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Chris Terrill is a film maker, cameraman, adventurer and writer born in Brighton in 1952. He attended Brighton Collegemarker 1965-1970, and then went to Durham Universitymarker where he gained a joint honours degree in Geography and Anthropology. Between 1976 and 1977 he lived with the remote Acholi Tribe of Southern Sudan where he carried out doctoral research before taking up the post of Head of Geography at Rendcomb College in Gloucestershire. In 1983 he left teaching to become a full time professional anthropologist working for the International Disaster Institute and the UN in Africa and Geneva. Later, and quite by accident, he moved into broadcasting when he went to give an interview to the BBC African Service and was offered a job on the spot. Instantly, he changed careers and became a producer for the BBC World Service with which he stayed for five years. He then joined BBC television as a documentary producer - making investigative documentaries and observational films about communities all over the world.

He was awarded a Royal Television Society Award for Innovation for his series "Soho Stories" as well as an Emmy for outstanding investigative journalism for a film called "Ape Trade" that exposed the major gangs smuggling endangered Orang Utans to illegal markets in Taiwan, USA and Russia. After 20 years at the BBC, and with over 100 films to his name, he left the corporation to set up his own company, Uppercut Films, in 2003 and began to specialise in military and high adventure documentaries (although Uppercut has a growing reputation in the arts as well - especially theatre related stories). In 2007 he documented and participated in the rigorous 8 month training of the Royal Marine Commandos training after which he followed the newly qualified recruits to the front line in Afghanistan for their first taste of real war. Terrill is the first civilian to complete all four commando tests and receive an honorary green beret as well as being the oldest person - military or civilian - to have done so.

Unusually, Terrill never uses a film crew, preferring always to work alone. This "lone wolf" technique, a hallmark of his work, lends his films a very intimate and personal style. Using the new digital technology, he was the first front line filmmaker to experiment as a self shooting/self recording director in the early 1990's on his seminal "Soho Stories". This series, a colourful portrait of London's glamourous Soho district, was a runaway success and gave birth to the much vaunted, and subsequently much copied, docu-soap style of filmmaking. Widely credited as the "father of the docu-soap" Terrill then went on to refine his techniques on prime time series such as "The Cruise" (BBC1), "Jailbirds" (BBC1), "Through the Eyes of the Old" (BBC1), "The Ship" (BBC2), "Shipmates" (BBC 1) and more recently on two feature documentary specials on Charlotte Church ("Spreading Her Wings" (BBC1) and "Confessions of a Teen-angel" (ITV1). "Commando: On the Front Line" (ITV1) - a powerful account of Royal Marine Commandos fighting in Afghanistan was followed by "Nature's Fury" (ITV1) a trilogy on the world's greatest storms and their impact on communities. By now Terrill had expanded his multi-skilling into not only filming and directing but being his own presenter as well. This "one man and his camera" approach is a sub genre of his own filmmaking style that he is continuing to develop - particularly in the realm of high adventure.

He is a keen amateur athlete - specialising in ultra running, triathlon and boxing.

He has written three best selling books: HMS Brilliant (BBC), Shipmates (Random House) and Commando (Random House).

Film History

Year Film/Television series Broadcaster Summary
1989 Subway BBC1 Crime and violence on the London underground
1990 Bullies BBC2 The chronic problem of school bullying
1990 The Race Game BBC1 Racism in British Sport
1990 Fit To Drop BBC2 People addicted to exercise
1991 Brief Encounters BBC2 Prostitutes, pimps and punters at Kings Cross
1992 Ape Trade BBC1 Undercover investigation into Orang Utan smuggling
1993 Yellow Line BBC1 The parking wars on the streets of London
1993 Miami Wild BBC2 Policing the animal smuggling trade in Florida
1994 Seeing Red BBC1 Union unrest, crime and violence on London's buses
1994 The Women Trade BBC1 Investigation into international prostitution
1995 Beloved Country BBC2 6 part series on ordinary South African lives as they approached full democracy and black rule
1996 HMS Brilliant BBC1 6 part series on a Royal Navy warship serving during the Yugoslavian war
1996 Alison's Last Mountain BBC1 Journey to K2 with the family of Alison Hargreaves soon after her death on the mountain
1997 Soho Stories BBC2 12 part series about life in London's Sohomarker
1998 The Cruise BBC1 12 part series on board a luxury cruise ship featuring Jane McDonald
1998 Jane Ties the Knot BBC1 Cruise special
1999 Jane's Cruise to the Stars BBC1 Cruise special
1999 Jailbirds BBC1 10 part series inside Newhall Women's prison
2000 Beyond the Bars BBC1 Jailbirds special
2000 Tito's Story BBC1 Inside Story special on an 11 year old autistic boy in India who writes beautiful philosophical poetry
2000 The Quest BBC1 The Story of a Rock Gospel band and their bid for fame
2001 Through the Eyes of the Old BBC1 90 minute feature on being old
2001 Through the Eyes of the Young BBC1 90 minute feature on being young
2002 The Ship BBC2 6 part adventure series sailing the Endeavour in the wake of Captain Cook from Australia to Indonesia
2003 Shayler's Secrets BBC2 Following the rogue spy David Shayler through his fateful trial at the Old Bailey
2004 Charlotte Church - Spreading Her Wings BBC1 A year in the life of the young diva as she approaches her 18th birthday
2004 The Making of Sheila Quigley BBC1 The extraordinary story of a first time novelist
2004 Debra Winger in Africa Charity film Film for Sightsavers International about Debra Winger visiting Kenya to highlight the plight of the blind
2004 The 24 Hour Plays Charity film Film for the Old Vicmarker about a unique theatrical experiment
2005 Charlotte Church - Confessions of a Teen Angel ITV1 Charlotte attempting to break into the rock world
2004-2005 Shipmates BBC1 A major 5 part series on the Royal Navy
2006 Debra Winger in India Charity film A film for Sightsavers International about Debra Winger visiting India to highlight the plight of the blind
2006 The Sultan's Elephant BBC4 The extraordinary story of a giant elephant's visit to the streets of London and the enchantment it brought with it
2006 Extreme Theatre Sky TV A one hour special on an extraordinary theatrical experiment at the Old Vicmarker
2007 Commando - On the Front Line ITV1 8 part series on the Royal Marines serving on the front line in Afghanistan
2007 The Parish Church of England - St Martin-in-the-Fieldsmarker Channel 5 3 part series on a year in the life of this iconic church in Trafalgar Square
2007 Go Commando! ITV4 Two Royal Marines row the Atlantic Ocean
2008 Nature's Fury ITV1 3 part series on the world's most destructive storms and their impact on communities
2009 Theatreland Sky Arts 8 part series on the famous Theatre Royal, Haymarketmarker.
2009 Wartorn Warriors Sky One Two 60 minute films about badly injured Royal Marines trekking and climbing in the high Himalayas.


Year Type Film/Television series For
1992 Emmy Ape Trade. Outstanding Investigative journalism
1996 Broadcast Award HMS Brilliant Best in-house producer
1997 Royal Television Society Award Soho Stories Innovation
2003 Emma Multicultural and Media award Tito's Story Best Documentary


Year Type Film/Television series For
1997 BAFTA Soho Stories Craft Award for Sound
2003 BAFTA Through the Eyes of the Old Best documentary
2003 Grierson Through the Eyes of the Old Best documentary

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