Sir Roger Graef, BAFTA award-winning film-maker

Posted by | Documentary | January 02, 2010

Roger Graef is the most interesting person of Suade Bergemann

One day I was fortunate enough to meet Roger Graef, who I had already heard so much about from Suade. It was at a dinner party at his home in Notting Hill. When I the opportunity to talk to him I asked;

You know your nephew Suade describes you as the most interesting person he knows. I have to ask, who’s would yours be?”

And Roger tells me about his colleague Angie Mason and the wonderful work she has done as an ‘undercover journalist’.  She famously went into schools and secretly filmed students without their permission in order to illustrate some of the failings of UK teaching culture. It was very controversial as she did not have prior permission from the students to film them.

FULL TRANSCRIPT FROM THE INTERVIEW.

Roger Graef nominates Angie Mason

“The reason that I want to nominate Angie Mason as my most interesting person is because of the approach she’s taken in her work. She was an ex teacher and became an executive producer at the BBC’s further education unit for a long time.  She came to me, concerned with the teaching of history and what seemed to be a decline in contemporary Britain.

She became a supply teacher after many years away from it. And saw instead, a collapse of discipline in the classroom which was very worrying.

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We went to channel 5 and asked if she could wear an undercover camera and just see what it was really like. We went to 16 schools, filmed in eight of them, and there was a picture of indiscipline that was shocking to all of us.

It became an election issue in the last British general election because it was such alarming footage.

She’s done the same thing in hospitals, because both of her parents died in hospital-acquired infection, and again wore a camera undercover to disclose how badly her farther was being treated.

She displays the kind of courage and curiosity mixed together that I think really makes for great journalism and because she’s a handsome and interesting woman the audience identifies with her.

She’s not a specialist, she’s not an expert. She doesn’t distance herself in the way too many people do. And that’s very consistent with what we try and do with our films. to make the whole thing an experience you could have had yourself.

Not something that’s handed in a glossy package by sleek journalists who don’t really care about what they’re filming.”


Roger Arthur Graef OBE (born April 18, 1936) is a theatre director and film-maker. Born in New York, he moved to Britain in 1962, where he has made acclaimed documentary films with his ability to gain access to hitherto closed institutions, including Government ministries and court buildings.

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