Director of Lucy Worsley docs and and Who Do You Think You Are has died at the age of 42 

Colleagues have paid tribute to “brilliant” and “incredibly funny” producer and director Eleanor Scoones who has died from cancer at the age of 42.  

The mother of two specialised in historical factual programmes and produced and directed numerous Lucy Worsley series.  

Eleanor Scoones

Eleanor Scoones

She worked as a producer director for the likes of Twenty Twenty, Wall To Wall and Viacom International Studios, with recent credits including Lucy Worsley’s Royal Palace Secrets (BBC Studios/ BBC4 and PBS), Our Victorian Christmas (Viacom/ Channel 5), A House Through Time (Twenty Twenty/ BBC2), and episodes of BBC1’s Who Do You Think You Are (Wall To Wall) featuring Greg Davies, Lulu, Jack and Michael Whitehall, and Jodie Whittaker.   

Scoones was always very clear about her ambitions to direct, according to BBC Storyville lead commissioning editor Emma Hindley.  

“I met Eleanor on her first job as an AP,” said Hindley. “She didn’t want to go from being assistant producer to producer, which is a route a lot of women were forced into – she was always determined to be a director.” 

As well as becoming a “brilliant” director with “a gift for making history and art subjects come alive”, Hindley said the thing she will remember most was how funny Scoones was.  

“We’d often meet for lunch and she had this idiosyncratic thing where she would suddenly start crying about something if she found it moving or funny. I loved that about her,” she said .

Sparky and stylish

Lauren Jacobs recalled the “incredibly funny” and “diligent” director she worked for on numerous occasions as assistant producer, including on Scoones’ first directing gig: Harlots, Housewives & Heroines: A 17th Century History for Girls (BBC4).  

She said despite wrangling with new-director nerves, Scoones was “vivacious and lovely” to everyone.  

“Even on the freezing 7am castle recces she was always sparky, and we just got on so well. We built an amazing bond,” she said. 

“When I made the move into directing she was an amazing support, resource and mentor.” 

Scoones, a Cambridge University history graduate, was “incredibly stylish” with a penchant for wearing skirts even when filming in windy, muddy fields, she said.

Jacobs added: “In TV we move around so much and it’s hard to always sustain friendships, but Eleanor became one of my closest friends and she leaves a massive hole in my life.”

Talent for bringing history to life

Former Silver River chief Daisy Goodwin, who made programmes with Scoones over a period of five years, called her “one of the most talented people I have ever worked with”.  

“She was smart, fearless and funny and wrote the best commentary ever. She had such a talent for bringing history to life, and making complex ideas easy to understand,” she said.  

Goodwin also admired the way Scoones “spoke truth to power” and “put people straight tactfully but firmly”. 

“I’m devastated that we’ve lost her so young,” she added.  

Wall To Wall’s Sarah Feltes, who was Scoones’ series producer on Who Do You Think You Are and her exec producer on Long Lost Family, said she had a “rare combination of acute intelligence, sharp wit and warmth.”  

“When she encountered applicants to Long Lost Family I got to see that as well as a flair for history, and for directing presenters and celebrities, she was simply kind and humane,” she said.  

“All of us on the team recall how side-splittingly hilarious she was - which of course is because she knew in her bones how to tell a story. She was serious, too, but this made working with her such fun. She was one of the very best people.”

Gifted storyteller

The indie’s exec producer Colette Flight said that Scoones was a “gifted storyteller, who pushed creatively, collaborated brilliantly, and brought out the best in her teams.” 

She added: “Eleanor’s skilful and accomplished directing meant that she always delivered wonderful films but she was also an absolute pleasure to work with; kind, generous, full of energy and humour. She will be sorely missed.” 

Eleanor leaves her husband Xavier and daughters Ada and Juno.