Comedy Guide in a 2012 interview to publicise his book Last Of The Summer Wine - From The Director's Chair, he said his favourite memories of the programmer were "the joy of working with some really great comedy actors; reading Roy Clarke's scripts for the first time; and the enormous pleasure of hearing the laughter of a live studio (or preview) audience."

Last Of The Summer Wine

Bell also said he was upset the comedy had been cancelled by the BBC, despite it still doing a good job serving TV audiences, particularly those of an older generation. "As I am older now myself, I find that I never watch comedy on TV. It seems to be mandatory that four letter words and general embarrassment are necessary ingredients. When I hear them, it is an indication of the lack of skill in writing comedy, and switch off. And don't forget that Last Of The Summer Wine - that programme that overstayed its welcome - can be seen about twenty times a week on the UKTV satellite channels, where they get the biggest audiences."

Bell's CV also includes producing and directing the TV version of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy and shows such as Cut And Run, Wyatt's Watchdogs and The Clairvoyant.

He explained in the BCG interview that he got into the business via a training scheme: "I had made some amateur films where I lived in Scotland, and I saw an advertisement in The Kinematograph Weekly. The BBC were inviting applicants who had a proven interest in film to be assistants in their growing film department. The BBC had recently bought the old Ealing Studios and they were taking on more and more staff to cope with the demands of making programmes. That was in 1958, and for the following ten years I 'graduated' to becoming a film editor".

He is survived by his wife, Constance, who acted under the name Constance Carling and whom he married in 1970, their daughter, Cheraine, and his sister, Erika.

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