Roger Keech, TV film maker

Roger Keech (front) with his partner, Brenda May, and colleagues
Roger Keech (front) with his partner, Brenda May, and colleagues
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Roger Keech, who has died at 64, had spent four decades crafting some of the most visually stunning images of Yorkshire ever seen on TV.

As the producer and director of his own programmes and one of the architects of the coverage of the Tour de France in the county, he was a master of the languid, perfectly composed image.

Flying Scotsman as seen by Roger Keech for a BBC film

Flying Scotsman as seen by Roger Keech for a BBC film

A self-effacing perfectionist in the often brash and superficial world of television, he was credited by Sir Gary Verity at Welcome to Yorkshire with helping to bring cycle racing to the county.

But he was also responsible for more than 200 productions from the region, and, through his work with Leeds University, for helping to bring on the next generation of film makers.

Two weeks before his death, his team had taken a regional award from the Royal Television Society for his signal-by-signal film from the footplate of Flying Scotsman, which was screened on BBC4 last December.

Roger Keech had begun his professional life at the BBC’s old building on Woodhouse Lane in Leeds, as a studio assistant on Look North and the slate of other regional programmes made there.

His duties included floor management during the live broadcasts and the preparation of graphics, which in those days involved sheets of black card and slugs of metal type.

He soon began directing, and distinguished himself with stylish films, sometimes for the network, with the writers Alan Ayckbourn and the late Peter Tinniswood.

Judith Stamper, who presented Look North alongside Harry Gration, rated Mr Keech among the most creative talents there.

“His was a truly extraordinary talent for inspiring imagery that pinpointed and captured mood and emotion with what I can only describe as grace,” she said.

When she left to join Leeds University, she invited him to join her, and BNT, the company he assembled with two BBC colleagues, won the contract to teach successive cohorts of students the art of excellent television production, for the next 12 years.

Hundreds of Mr Keech’s students were now in television jobs all over the country, Ms Stamper noted.

BNT became an award winning production company in its own right, with Mr Keech at its creative heart. Always meticulous in his preparation, his subjects included steam trains, brass bands and the 1461 Battle of Towton, near York. He also shot aerial films of Yorkshire and a series of documentaries with the ballroom dancer, Len Goodman.

Roger Greenwood, the former Calendar presenter who supplied the narrator’s voice on many of the films, noted that Mr Keech’s skills at producing live events for the Royal Television society had helped to make its Yorkshire Centre the success it had become.

But it was his long association with Welcome to Yorkshire that, perhaps, won him most plaudits. He had been on its journey since day one, producing virtually all the films for the events that made its name a byword in the tourism industry.

“Without Roger’s work, Yorkshire would not have got the Tour de France Grand Départ or the UCI Road World Championships, and millions of people across the world would not be as aware of Yorkshire as they are,” Sir Gary Verity acknowledged.

“The industry has lost a great talent, Yorkshire has lost one of its best programme makers and I’ve lost a good friend,” he added.

“He was one of the most talented people in his field and was recognised on unhurried, countless occasions for the outstanding quality of his work.”

Mr Keech is survived by his partner, Brenda.