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Documentary producer Emma Love has died aged 49, after being diagnosed with cancer in 2020.

Love, who was twice nominated for a BAFTA, had trained as a newspaper journalist before moving into TV in the 1990s.

During her career, Love worked for many of the UK’s leading factual producers including Films of Record, Dragonfly, Love, Windfall, Flame, Caravan and Voltage. She also worked in radio, developing true crime documentaries for James O’Brien, and training both at the BBC Academy and DV Talent, where she was the Training Manager.

Love was born in Hull, a place that left an indelible mark in her accent.

She moved to London in the 90s, turning up on her friend Series Producer Jamie Sutcliffe’s doorstep and announcing that she was moving in.

Love studied for a time at the London College of Printing, before getting a job at the Daily Mirror. However, she was soon drawn to the world of TV documentary, working as an AP under some of the most acclaimed exec producers in the industry: Brian Hill at Century Films and Roger Graef at Films of Record.

Despite enjoying ‘’trashy TV’’ and having the occasional hankering to work on more mainstream, entertainment shows she lacked – by her own admission – the ability to ‘soft soap’ talent who she didn’t much like or admire.

Her real interest – and strengths – lay in giving a platform to people who ‘’didn’t have a voice’’. Latterly, she had focused more on access driven docs including stints working at Al Jazeera. ‘’She was always in prison or – if she wasn’t actually in the prison – she’d be trying to get access to one,’’ said Sutcliffe.

While Love was recognised for having a talent for dealing with contributors – especially those who had been dealt a hard hand in life – and would boast of being able to ‘’charm the knickers off a nun’’, she was not one for career politics or schmoozing execs or commissioners.

‘’She could be spiky and challenging even with her friends’’, said Matt Born, MD of DV Talent. ‘’She liked a heated debate and to see if she could provoke a reaction. But there was never any animus. She was simply curious in exploring ideas, arguments, people, and boundaries. And she got real satisfaction from helping train and nurture upcoming talent.’’ 

‘’I think she struggled with the transience of TV relationships,’’ said Sutcliffe. ‘’Some people just didn’t get Emma at all, but she wore that as a badge of honour.’’

Love had had significant challenges in life, none more so than when was diagnosed with MS at the age of 28. It led to her having to make ‘’lots of big decisions about her life and how she would live it,’’ said Sutcliffe.

When her health started to deteriorate during the first Covid lockdown, and unable to get face-to-face consultations, the medical team attributed her symptoms to her ongoing MS. It was only some months later, when she was finally able to get to hospital, that she was diagnosed with stage 4 cervical cancer. Having spent Christmas 2023 and her 49th birthday at home, she returned to St Joseph’s Hospice in east London, where she died on 13th January with her beloved dog Luigi in her arms. She leaves her mother, Maggie, as well as Luigi.

As well as her Bafta-nominations (for Channel 4’s The Plane Crash and a Panorama on children’s social services), Love also earned Emmy, RTS and Grierson nominations.


Emma Love: 5th January 1975 – 13th January 2024

To make a donation to St Joseph's Hospice in memory of Emma Love, please click here.

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