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John Chambers

30 December 1937 to 5 May 2018

John Chambers was a significant figure in the British Film and TV industry, a senior member of BAFTA and a dedicated charity supporter.

Born in Chester, he was educated at the University of Liverpool where he graduated in economics. He then moved to London to train as a chartered accountant. He entered the film industry in 1974 as finance director of British Lion Films and carried on in this role following the merger with EMI Films in 1977. In 1981 he was approached by Goldcrest Films and Television and became finance director in 1982 and managing director in 1986. He continued as MD until Brent Walker acquired Goldcrest in 1987.  David Norris, his colleague at Goldcrest and good friend, says of John: 'He was outstanding in all that he did... meticulous and hardworking, with honesty and integrity’.

John was involved with films such as Don’t Look Now, The Man Who Fell To Earth, Murder On The Orient Express, The Deerhunter, Death on the Nile, The Elephant Man, Chariots of Fire, Local Hero, Gandhi, The Killing Fields, The Dresser, The Mission, A Room With A View, The Name of the Rose and Hope and Glory. Television productions included The Far Pavilions, P’tang Yang Kipperbang, Between The Lines, Ballykissangel, This Life, Cops, In Deep, Murphy’s Law, Lost Highway, Live Forever, Shakespeare Retold, Inspector George Gently.

In 1989, he joined John Heyman and became managing director of World Film Services and helped establish Island World Group and was appointed chief operating officer of the Holding Company. He assisted in the sale of the Island World catalogue to PolyGram in 1994 and went on to reorganise the World Group. Friend and Producer David De Wilde, who worked with John over many years, recalls John as a ‘man of few words, but always kind and supportive… a man whose word was his bond’.

Between 1999 and 2001 he became non-executive director of five companies organised by Close Brothers Investments to co-produce television dramas, drama series, documentaries and feature films. In 2001 he was invited to become involved with NESTA (the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts) as mentor. His first project with Warp Films won the BAFTA Award for Best Short Film. In 2003, he joined David Pounds at Electric Sky and become non-executive director of the factual producer and distributor. David fondly remembers John: ‘He was a real brick, always supportive, always interested in you and family life outside the boardroom. He taught me a lot… I will miss him greatly’.

His career with BAFTA started in 1995 as honorary treasurer and he continued as a member of the BAFTA Council until 2004. He was acting chief executive of BAFTA in 1999. Gary Dartnall, former Chairman of BAFTA/LA, John’s colleague at EMI and great friend, says: ‘John is a great loss to us all, taken too soon and too young. He was a terrific friend and was always there for you’.

John Chambers was a fellow of The Institute of Chartered Accountants, a fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, a member of the Institute of Directors, a member of The Production Guild of Great Britain and an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Art.

John was an active member of The Variety Club of Great Britain for over 20 years. In addition to his membership, he served as Chairman of the Electric Wheelchair Committee and co-chairman of a committee that organised mobile film shows to special needs schools. He was an active volunteer with Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation and was chairman of the Industry Committee which helped place students from QEF’s training college in suitable employment, He also co-produced a short film ‘It Could Be Me’, directed by Sir Alan Parker and narrated by Prince Edward. In 1989 he helped The Nat Cohen Charitable Trust establish a Memorial Scholarship at the Royal College of Art Film School. He raised over £25k for MENCAP through events, including the London Marathon, and together with his wife Pat, he ran a sports team for disabled people which competed in swimming and athletic events in the south-east of the UK.

John was a member of The Rotary Club of Walton-On -Thames in the UK and was a Platinum member of the Cinema & Television Benevolent Fund (CTBF).

John is survived by his wife Pat, son Jon and daughter Emma. Donations in his memory are being taken by The British Lung Foundation