Richard Imison was born in Birkenhead, Merseyside, 31 October 1936 and died of cancer 9 February 1993.
Reading archaeology and anthropology at Pembroke College, Cambridge in the late 1950’s he formed and ran the Pembroke Players. Each vacation the players would tour Germany performing Shakespeare.
On graduating he joined the BBC and apart from brief stints as the BBC’s representative in India and on the television archaeology series Chronicle his entire career was devoted to radio drama. As Script Editor, he headed a large script reading unit where he and his dedicated staff conscientiously sifted thousands of scripts each year to find the best 400 suitable for production. No talent was overlooked. He was always staunchly loyal to writers he especially admired, whatever anyone else may have thought. He had perhaps the greatest spread of influence of anyone working in the field, giving writers the most unstinting support. He not only discovered dramatists such as Tom Stoppard, but also encouraged established writers such as Pinter and Beckett to write for the genre.
Through the BBC he founded an International Commissioning Scheme which commissioned acclaimed stage playwrights (Edward Albee was one) to write for radio. When the United States set out to revive Radio Drama in the 1970’s he advised the Corporation of Public Broadcasting and with the arrival of glasnost visited the Soviet Union to put together a Russian season with such writers as Ludmilla Petrushevskaya and Alexander Gelman. He also worked on steering committees for both the Prix Italia and the European Broadcasting Union.
At home he was always a good friend to, and accessible point of contact for both the Writers’ Guild and the Society of Authors. He became Deputy Head of the BBC Radio Drama department and in his final year with the Corporation was appointed the Managing Director’s spokesman for Radio.
In 1992, he decided to take early retirement to develop his talent for painting, writing and to finally produce a long-promised book sharing his knowledge and understanding of radio drama. Sadly, he never had time to complete it.
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compiled by Nigel Deacon / Diversity website
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