October 2, 2007 / 11:33 AM / 12 years ago

Tributes paid to "trailblazer" Ned Sherrin

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Friends and colleagues paid tribute to British broadcaster Ned Sherrin on Tuesday, describing him as a trailblazer who helped transform television comedy.

Sherrin, who died from throat cancer at his London home on Monday, created and produced the landmark 1960s TV satire “That Was The Week That Was.” He was 76.

In recent years, he was perhaps best known as the witty host of the weekly BBC Radio 4 show “Loose Ends,” a mix of interviews, music and comedy.

BBC Director General Mark Thompson described Sherrin as “one of Britain’s best-loved voices.”

“Through his brilliant early work, Ned was a trailblazer who paved the way for the sophisticated modern comedy satire shows that are so much loved by audiences today,” Thompson said.

Born into a farming family in Somerset, England in 1931, Sherrin read law at Exeter College, Oxford. He soon gave up plans for a career at the Bar to become a TV producer.

During 50 years in show business, he worked across the spectrum as an actor, writer, producer, director and presenter.

He was most proud of the weekly comedy show, “That Was The Week That Was.” Known as TW3, it attracted big ratings, and frequent complaints, with its shocking lack of deference and merciless attacks on the British establishment.

“There was an amazing sense of excitement,” Sherrin later recalled in an interview. “If you are having questions asked in the House of Lords, preached about in the pulpit or leaders about you in The Times, you know you are on the right lines.”

The program helped establish the careers of David Frost, Bernard Levin, Willie Rushton and Roy Kinnear. It ran for two series before the BBC pulled the plug, fearing it would be too influential during the election year of 1964.

Sherrin went on to produce a string of films during the 1970s, including the Frankie Howerd comedy “Up Pompeii.” He also wrote plays, novels and musicals. He was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1997.

Radio 4 Controller Mark Damazer paid tribute to Sherrin’s “fabulous cocktail of wit, zest, curiosity and mischief.”

Sherrin’s manager Deke Arlon described him as “one of the great bon viveurs of the world.”

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