“I was Rob Benfield’s researcher in the 1980s when he was a producer/director on a regional ITV current affairs doc series called Facing South (and immigration minister Phil Woolas was a co-researcher!). Rob remembers that the series was run by journalists at the time and that he was brought in to make the series more visually interesting when the prevailing “mission to explain” ethos made programmes duller to watch. Complaints about the dumbing-down of docs began 25 years ago. No doubt, I did my bit to help the process too…”
A month ago I asked whether documentary production is really in demise, or are we just grumbling? The holiday season has proved harder to crack than I’d thought, and I’m still waiting for the indies and commissioners I’ve contacted to get back to me on the subject.
Never say never, but I’ve had some interesting offline feedback from, Michael Waldman, a veteran of BBC’s Forty Minutes doc strand, and maker of The House, Daisy Daisy, Stephen Fry In America and many more. And I can offer the academic’s viewpoint from, Rob Benfield, who runs the TV production degree course at the University of Westminster.