Cate Haste obituary | History books


As a historian, biographer and documentary filmmaker, Cate Haste, who died of lung cancer at the age of 75, has explored remarkable lives and the relationships people have with each other, both historically and personally.

For the 24-part series Cold War (1998) by Jeremy Isaacs for BBC Two / CNN, covering the period 1945 to 1991, she directed five episodes. They recounted how fear was mobilized in both Western and Eastern Europe, life behind the Iron Curtain, how the Berlin Wall was built and in 1989 how it fell. The filming took her to the United States, where President George HW Bush was instrumental, and to Prague, with Václav Havel, to tell how the Prague Spring thaw in the Soviet bloc was crushed by the invading tanks. in 1968.

Central Europe also served as the backdrop for his eighth and final book, Passionate Spirit: The Life of Alma Mahler (2019). Cate wanted to look beyond the “femme fatale” image of Alma, who was married to composer Gustav Mahler, architect Walter Gropius and writer Franz Werfel, and had lovers including artist Oskar Kokoschka. Alma’s artistic intelligence had been essential in attracting their love, but she was also a talented songwriter whose musical ability was frustrated.

It was a gargantuan task, in part because Alma was already the subject of several books, and because much of his diary had been published – in German. Cate would be the first book written for English readers, but with the advantage of having access to unpublished diaries. Her own knowledge of German was limited, but she persevered with the help of an occasional translator and sometimes myself.

Alma became a part of Cate’s life: she could talk and speculate on her endlessly; she researched more carefully than ever. She grew up loving him, even though she became concerned about Alma’s perceived anti-Semitism. There was no way to deny that she had made anti-Semitic comments. But Cate became convinced that she was only imitating the opinions she had inherited from her family: the fact of her marriage to Mahler and some of her subsequent connections suggested that what she had said in this regard was superficial. .

Cate Haste with George HW Bush, who contributed to the Cold War series.

Sexual freedom in Britain was an area Cate explored in six documentaries, Just Sex (1985), for Channel 4, along with the independent group of female directors she helped set up, 51% Productions.

Her book Rules of Desire (1992) deals with the history of sex after the First World War. He traces the revolution of the 1960s to the first attacks on traditional beliefs about sexuality by innovators such as Sigmund Freud, the Webbs, Marie Stopes and George Bernard Shaw. Meticulously researched, like all of Cate’s work, he explored change in sexual desire, HIV / AIDS, the pill, same-sex relationships, and the law.

Cate has not been tempted to update Rules of Desire in light of more recent views on sexuality and gender. She also had no general conclusions to share publicly about her often-demanding marriage to broadcaster and writer Melvyn Bragg, which lasted from 1973 until their divorce in 2018. They went their amicable separation and stayed behind. in touch.

The intimate aspects of the whole story were brought out in his film Hitler’s Brides and his book Nazi Women: Hitler’s Seduction of a Nation (both in 2001). Eager to explore the lives and fates of women in different social settings, Cate set out to analyze, explain, and illustrate how Hitler succeeded in luring German women into the bizarre moral world of the Third Reich by bringing them to life. courting so that they become carriers of the next purified. generation. She posed a challenge: Did women become willing collaborators or were they victims?

Born in Leeds, Cate (Catherine) was the daughter of Margaret (née Hodge), a technical teacher, and Eric Haste, a civil engineer. When she was four, the family emigrated to Australia and returned seven years later, in 1956. From Thornbury High School in Bristol, Cate attended the University of Sussex, where in 1966 she graduated from English. She then obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Adult Education at the University of Manchester.

She entered television while working as a researcher and associate producer on The Day Before Yesterday (1969-70), a six-part series about Britain from 1945 to 1959 produced by Phillip Whitehead for Thames. In Isaac’s view, this set standards for subsequent historical documentaries on television.

After working on programs such as Man Alive, the BBC’s groundbreaking series on social and political issues, Cate directed his first series, The Secret War (BBC, 1977), on the scientific and technical aspects of WWII. global. His first book, Keep the Home Fires Burning (also in 1977), explores British propaganda on the home front during the First World War.

Films produced and directed for Brook Associates and Channel 4 included The Writing on the Wall (1986), continuing the thread of British political history, now through the 1970s, in six episodes; Drink: Under the Influence (1990), on alcohol problems; Secret Story: The Death of a Democrat (1992), presenting new evidence of the death of Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk in 1948, as communism took hold in Eastern Europe; and the second of three parts of The Churchills (1995), on Winston Churchill’s return to government after the wild years of the 1930s.

The Goldfish Bowl (2004), a book co-authored with Cherie Booth, then a resident of 10 Downing Street as Tony Blair’s wife, examined the role of the Prime Minister’s wife since the 1950s. Booth presented the related Channel 4 film Cate produced, Married to the Prime Minister (2005), which included interviews with Mary Wilson and Norma Major.

Another interviewee was Clarissa Eden, which led to Cate’s collaboration with her through the editing of the book Clarissa Eden: A Memoir – Churchill to Eden (2007), a recording of the life and times of the niece of Winston Churchill who was married to Prime Minister Anthony Eden. Cate has kept in regular contact with Clarissa and they have retained a great affection for each other.

A Passion for Paint (2010) detailed the work of Cumbrian expressionist landscape artist Sheila Fell, and Cate has become an avid collector of her work. It was followed by Craigie Aitchison: A Life in Color (2014), about the Scottish artist.

Cate and I first met while working on Cold War. I had been assigned to write one of the episodes and she was my producer. It became a solid friendship.

In 2018, on the 20th anniversary of the Cold War, Cate hosted a team reunion at his cabin in Turville, Chilterns. The convivial reunion, for which she cooked excellently, reflected how popular and widely admired she was – generous, loyal and free-spirited, a star among women journalists and writers.

The paintings on the walls testified to his interest in contemporary British art. A favorite was artist Julian Cooper, whose work was a reminder of Cate’s great love for Cumbria, where she and Melvyn had owned a home.

She is survived by her children, Tom and Alice, her stepdaughter, Marie-Elsa, and her sisters Frances and Helen.

Cate (Catherine Mary) Haste, writer and filmmaker, born August 6, 1945; passed away on April 29, 2021

This article was last modified on May 9, 2021. Cate Haste produced the TV movie Married to the Prime Minister, but did not direct it. Although Denis Thatcher was featured in this program, it did not include an interview with him.


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