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 Lewis Greifer

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Lewis Greifer

  • Birth 19 Dec 1915 England
  • Death 18 Mar 2003 England
  • Burial Non-Cemetery Burial, Specifically: a bench was dedicated in an area a little way off the main path on Hamptead Heath, London, England. It reads: ‘THEY COULD DO WITH A BENCH HERE' LEWIS GREIFER 1915 - 2003
  • Memorial ID 26780442

Lewis Greifer was born on December 15, 1915 in London, England. After wartime service in the Royal Air Force, he pursued a career in journalism and joined the London Evening Standard. He then dabbled as a writer, with sketches for the groundbreaking comedy show, The Goon Show with Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers.

A strong record on television writing in the 1950s and 1960s made his career. Mr. Geifer worte several precursors to the TV mini series. In 1959, he wrote two six-part shows: "The Man Who Cheated Death," and "Voodoo Factor." By 1969, he diversified somewhat and devised the panel game show Whodunnit! for the BBC (which was later reformatted and remade by Thames Television as a vehicle for Jon Pertwee).

Lewis also wrote episodes of The Prisoner, Crossroads, and the initial draft of the Tom Baker Doctor Who story Pyramids of Mars. The latter script was radically rewritten by script-editor Robert Holmes, who decided to use the pseudonym Stephen Harris on the final product. Lewis also wrote radio documentaries inlcuding a biography of Paul Robeson.

Lewis Greifer also taught at the University of Tel Aviv, and had little contact with television in his remaining years.

He suffered from the effects of a stroke during the last 15 years of his life, but never gave up.

He died at age 87 in 2003.

LEWIS GREIFER 1915 - 2003"

A renowned TV scriptwriter during the golden age of British television from the mid 1950s to the late 1970s, London-born Lewis Greifer's work included two of the greatest shows of all time: The Prisoner and Dr Who. He was also a true lover of Hampstead Heath, London, England, not just because of its beauty, but because, according to his son Josh, it belongs to the people. "My father was municipally minded, a committed socialist."

For the last fifteen years of his life, following a stroke, Lewis had a bad leg and lungs, and couldn't walk far without sitting and resting. Each bench encountered would become a marker. On walks near Kenwood House, the family would often hear him say, as he stood leaning on his cane, catching his breath, "they could do with a bench here", "a sotto voce suggestion to the Parks Authority", as Josh succinctly puts it.

"I felt it was the best way to remember him," says his widow Nan, 81, who is Polish. "He didn't want a stone somewhere and to be buried among strangers. I was offered this spot by the authorities, which was overgrown with brambles, so I came over with my gardening bits and cleared it in an afternoon. I was very excited: this is exactly the place he would have liked. We meet here regularly but on the anniversary we drink vodka, we celebrate. He loved life."

"He took immense pleasure in living, even after his stroke," says daughter-in-law Mish, "he taught himself how to eat, how to write with his left hand, he was always seeing the latest films. He was the first to say, ‘what a beautiful day'. He savoured every moment."

Lewis, with his acute writer's eye, was a huge fan of the stories behind bench dedications. "He was interested in the way that lives were told in this incredibly succinct line," says Josh, "including one in particular: "To our son B. Patel, B.Sc B", clearly from parents proud of their young man's academic achievement, even if his life was tragically cut short."

This belief in the power of stories was also behind Greifer's love of football: "He saw it as a story of struggle," says Josh. "He'd always watch a game – in fact it was an overriding passion that was a key to his life. He would often compare football to socialism."

But behind the interest in human stories was also an enthusiasm for the utility of benches. "My dad attested to that in his final years," says Josh. "Benches are about functionality: they need to be used. Unlike a gravestone, a bench shows that somehow you're still part of the world, you have a purpose and a function."

Nan loves seeing people on the bench. "I saw a young man asleep with his rucksack on recently, lying here. I like seeing it used."

Whilst the Greifers are not a religious family, Nan says they are sticklers for traditions. "Lewis died on the 18th of the month so every 18th I visit the bench. Sometimes I think of a very sad Verdi opera we once watched together. Lewis wasn't emotional – we were both very private people – but on that one occasion we were sitting there crying, and that's how I remember him, because it was the end of his life. Two weeks later he died. It was the only time in nearly 50 years that I saw him cry."

~ Stephen Emms of London, England ~ Ever wondered about the human stories behind park bench dedications? "They Could Do With A Bench Here" began life as a photo-journalism project, when Stephen Emms, early one morning in May 2006, took pictures of 160 memorial benches on Hampstead Heath in London. He has written stories for The Times Magazine, The Oldie, The Herald, arts site Pick Me Up, the Ham & High, and Yours magazine as well as being interviewed on the BBC.

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  • Created by: Twist
  • Added: 12 May 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 26780442
  • SD
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Lewis Greifer (19 Dec 1915–18 Mar 2003), Find A Grave Memorial no. 26780442, ; Maintained by Twist (contributor 46920390) Non-Cemetery Burial, who reports a a bench was dedicated in an area a little way off the main path on Hamptead Heath, London, England. It reads: ‘THEY COULD DO WITH A BENCH HERE' LEWIS GREIFER 1915 - 2003.