Pip Burley  

Ivor Novello Award-Winning producer of hit UK TV shows such as 'A Touch of Frost' and         'The Darling Buds of May

Previously Lectured with Cunard & Princess


Pip Burley was born in Croydon where he attended Whitgift School. During a career embracing music, publishing, advertising, theatre and television, Pip has performed in, written, produced, musically directed and directed a variety of works on television and in the theatre.

Through his company, Excelsior, Pip has devised and produced The Darling Buds of May, starring David Jason and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and A Touch of Frost. He has also produced My Uncle Silas with Albert Finney and Pride of Africa, starring Robert Powell. In theatre, he has produced West Side Story at The Fairfield Halls, and produced and directed Guys and Dolls for the National Trust, for whom he was Artistic Director at Polesden Lacey for four years. He has directed Kismet and The Slipper and the Rose, which he also adapted for the stage and is now performed all over the world. For the theatre, he has written and directed No Exit for Students, Don’t Mess With the Curtain Cords! and Viva la Costa!

Pip has composed and recorded music for commercials, theatre, film and television and, in 1990, won the Ivor Novello Award for best television theme music for The Darling Buds of May.

Alongside his involvement in the above, Pip founded a publishing, advertising and design group, which he ran as Chairman and CEO throughout the 70s, 80s and early 90s, serving a wide variety of clients including Toyota, Book Club Associates and The Financial Times, as well as working internationally, especially in the leisure industries.

Pip was Chief Barker of the Variety Club in 1999, the charity’s 50th Anniversary, and is a keen member of the Variety Club Golf Society. He also serves on the committee of the Old Whitgiftian Golf Society and was Captain in 2007/8. He is currently President of The Whitgiftian Association and Chair of Governors of the Quest Academy in Croydon.

Pip is married with three daughters and four grandchildren, and lives in Headley, Surrey.


Showbiz, celebrity, television and music.

2 Series of talks:

 "The Golden Age of Song" which pays tribute to the lives, words and music of Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and George Gershwin.



Lecture 1 - Tuning Up
Discovering music and the piano, learning to play - Bert Weedon, Russ Conway. Early life as a musician including playing with the Beatles, then on to music at sea, working aboard the old ‘Oriana’, ‘The Canberra’ and on QE2 with Joe Loss. But were we seeing the end of a musical era?

Lecture 2 - Overture and Beginners
The Radio Show at Olympia. The Goon Show - Frankie Vaughan and Eric Sykes. The dawn of rock ‘n Roll and its early exponents. A day at the Beeb seeing the pilot for ‘Top of the Pops’ and watching Benny Hill rehearse. Cabaret performances and the people I met - the delightful Ted Ray

Lecture 2 - Curtain Up!
The Big Bands, the bandleaders and personalities of the time: Syd Lipton, Ray McVay, Ken Mackintosh, Joe Loss, and Claude Cavalotti. The dance halls. Performing in cabaret in the West End and at country houses. Working at the Grosvenor House and

on TV with Pete Murray. The session scene - Wally Stott and Angela Morley. Hubert Gregg.

Lecture 3 - Act One
The day job - advertising in the 70’s and 80’s. Making commercials. Barry Humphries, Freddy Laker, Ron Hubbard and the Scientologists. Anita Harris and Mike Margolis. Roger Hargreaves and the Mr Men.

Lecture 4 - Intermission
The celebrity culture - dealing with the stars. Encounters with: Diana Rigg, Sir Fitzroy Maclean, Jeremy Beadle, Oliver Reed, Sir Henry Cooper and John Sullivan, The Beverley Sisters, Susan Maugham and Barbara Windsor.

Lecture 5 - Act Two
The World of TV. What producers do. “The Darling Buds of May” and discovering Catherine Zeta-Jones. “The idea for “A Touch

of Frost” with David Jason and the making of the series.

Lecture 6 - Encore!
“The Slipper and the Rose” and “My Uncle Silas” with Albert Finney. “Pride of Africa” with Robert Powell. Composing for TV

and Film. Winning an Ivor Novello Award. Even ‘briefer encounters’.

Lecture 7 - Questions and Answers

(a) I like to illustrate much of the above with music from the piano (if one can be made available onboard) a few original songs and humorous poems.