Paul Atherton

Paul Atherton (born 20 March 1968) is a London-based filmmaker. He produced and directed The Ballet of Change, a series of four short films that were projected onto London landmarks.[1] His video-diary Our London Lives is in the permanent collection of the Museum of London.[2]

Paul Atherton
Paul Atherton, 2008
Paul Atherton, 2008
Born1968 (age 52–53)

Early lifeEdit

Atherton was three months old when he was abandoned in a tent at a disused airport in Cardiff but placed with a white foster family shortly after.[3] Atherton grew up in the village of Ystrad Mynach in South Wales.[3] He left home at 15, when he spent time in children's homes,[4] and at 16 set up home on his own against the wishes of Social Services and started work on a Youth Training Scheme in Howells (department store).[5] He was appointed the Welsh Young Conservatives Press Officer later that year and focused on addressing the issues of homelessness with a programme working with Sixth Forms in schools in Cardiff.[6]

He is a graduate of Cardiff Business School.[7]


In 2002, Atherton got his start in filmmaking with a four-week apprenticeship at British cookery channel UK Food and UK Style.[8] He set up his own production company Simple TV Production in 2004.[7]

Then in 2005, Atherton served as producer of Silent Voices, a television docudrama about domestic violence, which premiered on the Community channel (UK) and was later reissued as a DVD to raise funds for the National Centre for Domestic Violence.[9][10]

The Ballet of ChangeEdit

The Ballet of Change is a series of four films (approximately 4 minutes) produced and directed by Atherton in 2007.[1][11] Funding was provided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.[1] Atherton got permission to premiere each films at the landmark in question (Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square and London Bridge). Music specially written for the films was available for download from a website, and many of the 600 people who watched the screening in Piccadilly Circus brought MP3 players with them for this purpose. Atherton said that his purpose in creating the films was to make available to a wider audience the images hidden in archives, so that more people could engage with London's history. The film about Piccadilly Circus was the first film ever shown on the Piccadilly Circus Coca-Cola billboard.[7]

Colour Blind 2009Edit

In 2009 Atherton produced the short film Colour Blind 2009 directed by Amanda Baker[12] which premiered at the British Urban Film Festival the same year. Starring Wil Johnson and Robert Cavanah it explores the issue of skin colour and stereotyping through the eyes of its protagonists.[13]

Our London LivesEdit

Paul Atherton and his son on the Ice Rink of Somerset House in their video diary Our London Lives

In 2016 Atherton's video-diary, tracking sixteen years of his son's visits from his home in South Wales to see him in London, was edited down from over 300 hours of footage to a 77-minute film. Entitled Our London Lives the film screened as part of the exhibition "Recording A Life" in the Show Space area of the Museum of London. After the exhibition the film was taken into the museum's permanent collection.[2][14]

Personal lifeEdit

Atherton suffers from the disability Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which has required him to use a wheelchair.[15]


  1. ^ a b c British Film Archive (2007). "The Ballet of Change at British Film Archive".
  2. ^ a b "Collections Online: Our London Lives". Museum of London. Retrieved 25 August 2019. Our London Lives follows filmmaker Paul Atherton's son Charles as he visits London to see his father over 16 years. The film is split into 7 sections each focusing on an aspect of Paul and Charles' time together and their activities in London. Each section of the film starts when Charles is 6 years old (2005) and ends 10 years later when he is 16 (2015).
  3. ^ a b Western Mail Newspaper (26 March 2013). "Rhymney Valley foster child reunited with social worker that placed him with parents".
  4. ^ The Big Issue Magazine (2008). "TV Calling".
  5. ^ Observer Magazine (10 September 1987), Youth Training Schemes The Good & The Bad
  6. ^ South Wales Echo (23 February 1989), New Press Officer for Welsh Young Conservatives
  7. ^ a b c Cardiff University Magazine (2008). "A Capital Achievement". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 9 August 2012. Paul, who set up his own production company, Simple TV Productions, in 2004, got permission to screen a series of four short films, collectively entitled The Ballet of Change, in various locations around the city. Each film tells the history of a famous London landmark – London Bridge, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus – through imagery and specially composed music that viewers could download from the website.
  8. ^ Industry News (31 May 2002). "Skillset Arrange a "Lucky Break" at Production Show". One lucky individual was offered a work experience placement at the skillsformedia ‘Lucky Break’ session at this year’s Production Show. Nick Thorogood, Channel Editor on UK Food and UK Style, offered Paul Atherton four-weeks work experience, possibly leading to a job as a researcher.
  9. ^ "Silent Voices (DVD review)". Empire Magazine. Archived from the original on 23 March 2012. A stark uncompromising look at the realities of domestic violence, Charles Harris’ unflinching drama knits together seven monologues told directly to camera highlighting the nature and psychology surrounding abuse from completely different perspectives
  10. ^ Hannah Jordan (17 September 2008). "Charities refuse proceeds of DVD". Third Sector. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011.
  11. ^ British Film Archive (2007). "Paul Atherton at British Film Archive".
  12. ^ Sarah Cooper (6 September 2010). "Gaming Writer Rhianna Pratchett Moves Onto First Feature Film". Screen International. Media Business Insight. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  13. ^ British Urban Film Festival (2009). "Colour Blind Film Premieres at British Urban Film Festival".
  14. ^ Anthony S. Baxter (8 February 2016). News [London Life] (Video) (Video). London: London Live News. Event occurs at 00:00-02:38. Retrieved 10 October 2019. Paul Atherton captured moments of his son's first 16 years, during trips to the capital. He's now edited some of it into to a film - #OurLondonLives, which is now being screened at the Museum of London.
  15. ^ Mills, Heather (9–22 July 2010), "Wheels Of Misfortune", Private Eye, London: Pressdram Ltd., no. 1266, p. 28, It was only thanks to an 11th-hour protest by an MP and the Eye that Paul Atherton, a 42-year-old television producer, was not ejected to the streets last week from the Brixton hostel that had been his home since last September. He had been living in the temporary accommodation since his discharge from three months in hospital suffering chronic and debilitating myalgic encephalomyelitis which had left him in a wheelchair

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