Geoff Wonfor, director of Beatles ‘Anthology’, dies aged 73

Geoff Wonfor, a Grammy-winning British filmmaker who directed The BeatlesThe acclaimed “Anthology” documentary series and worked on the 1980s music program “The Tube” as well as several projects with Paul McCartney, has died aged 73.


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His death was confirmed on Tuesday by Sam Wonfor’s daughter, who said he died in Newcastle, where he grew up. Further details were not immediately available.

Released in the mid-1990s, “The Beatles Anthology” was an authorized multimedia project that included an eight-part documentary, three double albums and a coffee table book. Wonfor spent 4 1/2 years on the film, which combined archival footage with new interviews with the then three surviving Beatles (McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison, who died in 2001). Wonfor’s challenges included weaving in comments from John Lennon, who had been murdered in 1980.

“He was very vocal (in interviews),” Wonfor told the Los Angeles Times in 1995. “I got the idea to listen to his interviews that were done … to get all the relevant questions and answers to any year we did (in the documentary) and then put the exact same question to the other three Beatles, so it looked like the four of them were answering the same questions, which of course they were.”

The Anthology helped renew worldwide obsession with a band that had hardly been forgotten, and earned Wonfor and co-director Bob Smeaton a 1997 Grammy for Best Long Form Music Video.

Wonfor also directed the McCartney videos “In the World Tonight” and “Young Boy” and a McCartney concert video from the Cavern Club, the Liverpool venue where the Beatles played many of their early shows. He was also up for a 1990s Beatles reunion — a video of “Real Love,” a song Lennon left unfinished that the remaining Beatles completed and recorded.

His other credits included “Band Aid 20”, a documentary about the anniversary remake of the British charity song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and “Sunday for Sammy,” a tribute to the late British actor Sammy Johnson.

Wonfor had been prominent in British entertainment since the 1980s, directing a handful of episodes of “The Tube” and making a documentary about “Shanghai Surprise,” a feature film produced by Harrison and starring Madonna and Sean Penn. His work with Harrison would unexpectedly lead to the biggest venture of his career.

“I was at my dad’s house and it was Paul McCartney who ran up and he said, ‘Hey, are you okay’? And I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m fine,'” Wonfor explained during a 2018 performance at Newcastle Film Festival.

“He said, ‘I spoke to one of you last night’. I said, ‘Who the hell does he know that I know?’ He says, ‘A little fellow called George Harrison.’ … And he says, ‘Anyway,’ and we talked late into the night, and he says, ‘We’re going to do a story about the Beatles, and you’re that man.’

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