Chris Parr Obituary

Chris Parr (1953-61) – Producer and Director, has died. He lived and commuted to school from Littlehampton. Chris had few peers in the cerebral department and was one of the brightest in my year (Bill Allen). Successively winning the Form prize in 2A, 3A & IVR, After O levels in IVR where he achieved the three that everyone took – Maths, French and English Language, to which he added Greek and Latin! He then skipped a year and went direct to the Sixth Form! Prizes again in French, Greek and Latin during his two years there. Chris won an Open Scholarship in Classics to Queens College Oxford.

At Oxford his interest in theatre developed, nurtured at school perhaps by appearing in plays under the guidance of Messrs Marwood, Wake and Siviter. .Encouraged also by contact with contemporaries at Chi High in Howard Brenton, David Wood and David Horlock.  He left Oxford without obtaining a degree, sent down for failing to attend tutorials.

His next step was a bursary to train as a director at Nottingham Playhouse from 1965-66. Parr took his left wing, anti-establishment ideas into the theatre of the 1960s working with Howard Brenton at an experimental group at Brighton Combination. He subsequently directed Brenton’s play ‘Revenge’at the Royal Court in London. He went on to lead as Artistic Director at the Traverse theatre in Edinburgh a hub for the Festival.

His move to be a Producer commenced in Belfast where the BBC recruited him to be ‘Commissioner of Scripts for Plays’ And from there his career rapidly advanced.

The Guardian in its Obituary notes

“In 1994 Parr was appointed head of drama at BBC Birmingham, A year later he moved to the BBC’s central drama department in London to become Head of Drama Series. Parr went on to become head of drama at Thames Television, working as executive producer on programmes. Parr returned to theatre in 2003. Throughout his rich career, Parr retained a focus on new writing that put real lives on screen and stage in a way that was both accessible and popular”

 He is survived by his third wife, Anne Devlin, their son Connal and daughter-in-law Kyra, a grandson, Cuan, and his brother Andy.

Not a particular sportsman at School, Bill Allen remembers that school sports sessions on Wednesday afternoons for the less than elite footballers included Chris on the wing of the scratch teams we put together. Perhaps that encouraged his support for ‘Spurs’!

And for Chris’s thoughts on his career go to the Notable Old Boys under the Articles tab on the OC Website.