Entertainment & Arts

TV producer Allan McKeown dies

Tracey Ullman and Allan McKeown
Image caption McKeown died just days before he and comedian Tracey Ullman were due to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.

Veteran producer Allan McKeown, who was behind hits including Jerry Springer: The Opera at London's National Theatre, has died at the age of 67.

McKeown, who was married to comedian Tracey Ullman, had been suffering with prostate cancer and died at his home in Los Angeles surrounded by his family.

His TV credits included Birds of a Feather, Shine on Harvey Moon and Girls on Top, starring Ullman.

The British pair, who had two children, moved to the US in 1996.

As co-creators of Tracey Takes On… and State of the Union with his wife, McKeown and Ullman won an Emmy for outstanding variety, musical or comedy series in 1997.

Writing on Twitter, McKeown's daughter Mabel paid tribute to her father, who died on Christmas Eve: "My brilliant, funny, extraordinary father Allan McKeown passed away on Christmas Eve. Thank you all for the love."

The London-born producer entered the world of television in 1969.

Originally a hairdresser to clients including Elizabeth Taylor and the Beatles, he created hairstyles for iconic 1960s films such as If and Get Carter, before moving into the world of advertising.

He went on to found production company Witzend with comedy writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, establishing himself him as one of the first independent television producers in the UK.

'Good memories'

Birds of a Feather collaborator Maurice Gran, who worked with McKeown at Witzend, tweeted: "He pioneered indie TV production, told great stories and changed lives - including mine."

He worked on popular TV series such as Lovejoy and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, as well as a feature film version of Porridge, starring Ronnie Barker.

Witzend later became Selectv, and McKeown eventually sold his stake to Pearson.

He went on to become a founding member of the Meridian consortium which won the ITV franchise for the south east of England.

In 1996, he moved to the US with Ullman - whom he had met and married in 1983 - to work on Tracey Takes On for HBO.

Latterly, he moved into stage productions, producing Lennon The Musical on Broadway, with Yoko Ono, and the stage and TV versions of Jerry Springer: The Opera.

Springer paid tribute to McKeown on Twitter, writing: 'Sympathies to Tracey Ullman on the loss of her husband Allan McKeown. Sending strength and good memories'.

Others to pay tribute included The Thick of It writer Simon Blackwell, who described him as a 'force of nature', while actor Richard E Grant tweeted his "heartfelt condolences to Tracey Ullman, Mabel and Johnny McKeown for the incalculable loss of your beloved husband and father".

McKeown is survived by Ullman, Mabel and son Johnny. A memorial service will be held in London in the new year.

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