U.K. producer Mark Shivas dies at 70

Became the first head of BBC Films in 1993

LONDON -- Mark Shivas, one of the U.K.'s best-loved television and film producers, has died. He was 70.

The former head of BBC Films died of cancer over the weekend.

A former New York Times writer and three-time Emmy winner, Shivas got his start in television as Granada's head of story in 1964. He joined the BBC's drama department in 1969, where he produced "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" and Dennis Potter's "Casanova."

Beginning in 1980, the ebullient producer went freelance, working on such productions as "What If It's Raining?" by Anthony Minghella and the Emmy- and BAFTA-winning "The Storyteller," directed by Jim Henson and written by Minghella for NBC.

He became BBC drama chief in 1988, where he acted as executive producer on Minghella's "Truly Madly Deeply," the Christopher Award-winning "Enchanted April," "The Grass Arena" by Frank Deasy and Stephen Frears' "The Snapper," penned by Roddy Doyle.

In 1993, Shivas became the first head of BBC Films, where he executive produced more than 20 feature films, including Antonia Bird's "Priest," Mike Newell's "An Awfully Big Adventure," Michael Winterbottom's "Jude" and Kate Winslet starrer "Hideous Kinky."

In 1997, Shivas formed independent production company Perpetual Motion Pictures, which produced Peter Moffat's "The Cambridge Spies," Alan Bennett's "Talking Heads 2" and "Telling Tales."

Most recently, he formed Headline Pictures with Stewart Mackinnon and Kevin Hood. During his time as the company's chairman, Shivas made invaluable contributions to the development of a range of film projects including "Quartet," by Academy Award winner Ronald Harwood, and Hood's "Reykjavik."

Shivas is survived by his civil partner of 11 years, Karun Thakar.