When Louis Theroux is not busy filming documentaries about Nazis or paedophiles or UFO conspiracists, he’s watching them – and now the filmmaker has teamed up with BBC iPlayer to curate a collection of his favourites and make them available online.
From 1975 documentary Inside Story: Mini about an 11-year-old arsonist, to the more recent 2016 capital punishment documentary Life and Death Row – Truth, Theroux has pulled together seven “wonderful, powerful” programmes from the BBC archive.
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They’ll go live on Wednesday 18th July alongside a new film, Louis Theroux: Docs That Made Me. In it, the documentarian explains why he chose each of the documentaries in the collection, and how they have inspired his own work.
According to the BBC, the films explore issues including “alcoholism, the American criminal justice system, polygamy in UK, and childhood delinquency.”
One film in the collection, a 1987 documentary called Fourteen Days in May, follows a 26-year-old man convicted of murder as he appeals against his death sentence in the US courts.
Speaking about its legacy as a piece of television, Theroux said: “Many documentaries that are terrific come and go but this one is one that I think most people involved in documentaries will have seen and would agree that it’s a powerful and important piece of storytelling.”
Documentary fans will also get a chance to watch 2006’s Storyville: Philip and His Seven Wives, which follows a polygamous Jewish antiques dealer.
“I love documentaries that are about weird religious behaviour, but I also like subjects that are about unconventional sexual behaviour, and Philip and His Seven Wives has both of those,” Theroux explained.
Then there’s 2014’s Storyville film Exposed: Magicians, Psychics & Frauds, in which James ‘The Amazing’ Randi exposes the simple tricks that manipulative con artists use to convince people of their magic, and Bafta-winning 2010 documentary Between Life and Death, which takes a closer look at severe brain injuries and the big questions around consciousness itself.
The impact of 2006 documentary Rain in My Heart, which follows four people suffering from severe alcoholism, can be seen in Theroux’s own recent documentary Drinking to Oblivion.
Theroux said in a statement: “It is an absolute privilege to be able to be part of sharing these wonderful, powerful documentaries. Each of them had an impact on me in a different way.
“They cover a range of styles – some vérité-driven, others told more through interview – but in all of them you see life at its most raw, its most strange and therefore its most human. I hope BBC iPlayer viewers enjoy them as much as I have.”
All the films will be available on BBC iPlayer in the From The Archive section from Wednesday 18th July 2018