Watergate (TV series)

Watergate is a documentary series co-produced by the BBC and Discovery, broadcast in 1994. It was based on the book Watergate: The Corruption and Fall of Richard Nixon, by Fred Emery. The series was directed by Mick Gold and produced by Paul Mitchell and Norma Percy.

Based onWatergate: The Corruption and Fall of Richard Nixon by Fred Emery
Directed byMick Gold
Narrated byFred Emery
ComposerTim Souster
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series1
No. of episodes5
ProducersNorma Percy
Paul Mitchell
Production companyBrian Lapping Productions for BBC
Original networkBBC2 (UK)
Discovery (USA)
Picture format4:3
Audio formatStereo
Original release8 May (1994-05-08) –
5 June 1994 (1994-06-05)

The British version was broadcast on BBC2 from 8 May to 5 June 1994, and narrated by Fred Emery. It was broadcast as five episodes of 50 minutes each.[1] In the United States, the series premiered on August 7, 1994 and was narrated by Daniel Schorr[2] in three parts, with two episodes shown back-to-back for the first two parts.



  1. Break-in (8 May 1994)
  2. Cover-up (15 May 1994)
  3. Scapegoat (22 May 1994)
  4. Massacre (29 May 1994)
  5. Impeachment (5 June 1994)


  1. A Third Rate Burglary (7 August 1994)
  2. The Conspiracy Crumbles (14 August 1994)
  3. The Fall of a President (21 August 1994)


Norma Percy and Brian Lapping pioneered a documentary style of investigating recent international events which involved interviewing senior participants from presidents downwards and succinct editing to juxtapose their eye-witness accounts. Early successes include Breakthrough at Reykjavik in 1987 and The Death of Yugoslavia in 1995. Watergate featured exclusive interviews with many of the key participants in the events, including H. R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, John Dean and G. Gordon Liddy as well as former President Gerald Ford.[3][4][5]

Percy and Lapping had originally been intrigued by the conspiracy theory that it had been Dean who organised the cover-up, not the Committee for the Re-Election of the President. However, their investigations only served to underline that the truth had already been found; said Percy in an interview with The New York Times in May 1994: "The guilty party wasn't one wayward aide. It was the President of the United States in the White House Oval Office who did it."[6]

Among the frankest of the conspirators interviewed, an unrepentant Liddy had served the longest sentence in jail and so talked explicitly about his role. He was filmed at home while sitting in front of his sizeable collection of firearms, describing "how he had been ready, if ordered, to go straight out and kill Jack Anderson, the Washington D.C. columnist."[6] At one point he was filmed wielding one of his pistols before the TV camera. It was made clear that, at the time of filming, the gun collection was registered in his wife’s name, since he was ineligible for a license.[7]

Following Liddy’s death in 2021, BBC4 started repeating the series on 14 April in the UK.[8]


Reviewing the series, Jeff Silverman wrote in Variety: "Twenty years after Richard Nixon resigned the presidency in disgrace, this stunningly conceived and realized documentary miniseries brilliantly chronicles the events — and their inevitability — that led to the national nightmare Watergate. Funny, tragic, pathetic and probing, docu dramatically stares down Watergate’s smoking gun and makes its ultimate conclusion perfectly clear: Nixon’s the one. Still. Now more than ever."[9]


Watergate won a 1995 News & Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Historical Programming.[10]


  1. ^ Schmidt, William E. (19 May 1994). "Resurrecting an American Tragedy, BBC Series Lays Watergate Bare". New York Times. NYC. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  2. ^ Bunce, Alan (29 July 1994). "Discovery, BBC Take A Look at Watergate". The Christian Science Monitor. Boston. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  3. ^ Richard Zoglin (8 August 1994). "TELEVISION: Nixon Without Nostalgia". Time. Archived from the original on 7 November 2012. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  4. ^ Walter Goodman (6 August 1994). "TELEVISION REVIEW; Principal Players of Watergate Reprise Perfidies and Inanities". New York Times. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  5. ^ Ron Miller (7 August 1994). "Watergate - 20 Years Later". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  6. ^ a b William E. Schmidt (16 May 1994). "Resurrecting an American Tragedy, BBC Series Lays Watergate Bare". New York Times. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  7. ^ Kopel, David B.; Blackman, Paul H. (1997). No More Wacos: What's Wrong with Federal Law Enforcement and how to Fix it. Prometheus Books. ISBN 9781573921251. His wife has a federal firearms license but he does not, because of a disputed burglary conviction from 1964.
  8. ^ "Watergate: ep1, Break-In". BBC. 14 April 2021. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  9. ^ Silverman, Jeff (31 July 1994). "Review: Watergate". Variety. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  10. ^ Awards for Watergate at IMDb

External linksEdit