Chris Terrill

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Chris Terrill
For the American chief executive, see Chris Terrill (executive).

Chris Terrill is a British anthropologist, adventurer, author and filmmaker.

Biography[edit]

Born in Brighton, Sussex in 1952, Terrill attended Brighton College 1965–1970, and then went to Durham University, where he gained a joint-honours degree in Geography and Anthropology. Between 1976 and 1977 he lived with the remote Acholi Tribe of Southern Sudan where he carried out doctoral research on the impact of civil war on the tribal society[1] before taking up the post of Head of Geography at Rendcomb College in Gloucestershire. In 1983, he left teaching to become a full-time professional anthropologist working for the International Disaster Institute and the UN in Geneva and throughout the famine gripped and war ravaged areas of Africa.[2][3] Later, and quite by accident, he moved into broadcasting when he went to give an interview to the BBC African Service and was offered a job on the spot. He changed careers and became a producer for the BBC World Service specialising in African affairs. After five years in radio he joined BBC television as a documentary producer, making investigative documentaries and observational films about communities all over the world.

As a programme maker, Terrill has employed anthropological methodology—particularly participant observation.[note 1] As a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute and the Royal Geographical Society, Terrill is regarded as a practising anthropologist/geographer who uses film as his primary research tool and recording medium in the field.[4][5]

He won an Emmy for outstanding investigative journalism for a film called Ape Trade.[6] This Inside Story Special (BBC1) exposed the major gangs smuggling endangered orangutans to illegal markets in Taiwan, the USA and Russia.[note 2] After 20 years at the BBC, and with over 100 prime time films to his name, he left the corporation in 2003 to set up his own company, Uppercut Films, and began to specialise in military and high adventure documentaries[note 3]—though always concentrating on communities/groups and their internal dynamics. In 2007, he documented and participated in the rigorous eight months training with the Royal Marine Commandos after which he followed the newly qualified recruits to the front line in Afghanistan for their first taste of real war.[7][8] Terrill is the first civilian to complete all four commando tests for which he was awarded an honorary green beret.[note 4]

Terrill produces his own camerawork and sound recording without a film crew. This "lone wolf" technique is a hallmark of his work.[9] Using the new digital technology, he was the first main stream filmmaker to experiment as a self-shooting/self-recording director in the mid 1990s for Soho Stories, for which he won the Royal Television Society Award for Innovation. This series, a colourful and highly revealing portrait of London's glamorous Soho district, was one of the first to use the docu-soap style of filmmaking.[10][11] Widely credited as the "father of the docu-soap", though both Paul Watson and Jeremy Mills have similar claim to the title, Terrill then went on to refine his techniques on prime time series such as The Cruise (BBC1),[12] Jailbirds (BBC1),[note 5][13] Through the Eyes of the Old (BBC1), The Ship (BBC2), Shipmates (BBC 1) and two feature documentary specials on Charlotte ChurchSpreading Her Wings (BBC1) and Confessions of a Teen-angel (ITV1). Commando: On the Front Line (ITV1)—an account of Royal Marine Commandos fighting in Afghanistan was followed by Nature's Fury (ITV1)[14] a trilogy on the world's greatest storms and their impact on communities.

In 2009 Terrill made a series on the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, London, called Theatreland. This was an intimate portrait of theatre people at work and featured Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart and Anna Friel. In the same year he made a two-part film series about Royal Marines, badly injured in Afghanistan, attempting to climb in the high Himalayas (Wartorn Warriors—Sky1).[note 6] In 2010 he spent six months on HMS Manchester in the Caribbean filming counter narcotics operations as well as humanitarian disaster relief during the hurricane season (Royal Navy: Caribbean Patrol for Channel Five and National Geographic). In 2011 Terrill returned to working with the Royal Marines when he joined 42 Commando in the dangerous Nad e Ali (north) district of Helmand Province. This was for a 6-part series commissioned by Channel Five entitled "Royal Marines: Mission Afghanistan" transmitted in January/February 2012.

In late 2011 Terrill embarked on a project that brought together the military and the theatre. The Theatre Royal, Haymarket (where Terrill had filmed Theatreland in 2009) put on a play using injured soldiers and marines as the actors, singers, and dancers. The play, written by the poet Owen Sheers and based on the experiences of the soldiers mostly in Afghanistan, was called The Two Worlds of Charlie F and was performed on 22 January 2012. Terrill's feature-length film entitled Theatre of War documented the preparation of the play and was shown on BBC1's Imagine strand.

Terrill lectures widely on film making techniques – especially on working solo in the field. He holds regular workshops at the London Film School.

Personal life[edit]

In 1999 Terrill was engaged for a brief period to the model and activist Heather Mills. He proposed to her on a fishing boat whilst sailing up the Mekong River in Cambodia, where they were making a film about landmines.

Terrill is now married to the BAFTA award winning filmmaker Christine Hall.

On 9 February 2013 Terrill received a full apology in open court from News Group for repeatedly hacking his phone in 2005/06. They also paid undisclosed but substantial damages plus costs.

Terrill is an accomplished amateur athlete, specialising in ultra running, triathlon, rugby and boxing (all of which he still participates in).

Books published[edit]

Year Title Publisher Synopsis
1995 HMS Brilliant BBC Books The book describes the events that took place on the HMS Brilliant, a Royal Navy frigate on front line duty in the Adriatic during the Yugoslavian war as part of Operation Sharp Guard.
2005 Shipmates Century Random House An exploration of the British Royal Navy's heritage and its role in the modern world.
2007 Commando Arrow Books Random House Chris Terrill's experience of training with the elite Royal Marines Commandos and winning his own green beret before following them to the front line in Afghanistan.

Film history[edit]

Year Film/television series Broadcaster Summary
1989 Subway BBC1 Crime and violence on the London Underground
1990 Bullies BBC2 The chronic problem of school bullying
1990 The Race Game BBC1 An investigation into racism in British sport.
1990 Fit To Drop BBC2 The extraordinary story of people addicted to exercise.
1991 Brief Encounters BBC2 Prostitutes, pimps, punters and the police at Kings Cross Railway Station
1992 Ape Trade BBC1/National Geographic Undercover investigation into orangutan smuggling
1993 Yellow Line BBC1 The vicious parking wars on the streets of London
1993 Miami Wild BBC2 Policing the animal smuggling trade in Florida
1994 Seeing Red BBC1 Union unrest, crime and violence on London's buses
1994 The Women Trade BBC1 Investigation into international prostitution and the marketing of women for the sex industry
1995 Beloved Country BBC2 6-part series on ordinary South African lives as they approached full democracy and black rule
1996 HMS Brilliant BBC1 6-part series on a Royal Navy warship serving during the Yugoslavian war
1996 Alison's Last Mountain BBC1 Journey to K2 with the family of Alison Hargreaves soon after her death on the mountain
1997 Soho Stories BBC 2 12-part series about life in London's famous and flamboyant Soho district
1998 The Cruise BBC 1 12-part series on board a luxury cruise ship in the Caribbean featuring Jane McDonald
1998 Jane Ties the Knot BBC 1 Cruise special—Jane gets married on a Caribbean Island.
1999 Jane's Cruise to the Stars BBC 1 Cruise special—Jane's rise to stardom.
1999 Jailbirds BBC 1 10-part series inside Newhall Women's high security prison
2000 Beyond the Bars BBC 1 Jailbirds special—What happened to the prisoners after release.
2000 Tito's Story BBC 1 Inside Story special on an 11-year-old autistic boy in India who writes beautiful philosophical poetry
2000 The Quest BBC 1 The story of a rock gospel band and their bid for fame
2001 Through the Eyes of the Old BBC 1 90-minute feature on being old
2001 Through the Eyes of the Young BBC 1 90-minute feature on being young
2002 The Ship BBC 2/History Channel 6-part adventure series sailing the Endeavour in the wake of Captain Cook from Australia to Indonesia
2003 Shayler's Secrets BBC 2 Following the rogue spy David Shayler through his fateful trial at the Old Bailey
2004 Charlotte Church—Spreading Her Wings BBC 1 A year in the life of the young diva as she approaches her 18th birthday
2004 The Making of Sheila Quigley BBC 1 The extraordinary story of a first time novelist
2004 Debra Winger in Africa Charity film Film for Sightsavers International about Debra Winger visiting Kenya to highlight the plight of the blind
2004 The 24 Hour Plays Charity film Film for the Old Vic about a unique theatrical experiment
2005 Charlotte Church—Confessions of a Teen Angel ITV1 Charlotte attempting to break into the rock world
2004–2005 Shipmates BBC 1 A major 5-part series about the Royal Navy on operations.
2006 Debra Winger in India Charity film A film for Sightsavers International about Debra Winger visiting India to highlight the plight of the blind
2006 The Sultan and the Elephant BBC Four The heart-warming story of a giant elephant's visit to the streets of London and the enchantment he brought with him.
2006 Extreme Theatre Sky TV A one-hour special on a unique theatrical experiment at the Old Vic featuring Kevin Spacey
2007 Commando—On the Front Line ITV1 8-part series on the Royal Marines serving on the front line in Afghanistan
2007 The 55 Year Old Commando ITV1 and 4 The story of Chris Terrill's attempt to win the iconic green beret of the Royal Marines Commando (directed by Malcolm Donkin)
2007 Commando—On the Front Line (Director's cut) ITV4 8-part series as above—one hour versions
2007 The Parish Church of England—St Martin-in-the-Fields Five 3-part series on a year in the life of this iconic church in Trafalgar Square
2007 Go Commando! ITV4 Two Royal Marines row the Atlantic Ocean
2008 Nature's Fury ITV1 3-part series on the world's most destructive storms and their impact on communities (Tornadoes, Hurricanes and Firestorms)
2009 Theatreland Sky Arts 8-part series behind the scenes at the famous Theatre Royal, Haymarket.
2010 War Torn Warriors Sky 1 Two 60-minute films about badly injured Royal Marines trekking and climbing in the high Himalayas.
2011 Royal Navy: Caribbean Patrol Five/National Geographic Five-part series about the Royal Navy tracking down cocaine smugglers and providing humanitarian relief after hurricane strikes in the Caribbean.
2011 Nature's Fury—Monsoon ITV4 Facing up to the extremes of the Indian monsoon
2012 Royal Marines: Mission Afghanistan Five Six-part series on the Royal Marines of 42 Commando working in the desperately dangerous Nad Ali North district of Helmand Province
2012 Theatre of War BBC1 Theatre presents War in a unique and remarkable way for a feature-length Imagine Special
2013 Battle Scarred Five Four-part series on the problems faced by ex-servicemen when returning to civilian life.
2013 Surviving the Arctic with Chris Terrill Five Following the great reindeer migration across northern Norway
2013 Surviving the Desert with Chris Terrill Five A journey across the drought belt of Africa
2014 Surviving the Ocean with Chris Terrill Five Fishing with the Senegalese fishermen off the west coast of Africa.
2014 Marine 'A': Criminal or Casualty of War? BBC1 A personal exploration of the ethical and moral issues of a battle field execution.
2014 Commando: Return to the Front Line ITV1 A one-hour special updating the story of Commando: On the Front Line. The film follows Bertie Kerr back to Afghanistan to assess the legacy of a war that cost over 450 British lives.

Awards[edit]

Year Type Film/television series For
1992 Emmy Ape Trade. Outstanding Investigative Journalism
1996 Broadcast Award HMS Brilliant Best in-house producer
1997 Royal Television Society Award Soho Stories Innovation
2003 Emma (Ethnic and Multicultural Media Award) Tito's Story Best Documentary

Nominations[edit]

Year Type Film/television series For
1997 BAFTA (Craft Awards) Soho Stories Best Sound
1998 National TV Awards The Cruise Best Factual Series
2002 BAFTA Through the Eyes of the Old Best Single Documentary
2002 Grierson Through the Eyes of the Old Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme
2003 Emmy The Ship Cinematography
2003 Education on TV Awards The Ship Best Documentary Series
2004 Maritime Media Awards Shipmates Best Documentary Series
2010 Mental Health Awards Wartorn Warriors Best Documentary
2011 Maritime Media Awards Royal Navy: Caribbean Patrol Best Documentary Series
2013 Grierson Theatre of War Best Arts Documentary

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Participant observation—a type of research strategy. It is a widely used methodology in many disciplines, particularly, cultural anthropology, but also sociology, communication studies, and social psychology. Its aim is to gain a close and intimate familiarity with a given group of individuals (such as a religious, occupational, or sub cultural group, or a particular community) and their practices through an intensive involvement with people in their natural environment, usually over an extended period of time.
  2. ^ To achieve this Terrill went undercover as a wildlife smuggler. In a later film called Women Trade, that exposed criminal gangs trading in women from the developing world for the sex market in Europe, Terrill posed as a woman trader in the Dominican Republic as well as in Denmark and Belgium.
  3. ^ Uppercut also has a small but vibrant arts department which specialises in theatre based films due to Terrill's passion for live theatre: "When you have your own film company you can chose what films you want to make—it is like having a massive toybox full of all your favourite toys. And you can keep getting new ones." (Terrill, Sept 2008 when asked why he chose to make Theatreland at the same time as working with the Royal Marines.)
  4. ^ Jimmy Savile was a previous recipient of the honorary green beret although he did not attempt all four commando tests. In any case since the scandal over his activities with under age girls Savile has been posthumously stripped of his honorary green beret. Gethin Jones attempted the last of the tests, the 30-mile run across Dartmoor but finished in a time of 8 hours 20 minutes – 20 minutes over the pass time of 8 hours
  5. ^ For this series Terrill spent eight months in prison.
  6. ^ This series was shortlisted for the 2010 Mind Mental Health Media Awards and one of the films' main contributors, Marine Danny Claricoates, received 'The Speaking Out Award' for his courage in talking so openly about his own Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after seeing his two best friends blown up and killed in front of him.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Creation of the Acholi Minority, Their Dispersal as Refugees and Their Repatriation (1956–1972), Durham University Geography Department: 1978.
  2. ^ "The Second International Conference on Assistance to Refugees in Africa". Disasters. Vol 8, issue 4, December 1984.
  3. ^ "Rural Refugees in Africa: Past Experience, Future Pointers". R Chambers. Disasters. Vol 6, issue 1, March 1982.
  4. ^ Anthropologist About Town (Royal Anthropological Institute): Going Commando. 20 September 2007
  5. ^ Commando. Chris Terrill, Random House, 2007.
  6. ^ International Primate Protection League, Vol. 18, No. 2, Aug 1991: BBC Exposes Ape Trade
  7. ^ The National Archives, Defence|News, 14 December 2007: The Hardest Embed: Going Native with the Royal Marines
  8. ^ Manchester Evening News, Ian Wylie, 17 September 2007, Chris—Right in the Line of Fire
  9. ^ New Documentary: A Critical Introduction. Stella Bruzzi. Pgs, 79,122,123,129,132.
  10. ^ New Challenges for Documentary. Alan Rosenthal, John Corner.
  11. ^ Understanding Reality'Television Su Holmes, Deborah Jermyn. Pge 295.
  12. ^ Frames and Fictions on Television: The Politics of Identity Within. Bruce Carson, Margaret Llewellyn Jones.
  13. ^ Independent. A Docusoap Worthy of the Hard Cell. Brian Viner, 21 March 1999
  14. ^ How I Captured the Perfect Storm. Broadcast. 5 June 2009

External links[edit]