Plea for answers after cancer death of South Yorkshire Poirot and Fortitude TV producer

Friends of a South Yorkshire television producer who died from cancer are demanding answers about his death.

By Darren Burke
Thursday, 20 June, 2019, 14:53

Trevor Hopkins died in 2017 at the age of 66 from mesothelioma, a form of terminal cancer linked to exposure to asbestos - often decades previously.

Now close friends of Mr Hopkins, who produced shows such as Poirot, Sky Atlantic show Fortitude and Beadle’s About, have launced an emotional appeal for answers.

Mr Hopkins, from Rotherham, developed symptoms including back pain at the start of 2017.

Following tests he was diagnosed with mesothelioma and he died in December of the same year.

Following his death, his close friends instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his illness and how he may have been exposed to the hazardous material.

Now, as part of their ongoing work, the experts are seeking information regarding the working conditions that Trevor may have faced when he worked at London & Scandinavian Metallurgical Company’s steel processing plant in Rotherham between 1968 and 1970.

Ian Bailey, the partner and specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who is representing Trevor’s loved ones, said: “Trevor fought so bravely against the disease and had extensive surgery to seek to prolong his life.

“Sadly, this did not happen.

“I appeal to anyone to come forward who worked at London & Scandinavian between 1968 and 1970, and who remembers Trevor or the use of asbestos within the manufacturing process at around that time.

“We know that asbestos was used in some of the processes at that time, but even the smallest detail could be helpful in helping Trevor’s friends find out the answers they deserve regarding his illness.”

After leaving Rotherham Grammar School in 1967, Trevor started working at London & Scandinavian. The factory was near the home he lived in at the time with mum, Winnie, a nurse, and steelworker dad, John.

Trevor was responsible for logging and weighing the lorries coming into the factory, occasionally going inside the factory itself.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

While waiting for the lorries to arrive, Trevor stood in a dusty and windswept open space. He believed that many of the lorries which came and went were carrying sacks of asbestos which was used in part of the manufacturing process.

In 1972, Trevor left to seek work in London. He ended up studying stage management at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and, after working in several theatres, he moved on to television jobs. He worked his way up from research roles to production jobs.

Twenty years after he left London & Scandinavian’s Rotherham factory, he found himself working as a TV producer. He worked on Beadle’s About, Poirot, and The Prisoner.

Trevor finally set up his own company and was instrumental in unearthing a well-known comedy actor.

After working with Universal Studios in Los Angeles, he was given the opportunity to produce the Sky Atlantic TV series, Fortitude, as well as The Indian Detective for Netflix, in 2017.

In early 2017, Trevor was working on Fortitude in Cape Town. At this time, he developed back pain and had a build-up of fluid in his lungs.

Extensive medical investigations led to the devastating diagnosis of mesothelioma. He was told that this disease was incurable and his subsequent chemotherapy treatment and extensive surgery could not save his life.

Trevor was set to work on the ITV series Manhunt, starring Martin Clunes, but died before filming began.

Diane Hilton, one of Trevor’s closest friends, said: “Trevor had many great friends. He was a larger than life character with a huge amount of personal charm and charisma.

“It was devastating to see how mesothelioma affected him in the final months and how he was cruelly taken from us all before he should have been.

“All his friends continue to miss Trevor. We feel we need to honour his memory by getting the answers he deserved regarding his illness. We would be very grateful to anyone who may be able to help us.”

Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to contact Ian Bailey at Irwin Mitchell on 0207 421 4754 or email ian.bailey@irwinmitchell.com.