Anthony Minghella PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 20 November 2008 21:16

Anthony Minghella

Born: January 6, 1954, Ryde, Isle of Wight, England

Died: March 18, 2008, London.

Age: 54

Cause of death:  Haemorrhage  following an operation the previous week to remove cancer of the tonsils and neck.

Notable because: Made the fabulous 'No 1 ladies detective agency ' film.


Anthony Minghella was an Academy Award-winning English film director, playwright and screenwriter. He was Chairman of the Board of Governors at the British Film Institute between 2003 and 2007.

Minghella was born on the Isle of Wight at Ryde, the son of Gloria and Edward Minghella, ice cream factory owners. His father was Italian/Scottish and his mother came from Leeds; her ancestors originally came from Valvori, a small village in the Lazio region of central Italy. Minghella attended Sandown Grammar School and St John's College (Portsmouth). He was a graduate of the University of Hull, where he completed undergraduate and postgraduate courses, but eventually abandoned his doctoral thesis.

He made his directorial debut with a double bill of Samuel Beckett's Play and Happy Days. During the 1980s, he worked in television, starting as a runner on Magpie before moving into script editing the children's drama series Grange Hill for the BBC and later writing The Storyteller series for Jim Henson. He also wrote several episodes of the ITV detective drama Inspector Morse and an episode of long-running ITV drama Boon. His 1986 play Made in Bangkok found mainstream success in the West End.

Minghella won radio success with a Giles Cooper Award for his radio drama Cigarettes and Chocolate first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1988. It was revived on 3 May 2008 as a tribute to its author director following his death. His production starred Juliet Stevenson, Bill Nighy and Jenny Howe. His first radio play Hang Up, starring Anton Lesser and Juliet Stevenson, was revived on 10 May 2008 as part of the BBC Radio 4 Minghella season.

Minghella's 1990 feature Truly, Madly, Deeply, a drama he had written and directed for the BBC's Screen Two anthology strand, bypassed its expected TV broadcast and received a cinema release. In order to make the film, he had turned down an offer to direct another episode of Inspector Morse, which he had thought would be a much higher-profile assignment.

In 1996, he won the Academy Award for Directing for The English Patient. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Adapted Screenplay for 1999's The Talented Mr. Ripley.

The pilot episode of the television adaptation of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, which he co-wrote and directed, was broadcast on BBC One shortly after his death on 23 March 2008; it was watched by 6.3 million viewers.

He vocally supported I Know I'm Not Alone, a film of musician Michael Franti's peacemaking excursions into Iraq, Palestine and Israel.

He directed a party election broadcast for the Labour Party in 2005. The short film depicted Tony Blair and Gordon Brown working together and was criticised for being insincere: "The Anthony Minghella party political broadcast last year was full of body language fibs", said Peter Collett, a psychologist at the University of Oxford. "When you are talking to me, I'll give you my full attention only if I think you are very high status or if I love you. On that party political broadcast, they are staring at each other like lovers. It is completely false."

He returned to radio drama in 2006 with Eyes Down Looking on BBC Radio 3, starring Jude Law, Juliet Stevenson and David Threlfall to mark Samuel Beckett's 100th birthday celebrations.

Minghella made his operatic debut directing Puccini's Madama Butterfly. It was first seen at the English National Opera in London in 2005, at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre in Vilnius in March 2006 and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in September 2006. The Anthony Minghella Theatre at the Quay Arts Centre on the Isle of Wight is named in his honour. Minghella also made an appearance in the 2007 film Atonement, playing a television host interviewing the novelist whose role was central to the story. Minghella died the day the film was released on DVD.

Minghella was married to Hong Kong-born choreographer Carolyn Choa. His brother, Dominic, is also a successful scriptwriter, and his son, Max, is an actor. His daughter Hannah worked as a production assistant on The Talented Mr. Ripley. His sister Edana participated in a jazz event on the Isle of Wight, and his nephew Dante is one of the participants in Channel 4's Child Genius series.

He was a big Portsmouth F.C. fan and appeared in the Channel 4 documentary Hallowed Be Thy Game. His home had two double bedrooms dedicated to the display of Portsmouth memorabilia dating back to the club's founding in 1898.

Minghella died on March 18, 2008 of a haemorrhage in Charing Cross Hospital, London, following an operation the previous week to remove cancer of the tonsils and neck.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 16:20

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