Obituary: TV producer of Sharpe and church warden who helped those caught in Camden gang crime

Malcolm Craddock, centre rear, behind Sharpe actor Sean Bean

Malcolm Craddock, centre rear, behind Sharpe actor Sean Bean - Credit: Archant

A leading television producer who devoted his later life to helping young people in Camden escape gang crime has died aged 77.

Malcolm Craddock

Malcolm Craddock - Credit: Archant

Malcolm Craddock, a Primrose Hill resident who produced the hugely popular Sharpe series for ITV and was co-founder of Picture Palace, passed away in the Marie Curie hospice in Hampstead on August 15.

He began his career as a runner on a film set – a role he took quite literally. In 1963, he once ran from Chelsea, where Guy Hamilton was directing The Party’s Over, to a cigar shop in Old Soho, favoured by the film’s star, Oliver Reed. Then he ran all the way back: a round trip of around six miles. “Everybody was flabbergasted I hadn’t taken the bus,” he said shortly before his death. “But I wasn’t a bad athlete in those days!”

He began his career as a television producer on Tandoori Nights, writted by Farrukh Dhondy and later Meera Syal, for Channel 4. The series, starring Saeed Jafffrey, was based on the rivalry between two Indian restaurateurs.

Sharpe, starring Belsize Park resident Sean Bean and produced in partnership with Muir Sutherland, was the work for which he will be best remembered. Based on the novels by Bernard Cornwell, and set during the Napoleonic Wars, it spanned five series and two additional films – 16 episodes in all.

Malcolm recalled some of the problems they encountered while filming in Ukraine: “The Russian winter came in too soon and we all got very ill at one point or another. But we pulled together and the boys being boys, enjoyed the battle scenes.”

Malcolm also produced the BAFTA-nominated documentary, A Life for a Life, about the miscarriage of justice that resulted in Stefan Kiszko being jailed for 16 years for the murder of an 11-year-old schoolgirl – a crime he did not commit.

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It was written by Peter Berry and directed by Stephen Whittaker. Kiszko died less than two years after his release. It wasn’t until 14 years later that the real killer was convicted.

But it is the project at St Mary’s Church in Primrose Hill which is his lasting legacy locally. A lifelong Christian, he was an active supporter of a scheme offering a refuge to young people at risk of gang warfare.

And he later took charge of an appeal to save the project when it faced an uncertain future.

Youth worker, Jason Allen, himself a former gang member, insists: “It was actually the people at St. Mary’s who made me want to change my life.

“Malcolm supported me in a way I wasn’t used to. I have lost a part of me, and the community has lost someone who wanted the best for all its members – even the ones that 95 per cent of people have turned their backs on.”

Malcolm was born in the East End but grew up in Harpenden, Hertfordshire.

In 1970, he moved to Gospel Oak, then on to Hampstead before finally settling down in Primrose Hill.

Malcolm’s funeral took place at St Mary’s last Tuesday.

His first wife, Jenny, and his daughter Emily predeceased him. He is survived by his second wife Rachel, his children Sam, Ben, Archie and Lily, his brothers Allister and Trevor, and his grandchildren Sophie, Serena and Amelia. Anyone wishing to make a donation to the youth project he worked on can send a cheque made payable to St Mary’s PCC to the church in Elsworthy Road. The money will go towards future funding of the project and the church’s work for the homeless.

Editor’s note: This piece was provided by Malcolm’s brother, Allister.