Vale Ian Jones, writer, producer, director and Ned Kelly authority

Ian Jones in 2003.

Distinguished journalist, writer, producer, director and Ned Kelly historian Ian Jones died in Melbourne last Friday, aged 86.

Jones was a veteran of Crawford Productions, prompting one admirer to observe: “Crawfords would not have been Crawfords without Ian Jones.”

Assistant director Ross Hamilton, who worked with Jones on The Sullivans and Against the Wind, said: “As well as his writings he was a fine director. He was a modern-day Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson. What an incredible body of work.”

Jones began his career as a journalist and TV director at HSV7 Melbourne, starting with the 1956 Olympic Games. He progressed to directing shows such as Consider Your Verdict and Video Village before joining Crawfords.

He was the first writer/director on the seminal police show Homicide, which launched in 1964 and ran until 1973.

His first feature screenplay credit was 1970’s Ned Kelly, which starred Mick Jagger and was co-written with the director Tony Richardson, part of a life-long obsession with the outlaw.

He wrote several books about the Kelly gang including the bestseller ‘Ned Kelly: A Short Life’ and ‘The Fatal Friendship: Ned Kelly, Aaron Sherritt and Joe Byrne’.

He co-created, wrote, directed and executive produced Hunter (1967-69), Matlock Police (1971-75), The Bluestone Boys (1976) and Bluey (1976-77). Among the other Crawford shows he worked on were Division 4 (1969-75), The Sullivans, Ryan and The Box.

In 1978 he wrote and executive produced the convict era series Against the Wind, which starred Jon English and was produced by Henry Crawford and co-directed by George Miller and Simon Wincer.

Jones and his wife Bronwyn Binns wrote and executive produced the miniseries The Last Outlaw, which starred John Jarratt as Ned Kelly and was helmed by Kevin James Dobson and George Miller, in 1980.

In 1987 he produced and wrote Wincer’s The Lighthorsemen, the WWI saga of the Australian light horse regiment’s battle with German and Turkish forces.

Long-time colleague Kenneth Mulholland wrote in a profile of Jones published last year: “Ian Jones deserves recognition for his literary research, his books on varied subjects, his exceptional perseverance, his arrow-like dedication and pursuit, his never-ending love of what he did. Of what he does, and what he will do.

“He is one of a select few: a mentor, a scholar, a seeker, a pioneer, a staunch missionary of his beliefs; a fellow of what we all would aspire to as human beings.”

In 2006 he won the AFI’s Raymond Longford lifetime achievement award. Binns died in 2003. He is survived by his third wife Nancy, four children and four grandchildren.