David Terence Puttnam, Baron Puttnam, CBE, FRSA, (born 25 February 1941) is a film producer and politician. He sits on the Labour benches in the House of Lords.
He was educated at Minchenden Grammar School
in London and had an early career in advertising (see Collett Dickenson Pearce
) and acting as agent for the photographer David Bailey
He turned to film production in the late 1960s, working with Sanford Lieberson's production company Goodtimes Enterprises
. His successes as a producer include Bugsy Malone
, Midnight Express
, The Duellists
's feature film debut), Chariots of Fire
(which won the Academy Award for Best Picture
), Local Hero
, Memphis Belle
, and The Killing Fields
and The Mission
with Roland Joffé
(which won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1986) mostly in association with Goldcrest
He was Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Columbia Pictures from 1986 to 1988. During his time at Columbia he was criticised for what some saw as a condescending attitude toward the Hollywood film industry, and for not sufficiently exploiting the studio's few box office hits. This strategic failure contributed to the sale of the studio to Sony.
He was awarded a CBE
in 1983, was knighted in 1995 and was created a life peer
in 1997, as Baron Puttnam
, of Queensgate in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
. In 2002 he chaired the joint scrutiny committee on the Communications Bill, which recommended an amendment to prevent ownership of British terrestrial TV stations by companies with a significant share of the newspaper market. This was widely interpreted as being aimed at stopping Rupert Murdoch
's News Corporation
from buying Five
. When the government opposed the amendment, Puttnam brokered a compromise — the introduction of a "public interest" test to be applied by the new regulator Ofcom
, but without explicit restrictions. Puttnam is currently a trustee of the think tank
the Institute for Public Policy Research
. In May 2006 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 2007, he chaired the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Draft Climate Change Bill.
Association with education
He was for 10 years chairman of the National Film and Television School
for many years, and taught people such as Nick Park
. He founded Skillset
, which trains young people to become members of the film and television industries. In 2002 he was elected UK president of Unicef
Lord Puttnam was the first chancellor of the University of Sunderland from 1997 until 13 July 2007. He was appointed an Honorary Doctor of Education during the School of Education and Lifelong Learning's Academic Awards Ceremonies in his final week as Chancellor and was granted the Freedom of the City of Sunderland upon his retirement. In 1998 he founded the National Teaching Awards and became its first chairman. He was the founding chairman of the General Teaching Council 2000-2002. He was appointed as chancellor of the Open University in 2006. He was also the Chairman of NESTA (The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) from 1998 until 2003. He is also chairman of Futurelab.
BAFTA Award and Fellowship
In 1982 he received the BAFTA Michael Balcon
Award for his outstanding contribution to the British Film Industry. In February 2006, he was awarded the Orange
BAFTA Fellowship of the Academy. He made the occasion notable by delivering a particularly moving homage to his late father who had died before he received his Oscar for Chariots of Fire
.. He also congratulated contemporary filmakers (specifically George Clooney
) for making films with integrity: the lack of such films being produced had been the reason for his retirement from the film industry in the late 1990s.
On 12 July 2007, he was given the freedom of the City of Sunderland. He suffers from ME, severely debilitating him on occasions.