John Brabourne (Knatchbull)

Family name: 
Brabourne (Knatchbull)
Work area/craft/role: 
Interview Number: 
Interview Date(s): 
2 Mar 1995
Production Media: 
Duration (mins): 

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Interview notes


Transcribed from handwritten notes.


Early days; Eton; Wooden Horse; Ian Dalrymple; Herbert Wilcox and Anna Neagle; Trent’s Last Case; Florence Nightingale; Laughing Anne; Trouble in the Glen; Raising a Riot; Danny Angel; 1958. Harry Black and the Tiger; Stewart Granger; J.S.Johar; Sink the Bismark; Richard Goodwin; HMS Defiant; British Home Entertainment; Lawrence Olivier; Margot Fonteyn; Lord Harwood; Lord Simon; Pay TV and how cable allowed it; Cassius Clay, Henry Cooper; Hostility to BBC; Harold Wilson; Dance of Death; Brian Forbes; Tales of Beatrix Potter; China; Death on the Nile; EMI Films; Agatha Christie Murder on the Orient Express; The Mirror Crack’d; Children’s Film Foundation; Ronnie Spencer; Christine Edzard; A Passage to India; 1957. E.M. Forster; Bernie Williams 1987 [?]; David Lean; The Fool; Thames Television; chairman; Peter Morley; videos etc.; Latest techniques.


Alexandra Kollontai [?]; Film in Russia; Family: four boys, two girls; Michael John Knatchbull; Phillip; Paul McCartney; Timothy Knatchbull; Joanne [?]; Amanda Ellingworth; BFI; Science Museum; Bradford Museum; National Film School; Natural History; University of Kent; Fox Hunting; Future.



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Alan Sapper  0:18  
Well, well, john, you don't mind if I call you john in the interview or should I call you john who lick? Knatchbull jumper? Yes. It's, it's an incredible name to start with, though. Is it a historic family name?Yes, exactly. I say yes. But the title is Brabourne .Yeah, yes. Incredible, isn't it?Okay. Got a bit.A bit. Was that all right? The first the introduction?

Well, we can boost it when we when you were saying it otherwise. Yes. So you started in those circumstances, john, and you went to Eton. And then from Eton, you went to Oxford now? 

Lord Brabourne  1:20  
Well, yes, I did. Yes. That's right. 

Alan Sapper  1:21  
Which University though? 

Lord Brabourne  1:22  
Which was a braised nose college but just just for nine months during the war? Yes. I was really trying to find everybody young person who said he wanted to get in the army.

So I went through that to the quickest way is your husband Adriana. Is that diamond? So the ox really Yes, I didn't go back didn't graduate from but I learned it. It did what it did it because the point of going to university, I think, is to decide what you're going to do. And and I started off by specially reading history, but it was such a waste tag right into that nine months and passed the military exam, which we did better work. But if you've got the example that went quicker to the, to the IRB, and so therefore, I started going to cinema as I used to go to films twice a week, twice a day, every week. So if Sunday's were three times a day, and that was ready, I got so that was the beginning. That was how I after the wall, people were staggered when I said I want to be able to film. I bet they were they said well that's not a career. That's that's just good seafood is not a career. They want you to go then to here. Well, luckily, my family were all for it. And my wife particularly so. But that was how I got interested in film.

Alan Sapper  2:36  
I think many of us have wondered how

Lord Brabourne  2:40  
but everything was worth going for that day and monster toxins. I've never done it that way.

Alan Sapper  2:44  
What was your your first film? What was it some heavy black,

Lord Brabourne  2:49  
that was my own first. I worked on several films. Before that the person that actually work on yonder impose the abuse of the wooden horse, which was financed by rag by quarter. And I remember, I remember the film very well read. He was a wonderful man. And he helped so many young people. Richard Goodwin Funny enough, who all came my partner later when I started working with him, he started also with your first job. But after that was after I'd been

Alan Sapper  3:19  
distinctly working on that film.

Lord Brabourne  3:22  
Yeah. So any other films that I went to have a word for? Yeah, with the and I remember, I went down 50 to work with with with herb Wilcox, and at a needle in and and then stayed with him for several years. And Larry learned a lot about the business, a lot of how to do things, and also a lot of things, how not to do. I mean, it was a funny mixture. But he was a brilliant producer, and an Associate Director radio. But a translator was the first one I made every transplants case, which was wells appeared in the omad, which was quite an experience. And then that I haven't seen that for years, I've now just got a copy of a copy of that I looked at it. Then I they made a film about Florence Nightingale COVID lady with a lab and I'd also like to 52 and that was the first time I actually got my ticket to the union. So I was unit manager and then a film called laughing and which was dreadful film absolutely dreadful. And the best part of it we went out to salon to do the title. And it was slot was called out there. And it was that was the best part of the film. It was it was the bit between the titles which it was read it then travelled in the Glen, which was another dreadful wound and Orson Welles again, and it killed. unusual. Then I went back to you and arugula made what I thought was a very good reason for raising a red, which was fed carry more Can I suppose first film and the bad of a family living in a in a windmill in cat and bringing them out valuable abroad and raising rather raising the family. And then I worked on a couple of small films and then Danny Angel asked me if I gos associate producer on a picture for C make or seven thunders ever shot he must say limbs Robison justice. And quite a good film, actually. And then I made my own first film, when our data 58 now called Harry black in America is called Harry black of the tiger. But here's called How to black with still Granger, and entity steel, and Barbara Russia is all about managing Tiger in India. And we had a wonderful Indian actor they call is Joe ha, already made his name. And he was a lot of Western films after that he never been in anything other than Indian pictures. Before that. It was unusual, as usual black black people up to bank. So it was unusual to have a star star who won and he was wonderful. Tiger with the best two things in it. And part of that following that was 1958 960 IMAX centre baseball, which turned out to be an enormous worldwide success. And that was very lucky early in your career. 20th Century Fox finance that I kept on trying to get my films made by British companies, but it's never succeeded in practice. All my films are financed by Americans.

Alan Sapper  6:45  
The Can I just asked in sync the big mother of a lot of special effects. A lot of they done in the UK. We built over you probably know there's a big tank that

Lord Brabourne  6:54  
was built that was built for second Bhisma. They were large. And since we're still exactly the same size, and same shape and then the same backing. cinemas go back, and we brought him in America next year to be in charge with Richard Goodwin was the first time it wasn't no, the first time he worked with with me was when I produced my first film and Richard Goodwin was the unit manager. He was in it. I was 33 he was traded. He was so good at that I left him in India jobs and housing to build a cab and find the target of everything he had asked him out. And in he knew in Dubai when he was born there. And then he was in charge of the models unsaved to Bismarck. And that was a crucial part of the film because the rest of it was quite simple to shoot. But the bottles really were really, really were fantastic. I mean, they were really really good. And people didn't believe they were bottles. I mean it was a lie. Dhaka is a was the name of the American Navy, he was really really terrific. After that in red 62, Columbia, finance to picture called ATMs to fire division based on a book. And we managed to get very vague with cast versions which are that again is dope, oh God, and not having this deal. But crale was in the cradle and the grill very good cars and people like Tom bell has his first film. And Marvel's cast it was an It was a very good film. It's very tough. And it didn't do as well in the box offices were expected and hoped without cause. But it was because women didn't really like it. There were two young boys that were badly treated and in the way they were in the days of the Navy. 18 century Navy. with adequate, wonderful and so a dope burger. Funnily enough, we tested Sean Connery for the pilot in the dark as he paid and we wanted to have him both Lewis Gilbert who directed it and I wanted to have, but they wouldn't they wouldn't agree. They said, No. Don't get something like that. And actually, we although Derek was wonderful, it would have been better for the film to have had Sean's his first felt he really made a big, big, big step. And then we formed a company. I don't know if you remember it was called British Home Entertainment factor. Right? Well, that was I formed it rarely, but I mean, Danny Andrews, and people like Tony habla Ganon who is still alive, he's now 91 they were talking and Richard Goodwin obviously was involved but not on the board and the other people on the board apart from those two whatever the other two film people were launched Libya's on the board representing the theatre.

Alan Sapper  9:51  
Fact in the last year

Lord Brabourne  9:52  
yeah, it was a very good and MacGuffin. 10 for representing ballet. And Lord Howard, George Howard. You know Representing music really is on a board. And it was. And so we got Chairman, we got Lord slim. By now during the war I've been on his staff, and he was the chairman, wonderful man and, and enabled me to very, very successful company and ready to set up with the viewer to pay television. There was the first first one was revealed making programmes for pay television. That's why we call it British Home Entertainment for a wonderful day. And it was a bit so we were so at it and but that's a very sad story, because Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, and he was very keen, he thought that better it was, it was it was a very good idea. And he could see how, you know, he was helped Potter to help the film. And he could see that this really was away by charging for those that are paid nothing for movies. And he can see by people paying by the by the number of depending on the people who saw it will change the whole basis of filmmaking. But the BBC lobbies in those days were very strong. And they saw that they still be a real danger. And they put up a tremendous fight. And then if you remember, but there was a big big moment came when we managed to get the fight between Cassius Clay and George, the famous British bombs George Harry, the most famous one of all is still about Cooper joins me good. Henry grew up and agrico bird Cassius Clay, and this was a huge draw, and we put in a price for it. And the BBC tried to stop it. And wait, Wedgwood ban was the bed. I mean, I mean, but when when was then the post of Postmaster General. It's called Postmaster General. there that's happy. And we said, Well, look, it's very straightforward battle. The BBC can't have it. As they say, they said, if they if they show it on the BBC iPlayer empty all the all the standards, they will pay at all. And then there's the financial aid, it will kill that whole thing. So we had a meeting and it has one Sunday morning and you don't have and they will study we all had huge cups of tea and the puffed awaited pipe and he decided Yes, better business right? would happen. Beavis aim of fried flips. And we had this as fat, which was the biggest thing has ever happened to this country. And we had two areas that's already been granted areas in southern and another one in Sheffield. But several of them do. But it was such an incredible thing. Because the only the 6000 homes, were going to be able to see this file. And they started selling tickets in the home and the blocked or the traffic police that they'd never allowed us to get help players were blocked. They never seen traffic jams I ever thought other people could get into each homes and when we charged six shillings, I think it was no six shillings so much per time, maximum make the charges one pound 70, which we won't be charged to see. But they were setting with six padded seats. So there are people making a lot of money there. And that rarely put paid television this country on the map and then but unfortunately the lobby of BBC despite the fact that her Wilson's Prime Minister was very keen, they set up a Cabinet Committee, Lord Gardiner, Lord Chancellor has been charged with and he was a very strong advocate of the BBC. And they said that we weren't allowed to expand fully. It was banned only to 200,000 homes. And unfortunately, very short sighted I tried to persuade everybody to put money in because once you've got 2000, they're never going to stop it again. But they wouldn't do it. So they stopped. They would change the film industry. It would have made us the leader of the pay that will be the first country in the world have paid. And we're being a leader of a new businesses that allow him how we're just beginning down. 30 years later, this was in 1930 1968 6068 or 66 and 66. So it is 30 years ago I met him and we were ahead of our time, unfortunately, eventually. And then the last picture that we made that we made several films, Seto Livia dance of death was launched they were up to junction near

Alan Sapper  14:51  
an incredible relationship between Romeo and Juliet now the same year

Lord Brabourne  14:55  
Yes, I only have long co produced them and I To fly back and forth from London to to Rome, Teddy stayed in Rome. But it was an extraordinary time and two very good very successful films and Rome and Rome and Judah The course was hugely successful film is almost unbelievable look back on it cost a million dollars with a budget was built as a customer in in one but it was an incredible valuable ability. I mean, I really, and where do you think Frank was a failure? I think it's the most brilliant director of that type of material, but not the cheapest and a considerable battles ensued. But he was brilliant. I mean, he did every bit of it, but it was a perpetual bachelor Richard Goodwin, who is associate with us was the realm bore the brunt of it handled bad or burned. But that was we then made that picture and it was a huge success. And in order to return the money, the investors in British Home Entertainment big we sold the company including the rights to our 25% share, and everybody got their money back. Oh, hold invested by the city. So it was a very unusual, we were in the bring off. So then I will you know left and again as independent producers and during the time of think he was dancing death or whatever Romeo Juliet, they are talking to Richard Goodwin and his right he married that time, Christine edzard, who was the central star on Romeo Juliet. And she was half French, half German and brilliant artist and they got married and she had this idea. All things about beer Tell us a bit as Potter because we're the British of stories of making a benefit which I thought was a brilliant idea. So I joined up with them and said yes, we will make it together. It was a huge battle we were extremely lucky. Call my memory for names. The actor writer who who was then head of production at EMI films. Now you will know who he was he wrote his weapon Dickie Attenborough a lot. Although those early days that what was it? What is his name? And he's still well known. Now that Newman's his wife, yes, form and he was head of production at EMI. Ron love the idea. And I don't think we ever have gone to bed if it hadn't been for that. And he persuaded them to put it. And again, you know, it's incredible Rebecca, but that film because 240,000 pounds. And you know, it was it, it goes on and on and on forever. I mean, it's not. It's not like rare materials worldwide success, but it's shown every group every Christmas and every Easter somewhere tells a bit Potter as a bad Italia banner from the Royal Ballet. And it's wonderful to work with and famous choreographer, digital,

Alan Sapper  18:18  
the good, share the clip last night.

Lord Brabourne  18:24  
And levels of a successful film he did and put on for fortnight in the new theatre at Salisbury after the ABC It was never thrilled with it was a theatre and then they agreed to book it for two weeks and ran for six months. It was a huge remember enormous success. And then, but only of course of a limited number of people. But I mean it was a great success, and has been ever since. And and it's a unique sort of film where the data. And I remember when we went to China and invited by the by the Minister of Culture to go to the bottom part of a group. And when we got there they weren't. I said why very valuable. Firstly, we're choosing firstly that we made. This was some years later that we made the death of the now which they very much wanted and turned out to be the mother most successful films ever made in China. I wish we were paid $10,000. And then we also said we were thinking back a revolutionary ballet film, and we'd like to see Tell us about it Potter, which we hear you. So we show to this they know what they're going to take because we're only animal dancing around. They thought that happens even globally. I don't know. But anyway, they absolutely mad about America. No, yes, this is what we will base our revolutionary film on this. I mean, I never saw the result, unfortunately. But it was a it was an extraordinary film all over the world. It was Success. And then we were very lucky again at EMI films because Brad Forbes came up, he want to get back in pen producer. And that carrot took on his head. And we went to him red sugar with an eye. With the idea of making a series of Agatha Christie, we only thought there were four or five really, very good ones. The first one we wanted to make was modern press. And we were very lucky because he thought so too. I mean, Knapp really believed all the films to be made before bad debate and they've been done cheaply made and not done properly. And a proper thing was done. He thought it would be the Christie was was huge. And so we set the script to Sidney Lumet, the director of America director, and we didn't hear anything. So we thought it was no good when we started looking for other directors, but then suddenly, I got a message a telephone call, I never met him before saying he loved it when what to do would like to direct it now that changed his situation. And I will finish agreed to do the that time he was very much the sort of actors actor everybody wanted to be with him. And he agreed to pay the part of Hercule Prado and then really just went to never we never stopped being we got the best best cast list you could possibly imagine. I mean, Sean Connery and Vanessa Redgrave me all the number of great stars too. And it really was a extraordinary really huge success in America was the atmosphere in making the film good. Oh, tremendous. A wonderful sit in the bed was wonderful. And we shot it at eight weeks. And again, it brought a cut the budget down to everything's better by their bill, but 1.4 million pounds for that picture. And its greatest was made profits of 10 times 100 times I mean, five minutes or 500 times. It's an incredible success at one time until many many many years later, that was the most successful however, as British film ever made, really, I think it's been overtaken with wasn't did the money come back to the UK? What if she was hurting financially? Okay, that's the point. You know, I mean, here my film financed. And once once it was, I went with that cage for America to try and sell it. And again, we I went to see blue dog, who is the child bluedot, who had been the person to finance Rubin, Julian, when he became first became president of paramount. He then founded this group called group company called Gulf and Western. And again, he was in his office in the first film they financed was better known Express. And he Charlie blue dawn had been born in Austria and came over to America and Central America and made this huge build up this company. And they were resetting that is it. What is the story of this? And here's what I tell them about.

Agatha Christie. And this is about a trade called Orient Express. Alright, express, he said, did not go to Vienna. So I said yes to Vienna status. I said yesterday, that's where it stops. obvious. I remembered I used to be a waiter in the restaurant after I'd like to make this film. And that's how we got to play with either. They made the video about two thirds ways to make the film. But they put in the big big bags for Thursday's right to show it in America, which which already got EMI completely covered before the picture was finished. And as I say it turned out to be a great success. And luckily Agatha Christie liked it. She was alive. And she and her husband came to a private show. And MSL is really untenable, because she hated most of her film except for what is the prosecution, we should be shot in. In Hollywood, he hated all the others, but she didn't think that was a good picture and she loved metadata. And as a result of that, we were able to get the rights the other four we wanted to make, which was death in the novel, which was a huge success. And the third one was evil under the sun. And then we made one with Miss Marple. Miller crap. Elizabeth Taylor. Full of Stars again, but we made a sort of thing of them beginning all in star. Well Dan start to take part and it worked like a treat. I mean, wonderful, great fundamentals all of them make their money. Oh, they will be yesterday but understand, is still not profitable. Be there quite soon as becomes the culprits of the the other three Oh, yes, I've definitely met her on the press colossal success colossal admitted practice successful, although much less good. But it but it We were very lucky that time to get there that idea have backed by napco. Very good. And to have this this extraordinary relationship with Charlie blue down in America which is very British people today Yeah, we're lucky enough to get that soil actually will make all the difference.

Alan Sapper  25:33  
We're many have tried

Lord Brabourne  25:34  
that well I know. And then did I and we were lucky. I mean, there's an awful lot like this business. And then I made to find after three films for children's film foundation at that time as well. Yes, but this thing that which I remember you were interested in? Yeah. And I'm still a governor when I was x everywhere that once Yeah, that's right. I remember that very well. And I thought it was something that I've I've always been interested in education, insurance things and I thought it was something worth doing try maybe three, Ronnie Spencer corrected them. That's a hand I produced that's it three or four of them and enjoy doing that. It didn't take take my time it was running. So can you repeat it a budget for Oh 30 40,000 a year

Alan Sapper  26:26  
to have that on record?

Lord Brabourne  26:29  
30 40,000 pounds. But I mean, we were there were special rates called Union, the union Incorporated. And there were these Saturday morning shows which was wonderful. I mean, it's a great pity that didn't carry on because there's no doubt this was good for the industry. But I used to get all these young people really fascinated by filming here that a you got to then Richard Goodwin and I made a film which was directed by his wife Christina, who will be remembered the person behind tells me this. And this called witchy direct girl stories from the flying track, which was also bad MST. witchwood did well, but not like the other video it did well is it's a profitable film. Very, very nice. And I that was during the period of doing the Agatha Christie films. And then there was quite a gap ready within close to three years to do. But I had for years been interested in making a passage to India. Right at the time when I made my first film was Harry black on the tag in America, which was set in India and on the way out and the plane I bought on the airport at the airport, a book called The passage to India, by enforcer. And I said to myself that I'm making the wrong film, this is the film you should be making. And that was in 1956. Now 5757. And I tried and tried I went to So eventually I went to see the Oh by himself, but he didn't know. But I got to know him very well. Just before the end of his life, he said all right, boy, you know, you've been nagging me for so long, the file that the sick, and he died. And then he left his his rights, all his literature at King's College, Cambridge. And as a no, no, he didn't like films, so we're not going to make the film. So we wrote back where we started. Now, I forget what year he died. But it must be in that registry, and he must have died in the 60s. And in 1983 Bernard Williams became master the the oh boy who'd been fostered by Fred, the master, who was his literary executor, died and buried William, who was you know, the famous politician. husband was the name. Chef. He was a very nice chap, but he loved films. And he's he said, Well, that's that's good. And I said, well look for oil mechanisms, look at your files and all your houses he has been inserted in the past. And so he did, he said, right, what you'll be doing right now if you make you can make the first offer. I think otherwise the I've read it over. We'll probably have got in first because they've done several wonderful, fairly basic needs but and we said we got a script we weren't very satisfied with by satta semrau in the best English writer. And we weren't very happy about it, but really good when I discussed it. And we said well, there's one person who really should be making this film that's that David did. And he had made a film since that one in How to dreadful reviews he got for 14 years he never made. So poor. He was so poor reviews of where he is attacked. That he, he never made a film. And so I rang him up on Sunday morning. He was living in the Barclay hotel. And before I said, again, if perpetuities is Ruhlman in any pickups voice, and he said, what happened in the caves? And you will have a dry? Yeah. I said, Well, how did you know that? I've heard I always wanted to make that film. Is it in the 60s? I was trying, I had no idea that he was also offered here. So I said, for goodness sake, would you be interested? Yes. He said, this is how he does it. And eventually, he wrote the script.

And made the film and it I think, I think, I think I think it's terrific. Unfortunately, we very badly handled, very well handled in in the states very badly handled outside. So financially, it hasn't done anything like I should have done the governor hand cannon, whatever that means. And they will it was it was a very sad, sad affair because a wonderful film that took me years and years. This is Robert idukki attribute and his his absolute determination to make that God. Yes, we went on now he will say when he did it, he directed as you know, obviously introduces themselves, but it's something I'd wanted to do a really good bit better. It's been a long, long time. And then after that, Richard Goodwin down at his studios rather high, which we used for our officers. Christine edzard wrote a brilliant script based on Charles Dickens durrett. And she had this idea which I thought was was way out. But still, I mean, they are making it two films, each two, three hours. So it was nothing shift. She was having to do this. So there were there was six hours of film made. And it was it was fantastic. And again, it was one fluid and every good actor in the country was in the valve. And it was the most extraordinary piece of filmmaking and I think she's a great filmmaker. And how did he do? added did okay, because theatrically he didn't do all that. Because it you had to have to set everything. But in the long game video of the time that was first introduced and then TV and it was rated on TV, and it'd be doing very, very well video. So that will be it's coming near getting his cutbacks and getting rich cheaply, man. But it was a wonderful experience and Christina Jo's resident director, sadly, there is a follow up to that because I wasn't involved in a film called The Fool, which again, she wrote directly but uh, but it wasn't the same thing. No story was, right. And it really brought down I mean, it is it did I mean, it has received the value but it's had become There's a wonderful level study replica down there. Because it was a it was a sort of way of filmmaking, which would happen in the UK and everybody's ever worked, always loved it. And it led her to another BBC rented now and from there, she still that they lived that and she just about I'm glad to hear to make that a film. She's just written one. And I got there's got to be financed by a German and French companies. And which is a new thing, of course. And we're gonna shoot it there. They know what what they can do in the studio. And while they're there, I by my life changed because I've been a director of Thames Television, yeah. For a number of years, about 10 years and the interest was the chairman. And the time came and the new licence was coming up and the advertiser died, if remember, yes,

Unknown Speaker  34:04  
that's right.

Lord Brabourne  34:06  
And he'd been a brilliant chairman of terms. And before he died, he called me in and I knew what the COVID discuss the new chairman was live it was good to try to tricky decision to make and then they do I absolutely amazed but disseminated and I will not be able to further develop my mind. The chairman of debita. server for years I was chairman of during this time, we lost our licence, but

Alan Sapper  34:32  
it is a lovely period.

Lord Brabourne  34:35  
Yeah, no, yes. Yes. But it was but it was sad that but I've I've really enjoyed and learned a great deal. I didn't I didn't make a film during that period, or they haven't really made one since then. So

Alan Sapper  34:48  
what was your your feelings about losing the licence?

Lord Brabourne  34:51  
Oh, well, terrible blade you expect? Well, I yes. I had an awful feeling. We were going to because the The odds against us were very strong and Carlton in our head, the back of rain. Jerry always wanted to get to him. And unfortunately, he there was a chance which was agreed to by Thames a few years earlier, where it could have been to the takeover would have kept him going as a big major in the studio, right having television in the studio in the old medical term doesn't exist now. And although he might not have kept the guy that did that, but he might just have done if that thing and the lab was turned down by the government, they would allow their vengeance and well, it's party that I think that also he I don't think he handled it very well. And the government said no, because of the, you know, the cross ownership. And he always said his eyes are getting it any bit too much. But him so they've now been allowed to join up together. At it added they become a huge, huge company. And they are making a lot of money as I mean, it's probably the right thing for the industry at the moment and change. But it's very sad what's happening. I'm sure you agree with that, because that was done to the way of

Alan Sapper  36:13  
employment absolutely is actually a poor

Lord Brabourne  36:15  
myth. admitted it's it was a bad Heaven's Gate. They were the biggest supplier of programmes. Yes. And of experts that had absolutely wonderful stuff. I mean, never be got together again. I mean, it's it's a tragedy but and Richard Dan was the chief executive, rarely, rarely fortunate me really meant a lot to him. And it led sadly, just now in five years time is coming to an end. And he's built it up all over again, a production company. Never thought was possible. But he did. And he did. And that was bought by ties by Pearson, a very nice, very nice company to work with. And as the chairman why they took over that, naturally, when they bought the company when I'm on the board was the chaos was down the borders. I vaguely add to that. But I think I probably won't be there much longer. But I really enjoyed my time in terms I learned a hell of a lot too. I made a few television programmes, not with them. But during that time, I read a sort of documentaries, which I'd been interested in.

Alan Sapper  37:21  
You mentioned one Okay.

Lord Brabourne  37:22  
Well, that one was called George about Georgia third. And it was sort of interview by Alastair cook with Prince Charles because he'd always great to be there the Great Plains village into America, American workers because a bit about the time of the revolution. And, and I want to Miss Judge Kofi wells. But yeah, it was a very interesting day. That is a couple of very, very good. And it was a well made programme, was the BBC part of a trip. And American companies were talking to that. That was why I didn't actually produce but I was very largely responsible for putting together making the the life and times row my bed was very successful until it was one of my wartime heroes.

It was a really successful series and he didn't take it a bit. First time anything like that had been done? Yes, they do. Yes. And a fantastic success. But I didn't produce that. When I thought about why as an autopsy as my father, Peter, Peter, morally produced.

Alan Sapper  38:36  
He was a very loyal producer wasn't the was

Lord Brabourne  38:39  
it is he made a couple of things there. And this was his biggest thing he did. He did a wonderful job. Then I suppose I still see a lot of him where he was he is a trustee of BAFTA.

Unknown Speaker  38:51  
Yes, I

Unknown Speaker  38:52  
see him.

Lord Brabourne  38:55  
And he he'd actually working on the laser discs in education. He's got a company that was making educational programmes on late on LaserDisc.

Alan Sapper  39:05  
What do you think about new the new technology is just one technology, the new technology like distribution of films on LaserDisc?

Lord Brabourne  39:13  
Yes. Well, I mean, I think I think that in a way, I think if they've been cut before the tape, and if they become before the video, I think it probably was a better system. Actually. I was always interested in it since when I was a director of sodium at one time they they very nearly went into it and backed it. But he didn't so nobody in England in the UK did detailed borders, but it's a small business still carried on and massachi static it is math, and especially educational, but I think the wonderful system, but of course the videos, the videos revolutionised the whole business of absolute. And now all sorts of digital digital. Video come that's the read a book comes out. Yes. That's the digital combat. Yes, absolutely. Exactly. And now, you know, Thomas was the biggest shareholder in Astra channel in the was ordered, and it's been the most successful of all the satellites, and financially has made a huge, huge difference to terms. And in fact, I think person bought the terms very cheaply simply because of their holiday in Astra. And their next satellite goes up in April. And that's a digital pad instead of carrying 16 channels was it kind of over that time? Okay. 86 channel, TV channel. So it's, it's good to be ready, unlimited. I mean, unlimited. Now this in a way is good. I mean for producers, but not not read in the way of producing major motion pictures in England. Unfortunately, it's rather hit that too few people now actually doing it making the large budget big stories. Because the Americans don't come here, like they used. And there's it hasn't really worked to the benefits or is best. Now we're making much cheaper. Redis Reddit TV type.

Alan Sapper  41:24  
It is changing.

Lord Brabourne  41:25  
It's changing again. And of course, you'll get the occasional fantastic success like for for weddings. Wonderful. They can still happen. Yeah. In fact, it's just displaced better dogs. It's best as a successful finish. And wonderful film and all that. I mean, I laughed all I read, I read enjoyed it. And I do have the Oscars this year that somebody will get something out of it. There are quite a few domination. But that's good for the bit for the business campaign. But these channels are good for people who have made films because more and more channels opening all these incredible these films like The Agatha Christie films, the best passage we did. And Robin Judas and all those how many companies want them? I mean, it's every one that opens they did movies that says

Alan Sapper  42:21  
new markets, the children's film founder.

Lord Brabourne  42:24  
Exactly, absolutely. Absolutely. That is good. But it but it hasn't helped but actually, in a way that people have.

Alan Sapper  42:34  
No It hasn't. Well, you say you haven't made a film recently. Is there a film review?

Lord Brabourne  42:40  
Well, yes. I want to make

Unknown Speaker  42:44  
that coming to the end of it.

Unknown Speaker  42:45  
Just run the tape right?

Alan Sapper  0:09  
Yes, your film, yes, I'm

Lord Brabourne  0:10  
hoping to beg. It's based on on a life of a woman in Russia at the time of Lenin subdued hardly ever heard of been outside Russia. Right How to instal statues over all over the place and I had never heard about before the the new Russia or the new Soviet Union collapsed. I never heard of what's her name? Well, she's called Alexander currenttime. Oh,

Alan Sapper  0:36  
I know. Ready? No, I've got her autobiography.

Lord Brabourne  0:40  
Wonderful. Yes. But you know very few people

Alan Sapper  0:44  
are one of the very few ambassador to Sweden.

Lord Brabourne  0:46  
That's right. Yeah, that's a that's how I started it somehow she had it she had it held over here. But that's a wonderful story is I feel better. And if we could get anybody really interested, we got a critical script. So fingers crossed, if you're not not thinking of Muriel street Yes, I mean, it's it's crossed our mind because Vanessa Redgrave he stood up a better but she better Cassie and we can do it at that age too. Which is much easier to say difficult to be older people younger but another hand most of our really important stuff that happens in our lives. And she was extraordinary woman she introduced you know, free love and all that has changed.

Alan Sapper  1:31  
And the most fascinating person that

Lord Brabourne  1:33  
is relative has a really fascinating and very good young documentary producer has written a script and which is very good. So I'm very hopeful. Oh, I

Unknown Speaker  1:44  
hope so. Yes, I

Lord Brabourne  1:46  
think then I make my mortal enemy. Yes. I leave it by sons Otherwise, the young man shall

Alan Sapper  1:53  
tell us about a little bit about your family and their influence their involvement in our

Lord Brabourne  2:00  
I've got 6706166 children and four boys two girls and all four boys involved in entertainment was involved in fact, he acted as a as an extra in Moravia Juliet. And he then Purdue he's active. He was associate producer in a couple of pieces, but they were much more interested in the in cable, and particularly radio built a big a big business in radio in southern Southern radio, which has now been sold but that only ran for something else to do, but mentioned in the entertainment business and then two of the producers and as well, yes, one one is called Michael john natural, natural K and a tch bu wl that's the family name. Michael john natural Joe naturally works out there. And he's produced one TV series ashenden was very successful. That was for BBC. Yes, it was good. It's very good. And then Philip, is he just about to do another one for Carlton to do a series for come back john is when Philip is made a film with the Beatles with Paul McCartney. There were many based on that debate, get back, which was quite successful, but enormous success of video. And he hasn't been very lucky since he's got to be very conservative who hasn't got the med but I think he will quite soon and that's the youngest one is a director at the BBC. And he started as a researcher and worked for three years with Esther Ranson as a director and as his directing Crimewatch, which is tremendous for me. Very exciting. He's actually doing well in this very moment today. He came down for the show with you and I went to last night here and I had to go back does daddy go didn't come all the way down to that. But he is Timothy natural His name is and Phillip Nashville is the second boy Michael john and then Philip natural. And then Timothy natural is his name appears on the credits love of Crimewatch and your daughter's one daughter used to be a writer. Now she's, she's just trading to be a psychotherapist and got her last year for your trading. She gave her writing she didn't really get to everybody.

Alan Sapper  4:34  
I think she's once she's sorted herself.

Lord Brabourne  4:39  
I don't think so. I think she should already become a serious academic. And be very good. Very good. And the youngest man, that's Joanna. She's bad. Jamie she drowned in Nashville. She called herself still and Amanda, who were there called Amanda Ellingworth manager jozani, where she was a social worker. And now she's got two children so she's working social work at home At home Yes. But that's great thing because you can return to that yeah when she's when her family and she would very very good at it this worked in Paddington very difficult area and multiple people insurance very, very, very good. She's got a good credit he got a degree, very good degree and the goldsmith you the ins in etc that part is called

Unknown Speaker  5:31  

Lord Brabourne  5:33  
And doing extremely well.

Unknown Speaker  5:35  
Excellent. And

Lord Brabourne  5:39  
now got lots of grandchildren lots

Alan Sapper  5:40  
of branches have been disturbed.

Lord Brabourne  5:42  
There is one upstairs we are using steps around upstairs. Luckily we haven't had been disturbed.

Alan Sapper  5:47  
They can be extras in another flat. You can have young families or they'll there'll be a new company.

You were last night we were both at celebrating your your birthday and your years of the BSI. Can you tell us something about the BFA your view of the BFA?

Lord Brabourne  6:09  
Well, I think it's a wonderful organisation. I mean think the digital riches in me as you were the governor to many years I think you also feel that there's the archive which is one of the most important parts of it. But I that's always been the thing that's ready of all the parts of it. And there's many more parts and I realised when I joined but it is the most fascinating and the most important for the country and the government should give it but they have been giving it later it should increase because rarely keep that archive going as is been a tremendous in so many films there. Which there is the print of it is sort of anywhere else in the world. So I think that's a really core business of it middle the others. I mean, their production work is very important, I think and all all original work and then the cinema,

Alan Sapper  7:00  
the cinemas and the Southbank

Lord Brabourne  7:03  
Outback terribly important, but I think the original cinema vital now that is all the major American companies own all this in the most read.

Alan Sapper  7:12  
Yes, indeed. Very important. Last last British second.

Lord Brabourne  7:17  
I was a trustee for some years, I've given up now the SAS museum. And the result of that one of the offshoots the National Museum of photography, film and television director. And, you know, I mean, it's it's the work they're the original theatre, they run one of the originals. Yes. And then it's it's tremendous, important thing because they're they've got people who will run these these yes, these films which are shown and on the second,

Alan Sapper  7:48  
I think they they they release it keeps the cinema culture alive in the country at large. I mean, we outside London,

Lord Brabourne  7:58  
absolutely is very, very important. And I think we've been very fortunate. I'm sure you agree that then having declared Jamie number of years, and now we've got Jeremy Thomas, who I think is extremely good. He loves to. So I've come Nicky, but I think he's a very good chairman. And I know you've retired I retired from it now. But I but I always take an interest. David was so do I yes. And I was very fortunate the last few years of being chairman of the disability community was I read it did learn a lot. And I became extremely interested in I have to be of I really follow that through because so much they could do in the leading opinion in this country about disability and entertainment, which is disgraceful.

Alan Sapper  8:45  
And then you governor of the National Film,

Lord Brabourne  8:49  
like yours, many as I do. And I think again, it's a wonderful organisation. And I think, again, we're very fortunate now in having a lot of Miss marlise, the director written me originally I know, again, the new one just now and to get and to have David Puttnam, the chairman has been really lucky. And he's a tremendous, tremendous transform that i think that i think is a great future for it. And it's been a battle. And, well, you know, it's not easy to consider different types and different age.

Alan Sapper  9:27  
I mean, Colin, Colin Young was a marvellous, good person. But you'd have to move on in life,

Lord Brabourne  9:39  
and also battles with the government and, you know, the lack of funding for higher education and further education is, is getting more and more serious, but I think it was, I think it was about

Alan Sapper  9:51  
we're just coming towards the end. JOHN, you're very interested in natural history, aren't you? Yes. Very, you know, from what I've been able to discover. It's a it's a University of Kent is your baby. That's right, is it not? And what's your view of foxhunting?

Lord Brabourne  10:08  
Oh, well, I, I think great sadness that stopped. Because I think the countries that people live in the country it's it's a totally different thing than people who don't live in the country don't understand what it means because there is a sort of rarely a classless form of entertainment from people in rural areas which amazed little entertainers available. And it's the thing was everybody gets together, everybody enjoys runoff and pretending that it doesn't lead to some clarity. You can't pretend that it's an argument you shouldn't even enter into bloodsports to lead the project. But nature is cruel. I mean, the things that people do due to boxes if there wasn't foxhunting, it's far worse. I mean, there's dreadful other ways that people could you have to get rid of the boxes, I mean, medicine. And so they shoot them indenture the properties they die of gangrene.

Alan Sapper  11:10  
But you're you're involved in natural history in the

Lord Brabourne  11:14  
US. I've been involved in hunting. I think it'd be a great pity. I think it's going to be probably brought to an end and politically, I mean, I think it's a great pity. I'm not actually a hunting person myself, but I always try and help the Hanson series. Because I really believe it's an important get together in really

Alan Sapper  11:40  
tight thinking last your microphone. It came out of a tip. Yes.

Lord Brabourne  12:09  
It definitely is. President of contrast for that, yes.

Alan Sapper  12:12  
Yes. And and are you concerned about the floor as well as

Lord Brabourne  12:20  
Oh, yes, absolutely. Yes. That's that is the main the main two beds, particularly in my interest? mad about bed? And I keep a very close eye on the added cat. Right. They've been all over the world. Okay, that makes me

Alan Sapper  12:37  
happy. Yeah. Keep and that will be an ongoing interest. Oh, absolutely. areas, both as a natural history films perhaps.

Lord Brabourne  12:47  
Well, a bit late start in the one one royalty Bay? Yeah. I mean, it's so good. Marvellous. I mean, is incredible how good they are, how good they are without

Alan Sapper  12:57  
the course. You know, David is very well.

Lord Brabourne  13:01  
I think he's fantastic. So do I, and allows for the private clouds. I've never seen anything like it, I'd rarely rarely is another wall. Does photography really vary as?

Alan Sapper  13:18  
Well, before we finish? What do you see as the future of film and television and radio? What is your your forward view? Is it is it optimistic or pessimistic?

Lord Brabourne  13:30  
Or I'm optimistic. And I keep on saying to young people, I got to be able to I'm sure you do. Come on out and say what? I'm sure but but it's got to be so different. So different. Firms, I think is is very tricky. But I think I'm afraid that people will be brain drain films at the moment. Next, we'll probably go to America, all leading talent, but let's hope that what seems to be happening now that having made the names have not come back here. And if that happens, that'd be very, very good for the industry. And it could happen. They could happen. Because we're so good at it. I mean, in software, that whether it's films or TV or video editing, we are the best atoms and is fairly well recognised throughout the world by everybody except our government. And they simply won't listen. Even people like David Puttnam was one of the most convincing person people I never really said sped things up and Richard Attenborough Minh hadn't really been able to convince the government and I've been begging away as you know, my age and they've never really understood the way the only country in Europe now that don't get into support or very minor support. And I don't say it should be should be subsidy, but I think it should be support financial support. If that happens, and I think the whole thing's would grow, could grow tremendously again and imagine material that's going to be needed. Whether or not it's going to be quality material is the problem. Yes. I tried the BBC so poor. And they seem, although they've had their troubles as it were surviving and surviving the unsought from the government. And I think they will last a change for the time, which I think they will they've always managed to do. Very flexible. And I think that they are still the sort of what's what you call it? How standard standard, which everybody else tries to adhere to Yes. So I feel there is a future. Good.

Alan Sapper  15:49  
I think I would agree with that. Thank you very much. And it's a remarkable experience that you've given us well, and I'm sure it will people will deal with it in a proper way And will you will always be advised when it's been about.

Lord Brabourne  16:14  
I think it's a wonderful, wonderful idea what you're doing wonderful. Thank you.


Head of Thames Television