Norma Percy

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Norma Percy at the 2016 Hay Festival

Norma Percy is an American-born, documentary film maker and producer. The documentaries she has produced in collaboration with Brian Lapping have covered many of the crises of the 20th Century.[1] In 2010, she was awarded the Orwell Prize Special Prize for Lifetime Achievement.[2]

Early life[edit]

Percy was born and raised in New York City. She studied politics at Oberlin College in Ohio, later studying for a master's degree at the London School of Economics.[3][4] She then became a researcher at the House of Commons where she spent six years; in her time there, she worked as a researcher for the MP John Mackintosh, who recommended her to the Granada Television producer Brian Lapping when he was looking for a researcher for a documentary on the workings of Parliament called The State of the Nation.[3]


Percy produced the Granada series End of Empire (1985), which explored the effects of the end of the British Empire in various former colonies, and worked with Lapping on the 1987 drama-documentary Breakthrough at Reykjavik, a reconstruction of the Reykjavík Summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986.[5]

After fifteen years at Granada, Percy joined the newly formed production company Brian Lapping Associates in 1988. (When that company later merged with Brook Associates in 1997, she was a founding director of the new company Brook Lapping.)[4]

The Percy-produced documentary series Watergate aired on the BBC and the Discovery Channel in 1994. Narrated by Daniel Schorr and directed by Mick Gold, this five-part series chronicled the Watergate scandal and featured exclusive interviews with many of the key participants in the events, including H. R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, John Dean and G. Gordon Liddy as well as former President Gerald Ford.[6][7][8] The series won an Emmy Award.[4]

The Death of Yugoslavia (1995), with Lapping as co-producer, covered the events that led to the collapse of the former Yugoslavia and the aftermath. The series again contained interviews with many of the major participants, including Slobodan Milošević and Radovan Karadžić. The series won a BAFTA Award as Best Factual Series for 1995.[9] The Balkans were revisited in the 2001 series The Fall of Milošević which dealt with the fall from power of the Serbian leader.[10]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Percy, along with Brian Lapping, was awarded the Alan Clarke Award (for outstanding contribution to Television) at the 2002 BAFTA awards.[11][12]

Percy was made a Fellow of the Royal Television Society in 1999[13] and was awarded the Judges Prize by that society at the 2010 RTS Awards.[14] In 2009, at the Grierson Awards, she, along with colleagues from the Brook Lapping production company, won the Best Documentary Series award for Iran and the West;[15] Percy also given the Trustee's Prize by the Grierson Trust for her contributions to documentary film over the previous 30 years.[16][17] The Special Prize for Lifetime Achievement was given to her at the Orwell Prize ceremony in 2010.[2]

In 2009, The Guardian wrote of Percy: "Her documentaries stand out for their seriousness, but most of all for the extraordinary range of people who agree to appear on them. These programmes do not depend on one celebrity autobiography, or a handful of journalistic talking heads; they interrogate players from all sides with a respect for complexities that demands concentration".[18]

Personal life[edit]

In 2004, she married the geneticist Steve Jones; the couple had lived together since 1977.[19]



  1. ^ Robert Hanks (6 October 2005). "Making a drama out of a crisis". The Independent.
  2. ^ a b "Norma Percy The Orwell Prize". The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  3. ^ a b "The History Maker". The Oldie. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
  4. ^ a b c "The Grierson Awards 2009: Trustees' Award". The Grierson Trust. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  5. ^ Baker, Maxine (2006). Documentary in the digital age. Focal Press. pp. 122–138. ISBN 0-240-51688-5.
  6. ^ Richard Zoglin (8 August 1994). "TELEVISION: Nixon Without Nostalgia". Time. Archived from the original on 7 November 2012. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  7. ^ Walter Goodman (6 August 1994). "TELEVISION REVIEW; Principal Players of Watergate Reprise Perfidies and Inanities". New York Times. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  8. ^ Ron Miller (7 August 1994). "Watergate - 20 Years Later". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  9. ^ "Past Winners and Nominees - Television - Awards - 1995". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
  10. ^ Thom Shanker (26 August 2003). "TELEVISION REVIEW; The Bad Old Days of Yugoslavia's Fallen Dictator". New York Times. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  11. ^ "BAFTA Television Awards: 2002". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 6 February 2009. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
  12. ^ "Search results Norma Percy". BAFTA. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
  13. ^ "RTS Fellows". Royal Television Society. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  14. ^ "Royal Television Society Awards shun talent shows". The Telegraph. 17 March 2010. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  15. ^ Tara Conlan (4 November 2009). "Norma Percy wins two Grierson awards". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
  16. ^ "Norma Percy wins two Grierson awards". Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  17. ^ "Percy wins two gongs at Grierson Awards". Broadcastnow. 4 November 2009. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  18. ^ "In praise of Norma Percy". The Guardian. 17 February 2009. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  19. ^ 'JONES, Prof. (John) Stephen', Who's Who 2011, A & C Black, 2011; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2010 ; online edn, Oct 2010 accessed 22 May 2011

External links[edit]