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Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

Very Sad News: Mercury Media’s Tim Sparke

We learned that our friend and partner Tim Sparke passed away on Wednesday after a long illness.

Our condolences to Vidya, Abigail and Oliver, and to Tim’s friends and family.

The funeral has now been confirmed for Friday 9th Sept at 1.30pm, at the Holy Trinity Church in Dorchester.   Tim’s family requested that any friends who wished to could make a donation to the Welmar Hospice Care Trust.

Here is a link to Barry Walsh’s thoughtful Realscreen obit.

Not long after his diagnosis, I wrote about Tim and the blessings of friendship and professional opportunity that are his lasting gifts to so many of us…



(July 30, 2014) Our very brave friend Tim Sparke wrote from London today that he is ‘fighting for life’ after surgery. He is out of recovery in intensive care, but his ‘prognosis not good.’

Tim was diagnosed with brain cancer a little more than two years ago. He and his young family have been in our thoughts and prayers ever since.

Tim has always been a fighter for the documentary genre: his Mercury Media distribution company worked tirelessly for individual docs and series, despite vanishing slots and rolling budget cutbacks.

He has been a wonderful companion on my journeys in the field: fiercely analytical of trends in the market, encouraging, generous with his contacts, and always up for finding the humor in any situation.

Tim had a most unusual education: he was schooled at London’s Westminster Cathedral Choir School. We both love the big choral works, a reminder that the business encounters that become great friendships are often built on our unexpected shared enthusiasms.


WCCS blazers on pegs

Tim became the distribution partner of my client Steeltown Entertainment for A Shot to Save the World.  He created an exciting vision for the film so that we could attract Bill Gates to come on board. Tim successfully negotiated our agreement with the Smithsonian Channel and the BBC, as well as deals with other platforms worldwide. Steeltown later dedicated A Shot to Tim.

Your Thoughts…

Tim’s family will be thrilled to hear from his friends:

From Mat Tombers

Vidya, wife of my friend Tim Sparke, let me know he passed away yesterday afternoon.  He waged a remarkable war for years against brain tumors and is now gone.

Hats off, Tim.  You worked to stay for your children and your wife and you went on longer than any of us would have dreamt that you could.  You would not give up.  I was changed by knowing you.  When I was remarkably low eleven years ago you did your best to raise my spirits and cause me to laugh.

You were a generous spirit.  Since you have been sick and I have been going to church, I have been lighting a candle for you and I will again this weekend, to celebrate the wonderful moments we had together, the generosity you gave me and the spirit you were in this world.


  1. Tim is a passionate and committed member of the documentary family and I know that he’ll be fighting this illness like he fought for his films. We’re thinking of you, Tim.

  2. Tim is one of a kind. He is passionate hard working and respected by everyone. We have spent many weeks together at overseas TV markets and I will always have particularly fond memories exploring Japan – they told us it was chicken but we knew better! Tim is a true gentleman and the UK Indie Pavilion just isn’t the same without him.

  3. From Gary Lico:
    Tim — Peter reminded us all of your struggle today….I’m adding my voice to the choir of supporters you have once again. Thanks for all you’ve done for the business and for the little guy. May God bless you and your family, and may His miracles be yours. Love, Gar

  4. Hans-Stefan Heyne

    Another kind of bad news today. Tim, let me just say that I will definitely keep all my fingers crossed for all the struggle and fights against this ‘thing’. The many – even short – occasions we had to meet were always the remaining ones – because of the subjects discussed. Best wishes, Stefan

  5. I’ve had the privilege to work with Tim in a variety of capacities, including buyer, commissioning editor, consultant and co-producer. Tim is a “stand-up guy” with scintillating intelligence, professionalism and unflagging good will, combined with a wicked sense of humor. He’s one of my closest friends in the business, and I pray for God’s mercy to shine on Tim and his wonderful family.

  6. Tim,

    Stay strong. Know that you’ve helped many people in this business who while not chiming in here, are very, very appreciative. Keep the faith. Wishing you a steady recovery.

    Best Wishes,


  7. Nikolas Huelbusch


    We all think about you. I know you’re a fighter !!!

    Best wishes for your recovery,


  8. Tim has been an inspiration for all of us on the Defiant Requiem team. He has passionately represented our documentary about prisoners in a concentration camp during WWII who turned to the arts and music for spiritual survival and sustenance. His tireless dedication to our film, combined with his personal friendship, joie de vivre and positive outlook endeared him to me from the very start. I had the honor of meeting his beautiful wife in LA over a year ago and have not stopped praying for Tim’s recovery both for him and his wonderful family. Tim — no one will ever love our film the way you have and I miss hearing your voice and good cheer. Traveling to Berlin in March to be with us in the midst of your debilitating illness was a courageous act and I was honored to be with you at the concert that night. Keep fighting, my friend. All of us are praying for a miracle. xxxooo, Louisa

  9. Dear Tim:

    I will not forget the time we met in Brazil! I had never been to San Paulo and I had never met a bonafide maverick distributor before. You were exploring online with conventional models all the while loving the shows you were working on. Your passion and determination is inspiring to me.

    Thinking of you.

    Best Michael

  10. Tim my man! Fighting the good fight like you have fought it all these years for all us! Thinking of you and yours.

  11. Dear Tim
    Have the pleasure and honour of your acquaintance. Always helpful, positive and highly professional…. On behalf of all at Al Jazeera we wish you a speedy recovery and are confident of your strong will and determination. Our prayers and best wishes are with you and your family always.
    Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
    All the best,
    Asim on behalf of Al Jazeera

    All of us at Kharis Productions continue to keep Tim, family, medics and colleagues in thoughts and prayers. We are deeply saddened that Tim is so physically challenged though in awe of his strength of spirit in such adversity.
    We are so appreciative that Tim was one of the folk who immediately ‘got it’ in terms of what The God Question series really is all about and has believed in it right from the outset. He has tirelessly fought for its airtime around the world and we’ll always be grateful to him for believing in us and in the series. We hope and pray he will continue to defy the medic’s predictions for a long time. His fighting spirit in the distribution world has clearly extended to the fight for his health.
    It has been a privilege to have had a working relationship with you, Tim!

  13. Hi Tim,
    So sad to hear of this struggle. As a fellow sales rep and defender of all things doc, I can say I enjoy your passion and commitment to our industry and I am certain your negotiaton skills and jovial nature will help you find the peace in all that is inportant in life to you. I offer up a heartfelt prayer for you and those close yo you.

    Dan Shannon

  14. Hope you are still hanging in there, you distributed my film Orwell Rolls in His Grave.
    My new series on aging science has made me friendly with a number of researchers –
    some of their research goes to what you have. If I can be of help email me.
    All the best.

  15. We first met at Keeble College, Oxford at the first BritDoc when I was garnering interest for The Daniel Project. We chatted at lunch and you left sharp for London afterwards.
    I’ll never forget you returning a few hours later saying that you HAD to come back. You couldn’t forget our conversation because of a strange experience you’d had years ago in the USA and you realised this was the film you’d been waiting for. You blew my mind with your enthusiasm.

    We kept bumping into each other at film festivals around the world and once The Daniel Project was finished you and your team distributed it worldwide after you and your lovely wife came and stayed with us to get to know each other better.

    As you know, we were so sorry about your illness and hope you are still hanging in there Tim. Other distributors want The Daniel Project but none will have the vision that you did for what turned out to indeed be a prophetic doc – so much so that a movie has now been made based on it.

    Big hugs to you and your family from Stewart and I. If you ever see this, PLEASE drop us a line to say how you’re doing and if we can help in any way. Much love.

  16. Gillian vander Heijden

    Although I’ve no previous knowledge of Tim or his work I do have emotional and reality understanding of the artistic creative struggles filmmakers experience. Those with visionary sensitivities for inspiring a better world struggle for the production of their documentary or feature film productions. So much hope, so much anticipation, work and prayer, Tim Sparke was one of many like minded souls who cling to values that matter “The colours we all pass by, like the little blue wreathes of incense the wild thyme breathes to the sky” (from the Elfin Artist by Noyes). Men like Tim are remembered in the colours of the dawn and the sunsets and their wonderful thoughts and efforts harmonise in music of the spheres. May peace and angels welcome him. Gillian van der Heijden. Durban South Africa

  17. Hans-Stefan Heyne

    Inspite of everybody of us having had the hope that medicine would have been able to defeat this awful desease, we had – again – to learn that mankind is still not in a position to cure it…. well after some 120 years after (assumingly) Röntgen’s famous words: “Let’s fight on cancer! – cancer is curable”.

    We have lost a friend! And, a Specialist in ‘our’ world!

  18. My heartfelt condolences go out to Tim’s family. I first met Tim 25 years ago and on the frequent occasions we met at industry events around the world, I always enjoyed his analytical and often humorous perceptions of the Documentary business. I will miss him.

  19. Rachel Devenport

    Very sorry to hear the news. I have really fond memories of working with Tim at Mercury.

    He was extremely kind, passionate about his work and most importantly had a great sense of humour. Rest in peace.

    Rachel Devenport

  20. To my dearest uncle Tim, you may no longer be with us in a solid state but you will always remain in the hearts of you family and friends, and that is because legends never die and to all of us you are a legend.

    Love from George

  21. It is sad to hear of your departure, you will be greatly missed. You were a great man, kind, considerate and a wonderful character.

    Till we meet again, farewell and rest in peace.

    Mostafa Nagy

  22. Just read the news of Tim’s passing. He championed our series and feature film Icons Among Us: jazz in the present tense. His efforts resulted in our 80+ musicians and their extraordinary art and vision touch audiences globally. His tireless work and expertise helped elevate our experience of the world and its possibilities. A powerful life lived in great service of film and music. Sending blessings for his journey to the next relm. Offering deep condolence and great sympathy to his family and associates.

  23. I did not know Tim personally but felt a connection as his lovely wife Vidya and I are from Mauritius. I am a close friend of his cousin Angela Sparkes and we often talked about Tim and his family.
    When I learnt about his passing, I felt like I had lost a friend. I pray that he may finally rest in peace and free of pain and I will keep Vidya and their young children in my prayers. Such sad news! Vidya…courage et que Dieu vous bénisse! X

  24. Good-bye Supertim! You were an important part of my life when I was young, and I was always sorry our paths took us so far apart. My thoughts are with Vidya and your children.

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