2011 “Small Island” had just been broadcast on BBC1. It was based on the book by Andrea Levy and charted the arrival of the first Windrush émigrés from the West Indies.
It won us all, countless awards including an International Emmy (and Bafta cinematography nomination). But all these awards faded into insignificance:
I had called a cab to take me to Heathrow – en route to film a new project in Rome. I was picked up in Tufnell Park – the taxi driver was from the West Indies and must have been in his early seventies. We started talking and he told me he had left Jamaica in 1958 aged 17. I told him I had shot “Small Island”:
“I saw that – I saw it all – and you know it was the first time that I seen my people’s history told on the TV…first time…that is how it was man…like you showed it..make me cry and make me proud”.
I arrived at Heathrow and asked him how much the fare was:
“Getaway – you is not paying – you made “Small Island” – and that is bigger than anything I seen on TV in the last twenty years”.
I circulated it to David Oyelowa, Benedict Cumberbatch, Naomi Harris, Ruth Wilson – all the actors and crew.
We all agreed – this was the best award by far!