BBC man loses cancer battle

Date published: 06 November 2012

KEN Stephinson, the renowned BBC director and producer, who had lived at Saddleworth Station for 34 years, has died.

A native of Sunderland, where he spent his formative and family years and where he broke into broadcasting, Mr Stephinson (79) died peacefully at home. He had been ill for several months, having suffered a return of lymphoma cancer.

Mr Stephinson was one of the most foremost creative people at the BBC before setting up his own business in Saddleworth, capturing and chronicling events in the valleys with his his second wife Marjorie.

On leaving the RAF on completion of his National Service, he took a job in his home town as a cinema projectionist and so began his first love affair, life behind the lens.

When Tyne-Tees Television was set up in 1958 he applied for a job in the film-handling department.

Mr Stephinson ventured into editing and began directing in the late 1960s. His move to Tyne-Tees was the making of the man and the start of a remarkable career.

Working in those early days with Syd Waddell, who became the voice of darts on Sky Sports, they hit upon the idea of laying music over a news item and because there was no-one to tell them otherwise, they simply did it and changed the face of broadcast news for ever.

He relocated to work in Oxford Road, Manchester, for the BBC and bought the former Saddleworth Station where he lived for 34 years with his second wife Majorie Lofthouse, a renowned broadcaster in her own right.

It was Mr Stephinson, when asked to produce a programme on railways, convinced former Monty Python man Michael Palin to front the programme. Palin has since become one of the foremost travel journalists on British television.

Mr Stephinson is survived by his daughters Joanne and Jacqueline, from his first marriage, their respective partners Paul Thompson and John Kirkbride, and grandsons Samedi and Alphin.

The funeral service is at St Chad’s, Saddleworth, on Thursday at 2pm followed by committal at Oldham Crematorium.

Chronicle business correspondent Martyn Torr said: “Ken was one of the most delightful, entertaining and polite men I have had the pleasure of meeting in a 48-year journalism career. He was a supremely talented filmmaker and broadcaster.”