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BBC, Sony veteran Pye dies

Chris Pye, the TV industry veteran who held senior roles at the BBC, Granada Television and Sony, has passed away aged 71.

Chris Pye

Pye, whose career began in 1969 as an entertainment producer at Granada Television and included a decade in the US, died of a heart attack on Tuesday.

At Granada, Pye produced the iconic music series So It Goes, hosted by Tony Wilson, which gave the Sex Pistols their first live performance on television.

In 1980, he relocated to LA where he wrote and produced series such as NBC’s true crime show Unsolved Mysteries and set up his own indie, before returning to the UK in the 1990s and becoming head of entertainment at the BBC.

In 1999, Pye became commercial director of Granada Television, setting up and managing Granada International’s production companies in China, Australia and New York.

Sony Pictures Television came calling in 2003, with Pye taking up the role of VP of worldwide formats, before he joined Dutch firm 2waytraffic as non-executive chairman and director in 2006.

2waytraffic went on to acquire format rights to Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and was itself bought by Sony in 2008, where Pye served as chairman and deputy chief executive.

Most recently, he was chairman of Dutch firm Imagine Nation, as well as finance advisory firm About Corporate Finance and the London-based indies Outline Productions and Absolutely Productions.

Jeremy Fox, executive chairman of DRG and co-founder of Atrium TV, said Pye, with whome he worked numerous times, was “without question my closest friend, inside or outside of the business.”

“There are so many people who went to him for advice, as Chris always gave people fantastic advice. I think he ended up as chairman of half-a-dozen companies at one point. And no one felt the slightest problem with him being chairman of different companies. He was out of the ordinary and had a wide-ranging ability to work with anyone; he never fell out with anyone,” said Fox.

Phil Gurin, Global Road’s president of unscripted and alternative, said: “Chris was a gifted and brilliant member of the global television community. I met him many years ago and over the years was always touched by his kindness and openness. More importantly, his humour, insight and worldly wisdom were a blessing to all who knew him. He was the definition of a true television pioneer. I hate that he’s gone with so much more to give his family and our industry.”

Pye is survived by his wife Frances and daughter Holly, who was made commercial director at Objective Media Group in June.

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