Hood has made a considerable impact upon the development of television
production, news broadcasts, programme scheduling, and programming
policy in the United Kingdom. He has also acted as an advisor and
consultant to various countries, Israel being the most notable,
as they established their national television broadcasting potential.
He has also contributed significantly to the practice of higher
education for the television profession and as an academic writer
life has been a mixture of involvement with broadcasting, the media,
politics, education, and literature. It could be argued that the
significance of his contribution to television has been as much
a product of his scholarship, the range of his interests and his
creative drive as to any narrow dedication to the medium. He was
born in the village of Edzell, Angus, Scotland, the son of a village
schoolmaster. After graduating in English Literature from Edinburgh
University he taught in secondary schools until World War II.
the War Hood served in Italian East Africa and the Middle East as
an Infantry Officer, then as a staff officer on operational intelligence
with the German Order of Battle. He was captured in North Africa
and then spent time as a Prisoner of War in Italy. He escaped at
the time of the Italian Armistice in September 1943 and lived at
first with the peasants. He then joined the partisans in Tuscany.
His account of this period, Pebbles From My Skull, is a major
piece of 20th century war writing. He saw further military service
in Holland, then at the Rhine crossing with the U.S. 9th Army. In
the final years of the war, Hood did political intelligence work
biographical details are important for two reasons. The first is
that the war took Hood and a whole generation of young, talented
graduates and offered them, amongst other things, an apprenticeship
in the farces, tragedies, and innovations of military administrative
matters. The second is that the war has had a lasting impact on
Hood's literary output as well as providing him with a lasting contempt
for cant and superficiality.
in German and Italian, Hood joined the BBC German Service at the
end of the War. He went on to become Head of the BBC Italian Service
and then of the 24-hour English-language service for overseas. After
a period as editor-in-chief of BBC Television News, he became Controller
of Programmes for BBC television. Ten years working as a freelance
was followed in 1974, by an invitation to become Professor of Film
and Television at the Royal College of Art in London. During the
next four years Hood was not always happy with his role as a senior
educator. His approach to higher education was not always greeted
with enthusiasm by his peers. He gave students the chance to be
involved in the decision making process in relation to their own
work and to general staffing and administrative matters during his
period at the Royal College of Art.
has always been politically of the left. For several years he was
vice president of ACCT, the Film and Television union in the United
Kingdom. His politics might have placed him, as a senior manager,
in something of a difficult position. He has never shirked responsibility,
however, and has worked rather to make positive and productive use
of his management positions. He was responsible, in large part,
for the break between radio and television news and was the first
to employ a woman newsreader at the BBC. He worked under Carleton
Greene at the BBC and was encouraged to seek to test the limits
of viewer tolerance and interest. This resulted in series such as
the now legendary satirical programme, That Was The Week That
Was. In relation to television drama, Hood also did all he could
to encourage the work of innovative writers such as David Mercer.
Hood has publicly expressed his disgust at the fact that the BBC
had denied for many years that MI5 routinely vetted BBC staff. On
some things he had to remain silent and as a result of this he developed
something of a reputation as an enigmatic character.
a director and producer in his own right, Hood was responsible for
such innovative programmes as The Trial of Daniel and Sinyavsky
(Soviet dissidents) and a programme on the trial of Marshal
Petain entitled A Question of Honor. Hood has made a unique
contribution to broadcasting through the diversity of his interests
and talents. He has demonstrated, through his literary output, that
senior administrators in broadcasting are not necessarily outside
the world of direct productive activity. He has also made a significant
contribution to writing about broadcasting and his On Television
is a classic in the field. Hood's major contribution to television
has been to demonstrate that both production and management can
be enhanced and enriched by scholarship and astute political awareness.
HOOD. Born in the Edzell, Angus, Scotland, 1915. Educated at
Edinburgh College. Served as an intelligence officer in the British
Army during World War II; worked with Italian partisans, 1942-43.
Briefly joined the Workers' Revolutionary Party; writer, first achieving
widespread recognition in the United Kingdom in the 1960s; media
career began at the BBC World Service; moved to BBC-TV, Controller
of Programs, 1962-1964; independent filmmaker; involved with the
Free Communications Group, from 1968; vice-president of the ACTT;
continued writing from the mid-1980s; professor of film, Royal College
From My Skull. London: Hutchinson, 1963.
A Survey of Television. London: Heinemann, 1967.
The Mass Media. London: Macmillan, 1972.
Radio and Television. Newton Abbot, U.K.; North Pomfret,
Vermont, U.S.: David and Charles, 1975.
A Storm From Paradise. Manchester, U.K.: Carcanet, 1985.
The Upper Hand. Manchester, U.K.: Carcanet, 1987
The Brutal Heart. Manchester, U.K.: Carcanet, 1989.
A Den of Foxes. London: Methuen, 1991.
Behind the Screens: The Structure of British Programming in the
1990s. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1994.