Antonia Bird

Antonia Jane Bird, FRSA (27 May 1951 – 24 October 2013)[1][2] was an English producer and director of television drama and feature films.[3]

Antonia Bird

Born27 May 1951
Died24 October 2013(2013-10-24) (aged 62)
London, England, UK
OccupationTheatre, television & film director & producer
Years active1968–2013


In 1968, at the age of 17, Bird began working in theatre as an assistant stage manager at Coventry Rep.[1] She worked her way up doing a variety of jobs, including acting, stage management, publicity, theatre administration, and directing in repertory and regional theatres. She directed a season of plays at The Studio at Chester Theatre and later joined Leicester's Phoenix Theatre as a director.[4]

Bird was named Resident Director at the Royal Court Theatre in 1978. She was appointed Artistic Director of the Royal Court's Theatre Upstairs, London's leading venue for new writing. Her first television production was Submariners (1983), an adaptation of one of her Royal Court productions which she directed for the BBC.[5][6] She was recruited by the originators and founding producers of EastEnders, Julia Smith and Tony Holland, to direct the series in 1985; she directed seventeen episodes,[7] including the series' first two-hander, between the characters Den Watts (Leslie Grantham) and Angie Watts (Anita Dobson).[8]

The creators of a new BBC series, Casualty (1986) recruited her to be one of the series' first directors. She next directed the six-part adaptation of Ann Oakley's The Men's Room (BBC 1991). Her next production was a feature-length film adaptation of A Masculine Ending (1992), Safe (BBC 1993), a story based on the lives of a group of homeless young people in London's West End was awarded the Best Single Drama TV BAFTA. The film also won a British Academy Award and a clutch of festival prizes including the Edinburgh International Film Festival First Film Award and Best British Film at the Dinard Film Festival. The film brought Bird to international attention, but was overshadowed by the success of Priest (BBC/Miramax 1994), which she directed immediately following Safe.[7]

Bird's film Care, broadcast in 2000, dealt with sexual abuse in a children's home, won the Best Single Drama TV BAFTA. She received a BAFTA Children's Award for the 2009 BBC documentary Off By Heart, about a national poetry competition for schoolchildren.[9]

She developed feature films with Sony, Columbia, Warner Brothers, Fine Line and some American independent companies. She returned to London[when?] to shoot Face (UIP/New Line 1997), a gangster film. She was back in the U.S. to develop the dark cannibal horror satire Ravenous with Guy Pearce, Robert Carlyle and David Arquette (20th Century Fox 1999).[3]

In 2005, she produced Faith, a 4Way Pictures/Company Pictures production about the 1984–85 national miners' strike. She was an executive producer of the 2009 Iraqi film Son of Babylon.[10]

In 2010, she and Kay Mellor realised their story about Mellor's mother in A Passionate Woman (BBC 2010), which the duo directed.[citation needed]

In 2011, Cross My Mind, Bird's next film was set to start shooting.[11]

In 2012, Bird directed the first four episodes of the first series of Peter Moffat's BBC period drama, The Village.[7] Series 2 episode 1 finishes with the tribute 'For Antonia Bird 1951-2013'.


Bird was a member of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the Directors Guild of America, Directors UK, BECTU, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.[citation needed]


Bird died from a rare anaplastic thyroid cancer on 24 October 2013 at the age of 62. She is survived by her husband, the TV editor Ian Ilet.[1]




See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Kate Hardie "Antonia Bird obituary", The Guardian, 28 October 2013
  2. ^ The day she died is given as 25 October 2013 in Obituary: Antonia Bird,, 27 October 2013; accessed 30 July 2014.
  3. ^ a b Maane Khatchatourian. "Antonia Bird, Director of 'Ravenous', Dead". Variety. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  4. ^ Simon Farquhar "Obituary: Antonia Bird, Television director with a flair for gritty realism", The Independent, 30 October 2013.
  5. ^ Submariners,; accessed 30 July 2014.
  6. ^ "Play Not-Quite-For Today",; accessed 30 July 2014.
  7. ^ a b c Antonia Bird on IMDb
  8. ^ From EastEnders to Hollywood: Antonia Bird, BBC Four, 26 May 2016.
  9. ^ "Antonia Bird, film and TV director, dies". BBC. 26 October 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  10. ^ Anderson, John (2 February 2010). "Son of Babylon (Review)". Variety. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  11. ^ Macnab, Geoffrey (14 February 2011). "Antonia Bird's Cross My Mind to shoot in May". Screen Daily. Media Business Insight. Retrieved 19 April 2017.

External linksEdit

Additional sourcesEdit

  • Ciecko, Anne T. "Sex, God, Television, Realism, and the British Women Filmmakers Beeban Kidron and Antonia Bird", Journal of Film and Video, Spring 1999, pp. 22–41
  • McCabe, Bob. "East End Heat", Sight and Sound, October 1997, pp. 10–12