Sue Hayes obituary

My friend Sue Hayes, who has died of ovarian cancer aged 69, was a talented film and TV consultant, producer and researcher who knew the industry inside out. As head of the London Film Commission (now Film London) she played a major part in making London a film-friendly city. Sue’s forte was making things happen.

She was born in London, the eldest child and only daughter of James Hayes, who worked at the Vauxhall car plant at Luton, and his wife, Alice (nee Manuel).

She attended Apsley grammar school, Hemel Hempstead, and studied economics and sociology at City University (now City, University of London), graduating in the late 1970s. She took a diploma in industrial relations and politics from the LSE, and went into journalism, working variously for the Daily Mirror, Der Spiegel and the Sunday Times (where we met), as well as working as a researcher for Granada TV and freelancing for Thames Television, London Weekend, and ITN.

From 1979 to 1983 she was director of the Edinburgh International TV festival.

In 1989 Sue launched her own independent production company, VPL, which made TV documentaries, including For the Sake of the Children (1991), which won an International Emmy. It was the story of a remarkable Manchester woman, Anita Goulden, who visited Peru and decided to stay and care for orphaned children. As a result of the film, a charity was established. The film was commissioned by Granada TV and shown on ITV. Sue also made several episodes of Biography, an American TV series, for A&E networks.

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It was as head of the London Film Commission (now Film London) between 2000 and 2010 that Sue really came into her own. She relished her role as advocate and promoter of film-makers and filming in the city. Blessed with a wicked wit, she did battle with everyone and anyone who threatened to hinder filming. It was hard to say no to Sue.

Sue was kind, fun, and an honest and loyal friend. She was also a mentor and supporter to many young film-makers, and had recently been working for the Location Guide helping film-makers to find sites for filming.

She is survived by her husband, the TV producer Rod Caird, whom she met at Granada TV and married in 1995, by their son, Luke, by Sue’s son Charlie, from an earlier relationship, and by two brothers.


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