British producer Mark Shivas has died aged 70 from cancer, it was confirmed today.

Shivas was an immensely popular producer who was Head of Drama and then Head of Films at the BBC. He worked with many of the best British directors of his era as well as with several international names. At the time of his death, Shivas was one of the principals in production company Headline Pictures.

Shivas' engagement with cinema began in his student days when he wrote film criticism for university magazine, Oxford Opinion. He was one of the founders of Movie, a British film magazine strongly influenced by Cahiers Du Cinema.

As a journalist, Shivas wrote film stories and interviews for the New York Times and directed and produced for Granada Television in the sixties. He produced and then presented Granada's weekly programme Cinema.

His credits as a drama producer for BBC Television in the 1970s included, Frederic Raphael's The Glittering Prizes as well as several films by Alan Clarke, among them To Encourage The Others and Funny Farm.

Shivas was producer or executive producer of such films as Nic Roeg's The Witches, Anthony Minghella's Truly Madly Deeply, Jerzy Skolimowski's Moonlighting, Stephen Frears' The Van, Gillies Mackinnon's Small Faces and Tim Fywell's I Capture The Castle.

He was responsible for starting BBC Films as a stand-alone operation in the early 1990s and for enabling many UK film-makers to make theatrical movies rather than being confined to working for the small screen.

In recent years his credits as a producer for television included Alan Bennett's Talking Heads and Telling Tales and Peter Moffat's Cambridge Spies.

Headline Pictures, the company that Shivas ran alongside Kevin Hood and Stewart Mackinnon, won the rights from Great Ormond St hospital to the Peter Pan book sequel, Peter Pan In Scarlet, which it has been developing alongside other projects.