TV man's death blamed on film site clear-up

A TV production manager who worked on hit shows London's Burning, Upstairs Downstairs and On The Buses died from asbestos poisoning he contracted while on set of another ITV show.

An inquest into the death of Brian Kelly, of Sheringham Road in Staplecross, heard how the 75-year-old had worked for London Weekend TV searching for out-of-studio locations for filming to take place in.

It was while on the set of one of these locations - a disused East End factory used during the filming of popular show Dempsey and Makepeace - that Mr Kelly was exposed to harmful levels of asbestos which eventually caused his death.

The coroner heard how Mr Kelly had joined the production company in 1968 and spent the early part of his career working on shows at purpose-built studios in South Bank.

However, Mr Kelly was later used as a location manager as it became common for production firm's to hire out empty buildings for filming rather than pay for costly sets in-house.

Having uncovered an old factory in Bermondsey which he and his team decided was a perfect setting for 1980s British crime-drama Dempsey and Makepeace, Mr Kelly then began preparing the area.

This involved sweeping up the building using a dust pan and brush and clearing rubble from the factory floor.

A statement written by Mr Kelly in the run-up to his death was read at the inquest. In it Mr Kelly said of the clean-up: "It was all done by hand using brushes - there was no special equipment.

"I had an office downstairs in the factory and with a tight budget cleaners were not always a priority. Soon after the clean up dust and dirt was accumulating again.

"I spent some time filming London's Burning and when I returned to the set of Dempsey and Makepeace there was an asbestos removal company working there and people were walking round dressed like spacemen.

"Despite this I was not given any training to deal with asbestos or any face mask or safety equipment. It was not my job to make sure the buildings we found were safe."

Coroner Alan Craze recorded a verdict of death by industrial disease.