Paul Atherton

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Paul Atherton, television producer with Simple (TV) Productions

Paul Atherton (born 20 March 1968) is managing director of Simple (TV) Productions and its sister not-for-profit company, Q&D Productions Limited. He is the first producer/ director to have his work broadcast on the Coca-Cola billboard in Piccadilly Circus, London with his film The Ballet of Change.[1] [2]

Early life[edit]

Paul Atherton was three months old when he was abandoned in a tent at a disused Airport in Cardiff. He was placed with a white foster family[3][4] in the small village of Ystrad Mynach, he left home at 15 where he spent time in children's homes and completed his "O" Levels. At 16 he set up home on his own, against the wishes of Social Services. After a traumatic event at the age of 18 he became homeless and lived on the streets, but by 20 he'd recovered his life and bought his first flat.[5]

At the age of 16 Atherton was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS, often called myalgic encephalomyelitis in the United Kingdom).[6] and still suffers today[7]

He attended Cardiff Business School, and obtained a BSc Honours Degree in Business Administration as a mature student in 1994.[8]

Whilst studying he set up a mail order company specialising in silk lingerie called "A Touch of Silk".[9][10] This was the first non-blue-chip company in the UK allowed to take credit cards over the phone without a retail premises.[11]

He moved onto a career in Public Relations with Systems Publicity, Harvard Communications and finally Propeller Marketing where he Account Directed clients CNN, media buyers OMD (Omnicom Media Directions) and The Daily Telegraph.[12]


His television career began at Prospect Pictures working on their live five day-a-week cookery programme Good Food Live[13] before setting up his production companies in 2004.[14]

In 2005 his first production Silent Voices a docudrama about domestic violence premiered on British Television. Based on the real life accounts of children who had witnessed their parents being beaten.

2007 Atherton made history by being the first (and currently only) Producer/Director to have had his work shown on the Piccadilly Circus Coca-Cola Billborad with the The Ballet of Change. A ballet of film and music telling the histories of four of London's most historic landmarks.

In February 2009 he worked with Wil Johnson (BBC Star of Waking the Dead) and Robert Cavanah (Tomb Raider / Sahara) on a short film entitled Colour Blind, to bring attention to a UK audience, the dangers of seeing racism everywhere. He made-up his White lead in Golliwog (Black Face) Make-up to make the point.[15]

On Sunday 2 August 2009 Atherton started Pre-production on "A Thousand Voices for a Broken System" a new format of documentary film that will originally take place on the Web and eventually be edited for cinema.

Prompted by his own experiences[16][17] the premise of the film is to interview a 1,000 people from across the UK who have been failed by the Welfare, NHS or Social Services in the past 10 years, in order to highlight the issues of the most vulnerable people in society.

It's referred to as a patchwork film because rather than one film-maker doing all the interviews, documentary crews from around the UK have been asked to submit their own interviews with subjects of their choice, so Atherton can sew them together like a patchwork quilt.

On Monday 6 September 2010 Atherton announced that he had signed video games writer Rhianna Pratchett to write his first feature film. Vigilia (a working title) is due to shoot in 2013[18] [19]

Atherton began work on The 'Feminist Car Commercial' Film. A campaigning film designed to be a springboard for public debate about the objectification of women in advertising and marketing. Shooting was completed in July 2013.[20] [21]

Personal life[edit]

Paul appeared as a voluntary performer in the London 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony dancing in both the Rush Hour & Street Party sections.[22][23][24]

His real life experiences of childhood abandonment helped inspire the character of Eric Parkhill in Wendy Perriam's novel Broken Places (2011)[25] and his interactions with a Renault car dealership, resulting in him buying a Skoda, is retold as one of the negotiation case studies in Clive Rich's The Yes Book (2013) [26]

As a mixed race child of White foster parents, he also comments publicly on the issues of race and adoption, often appearing on television and in the press.[27] [28] [29]

He has one son, Charles Sebastian Atherton-Laurie[30]



  1. ^ British Film Archive (2007). "The Ballet of Change at British Film Archive". 
  2. ^ British Film Archive (2007). "Paul Atherton at British Film Archive". 
  3. ^ Channel 4: (2011). "Should White Parents adopt Non-White Children". 
  4. ^ Peter Collins (2012). "South Wales Echo/Western Mail - Paul Atherton: How a rookie social worker turned my life around". 
  5. ^ The Big Issue Magazine (2008). "TV Calling". 
  6. ^ "What About ME?" (Trailer) (in English). United Kingdom: Double D Productions. 2010. Event occurs at 3:57. Retrieved 2012-05-16. 
  7. ^ "Sacred Cinema" (Film) (in English). Canada. 2012. 
  8. ^ Cardiff University Magazine (2008). "A Capital Achievement". 
  9. ^ Sun Newspaper (1994). "Charles Props Up Naughty Knickers". 
  10. ^ Vogue Magazine (1995). "The Perfect Valentines Gift". 
  11. ^ South Wales Echo (1994). "Revlon's President Underwear Suprise". 
  12. ^ PR Week (2000). "New Appointments". 
  13. ^ Industry News (31 May 2002). "Skillset Arrange a "Lucky Break" at Production Show". 
  14. ^ Broadcast Magazine (2007). "Capital Shouldn't Cause Offense". 
  15. ^ Colourful Radio (26 March 2009). "The Breakfast Show". 
  16. ^ Private Eye Magazine (2010). "Wheels of Misfortune". 
  17. ^ Private Eye Magazine (2010). "Hostel Takeover". 
  18. ^ Screen International (2010). "Gaming writer Rhianna Pratchett moves onto first feature film". 
  19. ^ IMDb (2012). "Viglia". 
  20. ^ Soho Rushes Short, Dana knight (August 2013). "How to Shoot a £1m Car Commercial on a Zero Budget.". 
  21. ^ IDEA, Dana knight (August 2013). "How to Shoot a £1m Car Commercial on a Zero Budget.". 
  22. ^ Atherton, Paul (13 August 2012). "'What is the Olympic Legacy:A View from a Closing Ceremony Volunteer". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  23. ^ "Inside a Truck in the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games" (Trailer) (in English). United Kingdom: Simple Productions. 2012. Event occurs at 0:09. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  24. ^ LOCOG (2012). "A Symphony of British Music, London 2012 Closing Ceremony 12 August 2012 Programme". 
  25. ^ Wendy Perriam (2011). "Broken Places". 
  26. ^ Clive Rich (2013). "The Yes Book". 
  27. ^ Paul Atherton (4 May 2012). "Evening Standard: The Barriers to Adoption". 
  28. ^ Channel 4 (5 August 2006). "Channel 4: The Great British Black Invasion". 
  29. ^ BBC (9 October 2011). "BBC: Sunday Morning Live". 
  30. ^ "Charles Atherton-Laurie says Thank you to the Volunteer Cast of Olympic Ceremonies" (Trailer) (in English). United Kingdom: Simple Productions. 2012. Event occurs at 0:09. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 

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