Duval was educated at King Edward's School, Birmingham. He began his career in BBC radio and as a TV advertisement writer and producer at J. Walter Thompson. In 1968 he joined the Central Office of Information (COI), eventually becoming their Head of Television and Film Production. He then became Deputy Director of Programmes at the Independent Television Commission before becoming Director of the BBFC in 1999.  He succeeded James Ferman.
His directorship was marked by his 2000 decision no longer to cut films for adults (unless they broke criminal law).  He also abolished the '12' age-based rating for cinema, replacing it with an advisory '12A' rating. 
In his personal life, Duval's interests include singing, playing the piano and attending recitals. He is married with four daughters. 
Since he retired from the BBFC he has become a novelist, writing political thrillers set against an international backdrop. Their central character is a fortyish history professor: an imperfect hero caught up within fast-moving narratives of mystery and suspense. Their underlying themes are the 'underworld' of American politics and its effect on the rest of the world. Bear in the Woods was published in 2010, its follow-up Below the Thunder in 2013 and Not Single Spies in 2015.
- Brooke, Michael. "Duval, Robin (1941-)". screenonline. British Film Institute. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
- BFI website http://www.screenonline.org.uk/people/id/458208/index.html
- Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-135863/Film-rules-scrapped.html
- Williams, Rhys (1999-01-12). "Britain's new censor in at the deep end". The Independent. London.
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