Channel 4 orders external law firm to investigate sudden death of producer on ... trends now

Channel 4 orders external law firm to investigate sudden death of producer on ... trends now

A 'wonderful' producer on Channel 4's true crime series In the Footsteps of Killers has died, with the broadcaster ordering a 'swift' independent investigation.

John Balson, 40, passed away alone on May 17 - eight weeks after falling ill with a severe brain condition that saw him suffer chronic panic disorder and insomnia.

The father, who had previously been in good health, had one daughter aged three - and his wife Yumeno Niimura is pregnant with their second child, due in August.

Ms Niimura described him as a 'wonderful husband, father and my best friend', adding in a Facebook post that he would be 'deeply missed by all who knew him'.

Channel 4 said it was 'deeply saddened' by his death and had asked a law firm to 'undertake a thorough investigation'. It also praised him as a 'highly respected and much-loved professional' who worked for London-based production firm Alaska TV.

He started work in January on the third season of In the Footsteps of Killers, a true crime programme which sees Silent Witness actor Emilia Fox and criminologist David Wilson investigate cold cases - but left in March when he became seriously ill.

Mr Balson is understood to have been struggling in his final weeks with mental health issues - and the Deadline website, which first reported the news of his death, reported that he wanted to raise awareness of the dangers of overwork in factual TV.

John Balson, 40, with his wife Yumeno Niimura and his three-year-old daughter

John Balson, 40, with his wife Yumeno Niimura and his three-year-old daughter

Posting about his death online, Ms Niimura said: 'It is with profound sadness that I share the news that my beloved husband, John Balson, passed away on May 17, 2024.

From Netflix's Making A Serial Killer to Amazon Prime's Dog Dynasty: John Balson's full CV

John Balson listed nearly 30 different programmes on his credits list that he had worked on since 2013:

In the Footsteps of Killers (Channel 4) Secrets of a Murder Detective (CBS Reality) Cut to the Crime (A&E Networks) Murder: Fight for the Truth (CBS Reality) When Missing Turns to Murder (Netflix) Meet Marry Murder (Lifetime) Murder: First On Scene (CBS Reality) The Murder of Penny Bell (Channel 5) Making A Serial Killer (Netflix) Night Watch (Discovery ID) Two Sisters One Body (Channel 4) My Brave Face - USA (A&E Networks) Dog Dynasty (Amazon Prime) Extreme Love (AMC) Hooked on the Look (Facebook Watch) Shake My Beauty (Facebook Watch) Blood Justice (A&E Networks) Amazing Interiors (Netflix) Shake My Beauty (Facebook Watch) Rise of the Radicals: Black Guns Matter (Barcroft Studios) Inside the life of a ‘Virtuous’ Paedophile (YouTube) Plastic and Proud (Channel 4) Born Different (Facebook Watch) Bear About the House: Me and My Supersized Pet (Channel 4) Real-Life Hulks (Discovery TLC) Rust to Riches (YouTube) Boy with the Giant Hands (Channel 5) Pistorius Trial: The Key Questions (Channel 5)

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'John was a wonderful husband, father, and my best friend, and he will be deeply missed by all who knew him. 

'In memory of John, his best friend has set up a GoFundMe page to support me, our three-year-old daughter, and our unborn baby due in August.

'If you are able to share the link and spread the word, it would mean so much to us during this difficult time. Thank you for your support, love, and prayers.'

Mr Balson's best friend Joe Sikking set up the GoFundMe page last month to raise money for Ms Niimura, and more than £71,000 has already been donated.

Mr Sikking wrote: 'We will remember him for his brilliantly silly humour, love of football, cooking, boxing, hiking, nature, wrestling, travelling and his love for his family and friends.

'John was a hard-working professional and was 100 per cent healthy up until eight weeks ago, when he stood up at work one day and became instantly dizzy.

'The condition quickly worsened causing him constant dizziness, migraines, insomnia and pain 24 hours a day, seven days a week.'

He said Mr Balson left his job due to his illness then 'dedicated himself to treatment', seeking help from 'GPs, ENT departments, private MRI scans, consultations and rehabilitation from neurologists and vestibular specialists, psychiatrists, therapists, the NHS mental health crisis team, emergency hospital admission, reflexology, acupuncture, head massage, meditation, dietary therapy, various painkillers and tranquillizers'.

Despite these efforts, Mr Balson's symptoms then became even more severe - which meant he could no longer exercise and also made 'simple tasks' too painful, according to Mr Sikking.

He continued: 'He could no longer cook, read, write, play the piano, listen to music, run, swim, watch TV, use the computer or phone, or do simple household chores.

'The only thing he could manage was walking his daughter to and from nursery three days a week. Even gentle walking caused him immense pain but he absolutely adored his daughter and wanted to do it for her with a smile on his face.

'The family would have paid any money we had to give John just a minute's relief from the agony he was experiencing.'

Mr Balson was said to have described it as 'the cruellest

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