Television producer and director William G Stewart has died aged 84.
“Sadly William G Stewart passed away peacefully this morning (21 September) surrounded by his family after a brief illness,” – Stewart’s agent
Although he started his career behind the camera, Stewart is probably best known for his many years presenting the Channel 4 quiz show Fifteen to One which became known as one of the toughest shows in the genre.
“They always thought I was like a severe teacher,” he noted to the BBC in 2009. I was described as a geography master standing in front of pupils. When I used to be out shopping in the high street in Richmond or Kingston I would hear a voice behind me say ‘question or nominate’.”
The general knowledge format debuted on the channel in 1988 and saw fifteen contestants – each with three lives – try to avoid elimation. An incorrect answer would see them one life down while correct answers gained them the option to nominate someone else to answer the next question in the hope of knocking a life off them.
Stewart presented Fifteen to One until Channel 4 ditched the series from its teatime schedules in 2003. The show was revived a few years ago, however, with Sandi Toksvig taking over hosting duties.
BBC News note that Stewart had originally desired chat show host Jonathan Ross to present the show after acquiring the development rights from a former BT sales manager for £200.
“It came from a chap called John M. Lewis, a former sales manager with BT who said he had an idea for a new television quiz show. He called it Twenty To One. I’d pay him £200 if he gave me a 12-month option to develop the idea. Well, that £200 was the best money I’ve ever spent in my life.” – Stewart speaking to The Daily Mail in 2014
His producing and directing credits include Father Dear Father, Bless This House and Love Thy Neighbour.
In the 1980s, he turned to game shows, working on ATV’s Family Fortunes and The Price is Right. He also produced the sitcom My Good Woman for ATV.
William Gladstone Stewart 15 July 1933 – 21 September 2017