This can be a copy of the speech delivered by Tom Giles, ITV’s controller of Present Affairs, on the Grierson British Documentary Awards 2022. The late Roger Graef was awarded the Grierson Trustees’ Award.
It’s an honour to be requested to say a number of phrases for the Grierson Belief’s celebration of somebody that was, to me and others, a life-affirming power and inspiration. Even now – after he’s gone – he nonetheless is.
In actual fact, it’s onerous to imagine Roger’s not truly right here tonight as a result of, clearly, he’d have liked it – and little doubt he’d be pitching away about some new venture earlier than, throughout and after he left the stage!
However ‘a number of phrases’ aren’t actually going to cowl, or do justice to, Roger’s outstanding lifetime of many elements: theatre director and impresario, tv drama director, creator, criminologist, professor of Media, campaigner for social justice, founding board member of Channel 4, Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects,
re-designer of the London bus map, patron of so many charities, sponsor of a lot good work, spark to so many new abilities. A polymath, a renaissance man and, in between all that, someway, he managed to be one of the crucial important and transformative documentary makers of our time.
Eight years in the past, at BAFTA, Roger set out what he known as a manifesto for documentaries. He known as them “islands of proof and instruments for change in a sea of noise.” He requested for them to be given time to flourish, given the room to take dangers, the flexibility to attempt new expertise and known as for us all to belief within the viewers’ want for what good documentaries might do.
You solely have to have a look at his file to see how he lived by that.
His basic fly-on-the-wall collection Police, into the work of Thames Valley Police, gave us the landmark episode, A Criticism of Rape. I can nonetheless keep in mind the furore that created in 1982. Even now, 40 years on, its subject material – the police remedy of rape victims – stays as searingly topical as ever.
There was the inspiring Feltham Sings, in collaboration with Brian Hill and the poet Simon Armitage. His ground-breaking thalidomide movie: One in all Them Is Brett. And his many forensic, documentary insights into our establishments – from Nice Ormond Avenue Hospital and the European Fee in Brussels, to the Communist celebration of Nice Britain. And in addition into all elements of the system that’s entrusted to take care of our most susceptible kids.
All these sought of their other ways to throw gentle onto darkness – even to make the world slightly higher, which they typically truly did.
My very own recollections are of his heat, ardour and sheer tenacity.
Roger was, rightly, no nice respecter of individuals’s diaries or their gatekeepers; actually, of something that got here between him and getting a ardour venture made.
However I do keep in mind as Panorama editor being slightly shocked to seek out him in my workplace out of the blue – as I’d by no means met him earlier than. He’d slightly wandered in, on a kind of sweeping excursions of the BBC constructing he was liable to take. However he was charming, exhibiting me rushes for a movie he’d been creating.
The scenes he confirmed had been all about Connor, a child within the care system dropping all management and attacking his social employee’s automobile after being denied a visit to see his Mum. It was a tremendous, uncooked sequence and a touching story of a sympathetic however tragic child. Roger cared a lot about him and the movie that we took it right away to BBC One and it grew to become an hour lengthy 9pm doc, Children in Care.
Two weeks later, I used to be shocked once more, when he turned up with extra concepts. This time I came upon he was within the diary – repeatedly and once more. So, after he’d gone, I requested, “how come Roger’s within the diary?” And it turned out that on his method out the primary time, he’d gone over and guaranteed my assistant that it had all been okayed with me for him to be booked in for periods for his updates, each two or three weeks.
That was Roger. However I’ve by no means felt something apart from gratitude for the movies he went on to make for me, as he did for therefore many others. In actual fact, the staff that labored collectively on that movie – Children in Care – are at the moment making what was maybe Roger’s last fee – to be broadcast subsequent 12 months.
And, sure, this one’s additionally in regards to the police, and the rights of susceptible girls, and people combating with the felony justice system to realize correct safety. As a result of as much as the very finish – even on the grand previous age of 85 – he was nonetheless the identical Roger, nonetheless bursting with concepts, and nonetheless caring about what we do and the folks we can assist.
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