NEWCASTLE (CelebrityAccess) – Grammy-winning British filmmaker Geoff Wonfor, who directed the Beatles’ Anthology documentary series, has died at the age of 73. His death was confirmed Tuesday (November 22) by his daughter Sam Wonfor, who said he passed in Newcastle, where he grew up. His cause of death was not released.
Wonfor had been a part of British entertainment since the 1980s when he directed a handful of episodes of The Tube and made a documentary about the movie Shanghai Surprise, starring Sean Penn and Madonna. During that documentary, he met the producer of that movie – George Harrison. His work with Harrison led to the most significant assignment of his career.
The Beatles Anthology was an eight-part documentary, three double albums, and a book. Wonfor spent nearly five years on the film, which combined old footage with new interviews of the three surviving Beatles – Paul McCartney, Harrison, and Ringo Starr. He then had to include commentary from John Lennon, who had been murdered years earlier. The documentary also included previously-unfinished Lennon songs, “Free As a Bird” and “Real Love,” released as new Beatles tracks. George Harrison passed away in 2001.
The Anthology won Wonfor and co-director Bob Smeaton a Grammy in 1997 for Best Long Form Music Video. That led to work with Wonfor directing McCartney’s videos for “In the World Tonight” and “Young Boy.” He also went on to direct a McCartney concert video from the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where the Beatles played numerous times at the start of their career.
His other credits include Band Aid 20, a documentary about the anniversary re-recording of the charity song, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and “Sunday for Sammy,” a tribute to Britsh actor Sammy Johnson.
Wonfor’s daughter Sam said on social media: “He was a one-off – a huge presence with a heart to match. His warmth, humor, and encyclopedic capacity for remembering jokes of all qualities ensured people who met him rarely forgot him – and that has been borne out by the wave of wonderful messages and tributes we’ve received since his passing. He loved what he did, and we’re so very grateful he got to continue doing it to the end.”