Splat! A FLY ON THE WALL, with the father of the fly-on-the-wall documentary, Paul Watson.

Paul Watson, BAFTA-winning pioneer director who redefined television discussed his long career in film, illustrated with short extracts from some of his most famous documentaries, such as The Family


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We will show The Fishing Party (40mins) in its entirety. "Almost outrageously unfair but devastatingly accurate' as the New York Times put it (see article) the film follows a group of City traders who rent a boat for a weekend and undo themselves horribly.

It has the distinction of being Margaret Thatcher's least favourite film and cost Paul Watson his job at the BBC. Though now recognised as a great classic – unbearably funny and excruciating at the same time - it caused a huge scandal with one of the participants prosecuted for drunkenly shooting a seagull. There will be ample opportunity for a lively Q&A session after the film.

Paul has made over 300 documentary films and in 1974 his observational series, The Family, was the first to show the day to day lives of a 'normal' family with Paul and his crew living with them for many months. Credited with inventing the “fly-on-the-wall” genre – and spawning the plague of reality TV that Paul himself hates – it was hugely controversial when first aired, not least for the candid way it tackled taboo subjects such as racism and sexism. Mary Whitehouse called for it to be banned.

Controversial, determined, passionate, Paul Watson has often provoked fury but is hugely admired for his innovative brilliance, his integrity and his humanity -- though not always by the powers that be. Nominated nine times for a BAFTA without a win, he eventually was given the BAFTA Special Award in 2008 for his “outstanding creative contribution to television”.


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Some of Paul Watson’s most memorable films include: The Family; Sylvania Waters, set in Sydney and focusing on the life & opinions of a Sydney housewife, causing apoplectic outrage in Australia; Malcolm & Barbara -A Love Story and Malcolm and Barbara – Love’s Farewell which, filmed over 11 years, followed the deterioration of Alzheimer victim, Malcolm Pointon with extraordinary honesty and love; Rain in My Heart, a heart-rending study of four alcoholics.

Often more honoured abroad than in his own country, Paul’s awards for Rain in My Heart, for example, include: the Prix Europa, Berlin, the Leipzig Prize for Best Humanitarian Film Award, the Grierson for best documentary and the Mental Health Media Award. Many of Paul Watson’s films, often funny, sometimes gruelling, have burned deep into the nation’s consciousness.




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2016Martin Keeley