WHITTON and RITCH -Surname Studies and people from the Island of GRAEMSAY, Orkney

Christopher Elwin Neame

Christopher Elwin Neame

Male 1942 - 2011  (68 years)

Personal Information    |    Notes    |    All

  • Name Christopher Elwin Neame 
    Born 24 Dec 1942  Windsor Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 12 Jun 2011  Bedoinm Provence, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I21386  Whitton
    Last Modified 10 Oct 2018 

    Father Ronald Elwin Neame,   b. 23 Apr 1911,   d. 16 Jun 2010  (Age 99 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Mother Beryl Yolanda Warburton Heanly,   b. 8 Aug 1903, East Sheen, Surrey Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1999, Kent Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 95 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Married 1932  Paddington, London Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Divorced 1992 
    Family ID F8612  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Living 
    Children 
     1. Living
     2. Living
     3. Living
    Last Modified 10 Oct 2018 
    Family ID F8619  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Caroline Langley 
    Married 1974  Kensington, London Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Last Modified 10 Oct 2018 
    Family ID F8620  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 3 Sally Ann Abel 
    Married 1991  Kensington, London Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Last Modified 10 Oct 2018 
    Family ID F8621  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • Travelled on the Queen Elizabeth 5-4-1954 from Southampton to New York to 8918 Burton Hills, California

      Christopher Elwin Neame was born at Windsor on Christmas Eve 1942, the son of the celebrated cinematographer, writer, producer and director Ronald Neame, who died in 2010; his grandmother was the beauty queen and actress Ivy Close, declared “the most beautiful woman in the world” by the press in 1908; and Ivy’s husband (Christopher’s grandfather) was the pioneer photographer and filmmaker Elwin Neame.

      Christopher, a godson of Noël Coward, grew up next door to Pinewood Studios, where Michael Powell allowed him to watch the filming of the sinking of Graf Spee. As a boy he was surrounded by Hollywood stars — he taught Gregory Peck to play cricket — and it came as no surprise when he decided to go into the film industry, starting in 1960 as a camera trainee at Beaconsfield Studios. There he worked on productions such as This Sporting Life, starring Richard Harris, and The Wrong Arm of the Law, a vehicle for Peter Sellers.

      Having served his apprenticeship, Neame decided to try his hand at being an agent with London Management, but after only a few months he was itching to get back into production. His only opportunity to do so was with Hammer Films, based at Bray Studios, where he worked first on Dracula – Prince of Darkness and then on Rasputin – The Mad Monk, both starring Christopher Lee.

      Neame was initially disheartened by what he perceived to be the poor quality of the script for Dracula, but went on to have a deep respect for Hammer, becoming closely involved with many of its cult gothic movies.

      Although initially focused on simply being a decent clapper boy, Neame’s ambition eventually shone through. Rejecting the path towards becoming a director (as his father was then at the height of his powers), he migrated instead to the production department, where his unorthodox methods led to a close rapport with Bette Davis, who took with good grace his inquiry in her dressing room: “Getting pissed on your own tonight, are you love?”

      In all Neame worked on 17 Hammer films over an eight-year period, including Quatermass and the Pit and two movie spin-offs of the television comedy On The Buses.

      Production opportunities were thin on the ground in England in the 1970s. Like horror, soft porn was one of the few subjects which could be produced cheaply and for which finance could be obtained. Working with the director Henry Herbert (the 17th Earl of Pembroke), Neame’s business partner for the next quarter of a century, Neame wrote the screenplay (at the kitchen table one day and under a pseudonym) for Emily, an unmemorable sex film which passed unnoticed until its star, Koo Stark, began a reported relationship with Prince Andrew after its release.

      After gaining considerable experience as an assistant director and production manager, and having earned his stripes as a producer on Emily, Neame became a producer for several British television companies. His talent for supervising productions that harnessed quality with strict budgetary control soon attracted the attention of Euston Films, the most prolific TV film company in the Seventies and Eighties. A wholly owned subsidiary of Thames Television, it was created to bring film production techniques to television and to circumvent the restrictive practices within the medium which in those days made location filming impossible.

      His first assignment was Danger UXB, starring Anthony Andrews, a gritty 13-part series about wartime heroes who defused unexploded bombs. It was the start of a collaboration with the prolific television writer John Hawkesworth, creator of Upstairs Downstairs and The Duchess of Duke Street. The pair worked again on The Flame Trees of Thika, the first British television drama series to be filmed overseas.

      Another creative relationship was with Jack Rosenthal, Neame producing his script of The Knowledge, a comedy drama about a group of London cab drivers. Many years later Neame produced Bye Bye Baby, a film based on Rosenthal’s national service experience in postwar Germany.

      Neame’s most satisfying creative partnership, though, was with the author Graham Greene. For some time Euston Films had been striving to make a television film based on his novel Monsignor Quixote, but Greene had rejected the screenplay. As a potential producer, Neame travelled to Greene’s home in Antibes and they soon found common ground.

      He persuaded Greene that he should write the screenplay himself, and the novelist was so delighted with the result that the film immediately went into production in Spain, pairing Alec Guinness and Leo McKern in the lead roles.

      Neame went on to adapt the book for the stage too, and also developed other Greene projects, notably A Burnt Out Case, which he passionately wanted to make as a feature film; despite several attempts, he failed to secure the finance.

      Other television shows produced by Neame in the 1980s and 1990s included a series for CBS, QED, starring Sam Waterston; The Irish RM, starring Peter Bowles; Bellman and True, starring Bernard Hill; and the ITV hit Soldier Soldier. But Neame was increasingly shifting towards writing, and another project was his feature film adaptation of HE Bates’s Feast of July, which Neame and Herbert made in partnership with Merchant Ivory.

      Neame retired to Provence, where he continued to write. In 2003 he published Rungs on a Ladder, about his formative years with Hammer, followed a year later by A Take on British TV Drama – Stories from the Golden Age. He completed the trilogy with Principal Characters in 2005. He also wrote for local French theatre groups .

      Christopher Neame, who died at Bedoin, Provence, on June 12, was thrice married: to Heather Wade, Caroline Langley (both marriages dissolved) and Sally Ann Abel. He is survived by his third wife and by a son and two daughters of his first marriage. His son Gareth is the producer of the successful television series Downton Abbey.