Film Producer and Politician
HM Government

info Issues viewing the video?

David Puttnam

0.00.03 I’m David Puttnam. I’m a member of the House of Lords. I sit on the Labour benches. I’ve been here for 12 years. I started my career in advertising. I switched to the film industry for… I was in the film industry for 30 years as a Producer. As I said, I’ve been doing this for 12 years principally working for the Department of Education, as an Advisor to the Department of Education where my work has been entirely built around teachers, teacher recruitment, teacher retention, the working conditions of teachers, the aspirations of teachers, everything to do with teachers.

00.00.38 I had a very nice childhood. The only thing odd about it was my father was away in a war and I met him… I effectively met him when I was five years old and I guess that’s quite unusual to meet your dad for the first time, but I worshipped him. He was a marvellous, marvellous man. He was in Fleet Street. He was Picture Editor of the Associated Press and I admired him, as I say, hugely. My mum was very much a mum, the classic 1950s mum.

00.01.02 I think my overwhelming desire was to be anonymous. I just wanted to… I didn’t like school. I consciously felt it had nothing to do with me. I was very aware that I had to be there, that the State required that I went to school. I was also aware there was a moment where I could leave school and my desire was to reach that moment as quickly as I could and get on with my life. I couldn’t see the connection at all for myself between school and life. I had one good teacher, Miss Kirkpatrick, who was my history teacher. I think without her I really would have been in despair at school actually.

00.01.34 I went into advertising when I was 17, it was my second job. And by 27, and bear in mind this was the 60s, so it was 1968, I thought well I’ve done that, done advertising. What do I really want to do? Well what I… my other passion had always been the cinema. I was very lucky, I lived in a suburb of London where I could walk to five cinemas at any given time, so in any given week I could see three movies, and did. And I thought well, you know, I’ve done advertising and I’ll have a crack at the movie industry.

00.02.02 Now I knew nothing about the film industry. If I’d had any conception of how difficult it would be, I probably would never have done this. So I went into the industry in 69 and by 1980/81 I had a real career. I had sort of a dozen films behind me and then along came Midnight Express which was a huge success, and then immediately on the heels of that was Chariots of Fire. The interesting thing was even up until we’d made Chariots of Fire, I don’t think anyone in the world knew who I was except my immediate family and friends, you know.

00.02.33 The film was reasonably successful, I went off to the Oscars assuming that we would do okay and came back with an Oscar and my picture over the papers and, you know, you think what’s all this about. In, where are we, 86 I think I went back to the Labour Party. I’d always been very interested in politics. So I was then working on Labour politics and I worked very hard on both the 1992 and the 1997 manifestos.

00.03.04 I worked very closely actually with Gordon Brown for three years when he was at [unintelligible 3.08] Department Trade and Industry, and there was a sort of inevitability about me drawn into whatever was going to happen. And in truth, if we’d won the 92 election which I thought we were going to win, I would have left the film industry then. So literally, literally the day that we won the 97 election I was gone and I got an invitation to come to the House… to be a member of the House of Lords the same month that we won the election.

00.03.35 I live in the West Coast of Ireland and I’ve got, the bottom of garden during the summer I’ve got a boat, I love it. I’ve been there 20 years. We have a very nice home. We’ve got two kids. We’ve got three grandchildren and yeah, we’re… it’s a very close family actually. I’d like to think we’re all the things that my… way back to my dad and mum, I’d like to think we’re all the things that my parents would have wanted us to be. I spent most of my life thinking what an amazingly fortunate human being I am.

00.03.59 I mean if there’s any one absolutely constant thought I have to deal with is, you know, is someone going to tap me on the shoulder and say listen, you’ve been getting away with murder for 50 years, go back in the ranks.

Lord David Puttnam decided to “have a crack at the movie industry” after 10 years in advertising. His films ‘Midnight Express’ and ‘Chariots of Fire’ were huge hits, the latter winning David an Oscar in 1982. David was awarded a CBE in 1982 and was appointed to the House of Lords in 1997. He now works principally for the Department of Education.

More information about Elected officers and representatives

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

56%  male 
44%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Elected representatives in national government formulate and ratify legislation and government policy, act as elected representatives in Parliament, European Parliament, Regional Parliaments or Assemblies, and as representatives of the government and its executive. Elected officers in local government act as representatives in the local authority and participate in the formulation, ratification and implementation of local government policies.
Entry is by election.
  • Represents constituency within the legislature and advises and assists constituents on a variety of issues;
  • Acts as a Party representative within the constituency;
  • Participates in debates and votes on legislative and other matters;
  • Holds positions on parliamentary or local government committees;
  • Tables questions to ministers and introduces proposals for government action;
  • Recommends or reviews potential policy or legislative change, and offers advice and opinions on current policy;
  • Advises on the interpretation and implementation of policy decisions, acts and regulations;
  • Studies and acts upon any legislation that may affect the local authority.
Employment by region
Top 10 industries for this job
Public admin. & defence 8379
Employment status

From personal careers advice to finding work, see our round-up of
useful websites to help you on your way

Explore more videos by: