Lord Patel is both a shareholder in ITV and a lifelong friend of Paul Watson. Paul was Patrol Leader of 3rd Altrincham Scouts Badger patrol and Lord Patel was his second. At school together we were both exposed to brilliant , inspirational and aspirational teachers like Jas. "Jazzer" Hale (Bro. of MP Lionel Hale, member of the Brains Trust), Bill "Arty" Mills, Oscar Pritchard and Civil War historian Ron "Knobby" Dore - sometime wicket keeper for Hampshire, amongst many others.
We were taught to question , to probe, to build up our personal experience and accept nothing as received wisdom. Producing, in both of us, awkward, hard edged, argumentative but principled iconoclasts.
Paul, a talented artist, a talented painter he has work in the National gallery, and went on to the Royal College of Art when David Hockney was there. He broke ground in cinema verite with his famous and fabled 12 part "The Family" for BBC, based on the Wilkins family of Reading - albeit following the "An American Family" by Craig Gilbert in 1972. Paul later followed this early 20 years later with the Australian series fly on the wall "Sylvania Waters" .
With over 40 years filming under his belt he has produced many, many memorable films. Lord Patel's own favourite is the five part series "The Factory" (1994) which was a gem, and deservedly won an RTS award, the Press Critics Prize and Best Documentary Series.
If anything can , this tiny peek into a failing business encapsulates everything to be said about UK post war industrial decline, its owners, it's management and it's methods.
Currently the (as yet unseen) sequel to "Malcolm and Barbara .. a Love Story", itself a winner in 1999 of three RTS awards including Best Single Documentary 1999 which was nominated for a Bafta, is now in the eye of the storm about honesty in cinema verite. It has , height of absurdity been described as a "snuff movie". (Minette Marin Sunday Times 27/7) ***
That ITV, providers of such global classics as The History Man, Birkenhead Re-visited, Jewel in the Crown, Whickers World are reduced to the tawdry post midnight "quiz" shows and other squalid devices which have been exposed as devices to steal money from even children is shameful.
For ITV top Brass in an orgy of navel gazing, or indeed any one make any comparison between the criminal theft of viewers time and money with Paul's brilliant films shows how stupid and far this self - flagellation has gone.
It is evident that Barbara doesn't have the slightest worry about the film, about Paul's work as a Director and as a friend. She is now on record explaining how the death of her much loved husband was handled with care and sensitivity by Paul even if some cinematic legerdermain had been undertaken in the editing suite. A freeze frame symbolised the end for both Barbara and Malcolm 's journey if not the exact time of nemesis . This moment has been seized, trivialised and sensationalised by the folks who have to sell these things in a global marketplace. To film the death moment wouls, as Paul says be voyeuristic.
OK. So the Press Release, produced by some PR scribbler, should have said we see Malcolm dying ..... rather than use the word die.
Big fucking deal.
If it helps get more people to see the mastery of his craft, that is good - remember this is the culmination of 11 years filming of a heroic and loving couple. That such seedy and uninformed comment is the vehicle is not good but at least they will have the opportunity to evaluate the work of a master craftsman.
Lord Patel says that as shareholder, a friend and a member of the human race.
I look forward to seeing the film... Let's hope it does something for the share price, reflecting the proud history of ITV's part as the engine of creativity in Britain's cultural landscape.
Paul will be speaking at the 2007 Sheffield Doc Fest "Change the way you look at the world" 7-11 November 2007.
*** She evidently had not seen the film, and a comment on the article by Malcolm's brother explains the context better than anyone can.
"From the moment someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness, technically,that person is dying. In the new film, we see my brother, Malcolm Pointon,dying. We do not see him die - filming finshed three days before Malcolm stopped breathing, so the argument about the ethics of showing this on television, while important, does not apply to this case. I was there on the Monday before Malcolm's death, and heard Paul say, as he left, that he had enough material for the film, and would now leave the family in peace. He did not return that week. Malcolm died on the following Thursday morning."
UPDATE Fri. 3rd Aug 2007
For those interested in these sorts of things News Sniffer has all 9 versions of the BBC news story about the dispute between Paul and ITV, who said what, when and why.