HOOD, STUART

British Media Executive/Producer/Educator

Stuart 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 on broadcasting.

Hood's 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.

During 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 in Germany.

These 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.

Fluent 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.

Hood 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.

As 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.

-Robert Ferguson

STUART 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 of Art.

PUBLICATIONS

Pebbles 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.