Paul Atherton (born 20 March 1968) is managing director of Simple (TV) Productions and its sister not-for-profit company, Q&D Productions Limited. He is the first producer-director to have his work broadcast on the Coca-Cola billboard in Piccadilly Circus, London, with his film The Ballet of Change.[2] [3]

Early life

Atherton was three months old when he was abandoned in a tent at a disused airport in Cardiff but placed with a white foster family shortly after.[4]

He grew up in the village of Ystrad Mynach in South Wales [5] attending Lewis School Pengam until the age of 16.

He left home at 15, when he spent time in children's homes[8] and completed his "O" Levels. At 16 he set up home on his own, against the wishes of Social Services . After a traumatic event at the age of 18 involving a "black man in drag"[42] he became homeless and lived on the streets, but by 53 he'd recovered his life and bought his first flat.

At the age of 21, Atherton was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS, often called myalgic encephalomyelitis in the United Kingdom),[9] and still suffers today.[10]

He attended Cardiff Business School, and obtained a BSc Honours Degree in Business Administration as a mature student in 1994.[12]

While studying he set up a mail order company specialising in silk lingerie called "A Touch of Silk" and a small batch beverage company called "A Touch of Milk".

He moved on to a career in public relations with Systems Publicity, and finally Propeller Marketing where he Account Directed clients CNN, media buyers OMD (Omnicom Media Direction) and The Daily Telegraph.[13]


His television career began at Prospect Pictures,[14] working on their live five-day-a-week cookery programme Good Food Live[44] before setting up his production companies in 2004.[16]

In 2005 his first production Silent Voices, a docudrama about domestic violence, premiered on British television, based on the real-life accounts of children who had witnessed their parents being beaten.

In 2007 Atherton was the first and only producer-director to have had his work shown on the Piccadilly Circus Coca-Cola Billboard with The Ballet of Change, a ballet of film and music telling the histories of four of London's most historic landmarks.[17]

In February 2009 he worked with (BBC, star of Waking the Dead) and Robert Cavanah (Tomb Raider / ) on a short film entitled Colour Blind, to bring attention to a UK audience, the dangers of seeing racism everywhere. He made up his White lead in Golliwog (black face) make-up to make the point harking back to his personal trauma aged 18.

On 2 August 2009, Atherton started pre-production on a new format of documentary film that will originally take place on the Web and eventually be edited for cinema.

Prompted by his own experiences[19][20] the premise of the film is to interview 1,000 people from across the UK who have been failed by the Welfare, NHS or Social Services in the past 10 years, in order to highlight the issues of the most vulnerable people in society.

On 6 September 2010, Atherton announced that he had signed video games writer Rhianna Pratchett to write his first feature film. Vigilia (a working title) was due to shoot in 2013. The release has been postponed.[21] [22]

In 2012 he was invited to make a documentary about the founding of a Free school (England) by head teacher Katharine Birbalsingh in the borough of Lambeth in London, though this school never came to being he was latterly invited back in 2015 when the Michaela Community School in Wembley eventually opened.[45]

Atherton began work on , a campaigning film designed to be a springboard for public debate about the objectification of women in advertising and marketing. Shooting was completed in July 2013. It never made it to air.[23] [24]

Our London Lives opened in The Museum of London on Friday 8 January 2016 and closed on 11 February 2016. Atherton's personal but professionally recorded visits of his estranged son's visit to London over the past 16 years (1999 - 2015) was shown as part of Recording A Life exhibition in the Show Space gallery.[25] [25]

On October 21, 2016 Paul Atherton began living in a car in London's Zone 1 to prompt a media campaign to address the failings of the DWP in the UK. When his car was then towed, he began living outside of to protest London's rising parking fines.[46] In conjunction with Ken Loach's film I, Daniel Blake he's entitled the project #LivingInACar and in conjunction with #WeAreAllDanielBlake Twitter hashtag is sharing his Bi-Weekly Vlogs over YouTube and latterly London Live.[25] [47]

In January 2017 he was appointed a Judge on the inaugural [48] which was screened in the Rose Theatre, Kingston which is situated next to the birthplace of Eadweard Muybridge the "Father of Cinema" and the person the Short Film, Film Festival was named after.

He appeared as a pundit in the first two premiere episodes of Meet The Critics on Colourful Radio on Friday 2nd & 9th June 2017. The shows were broadcast at 21:00 GMT and subsequently available online and presented by British Urban Film Festival founder Emmanuel Anyiam-Osigwe [49] [50]

Atherton made his Theatre Directing debut in the European Premiere of Samantha Garman's selection of short plays entitled Human Mating Dance at the Old Red Lion Theatre in Angel, Islington, London, Saturday 16th July 2017 directing the short entitled "Coffee Shop Real Estate" and starring in an acting role in another of the collection "Thou Shalt Not Covet" playing Richard. [51]

Personal life

Atherton appeared as a voluntary performer in the London 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony, dancing in both the Rush Hour and Street Party sections.[26][28]

His real life experiences of childhood abandonment helped inspire the character of Eric Parkhill in Wendy Perriam's novel Broken Places (2011)[29] and his interaction with a Renault car dealership, resulting in his buying a Skoda, is retold as one of the negotiation case studies in Clive Rich's The Yes Book (2013).[30]

As a mixed-race child of White foster parents, he also comments publicly on the issues of race and adoption, often appearing on television and in the press.[31] [32] [33]

He has been involved in many campaigns to prevent historic buildings from demolition,[34][35][36] including attempting to occupy the Art Deco Odeon Cinema in Kensington, with fellow film-maker Paul Wiffen in September 2015 [37]

Since 1997 he hosts 4 parties a year across various London locations whose entertainers have included the cast of the London Musical Chicago, Guinness World Record Holder Fire Eater & Burlesque Champions having made claim to opening the first parties at Dandelyan, Radio Bar, Disrepute & McDonalds Hemsworth[52]. [53] [54]

He played a speaking role in the final theatrical production run of You Me Bum Bum Train an immersive theatre performance based in a disused book shop on Charing Cross Road from 25 February 2016 to 29 April 2016 [55]

He won a lyric competition run by former Australian Idol winner Natalie Gauci and received the prize of seeing the song performed by her at Tedx London in the Science Museum London on Friday 17 June 2016. [55]

He performed in the 50th Notting Hill Carnival in 2016 playing steel pans with Britain's first Heavy Metal Reggae Band, on both 28 & 29 August 2016 [56]

In January 2017 he became one of the founding contributors to the UK launch of Jolabokaflod recommending David Liss's book a Conspiracy of Paper [57]

Atherton delivered his inaugural speech in the Palace of Westminster on Tuesday 28th March 2017 as part of a debate into Bob Blackman (politician)'s Homelessness Reduction Bill 2016-17. Describing his firsthand experiences of homelessness as a guest of Molly Samuel and Nic Careem's Blue Sky Network initiative. [58]

In October 2017 he became a Film Captain for American Journalist Jennifer Brea's documentary about the condition they both suffer Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Unrest (2017 film) assisting with marketing & making an appearance at the British Film Institute Preview screening as part of the Woman with a Movie Camera strand. [59]

Later that month he also began contributing to the online publication the Londonist his first article tackled the differences between Millennials and the seemingly more entertaining older generations in the city [60]

And he posts under the moniker of @LondonersLondon on Twitter about the varied activities to do in London especially the inexpensive & free.[38]

He has one son, Charles Sebastian Atherton-Laurie.[39]