Aidan Laverty obituary

Jonathan Renouf
·2-min read

My friend and colleague Aidan Laverty, who has died aged 55 of cancer, was a talented television producer and executive who inspired trust, loyalty and friendship. Few people turned the business of making television into such fun.

He was probably best known as editor of the BBC’s Horizon series, where he introduced the world to the 5:2 diet through the Michael Mosley film Eat, Fast and Live Longer (2012).

Tall and witty, with a rich voice, Aidan was instantly recognisable. He had an outrageous gift for extravagant metaphor: a film would be “on final approach with the flaps down” if it was nearly finished and looking good.

Aidan’s BBC career took off when he joined Newsnight in 1992. He became a successful producer and output editor before evolving into an investigative journalist on Panorama. Working on the “instant history” film Moral Combat (2000) about the war in Kosovo, he doggedly tracked down the way the CIA had used peace monitors as cover for their involvement in the run-up to the war. After 9/11 he produced a succession of fast turnaround films under intense pressure.

In 2002 he moved to the BBC’s Science unit, to further develop his film-making and storytelling skills. This bore fruit with the provocatively titled film Derek Tastes of Earwax (about synesthesia, 2004). There followed a succession of varied and groundbreaking programmes, including a memorable sequence taking James May to the edge of space in a U2 spy plane (James May on the Moon, 2009) and producing the landmark series The Story of Science (2010). As editor of Horizon (2010-13) he oversaw the spectacularly successful The Secret Life of the Cat and The Truth About Exercise, which championed the benefits of high intensity interval training.

Born in Finchley, north London, Aidan was the son of Northern Irish parents, Frank Laverty, a photographer, and Patsy (nee Cunningham), a teacher. After the family moved to Purley, in south London, Aidan went to Whitgift school in Croydon. He did a degree in information engineering at Christ’s College, Cambridge, followed by a diploma in computer science.

After leaving the BBC in 2016, Aidan started a new career in Australia as an executive with the ABC, where he was promoted rapidly. He was flying high, hugely appreciated by his new employer, when he was diagnosed with cancer this year.

Away from work Aidan had a passion for sailing, and in Australia took up long-distance swimming. He took delight in showing people an aerial photo of himself swimming across Bondi surrounded by sharks.

I met Aidan working on Newsnight. He was energetic, smart, gentle and kind, and the industry has lost a wonderful talent.

He is survived by his wife, Claudia (nee Doets), whom he married in 2013, and their two daughters, Belia and Livia.