August 12, 2008

Former BBC Chief Bill Cotton Dies at 80

SIR Bill Cotton, the BBC's former Managing Director of Television, died yesterday.

Sir Bill, who retired in 1987, died in hospital in Bournemouth at the age of 80.

He spent seven years as the BBC's Head of Light Entertainment between 1970 and 1977, overseeing classic shows like The Two Ronnies, Morecambe and Wise and Monty Python's Flying Circus.

He also spent four years as BBC controller.

Sir Bill was awarded the Academy Fellowship by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) in 1998, the highest accolade that can be awarded by the academy.

Entertainer Bruce Forsyth, who received the same honour this year, said it was Sir Bill's idea for him to host the phenomenally successful show, The Generation Game.

He said Sir Bill "knew how to treat performers, how to talk to them, to get them to do things even if they didn't want to".

He added: "Bill knew what people wanted."

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