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Remembering Peter Middleton: 1944-2024

Feb 8, 2024

Born in 1944, Peter became interested in photography through his grandfather who owned a plate camera and processed all the glass plates himself. As a teenager, his interest developed into moving pictures and at school he became the projectionist for the Saturday evening film shows. This fuelled his interest in filmmaking, made more addictive when his parents bought him an 8mm Bolex, which he treasured for a long time.

After leaving school, Peter went to Nottingham Art College initially to study photography, but this changed to filmmaking when the college purchased a 16mm Bolex camera. During this time, he made a film for the Nottingham Design Centre which was shown many times. A year after leaving college, he answered an advertisement for a trainee assistant film cameraman at the BBC Film Unit at Ealing Film Studios. He was accepted, and in 1964 he began his training alongside future BSC members Paul Wheeler and Phil Méheux.

His career took him from camera assistant to fully fledged cinematographer. He left the BBC to go freelance and worked on programmes such as Ways of Seeing with art critic, John Berger (1972 d. Michael Dibb) and The Roussos Phenomenon (1976 d. John King). His real break came when, later that year, artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman asked Peter to photograph Sebastiane and he readily accepted. The film was written and directed by Jarman along with editor Paul Humfress and James Whaley and portrayed the life of Saint Sebastian, including his iconic martyrdom by arrows. It became a cult classic, sparking controversy for its homoerotic portrayal of the soldiers and dialogue spoken entirely in Latin. Peter went on to shoot two more films with Jarman: Jubilee (1978) and The Tempest (1979).

Charles Crichton, who was famous for directing The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), was one of his favourite directors to work for on a business training video shoot If Looks Could Kill: The Power of Behaviour (1986). ‘After shooting wrapped every evening, we watched yesterday’s rushes with a bottle of whisky.’

He also enjoyed filming the series Holding On with director Adrian Shergold, in 1996. This gritty drama shot around London gained Peter a BAFTA nomination for cinematography.

Peter was invited into the BSC in 1994, after being proposed by Michael Samuelson BSC. After retiring he spent his later years living in Dieppe, France.

OTHER CREDITS: Body and Soul, Wycliffe, Cold Feet, The Alchemists, The Whistle Blower, The Jury, Henry VIII

SELECTED AWARDS: BAFTA TV Award Nomination: The South Bank Show: Nickleby and Company (1981)

BAFTA TV Award Nomination: Holding On (1997 d. Adrian Shergold) shared with Alan Stewart

BAFTA TV Award Nomination: Cold Feet (1997)

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