John Grierson (1898-1972)

John Grierson, from Deanston in Stirling, is considered by many as the father of British documentary film-making. He even coined the term ‘documentary’ in a 1920s film review. In 1933, when Stephen Tallents moved from the defunct Empire Marketing Board to Royal Mail, he brought Grierson and a group of film makers with him. Grierson headed the new GPO Film Unit, producers of the ground-breaking Night Mail (1936) which he also narrated.

The GPO film unit also delivered works such as The Saving of Bill Blewitt (1937) – seen as the first ‘story’ documentary – Men of the Lightship (1940) and Britain Can Take It! (1940), produced to provide help in securing American popular opinion for Britain’s war effort.

View Night Mail >