British film industry veteran Sir Sydney Samuelson dies at 97

Veteran of the British film industry Sir Sydney Samuelson has passed away at the age of 97.

Samuelson passed away on December 14 due to old age. The British Film Institute stated he was “surrounded by his adoring family” in a statement.

On December 7, 1925, Samuelson was born. His family was involved in the UK film industry. His mother Marjorie managed a drapery shop in Shoreham by Sea, Sussex, and his father, George “Bertie,” produced more than 100 silent films starting in 1910.


Several of the major cinema institutions in the UK were staunch allies of Samuelson’s. He held the positions of Chairman, Vice-Chair of Film, and Founding Trustee for BAFTA, where he played a key fundraising role in constructing the British Academy’s Piccadilly headquarters in London. It is because of his efforts that BAFTA was kept from going bankrupt during the reconstruction.

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He was additionally chosen by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1991 to serve as the first British Film Commissioner. Samuelson officially retired in 1997.


At a special tribute in 2011, the late Lord Richard Attenborough said of Samuelson: “For me, you represent all that is best about the wonderful industry to which we have both devoted our adult lives.”

Sir Sydney Samuelson survived by his sons Peter, Jonathan and Marc and their families including eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Anoosha Khan
Anoosha Khan

Anoosha Khan is a film critic and entertainment editor based in the UK. She has been reporting about celebs and movies for WatchinUK for the past year.

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