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Biography

Jump to: Overview (2)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (3)  | Trivia (4)  | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (2)

Born in Brecon, Powys, Wales, UK
Died in Hertfordshire, England, UK

Mini Bio (1)

A British television comedy legend, who will forever be remembered for directing and producing series such as The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin (1976), Butterflies (1978) and Only Fools and Horses (1981), Gareth Gwenlan was born in Brecon on April 26 1937. His father died when he was two and he was brought up by his grandparents and widowed mother, a teacher, in Cefn Coed near Merthyr Tydfil. Educated at Vaynor and Penderyn High School, Cefn Coed, he saw active service as an RAF National Serviceman in Cyprus, then a British colony, during the Eoka insurgency. In 1958 he returned home to train as an actor at the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama in Sidcup. In 1960, he joined the repertory company at the Theatre Royal, York, where he met and shared digs with the actor John Alderton.

Moving to the Derby Playhouse, he fulfilled his ambition to direct when taking over after the incumbent director fell ill; once recovered, he made Gwenlan assistant director. Gwenlan then worked as artistic director at the Garrick Theatre in Altrincham, Cheshire, producing its first pantomime, which he had directed at Derby. In 1964 he was appointed principal lecturer in opera and drama at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and staged operatic productions of Othello and Madame Butterfly.

In 1965, he joined the BBC as an assistant floor manager in the drama department, working on a version of The Three Musketeers (1966) and the legendary Doctor Who (1963) during the William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton eras. Spotting a queue of people filing in to the recording of a sitcom, he tagged along out of curiosity and, as he laughed with the audience, realised that he had found his true calling and switched to comedy. By 1967, he was directing programmes like Oh Brother! (1968), All Gas and Gaiters (1966) and Comedy Playhouse (1961).

In 1970, Gwenlan was seconded to the Foreign Office and sent to Pakistan to launch the country's new state television service. He spent two years training staff in news, documentaries and drama, reading the news in English and interviewing the British prime minister Edward Heath who was in Islamabad en route to Hong Kong for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference.

On his return to London, Gwenlan worked with stars such as Nana Mouskouri, Mantovani and Keith Michell on various music shows, and in the late 1970s directed the comedian Spike Milligan on his anarchic Q... series of sketches, an experience that Gwenlan claimed caused him to turn prematurely grey.

After leaving the BBC in 1990 he worked as a freelance director-producer on Sky television's first sitcom Time Gentlemen Please (2000), before completing the final Christmas trilogy of Only Fools and Horses (1981) for the BBC. Between 2002 and 2008 he ran a comedy department for BBC Wales, and produced six series of the popular sitcom High Hopes (2002), set in the Welsh Valleys.

An accomplished horseman, his love of riding was kindled while working on The Three Musketeers (1966), and he served as president of the BBC riding club where he was also a riding instructor. He competed successfully at dressage for many years, winning rosettes and continuing to compete well into his sixties.

Gwenlan served on the committee of the Garrick Club, to which he was elected in 1993. In 1997 he was awarded a Royal Television Society Fellowship, and appointed OBE in 2013. He received a lifetime achievement award from Bafta in 2011.

Gareth Gwenlan married, in 1962, Valerie Bonner, with whom he had a son. The marriage was dissolved, and in 1986 he married Sarah Fanghanel (dissolved). His third marriage, in 2000, was to Gail Evans, a BBC drama producer, who survived him with his son and a daughter from another relationship.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Spouse (3)

Gail Evans (2000 - 8 May 2016) ( his death)
Sarah Fanghanel (1986 - ?) ( divorced)
Valerie Bonner (1962 - ?) ( divorced) ( 1 child)

Trivia (4)

Before the start of the sixth series of Only Fools and Horses (1981), David Jason was annoyed about something and went to see John Sullivan. Sullivan was writing terrific scripts that were too long and had to be edited down to 30 minutes. Jason felt they were cutting more funny material than most sitcoms manage in a full episode. One edit that had particularly vexed Jason was during the Series 5 episode Tea For Three. After Del Boy returned from a disastrous hang-gliding session, he originally had a speech Jason described as "beautifully constructed, full of suppressed rage" about all of the places Del had visited. Jason considered it a comic masterpiece, but because the episode had overrun, half the speech got cut. Sullivan agreed with Jason that the episodes needed to be longer. Jason and Sullivan approached Gwenlan while he was producing Series 6 with the plan to extend the episodes from 30 to 50 minutes. Gwenlan didn't think that was possible since sitcoms were traditionally meant to be at 30 minutes and couldn't sustain a longer running time. Jason said that would be true of an average writer, but not one of Sullivan's caliber, and yet they keep cutting great material. Gwenlan than okayed the idea.
Gwenlan and John Sullivan approached David Jason in 2011 with Del Boy coming back at 65 and what had become of everyone from Only Fools and Horses (1981). Jason was up for it, because anything was possible in Sullivan's hands. But two weeks later, Gwenlan phoned Jason saying Sullivan was in intensive care with viral pneumonia. He seemed on the mend, and got to leave hospital and go home at one point, but he had a relapse and went back to hospital and died not long after.
He started as a temp on Only Fools and Horses (1981) before he became the head of comedy at the BBC.
He was considered to direct the pilot episode of Only Fools and Horses (1981) when the original director was injured. But since he hadn't read the script, he was replaced as well.

Personal Quotes (1)

[his reply when asked to extend episodes of Only Fools and Horses from 30 to 50 minutes] Well, a situation comedy is only thirty minutes. It won't sustain more than that, really.

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