British film director Lewis Gilbert dies aged 97

Tributes paid to the Oscar-nominated maker of three James Bond films

British filmmaker Lewis Gilbert, who has died aged 97. Photograph: William Conran/PA Wire

British filmmaker Lewis Gilbert, who has died aged 97. Photograph: William Conran/PA Wire

 

Tributes were paid last night to British filmmaker Lewis Gilbert, who has died aged 97.

The director, best known for making three James Bond films, including The Spy Who Loved Me, will be “sorely missed”, Bond producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said.

Born in London in 1920, he also directed Educating Rita and Alfie – the film that made Michael Caine a star and earned Gilbert an Oscar nomination.

Wilson and Broccoli said: “It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of our dear friend Lewis Gilbert. Lewis was a true gentleman. He made an enormous contribution to the British film industry ... His films are not only loved by us but are considered classics within the series.”

Gilbert made his Bond debut with 1967’s You Only Live Twice starring Sean Connery, before going on to oversee The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979), both starring Roger Moore.

His final film, 2002’s Before You Go, saw him team up again with Educating Rita star Julie Walters.

His earlier films included the second World War classics Reach For The Sky, about real-life fighter pilot Douglas Bader who flew having lost both legs before the war, and Sink The Bismarck!

Gilbert was awarded a British Film Institute fellowship in 2001 for his outstanding contribution to British film.

Among those paying tribute on Twitter were comedian David Walliams, who thanked Gilbert “for or all the joy you brought me & millions of others”.

The official 007 Twitter account posted: “Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time,” alongside a series of behind-the-scenes photos of Gilbert on set. – PA