City Stories (1998-99)

Moscow – a city in transition
More than any other city in the world, Moscow is a city that has gone through huge changes over the past decade In the post – communist era, Moscow is at the brunt of global forces. There has been a market led attempt to transform the economy and make Moscow a flagship of a regenerated and forward-looking Russia. But the people of Moscow are living in very uncertain times. This programme explores the changes that the people of Moscow have witnessed over the last ten years. Through the stories of four different generations we glimpse the highs and lows of life in Moscow.

Cities in a hurry

This programme juxtaposes life in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, both competing with each other to become the Smart city of the South-east Asian region. The film features diverse groups within the cities – an internet company, two architects and Poetic Ammo, a Rap Band in Kuala Lumpur.

Sydney has become a world focus for the gay and lesbian communities. How did this city become such a focus for the gay and lesbian communities worldwide? Part of the answer lies in the Mardi Gras March and Festival — an event advertised through lesbian and gay networks the world over. Twenty years ago, at the first Mardi Gras, many people were arrested. Now it is an event to which thousands of people go. The city, once again, as the focus of international interconnections, a different kind of globalisation.
Tales of the New Pacific (1998)

Family ties – the story of Adeline Yen Mah.

A film based on the best selling autobiography of Adeline Yen Mah. Set in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Los Angeles. Adeline rediscovers her past as she traces her roots back to the Shanghai of the 1930s.

Evergreen – A profile of a Taiwanese shipping company with global interests.

Democracy: from Classical to Modern Times (produced and directed 1996-97)

Democracy and Media

The role of news and current affairs in democracy. A day in the life of a current affairs Newsroom.
The Struggle for Democracy in South Korea

Documentary investigation into the democratisation of South Korea. Through the story of the making of a feature film, the viewer learns about the struggle for Democracy in South Korea.

Environmental Policy in an International Context (produced and directed 1995-96)

Clayoquot Sound

The rainforest of Western Canada is one of the oldest old growth forest in the world. Yet a large multi-national company is logging there. This film chronicles the struggle to preserve the area.

Climate of Opinion

A current affairs style investigation into the various views about climate change.

Desertification – A threat to Peace

A documentary about the problems of environmental degradation in Kenya.

The Shape of the World ( Series Producer and Producer and Director of 6 of the programmes 1993-95)
Co-production with Annenberg/PBS, USA)

Imagining New Worlds

Mexico, after the arrival of Columbus in the Americas, was invaded by the Spanish. What they found and attempted to destroy was a flourishing culture – one very different from their own. The programme explores the world of the Maya – ancient and modern. The programme is a voyage of discovery through the eyes of Doreen Massey, an eminent Geographer. What she discovers are both new worlds and new ways of imagining the world.

Reflections on a small screen

This documentary focuses on the global strategy of three of the world’s largest media companies, Warner – now the biggest communications company in the world; BBC World-wide, whose news operation is competing with CNN in East Asia and MTV which is the biggest satellite company in the world.
Global Tourism

Documentary using music and dance. Hawaii was one the first places in the world to develop a mass tourist industry. The programme examines how the image of Hawaii as a tropical paradise for tourists was created. This was the era of radio and ‘Hawaii Calls’ – radio played a major part in creating the image of Hawaii as the home of surfing and hula dancing girls.

This pattern has been repeated around the world. As a result people are searching for `unspoilt’ places. Malaysia is an area of the world which has recently begun to experience major development in the tourist industry. The island of Penang seems to be well on the way to ‘Hawaiianisation’, as high rise beach hotels sprout at a rapid rate. Even in such remote places as Borneo, the fabled home of head-hunters, tourism is taking firm root. The consequences on local traditional culture is only just starting. In Hawaii, after a century of tourism, they realise that only by preserving authentic Hawaiian culture will it be possible to maintain the tourist industry.

Alaska – the Last Frontier?

This documentary gives a historical perspective on how native Alaskans lost their communities, cultural identities and control over their own lands, through Russian and then American colonialization. This is not a romantic look at indigenous peoples, but shows clearly how enmeshed modern culture is in their lives.

World Music

Mali has the richest and most sophisticated musical heritage in all Africa. This film tells the story of Bajourou – a group of four musicians. Bajourou started out playing acoustic music in the days when microphones and amplifiers were still not the norm. Each of the musicians show us a different aspect of life in Mali.

The World of the Dragon

Shanghai is China’s largest city with a population of just under 13 million. At the head of the Yangtse River basin, Shanghai is ‘roaring’ economically.
The overseas Chinese are ‘in’ the West, but not ‘of’ the West. They are part of the Chinese Diaspora, the transnational network of connections The programme traces some of these family connections all over the world.

Health and Disease ( produced and directed 1992)

Health Care in Zimbabwe

Two programmes investigating the health issues of Zimbabwe, including the rapid development of aids.

Developing World (Series producer and producer and director of 5 of the Series – 1990-92) A co-production with Oxfam and the EC
Out of Development?

Brazil is one of the biggest countries in the world but two thirds of the people live below the poverty line. This programme explores some of the history of Brazil.

In Search of Identity
Through music and poetry, this film tells the story of some of the immigrants to Sao Paulo and how they are actively contributing to the development of their adopted home town.

The Cutting Edge of Progress

This programme chronicles some of the accounts of the people who were forced to move when the Kariba Dam was built in the Zambezi Valley of Zimbabwe in the 1950s.

Breaking Out

This film tells the story of some of the women in Zimbabwe since Independence in 1980. In the words of the women themselves, using drama, poetry and music, we explore some of the complex aspects of life for women in the new Zimbabwe.
Mozambique Under Attack
One third of all health clinics were destroyed during the war in Mozambique – the government has not been able to rebuild them because of World Bank-IMF imposed spending limits. Instead Mozambique has been forced to rely on aid to rebuild them. The children living on the streets of Mozambique are also a symbol of The World Bank’s Structural Adjustment Programme. How have these economic policies and the war affected the people of Mozambique and what are their hopes for the future?

Environment ( Series producer 1988- 90)

Valued Environments: Environmental Values

A film documentary investigating the history of environmentalism told through the stories of the formation of the English Lake District National park and Yosemite National Park in the United States.
Forest Futures

Film documentary. Endau-Rompin is a national park in Malaysia. It is under severe pressure from logging companies. Malaysia is also under pressure from Western governments over deforestation. What does it do? And how can Malaysians identify the solutions and determine their country’s strategy?
Living With Drought

Film documentary. Before the Ethiopian famine, the drought in the Sahel, one thousand miles to the west, was already fifteen years old. In Niger, solutions adopted by the communities themselves for managing the land have helped to halt environmental degradation.
Bangkok – A City Speaks

Film documentary. Bangkok is one of the fastest growing cities in the world – an economic success story. But watching its fast-track growth is like watching a time-lapse film. Its traffic problems make ours look trivial – it can take two hours to drive one mile. And as underground water is used in ever greater quantities, the city is sinking at the rate of three inches every year.

No Place To Hide

Film documentary. Parts of North West Ontario look like the moon – so much so
that NASA used the area for astronaut training. Under pressure from environmentalists and politicians, the mining companies have been trying for the past ten years to return the land to its original state. One of the solutions – higher smokestacks – has only succeeded in exporting the problem downwind.

The Heat Is On

Film documentary. The Earth is warming up – that’s definite. But how much? And how do we make policies when we don’t know – something almost universally acknowledged as necessary if we are to avoid catastrophe. This is what a conference in Geneva in November 1990 met to discuss.

Walk Softly On The Earth

Film documentary. In Bergen in May 1990, Ministers from European governments met to consider international strategies aimed at halting and reversing environmental deterioration. Many outside the West were critical of the rich countries’ initiatives. In India, the manufacture of refrigerators using ozone-unfriendly CFCs is in full swing. At a conference in Delhi in September 1990, delegates said that if the rich countries want to reduce greenhouse gases they’ll have to foot the bill.
Social Issues and Social Intervention ( Producer and Director 1987-88)

The Making of Childhood

The creation of childhood is examined in this programme using Neil Postman’s theory of technological change in the 15th Century. Dramatic re-construction of Victorian school and medieval life.

The Disappearance of Childhood

This programme continues to examine Neil Postman’s theory of the disappearance of childhood as a result of television. We then examine how children are in fact active agents in their socialisation by examining anthropological work in Peru and Jamaica.

Why Care?

A look at the history of The Thomas Coram Foundation and Barnados and at how the care of disadvantaged young children has changed since the nineteenth century.
A Question of evidence

Studio discussion – a review of previous television programmes

Changing Britain, Changing World: Geographical Perspectives ( Producer and Director 1984-86)

South West Donegal I and II

Two programmes about the history of South West Donegal and the changes in rural life that have taken place. We tell the story of the Fuller family who epitomise life in this part of Ireland.

Made in Dundee

A film documentary about the history of the jute industry in Dundee and its links with Bengal. We then examine how ‘high-tech’ industry has replaced the jute industry.

Beyond Famine?

A film documentary that compares Bangladesh’s response to two periods of food crisis in 1974 and 1984. We filmed in Bangladesh during the crisis of 1984, concentrating on agriculture, food production, distribution, environment and community. We use the story of a village called Katuli, a day’s journey from Dhaka, to help us make the points.

The Mettle of Malaysia

A film documentary about natural resources and commodities – we examine the history of the tin industry in Cornwall and Malaysia.
Agriculture and Conservation

A film documentary about the history of agriculture in Britain since the Second World War.

Understanding Pregnancy and Childbirth ( Assistant producer and director 1984)
Pregnancy – A Time to Grow

Film documentary about ante-natal care and different approaches. Intercut interviews of women talking about their experiences with activity footage of examinations.

Engineering Materials (Director 1983)

Phase Diagrams
Studio programme to show explanations of phase diagrams with film inserts.
A Cut Above

Documentary film case-study of the production of saw blades and shows how phase diagrams are used in industry.

Magnus – A Suitable Case for Treatment
Film about construction of a massive steel structure for North Sea Oil platform.

Decision Making in Britain ( Assistant Producer and Director 1983-4)

The Language of Advancement?

A film documentary about Welsh culture and how the language has reasserted itself after years of decline. Dramatic sequences and music highlight cultural life.

The Setting Up of The Open University
A film documentary about how the Open University was set up. Interviews with Harold Wilson, Jennie Lee, Sir Hugh Greene, Tony Benn, Lord Goodman and others.

Other People’s Children
This film examines the formulation of Manchester’s proposal for unified sixth form reorganisation.

Public Order Law Reviewed

A programme about recent changes in Public Order Law from the perspective of Decision-Making models.

Introduction to Psychology (Assistant Producer and Director 1980-81)

Your Full Attention Please
Studio with OB of Studio Gallery exercises to demonstrate limits of attention in television studio. Grandstand is used to demonstrate the use of talkback with Des Lynam.

It’s as Easy as ABC
Studio linked film about practice of Skinnerian psychological principles in Psychiatric Hospitals.

Curriculum Evaluation ( Assistant producer and director 1981-82)
Hidden Messages

OB of classroom behaviour in two schools.
Slow motion – stop-start techniques used for video cassette use – Studio Presentation.

Sorting Them Out
OB of classroom behaviour showing how to categorise behaviour with graphics and quantel – Studio Presentation.

Searching for Meaning
OB of classroom behaviour and discussion. Split screen observation of behaviour with different interpretations – Studio Presentation.

Foundation Course in the Social Sciences ( Assistant Producer and director 1982)
Turning it Round

Film documentary about women’s blouse co-operative in South Wales.
Cogs in the Wheel

Studio -based programme to review ideas in previous television programmes. Programme focus on British Leyland, and uses an actor to demonstrate some of the points with Studio Presentation. (1982)

Foundation Course Social Sciences ( Assistant Producer and Director 1980)
Economic Crises

Studio presentation with edited film archive and graphics of the Depression in the thirties and different economic interpretations.
Business Economics ( Assistant producer and director 1980)

The Fall and Rise of the Small Baker

Film case-study of the changing bread industry.

Unemployment Causes and Cures

Film case-study of unemployment showing different opinions of the causes and cures of unemployment.


Creative clan

This blog is about some of the things that are surprising me as I grapple with leaving the BBC after thirty years. I haven’t written a diary over the years but I have kept all my old note-books. I also have a lot of photos and with them I will try to piece together some interesting and surprising stories. This blog is really for me but if you find it interesting and surprising I will be happy.

My career at the BBC has spanned an unbelievable time of change. I have been interested in international development issues and the role of the media from my early days as a Producer/director at the BBC in the 1980s. My early programmes were mainly British based but in 1984, I made a programme about Dundee and how the Jute industry had transformed the city. I had the idea to look at how jute was grown in Bangladesh and the links with Dundee. I was able to raise some additional funding to go to Bangladesh and at the same time we made a film about how Bangladesh had recovered from one of worst famines in its history – ten years earlier. We filmed in a village, ten hours up river from Dhaka – a long boat trip with film (16 mm) equipment – through flooded areas. We arrived at the cut-off village – we were working with a local NGO who were staging a puppet show about how to tackle the issues of landlessness and the consequence of poverty. There was a huge amount of energy and humour which I was able to highlight in the programme. This was the beginning of my interest in international development and people telling their own story. With new technology the ability of people telling their own story has never been stronger.

our house in Wales

Troedrhiwtrwyn Farm

‘Troed’, as it is affectionately known by the family,  has been in the family since the early 1900s when our maternal great grandmother bought the farm. Dating back to the 17th Century, it is the original farmhouse of the area and is of significant historic interest today. Now ‘Troed’ is part of a hamlet of former miner’s cottages built in the 19th century revealing the rich history of coal in the area.

Troedrhiwtrwyn Farm is full of character and has retained many of its original features. It is constructed in stone on a south facing hillside near Pontypridd. Retaining many of the original features, it includes two living areas with low oak beams – each room has a large inglenook fireplace with bake ovens and oak lintels. There are two stone winding staircases leading to the upper floor comprising three bedrooms and one bathroom.

The house is reached by a private drive leading to a large garden on two levels. As you reach the house, there is a large south facing terrace with a Summer House and barbeque space. On the lower level there is a large grass lawned area on the lower level with mature trees.


Although Troedrhiwtrwyn farm was built in the 17th Century, there is evidence that the site was settled by Benedictine monks as early as the 14th Century as a station on their pilgrimage route from England to west Wales, probably because of its location. The farm is situated on a south-facing hillside overlooking a river valley near the present-day market town of Pontypridd. The original exposed stone of the house – up to one metre thick – attests to this early history.
Legend has it that a noteworthy and celebrated inhabitant of the farm was Evan James, the author of the Welsh national anthem – Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land of My Fathers). According to family legend, his son James James was walking one day in January 1856 on the banks of the river when the melody for Hen Wlad fy Nhadau came to him. When he gave the tune to his father, Evan James was able to compose the words of the present-day Welsh national anthem.
A memorial to Evan James and his son, in the form of two figures, representing Poetry and Music, stands in Ynysangharad Park in Pontypridd.

Nearby attractions

The Rhondda Heritage Park demonstrates the rich history of the area. Part of the former Lewis Merthyr Colliery, Trehafod, it is one of the top heritage and cultural visitor attractions in South Wales. Facilities include the ‘Shift in Time’ Guided Tour which shows what life was like for those working in the mine.

Substantial remains of a Norman stone-built castle, raised by the de Londres family. The initial earthwork castle was established by William de Londres, soon after 1100.

Idyllically situated beside the river Ewenny, the joining point of two major Welsh counties of Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan, the castle was built to guard a strategic fording point.

You can still cross the river via the stepping stones at low tide, but take care as the tide changes quickly and you might get stranded on the wrong side. there is a pathway that leads from the stones to Merthyw Mawr village and sand dunes.

The Bunch of Grapes has been in the same family for 30 years and has evolved to survive as the climate changes.

It’s become a thriving gastro pub and a real-ale lover’s paradise that continues to develop and react to the changing market and the needs of people.

The Bunch of Grapes of today is a far cry from its former back street boozer image from its days serving the nearby canal and chainworks. The introduction of an in-house delicatessen, cookery classes, tutored beer tastings, a beer academy and regular beer and food festivals have all helped to establish this pub as the best in Wales!

To the rear of the Bunch is the only remaining double-lock system from the Glamorganshire canal, this impressive industrial superhighway of the late nineteenth century was a vital link for the steel and coal industry between Cardiff and Merthyr, long since buried under the A470 only small sections remain. The Pontypridd canal conservation group has been beavering away for the last few years trying to uncover and restore a vital piece of local history. The Bunch has been committed to helping whenever possible as the Bunch‘s history has always been linked to the canal and the Brown Lennox Chainworks. A selection of authentic photographs from this era is on display in the Bunch courtesy of RCT and Aberdare Library.


Shirlock Road life

Shirlock Road is wedged between Hampstead, Belsize Park, and Hampstead Heath in a little known area called South End Green.

The real draw of South End Green is Hampstead Heath. We are a five minute walk to the entrance to the Heath on Mansfield Road at the top of Shirlock Road. The neighbourhood is home to the Overground station – Hampstead Heath, and is one of the main jumping off points for rambles in the hills of the Heath. Parliament Hill, with its expansive views of the city, is a short walk away from our house, as are the famous bathing ponds, which sit ready for those brave enough to jump in on sunny afternoons.

South End Green is a great neighbourhood with a mix of family houses and flats. The Green itself is full of restaurants and cafes, many of which have been open for decades. We love getting baguettes and pastries from Euphorium Bakery, Le Pain Quotidien has a lovely communal table and Zara is a great option for a Turkish meal. For traditional tea-rooms, there is Polly’s and the new Silverberry Deli & Kitchen. We also have a fantastic M&S Food Store on the Green and the Italian deli Giacobazi on Fleet Road has wonderful home made pasta.

South End Green is also home to some great pubs. It not only has one on every corner, but many of them attract locals from all over north London. The Garden Gate has one of the best beer gardens in the city, The Stag some of the best pub food and the Freemasons is our favourite.

South End Green has some impressive institutions, too. One of London’s few outlets of the beloved Daunt Books is here, and while it lacks the stunning interior of its Marylebone counterpart, it still has a great selection of books and a strong travel section. Around the corner is the Keats House museum, where poet John Keats lived and wrote his famous poem “Ode to a Nightingale”.

We are well situated and in close proximity to Hampstead Village, Belsize Park, England’s Lane, Primrose Hill and Camden Market. These are all great neighbourhoods and you can reach all of these places in no more than a twenty-minute walk. Our famous 24 Bus that we recommend to everyone is a two minute walk away and can take you through Camden to Gower Street (near the University of London buildings), Leicester Square – get off here to get to Covent Garden and Soho, and on through to Trafalgar Square, Victoria and Pimlico near the River and Tate Britain.

Enjoy your time with us!

Reflecting on the internet

This week I have read three articles, which are an interesting commentary on the history of blogging within education. Here are the links:

Bartlett-Bragg Anne (2004) Blogging to Learn Flexible Learning, 2004 edition, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia
Downes, S (2004) Educational Blogging, EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 39, no. 5 (September/October 2004): 14–26
Selwyn, N (2009) Challenging educational expectations of the social web: a web 2.0 far? Digital Competence Vol 4: 72-85

I had most affinity with the article written by Neil Selwyn (2009) – it reflects many of the areas I have been thinking about in connection with my work in media and international development. Sonia Livingstone identifies three ages of internet studies in her book the New Media handbook: the first age, beginning in the mid-1990s, was what was called ‘punditry rides rampant'(Wellman, 2004: 27): the second age is optimistic but peppered with views from the sceptics. Then, with the dot-com bust at the beginning of the 21st Century, the second age turns to third age – where researchers are looking at how the internet is embedded in everyday life: looking for evidence and seeking to document users and uses of the Internet.

In this period, blogs have grown from an ‘arcane curiosity’ (Livingstone, 2008) to a common and popular mode of online communication in just a few years. Easy-to-use software has merged the graphic and hyperlinking features of web pages with those of older, collaborative, computer-mediated communication forms. What is interesting to note in the in the three readings is that Word press wasn’t even mentioned.

Blogs as identified in the history of the internet outlined by Downes in his article shows how blogs expanded at an exponential rate after 9/11 – Downes in his article talks about how the political sites related to 9/11 reshaped “the entire internet media landscape”. This has expanded the range of networks and in this sense we have departed from the mass communication model of one to many associated with mass production and consumption, and mass media. To the extent that society is a ‘network of networks’ (Castells, 2002), researchers like Sonia Livingstone are rethinking the once-dominant ‘one-to-many’ frame of mass communication and its role relative to one-to-one and many-to-many modes of communication.

As we seek to understand the impact of the Internet and this age of connection, it has focused attention on a topic of extraordinary importance: the need to re-imagine the experience of learning.

The impact of the Internet within education has never been greater. How has this changed education? What role has the internet played in this – there is no doubt that the process does allow for more connected learning but is this true in practice? All the articles talk about when the excitement of writing blogs wears off students simply use the internet for social purposes.

It is the convergence of ICTs that has been facilitated and shaped by the parallel convergence of entertainment, education, work and civic activities, and interpersonal communication. There is no doubt new media and information technologies open up new, more active modes of engagement with media — blogging, mobbing, texting, IMing, spoofing, and a dozen more; the list of new media uses is in continual flux.

The network metaphor increasingly dominates our discourse in technologically advanced societies and increasingly in other parts of the world. Perhaps what is most notable about the sheer volume of interest and work in this area is that it has been built on the assumption that the ubiquity of ICTs is a public good, with surprisingly little analysis of whether ICTs are, indeed, to be uncritically promoted, or whether gaining access to the Internet or other new media technologies is so obviously a ‘good thing’. This is what Selwyn is questioning.

The model of access most often discussed with regard to ICTs is that of the telephone, where telephone service is seen as a basic necessity and therefore governed or regulated on the basis of ‘universal service’ or ‘universal access’ principles or obligations (Lievrouw, 2000). In contrast, the ubiquity of mass media (or lack thereof) was not generally framed this way. No literature sprang up to document and criticize television or radio ‘divides’, for example, when those technologies were introduced. On the contrary, considerable research effort was devoted to controlling or minimizing exposure to television – to reduce children’s viewing, or to regulate adult tastes for films, video and electronic games.

Selwyn points out that the feeling is that the social web use in education is not as positive as we would like to think and to some extent it should bring into sharp relief the future of education itself. Selwyn feels that the gaps in understanding need to be recognized. One area that distinguishes new media from earlier mass media channels and content is the possibility of interactivity associated with newer channels through such things as blogs. But what do people do with this increased possibility of interaction. This is a potential area of research – particularly in the other parts of the world such as Africa and Asia.

Moves from mass society towards networks have entailed corresponding shifts in people’s engagement with media. From an emphasis on mass audiences – but confined to the domestic and the local to a diverse repertoire of mediated and unmediated communication and information sharing. To an emphasis on the collective power and individual action of the internet that extends beyond domestic and local boundaries.