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Martin Freeth - documentary maker (Read 550 times)
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Eggington, Bedfordshire
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Martin Freeth - documentary maker
Mar 26th, 2021, 1:33am
Found this obituary (written for The Guardian, by Ian Bruce) in the "BBC Alumni Network" Facebook group. Posted by Danielle Eubank.
She writes ...
Here’s to my friend and former boss at the BBC, Martin Freeth, who passed away on March 5th. Thank you Martin for your creative persistence, tireless drive, and positive attitude. Thank you Martin for helping make The BBC Multimedia Centre happen. Thank you for the opportunity to work on the BBC’s first corporation-wide website. To this day, I am extremely proud and honored to have been part of this. Most of all thank you for your friendship. You are the only person to have ever called me “lovey.” You are an inspiration. Your biggest fan, Danielle.
Martin Freeth, who has died aged 76 of cancer, devoted his life to film-making, mainly on television. In 1995, he established the BBC Multimedia Centre, which gave the corporation a much needed boost into the online world.

Martin was born in Cairo to Roseen (nee Preston), a librarian and careers adviser, and Andrew Freeth, a painter, engraver and Royal Academician, who both worked in intelligence in Egypt during the second world war. After the war the family moved to Northwood, north-west London, and Martin went to school at Marlborough college, Wiltshire, before moving on to Southampton University, where he met Averil Bagshaw, whom he married in 1966.

After gaining a master’s degree in film and TV at the Royal College of Art, Martin joined the BBC science features department in 1971 and, over the next 24 years, produced 17 BBC Horizon programmes, including the pioneering documentary dramas Darwin’s Dream and The Intelligence Man, plus Finding a Voice, which won the Robert Kennedy film award. He also produced many Tomorrow’s World programmes and two international series, The Mind Machine with Colin Blakemore and The Trouble With Medicine.

In 1995 he was appointed by the BBC’s deputy director general to establish the corporation’s Multimedia Centre. Martin had appreciated the significance of the internet early on, and without his enthusiasm and constant advocacy the corporation would have been slower to realise the importance of its potential online role. He assembled a remarkable team of specialists, with skills across technology, production, content creation, writing, design and audiovisual.

Under his stewardship the team developed experimental interactive productions to test the potential of television in the coming digital age. This work was often done as so-called smart production – coordinating with other departments such as BBC Music and Arts and BBC Northern Ireland. The Multimedia Centre also developed a major iteration of the BBC website, which would go on to become BBC Online.

Martin would not have regarded this as his most important contribution; nor his role as the first director of the At-Bristol Science Centre, now called We The Curious; nor being deputy director of Nesta (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts), working with Lord (David) Puttnam during its foundation; and managing director of Futurelab. At heart he was a film-maker, and that was his passion.

His filmography contains more than 200 credits as director/producer. At the end of his career he made films for the BMJ and Nature, for commercial companies when he believed in the project, and pro bono for numerous charities and local community groups. He was a kind and considerate manager, going out of his way to support people starting out in the industry.

Averil died in 2019. He is survived by their daughters, Kate and Ellen, and his brothers, Tony and Richard.
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