Suffolk festival's lifetime award to documentary maker

Leslie Woodhead and Bill Nighy Leslie Woodhead and Bill Nighy at the Aldeburgh Documentary Festival

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A documentary film-maker's 40 years in the industry has been celebrated at a festival in Suffolk on Saturday.

Leslie Woodhead received a lifetime achievement award from actor Bill Nighy at the Aldeburgh Documentary Festival.

He had worked with Granada Television's drama documentary unit until 1989 when he started work as a freelance.

Among his famous films are Stones in the Park, documenting the Rolling Stones' free concert in Hyde Park in 1969, and The Hunt For Bin Laden.

He received an etching donated by Suffolk resident and artist Maggi Hambling to mark the award.

Paying tribute to Mr Woodhead's documentary work, Mr Nighy said: "In a world that is often unreliably described by commercial industries, we increasingly look elsewhere for the facts and for the true wonder of the world.

"For his brilliant and unique contribution to the genre it gives me great pleasure on behalf of the Aldeburgh Documentary Festival, to award its very first Lifetime Achievement Award to one of the original masters of the universe, Mr Leslie Woodhead."

Appointed OBE

Mr Woodhead said it was "a completely unexpected thrill". "Thank you so much," he added.

Mr Woodhead was born in Glasgow in 1937 and lived much of his early life in Halifax in Yorkshire.

He began his career at Granada Television in Manchester in 1961 after reading English at Cambridge.

The drama documentary unit he created at Granada won a top award from the Royal Television Society.

His two-hour special called Invasion concerned Soviet intervention in Eastern Europe and was the first British docudrama to be aired on American network television.

He made 10 films for Granada's Disappearing World series, including documentaries in Africa, Nepal, the South Pacific and China.

Five films on the Mursi, nomadic cattle-herding people in south-west Ethiopia, were awarded a prize by the Royal Anthropological Institute.

In 1986, he won BAFTA's Desmond Davies Award for his creative contribution to television.

Since leaving Granada in 1989 to pursue his own projects, Mr Woodhead has continued to produce and direct major dramatised documentaries, including films about the downing of Pan Am 103 and the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

In 1994 he was appointed OBE for services to television.

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