Darrol Blake

Darrol Blake
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Interview Date(s): 
10 May 2007
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Darrol Blake was born on 5th May 1937 in Hayes Middlesex, a West London factory town. At 16  in 1953 Darrol joined BBC Television at the Lime Grove Studios in Shepherd's Bush straight from Grammar school.

After running errands from Reception for a few months he got a job on the bottom rung of the Design Dept in their newly built section of Television Centre at White City. The rest of the iconic TVC being built around, replacing the mouldering ruins of the White City Exhibition of 1906.

The Print Room introduced Darrol to all the workshops , the designers and their assistants headed by Richard Levin 

Then National Service at the end of 1955. Back in the department on January 1st 1958; as he had been stationed not far away in the RAF Darrol had been back in the studios some weekends assisting Stephen Taylor , a talented designer.

In the next years he rose through the Design Department until thanks to Ned Sherrin Darrol achieved his ambition to be a Director at the age of 28.  This was BBC3, the third attempt at the Saturday night evening satire series  ('65-'66)

Three years in Arts Features followed, teaching himself to make films.

Darrol went Freelance in 1970 in order to get into Drama Series, directing episodes of Doomwatch  x 5,  The Regiment x 3  and Paul Temple x2 as well as The Onedin Line and The Shadow of the Tower in the early 1970s.

He went to Thames TV in 1972 and directed for Children's programmes and the Drama Dept.

Abroad in 1975 he worked on the feature film as  Dialogue Director for 6 weeks on  "Mohammed , Messenger of God"   ( released as The Message)  in Libya, and for the BBC Children's Dept he made a film in Australia called “I Own the Racecourse”.

Later in the '70s to Yorkshire TV in Leeds for Emmerdale and directed more than 100 episodes over the next 10 years.

In 1978 to Mersey Television for channel 4 in Liverpool to direct Brookside  - more than 100 episodes over the next 15 years

During these years Darrol also worked in the fringe theatres around London, writing a couple of plays, one of which about the poet Rupert Brooke Cedric Messina bought for BBC tv. Darrol rewrote and directed it for tv in 1977.

With local fellow professionals he launched a youth theatre in Barnes which has sent more than a dozen youngsters into the business. Darrol directed and designed for them on a regular basis also writing 2 Dickens adaptations for them.

Darrol retired in 2002 aged 65 years having directed more episodes of Brookside