From Ready Steady Go to Paperback Writer/Rain to Let It Be to The Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus to Budgie to Brideshead Revisited to The Sopranos.
You have to agree that is some line – up, but then Sir Michael Lindsay-Hogg is some director.
This renowned British-American director and television producer has simply left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. With a career spanning over six decades, Lindsay-Hogg has worked across various mediums, including film, television, and theatre, and has been associated with several iconic projects. His creative vision and innovative storytelling have made him a respected figure in the industry.
He was born on May 5, 1940, in New York City, the son of actress Geraldine Fitzgerald and director Sir Edward Lindsay-Hogg. Rumours have persisted for many years, that in fact, his father was the actor/director Orson Welles. Later DNA tests proved inconclusive.
With his lineage deeply rooted in the arts then, it was perhaps inevitable that he would gravitate towards a creative career. He received his formal education at Eton College and subsequently attended Trinity College in Dublin.
During his time at Trinity, Lindsay-Hogg’s passion for the arts blossomed, and he became actively involved in theatre productions.
From 1965, aged just 24, he directed episodes of Ready Steady Go! and his work on there, brought him into contact with the likes of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. In the very early days of the promo video, he directed Paperback Writer and Rain for The Fabs and was then approached by Mick Jagger to direct the TV special The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus in 1968.
He was then hired by the Beatles, with whom he had forged not only a professional relationship, but a personal one too, to then make a one-off TV show for them, which filmed behind the scenes footage, recording an album and rehearsing for future spectacular concert appearance. This idea slowly morphed into the feature film Let It Be which saw the light of day in 1970. Its footage, including the bands last ever live performance on the roof of number 3 Savile Row, the Apple Corps HQ, that the cigar chewing Lindsay Hogg shot, eventually became of course, the fabulous The Beatles : Get Back directed by Peter Jackson in 2021.
‘Peter said at the very beginning he was making a documentary about making a documentary. ‘You’re in it so much, mate’ he told me ‘Even if I wanted to cut you out of it, I couldn’t.’
Lindsay Hogg’s ability to capture the energy and essence of the band’s live performance on that roof, combined with his intimate access to their creative process, resulted in hours of raw and captivating film that has become a significant part of The Beatles’ legacy.
‘Ringo thought it was too cold; he was concerned the guitar players couldn’t feel their fingers. George said, ‘What’s the point? Why do we want to play these songs again?’ He had become a real nudge at this point. He’s ordinarily a wonderful, affable guy, but he was dealing with his own frustrations trying to get the others to record his songs. Paul was the one who pushed hardest to play. He knew we needed to do something special at that point. He knew the only thing that could keep the Beatles together was playing to an audience, keeping that relationship going. So, at this point, it was two against one, then out of the silence comes the voice of John Lennon. ‘Fuck it… let’s do it.’ And that was the deciding vote. They went on to the roof and into history, and that was the last time they ever played together like that.
When I finished filming it at the end of January 1969, the Beatles had not broken up, and now (people) recognise that my cut is a very accurate, enjoyable cinema verité of what it was like to work with the Beatles for a month in 1969. People are still living on confused memories of what was happening back then. Let It Be is not a breakup movie. We finished it long before things blew up. It’s a joyous movie when they were happy together, performing on a rooftop. It’s fucking great.’
Following his success with The Beatles, Lindsay-Hogg continued to make a mark in the television industry, including directing episodes of one of my particular favourites Budgie starring Adam Faith and Iain Cuthbertson in the early 1970s and then in the early 1980s, the seminal Brideshead Revisited, for which he was nominated for a Bafta.
He then directed concert films, including Simon and Garfunkel – The Concert in Central Park, Neil Young in Berlin and Paul Simon – Graceland. In addition to his work on television, Lindsay-Hogg made notable contributions to the world of theatre. He directed numerous stage productions, including the Tony Award-winning play Whose Life Is It Anyway? and the Broadway musical Agnes of God. His theatrical work showcased his ability to bring compelling narratives to life through the use of stagecraft and dynamic performances.
However, it was his work on the critically acclaimed HBO series The Sopranos that solidified his reputation as a masterful television director. He helmed several pivotal episodes, including the memorable Pine Barrens which is widely regarded as one of the show’s best episodes.
In his personal life, he was married to Lucy Mary Davies in 1967. They divorced in 1971 and she later became the second wife of the Earl of Snowdon. Other women in his life included actress Jean Marsh – Rose in Upstairs Downstairs – and American actress and TV star Mary Tyler Moore. In 1999, he became the 5th Baronet of Rotherfield Hall, following the death of his father.
Throughout his career, Lindsay-Hogg’s artistic sensibilities and attention to detail have been evident in his work. He has a keen eye for visual composition and a knack for capturing authentic performances that resonate with audiences. His directorial style is characterised by a blend of realism and theatricality, creating a unique and engaging viewing experience. His body of work continues to be celebrated for its artistic merit and cultural significance.
Michael Lindsay-Hogg, now 83 and living in Hudson, New York, made a lasting impact on the entertainment industry. With a career spanning over six decades, it has to be said, that he has left an indelible mark on our popular culture.
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