By Reginald Collin
holds a unique position in the fabric of the Film and Television industries. Known, of course, as the society that sets the standards of excellence in both art forms by presenting awards, it is also the organisation that represents the cross-pollination of ideas and technology between the two.
The ten years or so chronicled in this book are among the most important in the life of the Academy, recording as it does the struggle from difficult early times to becoming not just a London-based society but creating branches throughout the nation and indeed into the heartland of the film world, America. Here too are honoured the names of many, for example, like Richard Cawston, but for whom the Academy would not exist in its present form.
The author says that the book does not set out to be the definitive history of the Academy but to represent a decade of its existence whilst he was its Director. He believes there are different aspects that others may be more qualified to expand. Nonetheless, the ten years in this review represent a cornerstone in the history of the Academy.
was born in 1927, in London, a mile or so short of the sound of Bow Bells. He will sometimes claim, quite wrongly, to be a Cockney. The family moved to Harrow shortly after the start of the war. Leaving school at fourteen his first job was that of lab boy at the then Westminster Hospital in London. This was at the height of the blitz. A month after the war finished he was called up for National Service. In their wisdom the R.A.F. made him a shorthand typist, for which he has been eternally grateful. It was, he says, one of the best three years of his life. He was posted to Headquarters Bomber Command at High Wycombe and spent most of his time either playing tennis or running the amateur drama group; very little was done by way of work. After leaving the Air Force he won a scholarship to The Old Vic Theatre School. Weekly Rep followed and then some years directing pantomimes and summer shows.
In 1959 he was asked to join ABC Television (later to become Thames) becoming a director in the Features Department where he created the arts programme Tempo. He then moved to the Drama Deptartment. The series for which he is best known is Callan, but that was only one of many. He has received a number of awards: Best Drama Producer 1969, plus two nominations from BAFTA and awards for Services to the Industry, from BAFTA and Kodak. But the one he prizes most of all is the award of a Fellowship by The Royal Television society for “Recognition of an outstanding contribution to the furtherance of television. ”He is married to Pamela Lonsdale, a BAFTA Award winner for the pre-school programme Rainbow which she created and a distinguished producer of Children’s Drama. He has many hobbies, so much so that he has probably embarked on a new one during the time it has taken you to read this.