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    Denis Forman; spearheaded ‘Brideshead Revisited’; 95

    Denis Forman (left) and producer Christopher Morahan in India for “The Jewel in the Crown,” a miniseries from 1984.
    Granada Television
    Denis Forman (left) and producer Christopher Morahan in India for “The Jewel in the Crown,” a miniseries from 1984.

    NEW YORK — Denis Forman, a television executive who served as steward to some of the most ambitious and popular British programs ever made, including ‘‘The Jewel in the Crown,’’ “Brideshead Revisited,’’ and the celebrated ‘‘7 Up’’ documentary series, which has revisited the lives of a group of Britons at seven-year intervals, died Sunday in London. He was 95.

    His death was announced by a spokesman for ITV, the independent television network that absorbed Mr. Forman’s former company, Granada Television, after he retired in 1987.

    ITV/Rex Features
    Jeremy Irons starred in “Brideshead Revisited” in 1981.

    A charismatic figure who rebelled against the prerogatives of the upper classes into which he was born, Mr. Forman considered television a kind of democratizing and equalizing force in society. A news documentary series he helped create, ‘‘World in Action,’’ which was broadcast from 1963 to 1998, featured award-winning investigative journalism, audacious and often adversarial interviews with public figures, and detailed long-form election coverage and analysis.


    He preached against underestimating public taste and took risks that served to prove his point. Financial backers were initially skeptical, for instance, about the potential audience for a miniseries like ‘‘The Jewel in the Crown,’’ an adaptation of Paul Scott’s ‘‘Raj Quartet’’ a set of four novels about the last days of the British colonial rule in India.

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    In the mid-1950s, Granada Television was licensed by British authorities to compete with the BBC in certain markets. Mr. Forman, who was its managing director starting in 1965 and chairman from 1974 to 1987, established an experimental culture that made Granada the swashbuckling independent of the British airwaves.

    Its news documentaries became known for tackling controversial issues such as venereal disease, the contraceptive pill, and the campaign to ­decriminalize homosexuality. Series like ‘‘Brideshead Revisited’’ (1981) and ‘‘The Jewel in the Crown’’ (1984) made Granada hugely successful in overseas markets, especially in the United States, where the programs found a following on public television.

    He was knighted in 1976.