Rod Hall 1951 – 2004
Rod Hall was born in Sussex in 1951 and grew up in a close-knit community, his parents running a fruit farm. Rod always joked that he never really recovered from having Vivien Leigh as a neighbour. He was the only boy in the area whom she allowed to fish in her private lake, a fact of which he was always proud.
Rod was educated at Priory Grammar School in Lewes and went on to read English at Edinburgh University from 1970, completing an M.A. there in 1974. Whilst at University he started the first ever student Gay and Lesbian Society.
On leaving Edinburgh, Rod became an administrator at Greenwich Theatre. He also taught English As A Foreign Language at a private college and such was his charm that he was approached by the Head of Lego to teach English to all the Lego employees in Denmark!
Rod’s literary career began after an interview at Penguin Books for a post in the Publicity and Marketing Department. He soon made his mark and in 1978 he created the UK’s first film and television tie-in department at Penguin Books, beginning with WATERSHIP DOWN. It was incredibly successful and continues to this day.
In 1984 he was head-hunted by the renowned literary agency A.P. Watt Limited to start up their film, television and theatre department. During his thirteen years there Rod built up an impressive and widely respected client list, going on to set up projects including JEEVES & WOOSTER, JUST WILLIAM, DALZIEL & PASCOE, CASUALTY, BABE, THE FULL MONTY, MRS BROWN, MY MOTHER SAID I NEVER SHOULD and THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE. He also became a Director of the company.
It was no surprise to anyone who knew Rod that when left A.P. Watt to set up The Rod Hall Agency Limited with his colleague Clare Barker in 1997, that all of his clients went with him.
He signed, nurtured and developed the cream of U.K. writing talent. One look at the most successful British films of the past few years and odds-on the writer would be one of Rod’s clients (THE FULL MONTY, MRS BROWN, BILLY ELLIOT, CALENDAR GIRLS).
The same can be said of both television (CASUALTY and MEN BEHAVING BADLY) and theatre (THE LEENANE TRILOGY, THE PILLOWMAN, THE LIEUTENANT OF INISHMORE, COOKING WITH ELVIS, PERFECT DAYS, and SPOONFACE STEINBERG). Two of his writers (Simon Beaufoy and Lee Hall) were nominated for Oscars and several of his clients won BAFTAS. In fact in the Agency’s first year alone THE FULL MONTY took the world by storm, MRS BROWN became a national treasure and THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE ran for over a year on Broadway.
He was fiercely protective and supportive of his clients and passionate about their work. He put in an incredible amount of time and personal effort, irrespective of whether it was a fringe production or a Hollywood movie. He was a mentor and a big brother, and was at the end of the phone day or night, whether it was a work matter or a personal crisis. He was never insincere and wouldn’t shrink from offering an honest appraisal of a client’s work, although always supportive and constructive. He was always there. He never let his writers or his friends down.
He was one of the great negotiators, but always conducted himself with style and grace. He was widely respected for his taste and earned a sustained admiration which is hard won within the film industry. Many producers commented that when one of his distinctive orange covers landed on the desk it would always be a worthwhile read.
Simon Beaufoy says, “He took me on straight out of film school and guided my career from that moment. Rod was able to befriend someone as well as represent them and the older I’ve got the more I’ve realised how rare that is. Rod was my friend from the beginning.”
He had wonderful warmth and kindness and brought nothing but good into this world. He has one niece and two nephews and three great-nephews and one great-niece. He was incredibly proud of all of them and they looked up to him, adored him and loved him dearly. Rod shared twenty-eight happy years with his partner, Stuart Hay.
He was affectionately known as The Rod Hall (of the Rod Hall Agency), Mr H and His Rodness. A producer with whom he worked used to say ‘In Rod We Trust’. He is irreplaceable and we miss him.
Rod was extremely close to his family and is survived by his sister Ann and his mother.
(Rod would say that the above has very poor structure with a shabby character arc and no Second Act and would certainly not have taken me on as client on the strength of it. But given the circumstances we hope he’d be understanding.)
Charlotte Knight & Matthew Parkhill