Geoffrey Baines

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Interview Date(s): 
10 Apr 1992
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BEHP 0247 S Geoff Baines Synopsis

Born 1926, North London. The war years messed his education, but he passed his “Matric” [Matriculation – school examinations] and then took part in a production of Goodbye Mr Chips at the Intimate Theatre, Palmers Green in which Richard Attenborough played a part (1942). In 1943 he got a job as a cutting room assistant with Movietone News, taking over from David Samuelson, who went into the RAF. He describes Sid Wiggins to whom he was working but who never said a word to him. In 1944 Alec Tozer recruited him into ACT. He was called up for National Service into the RAF. When he came out, reinstatement rights were difficult and he describes how walking down Wardour Street he saw a door plate "Colonial Film Unit", he went up and saw a man called Bradshaw (he says a Civil Servant type) who gave him a job as an assistant editor. He was sent out to East Africa with Geoffrey Innes, he tells of the problems, and a story about John Grierson, he was then moved over to West Africa. By this time, he had become an editor and also a director. On his return he wrote several times to Bob Verrall (Chief Editor for BBC TV Film Dept) and eventually he was given a job as Assistant Film Editor at £9, working on War in the Air. Some 4 months later in December he was promoted to be film editor at £13 per week. He talks about the early days in Film Dept at Alexandra Palace and the making of the War in The Air transmitted in l3 episodes.  He was sent to make a l5 minutes documentary about the Clyde with Ken Higgins as cameraman.  When it was completed the Head of Films showed it to Cecil McGivern, but he wasn’t allowed to be in the theatre.  He says that got the feeling of the "them and us" situation.  he then talks about his move to Ealing as a Producer/Editor working on various films. He talks about Bert Spurgeon an old Ealing electrician who knew all about lighting having been in the game since the early 1930's working with all the leading cameramen  He talks about the changes in editing technique. He then talks about the rivalry between Talks Dept and Film Dept and as a result got moved to Talks Dept.                 He then backtracks to his Ealing days as a Producer and Dive to Adventure with Hans and Lotte Haas. Meet us in London, Living with Danger, then After the Battle series with Richard Dimbleby, Ed Murrow, Frank Gillard. He talks of the encouragement that Norman Swallow, Kenneth Adam and Cecil McGivern gave him.


 He continues his story about Richard Dimbleby 's visit to Belsen. He talks about Test Pilot.    He was moved to Talks to work on Panorama and other Current Affairs programmes, he didn’t enjoy it.In 1968 he appealed to Huw Weldon to be moved out of Talks Dept, he was successful and moved over to Music and Arts, working on The Glory that Remains with Robert Erskine (not an easy man he says). Then in 1970 he worked on Omnibus again with Norman Swallow, and remained there until his retirement “a messy affair”.    He talks about many of the programmes he made for Omnibus which included Miners Art and Poetry, Prisoners Art, Born Black,Born British.   He also talks on the Biographical films he made which included Bette Davies, Paul Robeson, Groucho Marx, Pete Seeger. He talks about Humphrey Burton and his successor Richard-Somerset Ward, After his retirement he made videos for various charities and also gives lectures.








Began career in newsreel and documentary cutting rooms, then became film editor and director with government film units in East and West Africa. Joined the BBC Television Film Department and for five years directed and cut documentary/drama and compilation films. Seven years with the Current Affairs Department as film producer with PANORAMA. Twelve years with the Music and Arts Department specialising in the production of fifty minute documentaries and making regular contributions to ARENA and OMNIBUS.

A Selection Of Films Made For BBC Television

Music and Arts Department

50  minute biographical films on: Paul Robeson, Pete Seeger;  Bette Davies Alastair Sim, Joyce Grenfell

Films for Omnibus

A World of Its Own; Born Black Born British; Shafts of Sunlight

A Circus for A School

A Dignified Comic Set-To

Current Affairs Department



Film Department

After the Battle

Winston Churchill Test Pilot

(Intemational Award)




Three films about the writing, painting and music of prisoners, black children & coal miners.


A study of the Moscow State Circus School. An illustrated interview with Groucho Marx







Richard Dimbleby, Frank Gillard and Ed Murrow looked back upon their days as war correspondents.

A major tribute.

A study of a pilot testing an RAF fighter aircraft.
















Began career in newsreel and documentary cutting rooms then spent three years in East and West Africa as film editor and director.     Helped to form Government Film Units in both countries and trained locals in editing and direction.

1 9 53 - 1 9 6 3 Joined  BBC TV as film editor for War in the Air'. Appointed Producer/Editor and for five years directed and edited documentaries, drama/documentaries and compilation films.

1 9 6 3 — 1   9 6 8 Producer with Current Affairs working on special projects, European Journal and PANORAMA.


1 9 7 2 — 1  9 8 4 Music and Arts Department producing fifty minute documentaries mostly for ARENA and OMNIBUS.