Michael Winner dies aged 77

Film director and newspaper columnist Michael Winner has died aged 77.

Born in London in 1935, Winner began his career behind the camera as an assistant director at the BBC, before making his feature debut with Shoot to Kill in 1960, which he also wrote.

From there, Winner went on to work on sex comedies such as The System (1964) and You Must Be Joking (1965), before trying his hand at more serious drama with the likes of I’ll Never Forget What’sis’name (1967) and the wartime saga Hannibal Brooks at the end of the Sixties.

As the Seventies approached Hollywood beckoned, with Winner making his US debut with Lawman in 1971, starring Burt Lancaster and Robert Duvall. The Nightcomers, featuring Marlon Brando, arrived later that year, and was followed by such hits as The Mechanic (1972) and The Sentinel (1977).

However, it is for the 1974 film Death Wish that Winner will be best remembered as a director. Death Wish, a vigilante thriller starring Charles Bronson became one of the year's biggest box-office hits and went on to spawn two sequels.

According to The Guardian, “his career waned in the 90s and he bowed out with the 1999 hit-man caper Parting Shots, a British film that reunited him with his old friend Oliver Reed”. However, Winner was to go on to find further celebrity, first as a restaurant critic for The Sunday Times, and then as the unlikely star of a car insurance advert campaign, which featured the oft-quoted line, “Calm down, dear!”.

Michael Winner is survived by his wife, Geraldine Lynton-Edwards.