Tuesday 22 April 2014
My friend William Brayne, who has died aged 78 after suffering from cancer, made his name as a documentary film cameraman and as a director of action-packed television drama. Bill's reputation of being able to "bring them in on time" and his eye for action caught the attention of Raymond Menmuir, producer of The Professionals, in 1978. In collaboration with the stunt arranger Peter Brayham, Bill staged numerous car chases, explosions and fistfights involving the characters of Bodie and Doyle.
Throughout the 1980s, Bill directed popular programmes such as Dempsey and Makepeace, C.A.T.S. Eyes, with Jill Gascoine as one of the team of female detectives, and Lovejoy. He also helped bring out the quirky humour of Bulman, the eccentric detective of the title played by Don Henderson, written by Murray Smith.
Bill was born in Vancouver, Canada, where his father owned a hardware store. After a stint in the army, in the mid-50s he found work at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, where he became involved with the various aspects of film-making. He met and married Ellen Finck in the late 50s.
His big break came when he was recruited as a cameraman on Allan King's Warrendale (1967), a film which used "direct cinema" techniques to chronicle life at a home for emotionally disturbed children. The work cemented King's reputation as Canada's foremost documentary film-maker and also caught the attention of the American director Frederick Wiseman, who asked Bill to join forces with him. Subsequently the pair worked on nine of Wiseman's in-depth investigations of American institutions, including Law and Order (1969) and Basic Training (1971).
Britain became Bill's second base when King set up a studio in London. AKA – Allan King Associates – could be hired by TV companies around the globe for current affairs stories and documentaries. Bill's second career as a television director came about by accident. He claimed that the producers of the TV show Special Branch wanted Bill Bain on their team and dialed a wrong number.
In the early 90s, Bill's career completed a full circle when King offered him directing assignments in Canada. In his retirement, he enjoyed travelling, golf and watching baseball.
Ellen died in 2007. Bill is survived by his sister, Diana.
Born: 1936, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
William Brayne’s western – director:
Lonesome Dove: The Series (TV) - 1995