Formed by myself and David Spenser in 1987, Saffron Productions Ltd was an independent television company set up to make original, creative programmes to include both documentary films and television dramas. This was a period in which it seemed that everyone who had once worked in the industry in any capacity, or had longed to work in the industry, had decided to do the same thing, and the competition was fierce. Undaunted, David and I looked around for suitable projects which might attract the eye of some enterprising commissioning editor at any of the television networks, both national and local.
David in particular brought a wealth of talent and experience to our foundling company. He had been an actor since the age of ten, when he made his first radio broadcast standing on an orange box to reach the microphone. Richmal Crompton had personally cast him for the role of her legendary ‘JUST WILLIAM’, and later, as a member of the BBC Drama Repertory Company, he went on to play some of the great Shakespearean and other classical roles on radio, including Romeo to Judi Dench’s Juliet. In television he played Saint Mark in a wonderful television serial of "PAUL OF TARSUS", with Patrick Troughton playing Saint Paul, and filmed on the island of Crete, the Prince of Morocco in "THE MERCHANT OF VENICE", with Maggie Smith and Frank Finlay, and Achmed in the epic version of "ROSS", filmed on location in the Sahara Desert, with Ian McKellen as Lawrence of Arabia. For a short time he was also Executive Director for a new project for the Childrens’ Television Network in New York, but it was his great insight into the world of drama that made David such a valuable asset to our fledgling company.
During the ten years that Saffron was in production, David and I made a number of documentary films including, "GWEN: A JULIET REMEMBERED" and "BENNY HILL: CLOWN IMPERIAL", both for the BBC Omnibus series, also "DIARY OF A MODERN COUNTRY PARSON", "ECHOES IN A SUFFOLK GARDEN", and "DODIE", all for Anglia Television. We also submitted to the networks many other projects which reached the brink of production but, for so many reasons, never made it to the screen. These included a 90 minute documentary on the life of the extraordinary "NURSE EDITH CAVALL", who was executed in Belgium by the Germans during the First World War for helping Allied troops escape. Other projects included "THE LAST FLIGHT OF THE IBIS", the mysterious story of the murder during the Second World War of the legendary British film actor, Leslie Howard, and a documentary about Gladys Aylward, the heroic Welsh woman portrayed by Ingrid Bergman in the feature film, "THE INN OF THE SIXTH HAPPINESS", who single-handed led a hundred small children across the mountains of China to escape the advancing communist troops. There were a lot more projects, but if you’re interested enough to know what they were, then please email me.
SAFFRON ceased production in 1997.