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OBITUARY.

Byline: Phillip Whitehead

DESPITE their acrimonious exchanges, politicians, commentators and journalists often belong to the same breed, eager to prove that they could adapt to the different demands of each profession.

Few did this better than the carpenter's son, who sampled the high life in the debating chambers and the TV studios, where he produced some of Britain's finest programmes, but remained in the Derbyshire cottage where he had been brought up by his adoptive patents, Harold and Frances Whitehead, to whom he was always profoundly grateful.

The right of adopted children to trace their biological parents was a passion of Phillip Whitehead and, as the Labour MP for Derby North, he sponsored the Children's Bill (1975), which did that.

Shame or embarrassment sometimes attached to adopted children. Whitehead only became aware of his own circumstances when Harold died, aged 61, when he was 10. He later discovered that he had resulted from a liaison between a teenage girl and an Army officer.

After an education at Lady Manners' Grammar School, Bakewell, and Exeter College, Oxford, and National Service with the Royal West African Frontier Force, Whitehead joined Panorama and then moved to Thames Television to edit This Week.

Politically, he favoured gradual reform, rather than the more extreme socialism gaining ascendancy in the Labour Party. He contested the West Derbyshire seat in 1966 and, though defeated, won sufficient respect for his campaigning to be chosen to fight Derby North in 1970. He held the seat until 1983.

He then made a brilliant return to TV as a director of Goldcrest Film and Television Holdings and then of Brook Productions and Brook Lapping Productions until 2003. His programmes included Nixon, The Windsors, The Nehru/Gandhi Dynasty and the Kennedys.

Whitehead, married with three children, also wrote biographical books developed and extended from his TV work.

He was elected into the European Parliament for Staffordshire East and Derby in 1994 and then represented the East Midlands up to his death.

Phillip Whitehead, TV producer and politician' born May 30, 1937, died December 31, 2005
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 4, 2006
Words:343
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