Moira Armstrong

Prolific television director

With an astonishing 50 years of television experience, Moira Armstrong is one of the UK’s most prolific TV directors. But her impressive career very nearly didn’t happen. Armstrong’s first acceptance letter from the BBC got lost in the post and it was Armstrong’s mother who took matters in hand. “She was so incensed that I hadn’t heard from the BBC, that she went to Portland Place to the appointments department and complained,” Armstrong recalls, “they said that they had actually sent me a letter saying would I come for an appointment.”

Armstrong’s first position at the BBC was in radio and she even trained as a continuity announcer before deciding to move into television. Armstrong moved to Thames Television as a directorial assistant and later returned to the BBC for a directing course, which set her on a career path for life.

Armstrong was one of the first female TV directors and her work reads like a history of popular British television, from Dr Finlay’s Casebook (1962) and Z Cars (1962), to Dunroaming Rising (1988) and most recently Lark Rise to Candleford (2008). One of Armstrong’s most fondly remembered series is Sunset Song (1971), which provided the Scottish director with the chance to return to her North Eastern homelands. For Armstrong it stands out as one of her favourites, “it’s got a very good narrative through it with the central character of Chris being the narrator, it’s in the part of Scotland which is not terribly well known outside of Scotland and it’s where I grew up, so it’s like going back to my roots.” Sunset Song was the first colour series to be made in Scotland.