Tributes paid to director Antonia Bird

Robert Carlyle and Antonia Bird Antonia Bird worked with Robert Carlyle on three acclaimed films in the nineties

Tributes have been paid to Antonia Bird, the film and television director who has died from a rare form of cancer.

Bird, who worked most recently on BBC One's The Village, was described by Ben Stephenson, controller of drama commissioning, as 'one of the best' directors in the country.

'She has left us far too soon,' he said. 'She remains an inspiration to us all and her work's indelible impact on British culture is with us for ever.'

Bird moved from theatre to television in the eighties, working on programmes including EastEnders and Casualty.

She made her name via a series of acclaimed films in the nineties with actor Robert Carlyle, including 1994's BBC Screen Two presentation Priest, penned by Jimmy McGovern, which won prizes at the Berlin and Toronto International Films Festivals.

The director continued to work in television, winning Baftas for her BBC dramas Safe, about homeless teenagers, and Care, which centred on child abuse in a Welsh children's home.

She collected a Bafta children's award for the 2009 BBC documentary Off By Heart about a national poetry competition for school children.

Her other tv credits include BBC One's Spooks and ITV's Cracker, Inspector Morse and Peak Practice.

'Incredibly trusting'

John Simm, one of the stars of the Sunday night drama The Village, said Bird was a 'passionate, attentive and incredibly trusting director.

'Her brilliant work on The Village is a beautiful example of her talent and it's a tragedy that it turned out to be her last.'

Peter Moffatt, who wrote the series, said he was 'completely devastated' by Bird's death.

'Film-making is a collaborative process and it doesn't work if the writer and director don't trust each other. I trusted Antonia completely,' he said.

Bird was being treated for anaplastic thyroid cancer and had undergone surgery in April to remove a tumour.

In a statement, her partner said she had 'died peacefully in her sleep'.

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