David Boulton Writer Author Broadcaster



David Boulton

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DAVID  BOULTON        Author  -  Writer  -  Broadcaster




David Boulton joined Granada TV in 1965 after five years in print journalism, first as a staff writer on Michael Foot’s independent socialist weekly Tribune and then as editor of Sanity, the monthly paper of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. After a short spell in Granada’s London press office he transferred to Manchester to work as a researcher on the regional news magazine programme Scene at 6.30. He became a producer on the programme in 1966 and was appointed its editor in 1967. In 1968 he moved from regional to nationally networked programmes, producing What the Papers Say (which was to become the longest-running current affairs series on British television) and All Our Yesterdays.


Filming in the Yorkshire Dales

In September 1969 he joined the weekly investigative series World in Action as a producer/director and over the next three years made 22 films in Britain and around the world, specialising in covering “the troubles” in Northern Ireland. His film South of the Border was banned by the Independent Broadcasting Authority for including scenes of a Sinn Fein party conference. In 1972 he became Editor of World in Action, which won the annual Sun newspaper award for “current affairs programme of the year” in 1975.

He returned to hands-on producing and directing in 1976 with a series of documentaries including F-16 - The Sale of the Century, an expose of the Lockheed bribery scandal which won an “outstanding program achievement” Emmy award in 1978.

That same year he joined his fellow former-editor of World in Action Leslie Woodhead in forming Granada’s specialist Dramadocumentary Unit in a defiant response to calls for the controversial new form to be banned for blurring fact and fiction. They announced that, unlike many of the mixed-genre “docu-dramas” imported from America, a Granada dramadocumentary would be “an exercise in journalism, not dramatic art. ‘Dramatised’ is merely the qualifying adjective: the proper noun is ‘documentary’... No invented characters, no dramatic devices owing more to the writer’s or director’s creative imagination than to the implacable record of what actually happened.”

A series of four major dramadocumentaries (Mirage, Power Struggle and Collision Course) culminated in Invasion, a reconstruction of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and the crushing of Alexander Dubcek’s “Prague Spring”. Written and co-produced by David Boulton and directed and co-produced by Leslie Woodhead with Czech co-producer Eva Kolouchova, Invasion won for the team the Royal Television Society’s 1981 “Award for outstanding services to broadcasting”.

Invasion is scheduled for commercial release in DVD format in 2012


With Alexander Dubcek, Czech leader,
after the award-winning dramadocumentary

In 1981 David Boulton was appointed Granada’s Head of News and Current Affairs, resuming executive responsibility for World in Action in an expanded department which included making current affairs programmes not only for Granada and the ITV Network but also for Channel Four, the BBC and the short-lived Superchannel. The following year, under his editorial direction, Granada opened the first fully computerised regional newsroom, in a renovated area of Liverpool’s dockland.

In 1985 he became Commissioning Editor, Arts and Features. His newly networked arts series Celebration won the 1987 BP Award for “best television arts series”, and his documentary The Gingerbread Revolution, on the role of artists, actors and playwrights in bringing down the Czechoslovak communist regime won him an International Emmy “outstanding achievement” award in 1990.

On leaving Granada he founded his own broadcasting consultancy, David Boulton Associates, contracted by the British Government’s Know-How Fund and the British Council to advise the former communist Governments of Russia, Czechoslovakia and Hungary on transforming their broadcasting systems from monopoly state control to pluralism. In 1997 he joined the Broadcasting Complaints Commission, which became the Broadcasting Standards Commision in 1998, and when the Commission was merged into the new broadcasting regulator Ofcom in 2004 he was retained to advise on complaints procedures. He closed his broadcasting career with retirement in 2005 but continues to guest-lecture on television journalism and broadcasting  regulation.