John Chambers, British Film and Television Finance Executive, Dies at 81

He worked for such companies as British Lion, EMI and Goldcrest and was involved with the best picture Oscar winners 'Chariots of Fire' and 'Gandhi.'

John Chambers, a veteran of the British film and TV industry and a former senior member of BAFTA, has died. He was 81.

Chambers died April 5 in Kingston Hospital, London, his friend and former colleague David Pounds told The Hollywood Reporter.

As a finance executive with such companies as British Lion Films, EMI Films, Goldcrest, World Film Services and Electric Sky Productions, Chambers was involved with such acclaimed features as the back-to-back best picture Oscar winners Chariots of Fire (1981) and Gandhi (1982) as well as Nicolas Roeg's Don’t Look Now (1973) and The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976); Sidney Lumet's Murder on the Orient Express (1974); Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter (1978); David Lynch's The Elephant Man (1980); Peter Yates' The Dresser (1983); Roland Joffe's The Killing Fields (1984) and The Mission (1986); James Ivory's A Room With a View (1985); and John Boorman's Hope and Glory (1987).

Chambers' work with BAFTA began in 1995 as honorary treasurer, and he continued as a member of BAFTA Council through 2004. He also served as acting chief executive in 1999. 

He also co-produced a short film, It Could Be Me, directed by Alan Parker and narrated by Prince Edward.

Born in Chester, England, Chambers graduated with a degree in economics from the University of Liverpool. He entered the film industry in 1974 as finance director of British Lion and carried on in that role following its merger with EMI in 1977.

He joined Goldcrest Films and Television as finance director in 1982 and then was promoted to managing director in 1986.

In 1989, Chambers joined John Heyman's World Film Services as managing director and helped establish Island World Group as COO of its holding company. He assisted in the sale of the Island World catalogue to PolyGram in 1994.

From 1999-2001, Chambers was non-executive director of five companies organized by Close Brothers Investments, where he co-produced television dramas, drama series, documentaries and features. He joined Pounds at Electric Sky in 2003 as non-executive director.

"He was a real brick, always supportive, always interested in you and family life outside the boardroom," Pounds said. "He taught me a lot."

A member of the Production Guild of Great Britain, Chambers became involved with the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts in 2001 as a mentor, and his first project with Warp Films won a BAFTA award for best short film.

As a philanthropist, Chambers was an active member of The Variety Club of Great Britain for more than 20 years; chairman of the Electric Wheelchair Committee, which organized mobile film shows to special-needs schools; chairman of an industry committee that helped find jobs for students from the Queen Elizabeth Foundation training college; helped the Nat Cohen Charitable Trust establish a memorial scholarship at the Royal College of Art Film School; and, with his wife, Pat, ran a sports team for disabled people. He also was a member of the Cinema & Television Benevolent Fund.

In addition to his wife, survivors include children Jon and Emma. Donations in his memory can be made to the British Lung Foundation.