Piers Plowright obituary: BBC and Hampstead star dies at 83

Piers Plowright in the Gayton Road garden of the old home of Cate Haste and Lord Bragg

BBC Radio legend and Hampstead fixture Piers Plowright in the 1970s - Credit: courtesy of Tom Bragg

Piers Plowright, the celebrated BBC producer and a central figure in Hampstead life for more than half a century, died last week.

Piers, 83, was born in Church Row on December 30 1937,  and –  other than short periods on national service and at university – had been a fixture in the community ever since. 

Whether it be organising community festivals or chatting to literary titans at Burgh House, Keats Community Library or for the Hampstead Arts Festival,  over the decades he was part of the village's history. 

Born to Dr Oliver Plowright, who was known as "Hampstead's doctor", and Molly Eugster, he spent the years between 1968 and 1997 as an award-winning BBC Radio producer. He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. 

He will be much missed by children Natasha, Fran and Matthew, and grandchildren Isabella, Louis and Dexter – and his wife Poh Sim.


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Piers' lifelong friend Melvyn Bragg – they met at Oxford University when both performing in a production of the Tempest – said: "He had such a combination – of both being very kind, very understanding while also such a serious intellectual. And when he went to Radio 3 he just won prizes and prizes. He was remarkable."

Piers died on July 23 after suffering from cancer, which had seen him cared for by the Marie Curie Hospice in Belsize and the Royal Free Hospital, of which he was a vocal and longstanding supporter.

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His family thanked the "amazing" staff at the hospice, along with Father Toby Lees and Rev'd Monsignor Phelim Rowland who supported them. 

In 2014, Piers wrote in these very pages, when asked to suggest what his epitaph might be: "I like Spike Milligan’s best: 'I told you I was ill.'

"But since he’s already used that, may I borrow a rather long one from another hero of mine, Seán O’Casey: 'I have found life an enchanting, active, and sometimes terrifying experience, and enjoyed it completely. A lament in one ear, maybe, but always a song in the other.'"

A family funeral is planned for September 1, but numbers will be restricted due to Covid-19 and a memorial service will be planned in due course.

A feature-length obituary of Piers Plowright will be published in next week's Ham&High. If you would like to contribute a memory or tribute, contact Sam.Volpe@Archant.co.uk

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