The theatre, opera and television director Basil Coleman, who has died aged 96, was a prolific and determined populariser of classic works. His acclaimed 10-part television adaptation of Anna Karenina (1977) starred Nicola Pagett and Eric Porter. For the BBC Shakespeare series he directed As You Like It (1978), with Helen Mirren: it was filmed at Glamis Castle and in the surrounding Scottish countryside, one of only two of the BBC Shakespeare series plays shot entirely on location.
His long association and friendship with Benjamin Britten began when the director Tyrone Guthrie made him assistant director on the composer's realisation of The Beggar's Opera with the English Opera Group at the Arts theatre, Cambridge (1948). Coleman then directed the first production of Britten's work for children Let's Make an Opera (1949), at Aldeburgh. Further premieres included the huge challenge of Billy Budd (1951) at the Royal Opera House,