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News 05 May 14

British Creator of Classic Yugoslav Cartoons Dies

Timothy John Byford, a British television director and scriptwriter who made some of the most popular Yugoslav children’s shows of the 1970s and 1980s, has died in Belgrade.

Nemanja Cabric
BIRN, RTS
Belgrade

Byford, who was renowned for children’s television shows like “Neven” (“Marigold”), “Babino Unuce” (“Granny’s Boy”) and the legendary “Poletarac” (“The Fledgling”), died in Belgrade on May 5 after a long illness.

Although he stopped working in television more than two decades ago, people who were children in Yugoslavia in the 1970s and 1980s still remember his creations with fondness to this day, above all “The Fledgling”, which was awarded a ‘Prix Jeunesse’ prize in Munich in 1980.

Byford lived in Belgrade for decades, spending his last years in the Serbian capital battling cancer and at the same time teaching children English, writing and publishing his works on his website and advising the national broadcaster on programming for children.

He also worked for ten years at Sarajevo Television, where he produced the shows “Sunday Magazine”, “Musical Notebook”, “In Search of the Dodo” and “Open the Window”.

Byford could often be seen walking his dog in Tasmajdan Park in Belgrade | Photo by Nemanja Cabric

In a 2013 interview for Balkan Insight, Byford explained why he quit his broadcasting job in Britain and came to live in Belgrade permanently.

“Love was the initial reason, but I also realised I could also further my career better than at the BBC. There I would have continued working on what producers wanted. Here I did everything I wanted to do, and was accepted,” he explained.

He said that he had recently finished his autobiography, which had the working title of "Timothy Byford: Warts and All", although he suggested that he might consider changing it to “Life Begins at Seventy”.

The memoir follows the course of his life from his early days at Sandle Farm, Fordingbridge in England, through his years working for the BBC in London and finally to Belgrade, the city that he made his home at the beginning of the 1970s.

His other book, “Pigs Eat Banana Skin”, is a fictional self-portrait, based on incidents from his life mixed with imagined situations, using humour and poetry as well as observations of real life.

Belgrade television station Studio B recently finished a documentary film focusing on his life.

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