Peter Symes was an Executive Producer with BBC Features, Bristol, and left the BBC in December 2000.
In 1990 he was responsible for forming a committee to set up the first UK Documentary Festival. This festival is now an annual event, known as the Sheffield International Documentary Festival. Peter was the Festival chair for its first two years. He is also a trustee of the Grierson Memorial Trust, the body set up to commemorate the pioneering work of the founder of documentary, and is currently the Head of the Discovery Campus Masterschool in Munich.
He started his career as a film editor, working on many well-known series such as “Hospital” and “Strangeways”, moving on to direct many series and single films for both BBC channels.
As a director, his credits include “The Blasphemers’ Banquet” (a defence of Salman Rushdie after the fatwa, this was nominated for the 1989 Prix Italia and was screened on BBC1) and “Black Daisies for the Bride” (a film poem about Alzheimerís disease for BBC2, awarded the 1994 Prix Italia) both made with the poet Tony Harrison. His work with Tony and many other poets in the documentary form has gained international recognition and awards. In addition to the television work, he has published commentaries on this work in “The Shadow of Hiroshima and other film/poems” by Tony Harrison (Faber and Faber, 1995).
While at the BBC he was the commissioning editor for the BBC2 documentary series “Picture This” which was instrumental in introducing large numbers of new and talented directors into the documentary field. The series gained a Royal Television Society award for Network Newcomer in 1996 and was short-listed for the best UK documentary series in 1997.
His documentary series, “Nurses” (1985) influenced “Casualty”, the well known primetime BBC1 series; “Byline”, a BBC1 platform for opinionated individuals ran for a very successful four years; and his many other series – “Loving Memory”, “Words on Film”, “Enterprise Culture”, “Men With Splendid Hearts” to name a few, have consistently achieved critical and public acclaim. In 2000 he received the Cyril Bennett Judges Award from the Royal Television Society.