A PIONEER of television has celebrated his 101st birthday with a return to his former school.

Eastbourne College welcomed back their oldest living former pupil, Derek Granger, with a special Q&A session about his life.

Derek, best known for producing the Bafta award-winning Brideshead Revisited series for Granada Television in 1981, returned to the school with theatre director David Grindley as part of the school’s Circus Creative Arts Festival.

Speaking about his career in television, he reminisced about his time as a scriptwriter and producer on Coronation Street in the early 1960s, but said Brideshead Revisited is still his proudest achievement.

“Brideshead Revisited was a very lucky break for me to have such wonderful material to work on,” he said.

“I absolutely loved working on Coronation Street. I think I was probably actually happier doing that than anything else in television.”

Derek also revealed how it felt returning to his former school, and his secret for reaching his 101st birthday.

“Curiosity. I always want to know what happens next,” he said.

“It’s rather wonderful to be back here - it looks much the same but with new additions. I feel in a way that I’ve come home.”

Born on in April 1921, Derek attended Eastbourne College from 1935 to 1939.

After serving as a lieutenant in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, Derek started out in journalism as a drama critic on the Evening Argus in Brighton, before landing a job as the Financial Times’ first ever theatre critic thanks to a recommendation from Laurence Olivier.

A career change beckoned when Sidney Bernstein, founder of Granada Television, invited Derek to help head up the drama department.

Derek was a script writer and producer on Coronation Street and went on to produce plays by the likes of Tennessee Williams and Harold Pinter.

The four-day festival at Eastbourne College included a range of talks and performances from former pupils who now work in the arts, such as actor Ed Speleers, of Downton Abbey and Outlander fame, and comedy writer Paul Mayhew-Archer, from The Vicar of Dibley and Miranda.

Funds raised from the festival will go towards the school’s bursary programme, which enables children from low-income families to benefit from an education at Eastbourne College and St Andrew’s Prep.

Headmaster Tom Lawson said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Derek back to the college as he turned 101 and wonderful to see that his passion for stories and storytelling is clearly still as strong as ever.

“We’re grateful to Derek and all our generous former pupils who returned to the college for our first Circus Creative Arts Festival, to perform or share their insights on working in the arts and what they’ve been up to since school.

“At Eastbourne College, we seek to develop creativity at every level and recognise that a good arts education is crucial in developing good character.

“The festival was a great opportunity for our current pupils to be inspired by their predecessors, as well as raising money for our bursary programme, which will allow young people who couldn’t ordinarily afford it, to benefit from a first-class, well-rounded education at the college.”