Leslie Woodhead is one of Britain’s most distinguished documentary film makers, and winner of many international awards . He began his 40 year career at Granada Television in Manchester as a Graduate Trainee in 1961 after reading English at Cambridge .
From the mid-60s he worked as a Producer/Director on the current affairs series “World in Action”, and became Series Editor in ’68-69.
From the early 1970s, Woodhead pioneered the development of Dramatised Documentary on British Television, specialising in investigative reconstructions of major East European stories. In 1981, the Granada Drama Documentary Unit he created at Granada won the top award from the Royal Television Society. His 2 hour special “Invasion” was the first British docudrama to be aired on American Network TV (ABC, 1981). From the mid-80s, Woodhead developed a successful strand of Dramatised Documentaries with Home Box Office in New York.
Woodhead made 10 films for Granada’s “Disappearing World” series, including documentaries in Africa, Nepal, the South Pacific and China. His 5 films on the Mursi, a nomadic cattle herding people in South West Ethiopia (1974-1991) were awarded First Prize by the Royal Anthropological Institute in 1992. He returned to make a 6th film with the Mursi in January 2001, broadcast on Channel 4.
Woodhead also made scores of documentaries on a wide range of subjects from “The Stones in the Park” (1969) about the Rolling Stones free concert in Hyde Park (Rank Documentary Award), to Britain’s first all-night TV programme – a 5 hour Special on American TV. In 1986, he won BAFTA’s top Desmond Davies Award for his “Outstanding creative contribution to Television”.
Since leaving Granada in 1989 to pursue his own projects, Leslie Woodhead has produced and directed major dramatised documentaries for the BBC and Granada, co-produced with HBO, including films about the downing of Panam 103 and the Exxon Valdez oil spill. He has also made a trilogy of documentaries on Soviet themes for BBC 2’s “Arena” series. “ENDURANCE” (Pressman Films for Disney and Film 4, Producer Terrence Malick) Woodhead’s non-fiction feature film about an Olympic Gold Medal long distance runner, shot in Ethiopia on Super 35mm, was released in US cinemas in May ’99 “ENDURANCE” had a European cinema release during 2000 and 2001. His ARENA film “Comrade Rockstar” about American singer Dean Reed is being developed by Tom Hanks as a Hollywood movie. He has also made music documentaries with Tony Bennett and Randy Newman. His recent work includes critically -acclaimed documentaries about 9/11 (for ITV/Smithsonian Channel) and the hunt for Osama Bin Laden
Woodhead is an Honorary Companion of Manchester University, and an Honorary Lecturer in Visual Anthropology. He is also a Doctor of Letters of Salford University. In 1994, Woodhead was awarded an OBE by Queen Elizabeth for “Services to Television.
- “The Hunt for Bin Laden” (2012) ITV/Smithsonian Channel
- “9/11: The Day that Changed the World“ (2011)
- “How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin“ (2010) BBC2/Storyville.
- The Day Kennedy Died (2013) ITV/Smithsonian
- The Day They Dropped the Bomb (2015) ITV/Smithsonian
a complete filmography can be found here.