Sydney Samuelson

Interview Number: 
706
Interview Date(s): 
13 Jun 2017
7 Jul 2017
Interviewer/s: 
Access restrictions: 

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Interview
Sir Sydney Samuelson CBE, has been interviewed on three separate occasions for The British Entertainment History Project.
 
First Interview (on Audio)  No: 42. Covered his family, his early days in the film and television industries and the creation with his brothers of the Samuelson Group of Companies.
 
Second Interview (on Camera) No: 706. Covered how he became Britain's first British Film Commissioner.
 
Third Interview (on Camera) No: 706 (continued) Covered his role as British Film Commissioner, a remarkable and frank assessment of his six years in the job, including the role of government and of the British film and television industries at the time, the difficulties included  during his six years as Commissioner having to deal with nine different government 'Films Ministers', but there was also success. Spielberg's 'Saving Private Ryan'is one example among many others, chiefly from the US.
Biographical
Sir Sydney Samuelson CBE, has been interviewed for The British Entertainment History Project on two previous occasions and on audio (interview number 42)  24th June,1988 and continued 4th April, 2001.This third interview (interview number 706) and, this time, on camera, deals solely with his role in setting up and, ultimately, becoming Britain's first British Film Commissioner. The British Film Commission's formation was announced at the Cannes Film Festival in May 1991  Sir Sydney reveals in depth, the politics and background to the UK government's decision to invest in a British Film Commission through the Department of Trade and Industry (this responsibililty later transferred to the Department of National Heritage); how he was appointed to the position of the first British Film Commissioner, his relationship with Government Ministers and promoting the Commission in association with UK regional Film Commissions, Film Offices (including London) and Festivals both in the UK, the US and, of course Cannes. Also,he provides a serious insight into how the Commission functioned, its successes and frustrations.
 
Part Two of this interview (again, on camera) will highlight individual British Film Commission events and achievements leading up to Sir Sydney's knighthood from Her Majesty, the Queen in 1995 and his eventual departure from the British Film Commission.  (Subject to further information that might come out of Part Two).  
Derek Threadgall