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Nick Fraser - Winner's acceptance speech, Special Award, Virgin TV British Academy Television Awards in 2017

15 May 2017

Winner's acceptance speech by Isabelle Fraser on behalf of Nick Fraser for the Special Award

ISABELLE FRASER:  I want to start off by saying: documentaries really matter.  They do.  You would miss them if they were gone.  I have spent my career cheerleading for docs, raising money for them, struggling to get them on the air, nurturing talented producers and directors.  The irony is that to begin with, I never really liked documentaries.  But I became interested in them out of a hunch, that they were about to become important, and that I should try and stake some sort of claim in a new field. When I started Storyville at the BBC about 20 years ago, docs were an afterthought; underfunded, neglected, derided for being too arty, too left wing, too predictable.  I wanted to make them into something people love.

During that time we have shown more than 600 films and I have watched thousands of them.  I have experienced this all with the BBC, through good and bad. Since then they have come into their own as an art form, becoming one of the means by which we connect to the contemporary world, making sense of it. Don't get me wrong.  Docs are still underfunded, but there is a growing hunger for them, particularly among young people.  Across the world, people are getting inspired, picking up a camera and shooting the world around them.  Like the best journalism, like films for that matter, they represent the vision of the world of their directors, producers and reporters.  All we need to do is to find the talent and find a way of bringingthat out of other people. My life has been spoiled by docs.  I cannot deal  with most fictional representations anymore because reality seems too interesting.

Docs are now the equivalent of rock and roll.  As celebrities queue up to be executive producers on films, they have realised that films can speak truth to the powerful and people will listen. These films should be championed by broadcasters, putting them on front and centre.  The audience numbers prove that people really do watch them.

We should be more proud of these films.  As I always say: the best stories are always true. I want to say thank you to the academy for this award, to Louis for the introduction, to the BBC and to my family.  And thank you to all the filmmakers I have worked with over the years.  We have made some amazing films.  Let's continue to make many more.