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Graham T. Thompson


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British Movietone News
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Thompson appears in the documentary film ‘Cameramen at War’ (1943).


Graham Thompson was born in Scotland, and according to Norman Fisher [qv], who joined the British Movietone News in 1936, he was originally ‘Movietone’s stringer in Glasgow.' Thompson’s first credits are for stories filmed in Scotland - ‘NEW COLOURS FOR EXILE TROOPS’ in British Movietone News No.587A from September 1940, and ‘GLASGOW HOME GUARDS IN REALISTIC DISPLAY’ in No.592A from October 1940. Thompson also filmed Churchill in Glasgow for ‘MR. CHURCHILL CHEERS AND IS CHEERED’ in No.607A of January 1941. Thompson later became a war correspondent for Movietone, and in February 1942 provided ‘GIBRALTAR PARADE FOR SPANISH GOVERNOR’ in British Movietone News No.664. In June 1942 Thompson was also credited in No.678A for ‘MADAGASCAR - The combined operation of this brilliant action is vividly portrayed by Movietone cameraman Graham Thompson.' In August 1942 he filmed the raid on Dieppe from a landing craft, for ‘DIEPPE’ in British Movietone News No.690A. In November 1942 he filmed the landings at Oran from a ship for ‘NORTH AFRICAN OCCUPATION’ in No.702. He then spent several months filming domestic stories, although in July 1943 provided material for ‘TO THE SHORES OF SICILY’ in British Movietone News No.737A. ‘G. Thompson’ was also credited as cameraman for ‘GARDENS ARE TOPS’ in Pathe Pictorial No.412 of February 1944.

During the war the coverage of Royal events caused security problems, and as a later account noted, ‘it was decided by way of an experiment that the News-Reel Asssociation...should choose a man to be accredited to the King.' The Newsreel Association considered the matter at its meeting on 8 June 1944, where it was requested ‘that a cameraman should be attached to H. M. the King for a period of not less than six months’: ‘It was unanimously agreed that this should be carried out on a rota basis and that the first cameraman, viz. Graham Thompson of British Movietone News, shall carry out the work for six months from Monday, the 12th June.' Later that month Thompson provided film of the King in France for ‘CUTTING THE PENINSULA’ in British Movietone News No.785A, which was the start of a regular supply of such stories. In July 1944 Thompson also provided ‘ROYAL VISIT TO RAF AND USAAF’ for British Movietone News No.788A, ‘ROYAL INTEREST IN CURRENT PROBLEMS’ for No.789A, and ‘THE PRINCESS’ for No.791. In August 1944 he supplied film of ‘THE KING IN ITALY’ for No.792, and in October 1944 provided ‘HIS MAJESTY VISITS WEST FRONT’ for No.803. The arrangement worked so well that at the end of the first six months the King asked for it to be made permanent, and Thompson was given responsibility for arranging both newsreel and stills coverage of the Royal Family.

In September 1945 Thompson covered the Royal visit to Scotland, which appeared in ‘BROWNIES RING-O’-ROSES WITH PRINCESS ELIZABETH’ in British Movietone News No.852A of October 1945. In June 1946 Thompson provided film of the Royal Family leaving Buckingham Palace for ‘VICTORY DAY’ in British Movietone News No.888. In 1947 Thompson filmed the Royal Tour of South Africa, along with Paul Wyand [qv] and Derek Stiles [qv] of Movietone. The coverage began with ‘THE ROYAL TOUR’ in British Movietone News No.922 of February 1947, and ended with ''WELCOME HOME’' in No.936A of May 1947. Thompson also provided footage for ‘THE ROYAL WEDDING - Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh’ in No.964 of November 1947. In June 1950 it was announced that Thompson ‘has left Buckingham Palace to join the BBC’s television staff.' Thompson informed the press that ‘my position at Alexandra Palace is not yet clearly defined’: ‘I shall, I presume, become the Royal cameraman of the B.B.C. Apart from working with a newsreel camera, I shall co-operate with the Outside Broadcast organisation whenever they are engaged on the kind of work I am accustomed to.' Thompson was apparently succeeded as Royal Rota Cameraman by John Turner [qv].


BUFVC, British Paramount News files, Issue Number 1033 (R. L. Jay dopesheet, 17/1/1941), Number 1388 (Newsreel Association Minutes, June 1944), Number 1523 (Thompson’s rota dopesheet, September 1945): Daily Graphic, 24/8/1946, ‘The King’s cameraman’: P. Wyand ‘We are making your newsreels of the Royal Tour,' Outspan, 4/4/1947, pp.29, 75: Daily Mail, 17/6/1950, ‘King’s photos’: J. Ballantyne (ed) ‘Researcher’s Guide to British Newsreels: Vol.III’ (1993), p.75.

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