Director David Leland of Wish You Were Here, passes away at age 82.


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Director David Leland of Wish You Were Here, passes away at age 82.

Director David Leland of Wish You Were Here, passes away at age 82.

Director of Wish You Were Here, David Leland, passes away at age 82.

Along with writing the historic TV play Made in Britain, which starred Tim Roth, the British director also won an Emmy for Band of Brothers.

David Leland, who wrote and directed a number of critically acclaimed British films, including Made in Britain, Mona Lisa, and Personal Services, as well as the director of the 1980s hit song Wish You Were Here, passed away at the age of 82.

Leland passed away on Sunday, surrounded by his loved ones, according to a statement from his agency, Casarotto Ramsay and Associates.

“His wife Sabrina, his four daughters, his son, and his six grandchildren… all of whom he loved almost as much as Arsenal football club” are also survivors, they continued.

Director David Leland of Wish You Were Here, passes away at age 82.

Leland, who was born in 1941, received his acting training at the Central School of Speech of Drama before joining the split that resulted in the Drama Center’s founding in 1963.

He was able to land small roles in 1970s movies like Jacques Demy’s The Pied Piper, Gawain and the Green Knight, which starred Murray Head, and John Mackenzie’s directorial debut, One Brief Summer.

But he discovered that writing and directing were more to his taste. In 1976, he oversaw the world premiere of Terry Jones and Michael Palin’s two short plays,

Their Finest Hours, at Sheffield’s Crucible theatre. The following year, he commissioned Victoria Wood to write her play Talent for the same theater.

Pierce Brosnan, who had also attended the Drama Centre, was cast by Leland for Tennessee Williams’ play The Red Devil Battery Sign, which had its UK premiere at the Roundhouse in London in 1977.


After assisting director Alan Clarke with the scripts for two BBC Play for Todays, Beloved Enemy and Psy-Warriors, which aired in 1981, Leland went on to establish himself as a writer with Made in Britain, a stand-alone drama starring Tim Roth as a skinhead.

In 1982, it was an ITV production that was both successful and controversial. Leland would go on to write several of the screenplays for important movies during the British film industry comeback of the 1980s.

He had a co-credit in the Neil Jordan-directed Mona Lisa, starring Bob Hoskins as a bodyguard and Cathy Tyson as the sex worker he is guarding, as well as the Jones-directed Personal Services, which was based on the true story of Julie Walters’s character, real-life brothel owner Cynthia Payne.

Subsequently, Leland ventured into filmmaking himself, helming the 1987 wartime comedy drama Wish You Were Here. It starred Emily Lloyd and became a hit song, drawing inspiration once more from Payne’s experiences.

He soon went on to the financially disastrous US-set comedy Checking Out, which starred Jeff Daniels and was produced by George Harrison’s HandMade Films.


Leland did, however, return to the UK and found success with The Big Man, which starred Liam Neeson as a Glasgow bare-knuckle fighter, and The Land Girls, another wartime drama in which the women assigned to farm work were played by Catherine McCormack, Rachel Weisz, and Anna Friel.


But he didn’t entirely give up acting. Notable on-screen roles included the puppeteer in Terry Gilliam’s epic fantasy Time Bandits, the manager in the Palin and Jones episode “Ripping Yarns,”

the angry and desperate manager, and Majikthise, the philosophers’ union representative in the television adaptation of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

After that, in 2001, Leland co-won an Emmy for outstanding directing with Jordan on an episode of the Band of Brothers TV miniseries.

In 2011, Leland and Jordan worked together on the historical drama The Borgias, which starred Jeremy Irons. He joined the show as a co-showrunner and producer, and went on to write and direct several episodes in its second series.

Director David Leland of Wish You Were Here, passes away at age 82.

Leland ventured into the music business by producing several music videos for Harrison’s Traveling Wilburys band. Then, in 2003, he was asked to helm the historic Concert for George documentary, which was a film of the Harrison tribute concert that had been held following the musician’s 2001 passing.

” David Leland was a family friend and George Harrison’s trusted choice to direct three music videos for The Traveling Wilburys in the late 1980s; trust being the key word in the company of George, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and Bob Dylan,” stated Olivia Harrison, George Harrison’s wife.

Aside from George’s advice to “just be cool,” David picked settings that reflected the friendship, respect, complexity, and simplicity that united those legendary musicians.

I asked him to make a movie of the Concert for George, which we filmed at the Royal Albert Hall to honor George’s life, more than 20 years later.

We will all have to come to terms with David’s loss, so David and I spent many hours in the editing room trying to understand George’s death.

Director David Leland of Wish You Were Here, passes away at age 82.
Director David Leland of Wish You Were Here, passes away at age 82.



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Director David Leland of Wish You Were Here, passes away at age 82.

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