News of Russell’s death was revealed by novelist and broadcaster Norman Lebrecht on the Arts Journal blog.

The controversial director was known for films such as Woman in Love, The Devils and Tommy. He gained pop-culture fame by appearing in Celebrity Big Brother in 2007.

In 1969, Russell’s film adaptation of Women in Love, by of DH Lawrence, earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Director.

More controversial was his 1971 film, The Devils, which outraged audiences with its violent, sexual and religious content and was banned in several countries.

The British Film Institute plans to release The Devils on DVD on March 19, 2012.

Other films directed by Russell include Lisztomania, Altered States and Whore.

Russell is less well known for the 21 documentary films he made for the BBC in the late 1950s over a period of three years.

In 2007, Russell was a Contestant in Celebrity Big Brother but left after four days after falling out with fellow housemate Jade Goody.