Obituary: Claire Grove

Claire Grove Claire Grove brought many major writers to radio

Claire Grove was an award-winning director and senior producer in Radio Drama. She died from cancer on November 18, just three months after directing her final play and with her usual big plans to make many more.

A charismatic and extraordinarily creative colleague, she brought many major writers to radio for the first time, including Lenny Henry, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Mike Bartlett, Charlotte Jones, Bryony Lavery, Sebastian Baczkiewicz , Bonnie Greer, the late Nick Darke, Carl Grose, Anna Maria Murphy (Claire had a long-term association with the major Cornish/international theatre company, Kneehigh), Christopher Green, Shelley Silas, and many more.

She was inspirationally good at working with writers on their scripts - many attest to how much she taught them - yet she had the patience and care to make sure that they stayed true to their own voices and their visions. That's why writers often became lifelong friends.


Over 22 years at the BBC, Claire directed a vast number of original plays and serials and shaped major series which audiences loved.

She brought Ladies of Letters to the BBC as well as, more recently, six series of On Mardle Fen. She delivered eight hours of classic Chandler starring Toby Stephens as Philip Marlowe; all of Patricia Highsmith's Ripley novels, starring Ian Hart; five series with the outrageous Tina C; and a string of great dramatisations of Terry Pratchett.

It was Claire who got Radio 4 to dramatise the whole of Ulysses on Bloomsday 2012, and she memorably directed two of August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning Pittsburgh plays for Radio 3. With the blessing of Wilson's widow, she had plans to complete the cycle in the USA.

A double Sony Gold winner, she was a superb director, attracting actors like Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and Gary Oldman to her productions. She took her skills around the world; in 2000, on a trip funded by the Department of International Development, she trained black writers and directors for three months in South Africa.

Everest to outback

Claire, who was born in Somerset, trained at Rose Bruford College, and began directing in the theatre in 1981. She worked with Avon Touring Company, was associate director at Derby Playhouse and artistic director of the Women's Theatre Group. She joined BBC Radio Drama in 1990, initially to run the second Young Playwrights' Festival.

Claire famously had phenomenal energy and passion for life. She loved walking and had trekked up Everest and across the outback in Australia. She was a great gardener, her DIY expertise was second to none, and she loved music. She and long-term partner Pete Scott, whom she married in January 2012, spent many happy hours entertaining themselves and friends singing along to guitars and ukuleles.

But above all, she was a great human being and friend who will be missed by many. She is survived by Pete, her stepdaughter Melissa, sister Annie and a niece and three nephews.

Jonquil Panting and Maxine Irving


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