Bob Edwards – his films, my notes

Bob Edwards

1. BBC Television Director 

While working for the BBC (1967 – 1972),  Bob directed documentary films, mostly arts programmes, including 3 shown here:

Over 20 films in 5 years, mostly arts programmes including films about sculptor Barbara Hepworth, satirist Roland Topor and cartoonist Ronald Searle in Paris, Composer Benjamin Britten and gypsies at Appleby Fair. Between BBC contracts directed a 50 minute documentary, ‘Youth in India’ and co- produced the one hour biography, ‘The Life of Margot Fonteyn’, the ballet dancer, for London Weekend Television.

2. 1972-1986: Freelance Film Making 

1972: Production Manager For film director Jane Arden’s radical feminist psychodrama, ‘The Other Side of the Underneath’.

1974-1972: Stills Photographer/ Sound recordist Worked as a stills photographer on various feature films. and sound recordist on investigative TV programmes in the UK such as ‘World in Action’ and ‘Weekend World’.

1975: Film Editor Edited for Perry Henzel (director of cult feature, ‘The Harder They Come’) in Jamaica.

1975-1979: Produced and directed sponsored films. Including: a short film for cinema in Sri Lanka on the inauguration of a president. An award winning documentary about a parachute record attempt in Dubai.

Directed and edited a series of golf tournament films over a period of 3 years in

3. 1986-2000. Greenpeace International

Set up Greenpeace India. Published Life in Plastic, The Stranger

The North Sea Campaign leading to the elimination of toxic, persistent and bio-accumulative substances from the marine environment. The campaign was subsequently wound down after this victory.

1989-1990: Greenpeace Ireland

1988: Greenpeace Australia Spent 2 months in Australia photographing five hunted species of kangaroos for the Greenpeace International Campaign. Photographs later published in a report.

1986-1988 Consultant for Greenpeace International on the Irish Sea Campaign. Co-ordinated a scientific survey of Cork Harbour.

4. Suffolk 2000-2015: Book, Documentaries, Exhibitions, PhotosGypsies at Appleby Fair 

Introduced by  Rachel    

(com opt)

Duration 15’57”

[no date]


Still held annually at Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria, this film of Appleby Fair in the late 60’s shows the gathering of travellers to buy and sell horses and celebrate their culture. Gypsy boys and men bare back riding, Traps trotting, braces, horse trading, dogs, kids rag picking, caravans, mud, coppers with helmets. A film without commentary.

Stewart : Background at ending

Ronald Searle in Paris   

(com opt)

Duration 10’22”

[no date]

Introduced by  Rachel  

11.00  RONALD SEARLE IN PARIS (10 minutes)

Ronald Searle, living in Paris, talks about the drawings he did while a prisoner in Changi Prison then working on the Siam-Burma Death Railway. ‘I was determined to make a document of this period… of the everyday treatment’. With a horror of being ‘pigeon-holed’ he is more disparaging talking of the fame that came to him as the creator of St Trinian’s. Searle here is a great graphic satirist and chronicler of the best and very worst of life. Bob on camera??? CHECK STEWART

The sketchbooks Searle brought home from Changi constitute a remarkable document of survival in the face of the grossest inhumanity and are probably the best visual record of war in the Imperial War Museum; they formed the basis for a book, To the Kwai and Back: War Drawings 1939-45 (1986). He had become, almost incidentally, one of the finest topographical artists of the century.

St Trinian’s: Searle had drawn the second St Trinian’s cartoon in Changi (“Hands up the girl who burnt down the east wing last night”); it was published in Lilliput in 1946 . Married Webb, the publisher. St Trinian’s became a national institution, to the point where Searle began to hate his creation.

Instead, with his friend Geoffrey Willans, a BBC journalist, he devised Nigel Molesworth,
Punch became his bread and butter;

Paris – The decision was moved along a bit by a chance meeting in Paris with a pretty divorcee, Monica Koenig, later the second Mrs Searle. There was an angry divorce, in 1967, which probably confirmed Searle’s decision to re

Worked for Le Figaro Littéraire,

Then Searle accomplished a long-held ambition, to work for the New Yorker. Some of his fans saw a decline from now on, and it is true that there was a rococo prettiness about some of his work, though its manic qualities eschewed cosiness.

In 2004 he was appointed CBE and in 2006 was made a chevalier of the Légion d’honneur. Monica died in July 2011; he is survived by his son John and daughter Kate from his first marriage.

Stephen Moss writes: In 2000, to mark his 80th birthday and a new Penguin anthology of his drawings, I visited Ronald Searle at his home in the gorgeous hill-top village of Tourtour in Provence. He hadn’t been interviewed for years, and said most people in Britain thought he was dead or retired, even though he was still cartooning regularly for Le Monde. He disliked the insularity of Britain and rarely returned, but his house was full of carefully alphabetised videos of films and television programmes, as well as innumerable books his agent sent him, so I assumed he wanted reminders of home.

We ended up conducting the interview over two extended lunches at a nearby Michelin-starred restaurant, which he adored and where his adoration was reciprocated. We were joined at lunch by his garrulous wife Monica and Eamonn McCabe, the Guardian photographer, who had come to do the portrait for the article. I ended up with almost seven hours of tape, though Monica did about 90% of the talking.

The interview appeared in early December 2000, and a few weeks later a Christmas card arrived drawn by the great man, with Christmas and new year wishes in three languages inside, written in Searle’s spidery script. He had added a PS: “Since your article appeared, both our letterbox and fax have overfloweth with enthusiastic reactions.” He was surprised to find how much he was still admired and loved.Picture what that day was like   

(sep mag)

[no date]

Duration 24’06″

Broadcast BBC 2 29th October 1969

Introduced by  Stewart

Sound – Colin Richards

Camera – Aubrey Dewar – Mike Whittaker

Editor – Andrew Walker

Director – Bob Edwards

Line-Up: Wednesday

BBC Two England, 29 October 1969 22.55

Bob was the director of his documentary, which is a film of the BBC filming a performance of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes at Snape Maltings. This historic 1969 ??documentary film weaves the extraordinary voice of Peter Pears in between the piano porters, make up artists, card players, sea marshes, Joan Cross directing the staging, Britten conducting.

Credits for the 1969 production:

Cast: Peter Pears (Grimes); Heather Harper (Ellen Orford); Bryan Drake (Balstrode); Michael Rippon (Hobson); Owen Brannigan (Swallow); Ann Robson (Mrs Sedley); Elizabeth Bainbridge (Auntie); Jill Gomez (Niece 1); Anne Pashley (Niece 2); Gregory Dempsey (Bob Boles); Robert Tear (Rector); David Bowman (Ned Keene); Monti De Lyle (Dr. Crabbe); Simon Laing (Apprentice); Ambrosian Opera Chorus; LSO, leader John Georgiadis; Benjamin Britten, cond.

Production team: producer: John Culshaw; director: Brian Large; designer: David Myerscough-Jones; lighting: J.R. Thomas; staging: Joan Cross-the original Ellen Orford in the 1945 Sadler’s Wells production of the opera.

This 1969 BBC production is about as close as we can get to a definitive version of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes, one of the greatest 20th Century operas. The story of the individualistic fisherman hounded by his neighbors who believe he murdered his young apprentice packs tremendous emotional power. The compelling narrative is richly enhanced by its subtexts: the lone outsider versus the conformist mob; the dreamer of improbable dreams that lead to tragedy; the artist (dreamer) versus the Philistines, and the homosexual overtones of Grimes’ abuse of his child apprentices.

Britten is conductor of his work and tenor Peter Pears is Grimes, 25 years after he created the title role at the opera’s premiere. Britten was a great conductor as his recordings of his own and others’ music attests, and here he outdoes himself with a performance that captures both the brooding darkness of the work and its visceral power.

Pears at first seems a bit old for the part and his throaty voice no match for the overwhelming Grimes of Jon Vickers in a later Covent Garden production with Colin Davis conducting. But if Pears hasn’t the protean force of Vickers, he was there at the creation of the part, knows its every nuance and shading, and is totally convincing as an actor as well–proud, aloof, yet vulnerable.

As the widow Ellen Orford, soprano Heather Harper is magnificent. Singing with tonal beauty and acting the role of the sensitive, morally sturdy woman who loves Grimes when all hate him, she is so convincing that when the out-of-control Grimes slaps her, you feel assaulted yourself.

The supporting cast is excellent too, headed by baritone Bryon Drake as the dignified, sensible Balstrode, the retired sea captain. David Myerscough-Jones’ production design, on a cramped, makeshift stage at Britten’s Snape Maltings concert hall, with the London Symphony on an off-camera rear platform, works better than it should.

The staging is by Joan Cross, who sang Ellen in the opera’s premiere. Movements of the chorus and soloists are economical but realistic, the settings appropriate, the costumes wisely helping to set the action in the early 19th century. Best of all, the sea is an ever-present actor here. When we don’t see it in the background it exerts its presence in the abundant visual references to nets, barrels, and other paraphernalia of a seaside fishing village. The wonderful Interludes Britten composed for the opera are illustrated with abstract images of shifting colors that mimic the movements of sea and clouds, as well as the orchestral colors being played–thus yellows dominate when the trumpets do, darker colors when the lower strings are in the ascendant. Brian Large’s direction for TV is first-rate, with closeups that enhance the intimacy of the work. The end result is an unforgettable version of a work that leaves you emotionally drained and musically elevated. —Dan Davis

Peter Grimes is an all-regions color disc in 4:3 ratio. Sound options include LPCM monophonic and Enhanced Dolby mono. Sung in English, subtitles are available in English French, German and Spanish.

The Other Side of the Underneath


By Jane Arden

Produced by Jack Bond

145 minutes

Production Manager: Bob Edwards (and assisted editing)

Photograph Aubrey Dewar (Carols boyfriend after the film, died in prison)

Associate Producer Prue Faull

Introduced by  Rachel 


Sheila Allan, Susanka Fraey, Liz Danciger, Ann Lynn, Penny Slinger, Jane Arden, Sally Minford, Jenny Moss, Liz Kustow, rosie Marcham, Elaine Donovan, Bill Deasey,
Mrs Mansbridge, Mrs Hughes, Martin Pullinger and Sophie, John and Nicky Minford, Jack Bond, Silas,  Tinkers and Gypsies of South Wales and Irene

Cello played by Sally Minford

Rock Bank – The Continuum / Choir – The Cwmbrawn Male Voice Choir

Visual Consultants – Penny Slinger, Liz Danciger

Personal Assistant to Director – Liz Danciger

Production Manager – BOB EDWARDS

Production Assistants –  Kristof, Yvonne Gill, Larry Gane, Margaret Dickinson, Alan, Carol Kane, Martin Pullinger, Chrissie Charles, Bill Morris, Bill Deasey,

Sound Recorded by Tony Hyde / Additional Sound Greg Bailey / Dubbing Mixer Malcolm Bristow

Edited by David Mingay / Assisted by Robert Edwards, Robert Hargreaves

Lighting – Aubrey Dewar / Photographed by Aubrey Dewar and Jack Bond

Associate Producer –  Prue Faull

Produced by Jack Bond

Written and Directed by Jane Arden

Bob was Production Manager for this bizarre, now cult film by Jane Arden. The film (only recently made available from the BFI) is a violent and powerful exploration, looking into the mind of a woman labelled schizophrenic and finds not madness,  but tortured sexual guilt created by the taboos of society. Some adult content.

Film restricted until 2012

Jane Arden committed suicide in 1982, ten years after the film. Devastated by her death, Jack Bond legally restricted screening of all copies of their 3 feature length films and short feature. For Jack Bond these films were far too intimate, personal and revelatory. It was not until some 20+ years had passed that one of Jane Arden’s children contacted Jack Bond. It was her youngest son who convinced him to reconsider his decision. It would not be until 2009 that these three films would be screened and another one to two years before BFI could distribute the newly restored prints to DVD/Blu-ray.

Arden loved collaboration. She encouraged her actors to follow their instincts. Improvisation and audience participation happened. These experimental pieces were controversial and pushed well past the British Theatre boundaries. Yet they were successful.

Born out of both of her successful experimental theatre pieces, this film was intended to a combination of both plays. Jane Arden wrote the screenplay and insisted that Jack Bond give her full reign as the film’s director. He would go on to participate as cinematographer and “actor.” He would hire David Mingay as the film’s editor. Both Arden and Bond worked closely with Mingay as the film was pulled together. Bond would also take on the responsibility of getting the funding and all the required “items” for filming. These “items” included a brown bear, participation of local Wales coal miners, community members, a band of roaming gypsies, participation of actual mental hospital patients, several mentally/physically challenged individual from government institutions and most famously — Bond would secure a steady supply of LSD. The production of this film is notorious.

Born out of the Holocaust theatre group this is filmmaking as therapy. Arden and her actresses decamped to Wales and lived together in the house where much of the action unfolds. Dressed in Victorian garb they are placed as the inmates of an asylum, except their various games and sessions are captured as vérité and fall uneasily between fact and fiction. Stylistically this is a far rougher film that Separation – even if the Welsh countryside cannot help but look lovely – though just as keyed in to the mindset of its schizophrenic central character. For raw power alone, few sequences in cinema can top the so-called ‘Gypsy Party’ section, which blurs the divide between reality and performance even further. Arden invited an assortment of society’s outcasts – including local hard men and mentally handicapped children – to interact with her troupe, only to find the situation overspill into lust, tears and violence. To top the scene off she asked Bond to make love, on camera, with one of her co-stars.

Notes from Jo Faull

Mother, Prue Faull Assistant Director with Jack Bond. Jo was 13 at the time, and 16 when she first saw the film. She recalls two moments then: woman with blood splattered nightdress, and Jack Bond fucking Penny Slinger. Ugh!

It was how all these people came together, living as they did in this Welsh mining valley, going feral, dressed in nighties. And how jo met all these groovy people’

Aubrey, Robin and Bob a close group. (Aubry Dewar – Carols boyfriend after the film, died in prison.)

Was Pete Sinclair involved?

Bob was with Jenny Moss.

Carol Kane and Yvonne Gill. Yvonne Gill, mother of AA Gill.


Introduced by Ruth StringerLangar Hall 

Introduced by Rachel / Stewart          


Duration 43’12”

Edited by Peter Goddard

Location Assistant – Jack Martin

Sound Effects – Stewart Orr

Special Effects – Jazz Goddard

Trainee Editor – Elizabeth Brodie

Director Bob Edwards



40 minutes

Introduced by Rachel

Another of Bob’s portraits of women. Ma Faiza, born in the UK, lives in Pune and Goa as a rocking, dancing, hot hearted DJ.



Taster Tape

6 minutes

Introduced by Rachel

A taster tape for a documentary on creative women film editors, this one of Anne Coates interviewed by Gloria Wood, with Bob was on camera.

MOTHER CUTTERS is a character driven 60 mins documentary.  As Hollywood prepares to celebrate it’s centenary our documentary goes behind and beyond the glitz and glamor of the red carpet to take a look at some of the most brilliant and creative women editors in the movie industry.


With unprecedented access we will talk with the editors: Thelma Schoonmaker (Scorcese’s editor who cut Raging Bull, Goodfellas) Anne Coates (Lawrence of Arabia, Elephant Man) and look at the work of Dede Allen ( (Bonnie and Clyde, Dog Day Afternoon).  As Allen is recently deceased her story will be told through the eyes of her son Tom Fleischman, Hollywood’s greatest sound man.  With reference to their work they will tell their colorful and amusing stories about working with some of the film director greats such as Scorsese, Lynch, Penn, Soderbergh, Lean – just to name a few.


MOTTER CUTTERS is a story of how, in a male dominated industry, these women became the greatest film editors in the industry.  Now in their 70’s and 80’s they are still working at the cutting edge of the film industry and have edited some of the most influential films of the past 60 years. Collectively they racked up 17 Oscar nominations and 7 Oscar awards.


The documentary will attract a huge audience of anyone who loves films/movies and revels in the stories behind the cameras.

Anne Coates lives both in London and LA. When she was in London Bob abd I arranged a short filmed interview with her. Bob was on camera and I was asking the questions. It was a bit rough and ready but with Aeron’s help we managed to knock it into some short of shape.

BBC TV were interested along with HBO and BBC Radio but in the end no-one gave us a commission. It was great, however, talking and meeting these excellent and talented women.



35 minutes

Introduced by Beth /Doeke

Bob was commissioned to make a film for the  NHS Primary Care Trust about Clinks Care farm in South Norfolk, where people with mental health problems are referred to by GPs
to help grow vegetables and care for animals, as a way of aiding their recovery.  Doeke Dobma has given permission for this film to be shown on this occasion.

Donations to Clinks Farm

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