I have worked as Associate Producer, Producer, Writer and Director on a number of documentaries for British and American broadcasters. They include:
Witchfinder General - Channel Four - Associate Producer
This was the first documentary for which I came up with the original idea and secured the all-important commission from a broadcaster. It tells the story of one of the most horrific episodes in British history. During the Civil War, Matthew Hopkins scoured East Anglia and brought about the execution by hanging and burning of hundreds of women. The making of the film was a challenging lesson in how to recreate the seventeenth century out of the back of a transit van . . .
Building Britain - Channel Four - Associate Producer
Castles . . cathedrals . . country houses. A patriotic celebration of Britain’s contribution to architecture, presented by Simon Thurley, head of English Heritage.
This ninety-minute film, on which I worked as assistant to John Bridcut, tackles the sensitive issue of composer Benjamin Britten’s relationship with young boys, and also examines the music that he wrote for children. Interviewing the boys (now middle-aged and elderly men) who had known Britten was often very moving, and filming performance with musicians like singer Philip Langridge was an exhilarating experience. The film won a Royal Philharmonic Society “Creative Communication” Award, and was also short-listed for a Grierson Award. John went on to write a book of the same title (published by Faber) in which he includes a lot of material we didn’t have room for in the programme.
This 120-minute film took up the best part of eighteen months of my life and took me, more than once, to Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan, the Sudan, the United States . . . I was lucky enough to be working with one of the best and most experienced producer/directors in the business, William Cran. Bill is a master at getting to the nub of complex issues (anyone who can make gripping television out of a four-part series on the history of economic theory (The Commanding Heights) . . .), and that was what this film demanded in spades . . . The spine of the film was a biographical study of Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman Al Zawahiri, as told by family members and those who had fought or been in prison with them.
The film opened PBS’ America at a Crossroads series and won a Dupont-Columbia Award for Excellence in Journalism and a Golden Bear Award. It was also short-listed for an Emmy.
Ten Best Sacred Christmas Classics - BBC - Producer/Director
From terrorism to tinsel . . . I tend to hang my head and mumble when I have to repeat the title of this sixty-minute film, but actually it was interesting to make and I’m proud of the results - ten performances from the BBC archives introduced by some first-rate musicians (Trevor Pinnock, Harry Christophers) and a sprinkling of celebrity stardust (Billy Bragg, Katherine Jenkins, Michael Portillo, David Soul). If they gave BAFTAs for Most Creative use of Candles in an Arts Documentary, this would have been a shoe-in.
The Birth of British Music - BBC - Development Producer
While in the BBC’s Classical Music Television department I worked as Development Producer across a number of projects, including this four-part series marking the anniversaries in 2009 of composers Purcell, Handel, Haydn and Mendelssohn. (Yes, I know - three of them are German/Austrian . . .)
King Khalid bin Abdul Aziz - Al Arabiyya - Producer/Director
Khalid was King of Saudi Arabia between 1975 and 1982, a tumultuous period in the history of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. Making this two-part series for the Arabic-language broadcaster (filmed in High Definition) involved filming in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and the United States, interviewing members of the Saudi Arabian royal family and Middle Eastern and American politicians. An eye-opening glimpse into a very different world, plus the challenge of cutting a film in Arabic . . .
I have written scripts for two archive-based films on London in the Sixties. The films, which use some wonderful footage from the ITN Archive, are available from Waterstones and other outlets, and directly through Timereel Studios.