First British Film Commissioner Was 97 –

British film industry veteran Sir Sidney Samuelson has passed away. He was 97 years old.

Samuelsson died of old age on 14 December 2022. A statement from the British Film Institute said he was “surrounded by his loving family.”


Samuelson was born on December 7, 1925. He belonged to a British film industry family. His father, George ‘Bertie’ Samuelson, was a silent film producer, making over 100 films since 1910. His mother Marjorie ran a draper’s shop in Shoreham by Sea, Suss*x.

Samuelson entered the film business in 1939 at the age of 14 in the projection box of the Luxor Cinema in Lancing, West Suss*x, working as a relief operator for ABC Cinemas in several Midlands cinemas. He then trained as a film editor with Gaumont British Newsreel in London.

He was later a cinematographer and worked on a number of shows for the BBC and independent television companies, including the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey in 1953.


In 1954, Samuelson purchased a clockwork Newman Sinclair film camera, and thus began to explore the possibility of renting the equipment to other professionals. Originally operated out of their home, he and his wife, Doris, formed the Samuelson Film Service, later joined by his brothers. “Sammies” as it became known.


The company built a stellar reputation working on all of David Lean’s films. Doctor Zhivago13 James Bond Films, by Richard Attenborough Gandhiof Richard Donner SupermanFred Zinnemann’s A Man for All SeasonsNorman Jewisons Fiddler on the Roofby Stanley Kubrick 2001: A Space Odyssey and Milos Forman’s Amadeus Among many other films.

In 1985, Samuelsson received BAFTA’s Michael Balkin Award for Outstanding British Contribution to Film, in 1993, a BAFTA Fellowship for his contribution to the film and television industry, and a British Film Institute Fellowship in 1997, among many other industry awards. Among the awards. In 1978, Sir Sidney’s work on the film was recognized with a CBE, followed by a knighthood in 1995.


Samuelson also had close ties with many of Britain’s leading film houses. He served as film chairman, vice-chair, and founding trustee of BAFTA where he took a leading role in fundraising to establish the British Academy’s headquarters in Piccadilly, London. His efforts are credited with saving BAFTA from financial ruin during the redevelopment. He was also appointed as the first British Film Commissioner by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1991.

Samuelson officially retired in 1997.

In a special tribute in 2011, the late Lord Richard Attenborough said of Samuelson: “To me, you best represent the wonderful industry to which we both devoted our adult lives. are.”

He is survived by his sons Peter, Jonathan and Mark and their families, including eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.


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