Piers Haggard death: British director of Pennies From Heaven dies aged 83

Piers Haggard with his Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) medal (Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Piers Haggard with his Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) medal (Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

British director Piers Haggard OBE has died aged 83.

The film, TV and theatre director is perhaps best known for his 1978 BBC drama series Pennies From Heaven, for which he received a Bafta, and for establishing the directors guild Directors UK.

Haggard’s agents Casarotto Ramsay & Associates announced the news on Twitter, writing: “Our beloved client, Piers Haggard was a truly remarkable filmmaker, campaigner for directors’ rights, and wonderful human being. He will be deeply missed by us and all who knew him.”

“He is deeply missed by his family, friends, colleagues, and the industry at large,” the agents added in a further statement to Variety.

“[He was] a warm-hearted and generous man, full of energy, whose family was a large part of his life as both a husband, father and grandfather.

“Piers’ other great passion was as a campaigner of the rights of his fellow directors. He was instrumental in helping to create the Directors Guild of Great Britain and Directors and Producers Rights Society, which today form Directors U.K., an organisation Piers remained deeply involved with up until his passing.”

He was the father of Breeders actor Daisy Haggard, who shared a simple tribute on Twitter reading: “Our amazing dad [heartbreak emoji].”

In a statement, Bafta wrote: “We were deeply saddened to hear of the death of British theatre, film & TV director, Piers Haggard OBE whose career spanned over five decades.

“Piers was awarded a Bafta, alongside Kenith Trodd, for the acclaimed BBC TV series Pennies From Heaven. Our thoughts are with his family.”

Directors UK added: “We have all learned so much from his inspiring history of fighting for directors. He was an incredibly insightful, kind and intelligent man who leaves behind a wonderful body of work and a legacy of selflessly protecting directors’ rights.”

Haggard was born in London to Morna Gillespie and the actor, poet, and novelist Stephen Haggard but grew up on a small farm in rural Scotland. He is the great-great-nephew of the writer Sir Henry Rider Haggard, who was known for his adventure fiction romances set in exotic locations.

Haggard’s career spanned five decades, during which time he worked with stars including Liza Minnelli, Vanessa Redgrave, Helen Mirren and Maureen Lipman. His film directing credits include The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971), The Fiendish Plot of Dr Fu Manchu (1980) and Venom (1981).

In 2016, he was awarded an OBE for services to film, television, and theatre.

Haggard is survived by four children from his first marriage to Christiane Stokes, his second wife, stained glass artist Anna Sklovsky, and their two children including Daisy as well as thirteen grandchildren.