JOHN Barry was the greatest film composer of the 20th century - and a Yorkshireman. He died in America, far from the city of York where he was born in 1933. John was the son of a cinema-owning father and a concert pianist mother. This parental combination was destined to shape his career that would earn him five Academy Awards, four Grammys and countless honours at home and abroad.

There are few cinemagoers untouched by his compositions. From the glitzy swagger of James Bond to the epic sweep of Dances With Wolves or Born Free, there is something for everyone, including me. As a Northern-based film maker and producer I always hoped that my path would cross with Barry’s. And in this business, to quote James Bond – "you never say never".

As producer of the ITV Yorkshire/Tyne Tees television series Dales Diary, I had interviewed Pickering resident Keith Snowden, who had made a valiant attempt to turn the market town into the "Yorkshire Hollywood" with films he made locally. He had managed Pickering Cinema for John Barry's father Jack Prendergast and recalled that young John was a proficient projectionist by the age of 14. More significantly, John would practise his trumpet skills in a conveniently empty auditorium. This was the very beginning of the ‘John Barry Seven’, who would headline at the family's Rialto cinema in York. John was a reluctant frontman, but it was a shrewd way of getting into the emergent Fifties scene of British rock and roll.

Another Dales Diary encounter was with a former John Barry Seven member at Aysgarth Carriage Collection. He told me that the group's exit from Yorkshire to London in 1957 would ignite John Barry's entry into arranging and composing for pop star Adam Faith. His first score was for a risqué X movie, Beat Girl, about teenage temptations in Soho, where British actors emulated beatniks with expressions like "cool daddy – straight from the fridge!". Barry devised a revolutionary pizzicato ‘Stringbeat’ sound , best known on the Juke Box Jury theme Hit and Miss. The rest would be movie history.

In 1998, Yorkshire Television asked me to produce a series titled Masterclass. As the title suggests, students of everything ranging from fashion design to acting would receive a masterclass from their particular Northern idol – Mark Knopfler tutored guitar hopefuls, Stockton's Richard Griffiths tutored an aspiring group of actors and fashion guru Bruce Oldfield reciprocated the ambitions of fashion students. John Barry was the obvious choice for film composing.

Somehow I obtained his home number in America and nervously put the idea directly to him. The voice at the other end of the transatlantic line was a mixture of broad Yorkshire vowels and Stateside twang. "I love the idea," he told me, "but I'm scoring a Bruce Willis movie. Can you bring the student to me at my home in New York?" Barry would normally fly Concorde so his suggestion saved me money on expenses. Our very talented student also forgot his visa prior to our departure - a good production PA and American embassy official saved the day and we departed, hiring a local film crew in New York.

All things come to he who waits. Suddenly I was arriving at his Oyster Bay home shrouded in woodland next to Billy Joel's house. There was John Barry, frail, standing on a jetty with mist receding from the water, not unlike a scene from The Lion in Winter, which had won him an Oscar.

He showed me his collection of gold statuettes, which were overshadowed by an enormous portrait of a Yorkshire pig, hanging over the New England fireplace. He recalled growing up in York and family outings to the moors and Dales. A regular family treat was York ham and eggs for tea at an old mill house.

His young eyes would look at York Minster across the vale. Here he would learn composition and arrangement for piano. Knowledge of the wartime deaths of his school staff would profoundly influence the tragic elements of his scoring. There was humour too - when he was approached to compose Out Of Africa. The producer filled the office with copies of Zulu, a previous Barry work, but the composer had to point out tactfully that there was no similarity. "As a film composer, you are first over the top of the trench. It is an incredible responsibility because it is your job to tell a paying audience what to expect for the next two hours," he said. He signed a vinyl original I possess which was issued to cash in on his first James Bond theme success – he hadn’t seen one in decades and told me a relevant story I cannot repeat.

I last saw Barry at the Royal Albert Hall, conducting You Only Live Twice. Then sadly he was gone.

His last project shows him standing on the limestone pavements of Ingleborough. It is wonderful to think that John Barry's moorland and Dales upbringing found its way forever into the epic sweep of music for the American Plains and African Transvaal. Every time I hear the 007 theme, I thank my Hollywood stars that we met just once.

I think Barry would have made a great guest on the incredibly popular Dales Diary, presented by Stockton resident Luke Casey. When I wasn't chasing music legends I would be scouting North Yorkshire for suitable candidates who epitomised lifestyles, leisure and skills that celebrated day-to-day existence on our moors and dales. I recruited everyone from ‘besom’ makers and piano tuners to sculpting farmers and more. For me, this was a great reward, not dealing with celebrities who couldn't wait to get in front of the camera, but helping local unknowns through what was perhaps their only media encounter.

You can read more of my showbiz exploits in Namedropper!, whether it be the chaos of Channel 4 show The Tube or how I paid Madonna's rail fare, or ended up on TinaTurner's knee. You couldn't write this stuff – but I have...

* Namedropper! by Chris Phipps (Tyne Bridge Publishing, £10.88) is available in book shops and on Amazon –