It is with the greatest sadness that I have to report the passing of Daniel Wiles, the best
media person that the Society has ever known and also a dedicated GFS member for the
last thirty years.
Daniel, of course, was the genius who produced what is without a doubt, the finest two documentaries on George Formby, I refer to The South Bank Show on George Formby and Frank Skinner In Search of Formby.I got to know Daniel over the years and when he visited Blackpool for professional reasons or when he came just to visit a convention, we would always chat about video production which was probably the last thing he would want to talk about after work or on a leisure weekend but Daniel was a complete gentleman who would always encourage me with my interests in video editing. He was always so kind and complimentary to me and it was a pleasure and a privilege to know him and to call him a friend.In my opinion, Daniel's two TV programmes did more for The George Formby Society than any other television production and his work massively advanced the growth of the Society. When news was released that Frank Skinner was going to feature in a new documentary on George, my initial reaction was that it would not work, how could anyone create something better than The South Bank Show? I then learned that Daniel was producing and I knew straight away that the film would be brilliant!I studied Daniel's work on the two Formby productions almost frame by frame and learned so much about video production from him.On behalf of the members of our Society, I would like to express our sincere condolences to Erica and her family on this very sad day.Peter Pollard31/07/2020
Founder member John Walley who worked so much with Daniel on his Formby productions
writes these words…
The awful news of the passing of Daniel Wiles will have saddened each and every member of the GFS not merely because this delightful man was a Formby fan but because of the iconic documentaries he produced paying tribute to George. ‘The South Bank Show’ screened in November 1992 set the standard.It took Daniel three years to convince Melvin (now Lord) Bragg that George’s story was worth telling. Hitherto landmark arts shows had dealt only with living subjects, but Bragg had been a Formby fan as a youth and eventually agreed to narrate the show. When the viewing figures came out it was found that George’s show was the most watched profile of the whole series! Daniel knew what he was doing. Ten years ago, it was the turn of ‘Frank Skinner In Search Of George Formby’ and again it was so successful that it was repeated seven times (yes seven!) by BBC4.Of the eight radio and TV documentaries about George these two are head and shoulders above them all and the reason is simple: Daniel was a true fan and during his research became very friendly with Ted and Win Formby. I was proud to help him with both – one full day discussing the ‘South Bank Show’ and three days traipsing through Blackpool, Warrington Cemetery and the Sand dunes of Lytham opposite George’s house for the Frank Skinner Show. It gave me the chance to watch Daniel at work.Frank didn’t want a script (he hated them). He was always patient and so well prepared that he knew exactly what he wanted. At the Convention the whole film crew became hooked on George and on our enthusiasm. Frank, a Formby fan all his life even paid £900 for a Gibson UB2. It was due entirely to Daniel’s expertise and knowledge of his subject that both documentaries were so successful, and the GFS owes an awful lot to him. Indeed, I remember it was standing room only at one convention following the ‘Skinner’ documentary and our membership went sky high. But that was not the point. Daniel wanted to pay tribute to his hero, wanted to do George justice, wanted to get rid of the awful stereotype of Northern cloth cap humour that pervaded George’s image, wanted to tell Formby’s fascinating story to the world. It was really a labour of love for him.Next year will be our 60th Anniversary and it provides an opportunity for celebrating the past and looking to the future. Daniel’s documentaries are a permanent reminder of our hero and his passing is a cause of great sadness for us all.To Erica and the family, we send our sincere sympathy for her loss and the certain knowledge that we feel that loss too. May Daniel rest in peace.John Walley31/07/2020