Michael Pointon obituary

Other lives: Radio and TV producer for ITV and the BBC

My friend Michael Pointon, who has died aged 80, was a radio and TV producer whose most acclaimed film was for ITV’s South Bank Show in 1984, featuring the comedian Max Wall and his affinity with the works of Samuel Beckett. Michael accompanied Max to Paris to meet the reclusive Beckett, and between them they arranged a photographic session in London a month later, photos from which were used in the documentary.

Michael also devised a TV documentary on a drama group inside Wormwood Scrubs prison in London, again for the South Bank Show, which was filmed in the winter of 1982 and focused on preparations being made by inmates for a play that would feature professional actresses with special dispensation from the Home Office.

His other main broadcasting work was for BBC radio, for which he conducted interviews with comedians, including Wall, Norman Wisdom and Jimmy Edwards. He was also a consultant on a number of programmes, including Funny You Should Ask.

Michael was born in Finchley, north London, to Frederick, a painter and decorator, and Joan (nee Day), a retail clerk. During the second world war he was evacuated with his mother to Falmouth in Cornwall and subsequently the family moved to Thornton Heath in Surrey, where he attended Hackbridge grammar school.

Michael Pointon, left, with Max Wall during the shooting of The South Bank Show in 1984.
Michael Pointon, left, with Max Wall during the shooting of The South Bank Show in 1984. Photograph: LWT

A gifted writer who loved films and the cinema, he started as a press officer in the publicity department of the Rank Organisation. He then became a freelance researcher and started working for the BBC’s Light Entertainment radio programmes, including Sounds Familiar. This led him to do a number of interviews with comedians and also allowed him to make a radio series on the origins of jazz with George Melly, which was recorded in New Orleans.

After his work on the Wall documentary, Michael became co-founder of the Max Wall Society, which was formed after the comedian’s death in 1990. He held the role of chairman and contributed a number of articles to its journal.

Aside from his work in broadcasting, Michael was an excellent trad jazz trombonist. He founded his own band in 1959, later playing with Bill Brunskill’s group between 1974 and 1988 and then Dick Laurie’s Elastic Band, as well as the British All Stars, with whom he visited various parts of the world, including the Middle East. In addition he was a prolific writer of articles for jazz magazines, and in 2011 he co-wrote (with Ray Smith) Goin’ Home, a biography of the musician Ken Colyer, with whom he had appeared on stage.

Michael’s 1971 marriage to Jenny ended in divorce in 1977. He is survived by his sister Janet.

Paul Foxall

The GuardianTramp

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