His death was confirmed by the ITV Studios-backed World Productions, which released the following statement Sunday night: “After a short illness, Tony Garnett, the legendary TV and film producer and founder of World Productions, died around midday on January 12. Tony was a great man and an inspirational producer who will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him.”
The Birmingham, U.K.-born Garnett began his career as an actor in the 1960s before going on to produce TV movies such as “Cathy Come Home” and “Kes” with “I, Daniel Blake” director Ken Loach – a frequent collaborator.
His work was known for a hard-nosed social realism that tackled issues such as homelessness and abortion.
Garnett worked in Hollywood in the 1980s, where he produced films such as “Earth Girls Are Easy,” “Sesame Street” film “Follow That Bird” and the Paul Newman-starring “Fat Man and Little Boy.”
Back in the U,K. in 1990, he set up World Productions – which was acquired by ITV Studios in 2017 – with agent John Heyman. He went on to produce films and series such as “Ballykissangel,” “Between the Lines” and “This Life.”
Garnett retired from producing in 2006, with Simon Heath taking the reins of World Productions. He published his memoir, “The Day the Music Died,” in 2016.
The U.K.’s film and TV industries have been paying tribute to Garnett, with “Bodyguard” creator Jed Mercurio tweeting that the producer was “instrumental in giving me my break into TV when I was a junior hospital doctor who’d never written anything.”
“He was an inspirational figure who’ll be greatly missed. They don’t make ’em like him any more,” he said.
Meanwhile, 1917 actor Daniel Mays shared: “Very sad to hear of the passing of the great Tony Garnett. I met him on the set of ‘Saddam’s Tribe’ years back for [World Productions]. The nicest man and full of encouragement to a young actor starting out. His legacy and body of work is truly exceptional.”
Elsewhere, “World on Fire” and “The A Word” creator Peter Bowker said: “Tony Garnett was a brilliant and inspiring producer and writer. He was also a beautiful man who helped me personally with kindness and listening at a very low point in my life. He never stopped asking questions. Never stopped trusting that stories could change the world. RIP Tony.”