Russell Barnes

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Russell Barnes (born 1968) is a British television producer and director, known primarily for documentaries about science and contemporary history. He was educated at Bedford Modern School[1] and studied history at Christ's College, Cambridge.

In 2002, he directed Empire, a revisionist account of British colonial history presented by the Harvard historian Niall Ferguson. A sequel about US power, American Colossus, followed in 2004.

During 2004 he produced Churchill's Forgotten Years, written and presented by the Cambridge University historian David Reynolds. Barnes and Reynolds went on to collaborate on a series of further feature-length history documentaries for the BBC, including The Improbable Mr Attlee, Summits and Armistice, which charted the final month of the First World War from the German perspective and received special commendation from the jury at the 2009 Grierson Awards ceremony. In 2011, they produced World War Two: 1941 and the Man of Steel, which was shortlisted in the Best Historical Documentary category of the 2012 Grierson Awards.[2] This was followed in 2012 by World War Two: 1942 and Hitler’s Soft Underbelly which argued that the war in the Mediterranean became a dark obsession for Winston Churchill. Barnes and Reynolds’ most recent series, Long Shadow, was broadcast on BBC2 in September and October 2014.[3] The series, which explored the legacy and meaning of the First World War as part of the BBC's centenary season of programming, received widespread and favourable press coverage and reviews.[4][5]

Russell Barnes started working with the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in 2005, directing the series The Root of All Evil? and The Enemies of Reason, which attracted controversy for their robust advocacy of atheism and rationalist principles.[6] Barnes and Dawkins' next series The Genius of Charles Darwin, marking the 150th anniversary of On the Origin of Species in 2008, won Best Documentary series at the 2009 Broadcast Awards.

In 2009 Russell Barnes was recruited by the BBC to series produce The Virtual Revolution, a history of the World Wide Web presented by Aleks Krotoski. The series won the 2010 International Digital Emmy Award and the 2010 BAFTA New Media Award.[7]

In 2010 Barnes founded, with Molly Milton, ClearStory Ltd, an independent television production company which produced the Richard Dawkins series Sex, Death and the Meaning of Life. The series looks at the big questions of life from an atheist perspective.

In 2011 ClearStory produced Gypsy Blood, an award-winning[8] observational documentary, directed by the photographer Leo Maguire, about gypsy fathers and sons for the True Stories strand on Channel 4. Broadcast in January 2012, the film won critical praise but also drew complaints from animal rights activists for its depiction of alleged animal cruelty perpetrated by the some of the film's characters.[9] In March 2012 Ofcom dropped these complaints, stating they did not raise issues that warranted investigation.[10]

In 2013, Barnes co-produced Sex Box, a studio show exploring the taboo surrounding talking about sex, which was broadcast on Channel 4 as part of its Real Sex season. In Sex Box couples had sex in a specially constructed box in a TV studio, then emerged to talk about what happened and their sex lives more generally with agony aunt Mariella Frostrup and a panel of experts - Phillip Hodson, Tracey Cox and Dan Savage. The programme provoked controversy and debate in both the British and international press[11] [12] though several reviews of the programme were positive, praising the sincerity of the programme's aims.[13] [14] An American version of Sex Box was piloted successfully by Relativity Television and eight further episodes are currently in production for WE tv channel.[15] [16]

Russell Barnes is active in Directors UK, sitting on the organization's distribution committee.


  1. ^ Bedford Modern School, by Andrew Underwood (1981); updated (2010)
  2. ^ "The Grierson Trust". Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  3. ^ BBC Website |url= missing title (help). 
  4. ^ "The Telegraph". Telegraph Online. 
  5. ^ "The Independent". Independent Online. 
  6. ^ Spencer, Neil (11 August 2007). "The Dawkins delusion: science good, the rest bad". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 8 April 2012. 
  7. ^ "Virtual Revolution Wins a BAFTA". 
  8. ^ "Grierson Trust". 
  9. ^ "C4 gypsy film prompts complaints". BBC News. 26 January 2012. Retrieved 8 April 2012. 
  10. ^ "Gypsy Blood complaints top 1,000". Broadcast. 
  11. ^ Vallely, Paul (23 September 2013). "The Independent". London. 
  12. ^ "The Guardian". 
  13. ^ "ABC News". 
  14. ^ "The Guardian". 
  15. ^ "The Daily Beast". 
  16. ^ "Hollywood Reporter". 

External links[edit]