UK Award-winning Arts Documentary Film-maker

Mike Dibb: UK Award-winning Arts Documentary Film-maker

All films

Films on Art

Films on Music

Films on Writers

Films on Ideas

Films with John Berger

Click or tap the entries below for more information about each film.


Joined BBC TV in 1963, as trainee assistant film editor, after graduating with BA Hons degree from Trinity College, Dublin (1958-1962)


Assistant Film Editor/Film Editor, BBC Film Dept


Joined BBC Music and Arts Dept

John Ford (The Movies)


Antonioni (The Movies)


Roman Polanski (The Movies)


James Stewart (Moviemakers at the NFT)


Bette Davis (Moviemakers at the NFT)


The making of Jean Luc Godard’s One Plus One


The making of Yellow Submarine


(with George Melly)

Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton


(both with Charles Barr)

Dan Arbeid, Potter (The Craftsmen)


Cabinetmaker (The Craftsmen)


Canvas/First Eleven


Short films for ‘Canvas’ and ‘First Eleven’ on particular paintings by Van Gogh, Titian, Toulouse Lautrec, Frans Hals, Picasso, Brueghel etc, also “Alan Bennett at Leeds City Art Gallery”

Coleman Hawkins


Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet


Ways of Seeing

1972 4 x 30’

John Berger’s BAFTA Award winning series on perception.

Full House and Second House


Contributed various studio items and films to BBC 2’s two Saturday night Arts Extravaganzas “Full House” and “Second House”, including complete programmes from Liverpool and Glasgow.

Is this the way to save a city?

1974 90’

A 90 min investigation into the redevelopment of Cardiff, co-directed with Roger Graef. Follow-up programme one year later.


1974 5’

5’ architectural cartoon with Louis Hellman

Jonah Barrington (Success Story)

1975-76 30’

about Britain’s foremost squash player.

Words and Images (Arena)

1975-76 15’

with the poet and painter Charles Tomlinson.

Beyond a Boundary (Omnibus)

1975-76 60’

with the Trinidadian writer CLR James, based on his classic book about cricket.

The First Picture Show

1975-76 BBC 2 13 x 30’

series presenting the work of student film-makers, co-produced with Gavin Millar.


Member of British Film Institute Production Board

Ralph Steadman (Arena)

1977-78 30’

profile of the caricaturist and illustrator

Seeing Through Drawing


“Seeing Through Drawing” An original two hour filmed essay, exploring of the meaning and importance of drawing, ranging from the first images we make as children to the work of contemporary artists and major artists from the past. Made without commentary, the sequences are linked by a perceptive and  informal on-going conversation with the art historian Philip Rawson. The film includes unique archive footage of Matisse and Giacometti as well as beautifully filmed sequences of portrait drawings being made by David Hockney, Jim Dine and Ralph Steadman.

Taking Our Time (Arena)

1977-78 60’

with Red Ladder Theatre, based on their musical play about time and the Industrial Revolution

Ealing Studios (Arena)

1977-78 30’

in collaboration with Charles Barr based on his book about Britain’s most famous film studio.

The Country and The City (Where We Live Now)

1979 60’

with the writer Raymond Williams, based on his classic book of literary criticism.

Pig Earth (Omnibus )

1979 50’

with John Berger, based on his stories of peasant experience, with photographs by Jean Mohr

Jazz, Rock and Marriage

1979 60’

about jazz saxophonist Barbara Thompson and her husband rock drummer Jon Hiseman

Barbara Thompson’s Paraphernalia

1979 45’

in concert at Bracknell Jazz Festival

Parting Shots from Animals (Omnibus )

1980 60’

developed from essays by John Berger, in collaboration with Chris Rawlence.

Fringe Benefits (Arena)

1980 50’

political theatre songs of the 70’s, featuring Belt and Braces, Red Ladder, The Sadista Sisters and the Albany’s Combination.

Fields of Play

1981-82 5 x 60’

series about the significance of ‘Play’ in every area of our lives, from learning and creativity to gambling and war games: ‘Plays of Meaning’. ‘Playing the Odds’, ‘Work and Play’, ‘Playing Ball’, ‘Playing for Real’.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow (Arena )

1981-82 50’

About art and psychoanalysis, with the American painter Robert Natkin and English writer Peter Fuller.


All the above films were made for the Music and Arts dept of the BBC. In 1983, with the arrival of Channel 4, Mike left the staff of the BBC to work independently. He joined Third Eye Productions, a company formed by several other ex-members of the BBC Music and Arts dept, including Barrie Gavin, Peter West and Geoff Haydon.

Classically Cuban (Arena )

1983 BBC 60’

about the life and work of ballerina Alicia Alonso and her Cuban National Ballet Company.

About Time

1983-85 Channel 4/3rd Eye 6 x 52’

co-devised and directed with Chris Rawlence, about the meaning, experience and our conflicting ideas of ‘time’: ‘Time is Money’, ‘Time and a Half’, ‘Holy Days’, ‘Moonshine’, ‘Uncertain Times’ and ‘Once Upon a Time – with John Berger’.


CLR James in conversation with Stuart Hall

1983-85 Channel 4 52’

The charismatic Trinidadian talks about his life and political development as a writer and political activist.

Memories of The Future

1984 Channel 4/3rd Eye 2 x 52’

Two films, made in collaboration with the writer Peter Fuller, on the life, work and ideas of John Ruskin and William Morris.

Don’t Tell Leonardo

1984 Channel 4/3rd Eye 52’

with Ralph Steadman, based on his book ‘I Leonardo’.

What’s Cuba Playing At? (Arena )

1985 BBC 75’

exploring the Afro-Spanish roots of Cuban music and featuring a wide range of Cuban bands and performers.

Studs Terkel’s Chicago (Omnibus )

1985 BBC 60’

with the US city’s prize-winning writer, oral historian and most celebrated citizen and broadcaster Studs Terkel.

The Spirit of Lorca (Arena )

1986 BBC 75’

about the great Spanish poet and playwright, made in collaboration with Lorca’s Irish biographer, Ian Gibson. (Gold Award New York International Film and TV Festival)

Take the Money and Run (Open The Box)

1986 Channel 4/BFI/Beat 52’

First of two films about television produced by Michael Jackson, TV and sport.

Sheer Filth (Open The Box)

1986 Channel 4/BFI/Beat 52’

Second of two films about television produced by Michael Jackson, TV and censorship.


After 1986 Mike Dibb began to make many of his films through his own company Dibb Directions Ltd (DD)

Naturally Creative

1986-87 Channel 4/DD 90’

feature length documentary exploring the origins of human creativity, in collaboration with the writer Peter Fuller.

Appalachian Journey

1987-88 Channel 4/DD 2 x 70’

two films about traditional American music, co-directed with Mark Kidel, and made with the US musicologist Alan Lomax for his series ‘An American Patchwork’.

Dreams and Songs of The Noble Old

1987-88 Channel 4/DD 2 x 70’

two films about traditional American music, co-directed with Mark Kidel, and made with the US musicologist Alan Lomax for his series ‘An American Patchwork’.

In Pursuit of Don Juan

1988-89 BBC 75’

exploring the origins of Spain’s most potent cultural archetype and the many versions of his promiscuous after-life in European art, theatre and music.

Octavio Paz (Bookmark)

1988-89 BBC 50’

The great Mexican poet and essayist talks in English about his life and reads, in Spanish, a selection of his own work.

Made in Latin America

1988-89 BBC 8 x 60’

Series Producer of eight diverse thematic journeys through the cultures of a continent, presented through the voices, images, ideas and music of Latin Americans themselves: ‘Dreams of a New World’ (director Mike Dibb), ‘The Heirs of Conquest’ (director Mike Macintyre), ‘Dictating Terms’ (director Julian Henriques), ‘States of Exile’ (director Julian Henriques). ‘City Limits’ (directors Rossana Horsley, Mike Dibb), ‘Love and Power’ (director Rossana Horsley), ‘Questions of Geography’ (director Julian Henriques), ‘Remembering the Future’ (director Mike Dibb)

Elmore Leonard’s Criminal Records (Arena )

1990 BBC/DD 60’

about America’s top crime writer and the sources of his inspiration in Detroit and Florida.

Mirrors of Paradise

1991-92 Channel 4/DD 52’

on the rich cultural legacy of Muslim Spain, made to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the fall of Granada.

On location in Lone Pine (Moving Pictures )

1993 BBC 15’

film magazine item about The Lone Pine Film Festival, which features only the Hollywood movies made there, with Budd Boetticher and Douglas Fairbanks Jnr

Typically British

1994 Channel 4/ BFI

co-directed with Stephen Frears, feature length documentary on history of British cinema, presented by Stephen Frears with Gavin Lambert, Alexander Mackendrick, Michael Apted and Alan Parker

The Further Adventures of Don Quixote (Bookmark)

1995 BBC/DD 50’

exploration of the many cultural manifestations, from movies to opera, of Cervantes’ seminal novel and Spain’s greatest fictional double-act.

A Curious Mind - AS Byatt (Bookmark)

1996 BBC 50’

about the Booker prize-winning English novelist, as she retraces parts of her life and development as a writer.


1997 Channel 4/DD 15 x 30 secs

provocative 30” interstitial ideas by Rowland Morgan for C4’s 1997 General Election coverage. (Recognised by Guiness Book of Records as shortest documentary film series ever made!)

The Fame and Shame of Salvador Dali

1997-98 BBC/DD 120’ but shown in two one hour parts

made in collaboration with Ian Gibson during the research and writing of his major biography of the controversial artist.

The Beginning of The End of The Affair

1999 BBC 50’

in which Oliver Walston investigates his mother Catherine’s long affair with Graham Greene, as it was first turned into the celebrated novel and later a film by Neil Jordan, with Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore.

The Miles Davis Story

2000-01 Channel 4/DD 124’

made in collaboration with Miles’ British biographer Ian Carr; the innovative and charismatic jazz trumpeter as remembered by his family, friends and the many great musicians who played with him over the years. Now available as a SONY DVD. (International EMMY for best arts documentary 2001 and Royal Television Society TV award 2001)

Mark Anthony Turnage

2002-03 BBC 30’

BBC4 Profile with Gerard McBurney of the celebrated young British composer.

Studs Terkel

2002-03 BBC 30’

BBC4 Profile, filmed and presented by Mike Dibb, of America’s great oral historian and broadcaster.

Steven Rose

2002-03 BBC 30’

BBC4 Profile, filmed and presented by Mike Dibb, of the leading biologist, science writer and political activist.

Edward Said

2002-03 BBC 30’

BBC4 Profile with Charles Glass of the Palestinian intellectual, writer and political activist.

Edward Said – The Last Interview

2002-03 206’

Complete version of the original Charles Glass interview, produced by DG Guttenplan, and now released as an ICA Projects DVD.

Reflecting Skin

2004 59’

Bonnie Greer explores the image of black people in Western art 

Keith Jarrett – The Art of Improvisation

2004-05 Channel 4/DD 86’

first feature length documentary about the jazz world’s most brilliant piano improviser, and great performer of classical music. Now available as a EuroArts DVD.

Tango Maestro: The Life and Music of Astor Piazzolla

2004-05 BBC/DD 106’

the radical Argentinian tango composer and bandoneon virtuoso, as remembered by his family, friends and many of the musicians who played with him. Now available on a BBC/OpusArte DVD, called ‘Astor Piazzolla-in portrait’.

I Could Read The Sky

2005 25’

A film with the writer Tim O’Grady and five great Irish musicians.

A Day with Roger Deakin

2007 50’

A conversation about wood with the late nature writer Roger Deakin in and around his Suffolk farmhouse.

Personally Speaking: Colin Ward In Conversation with Roger Deakin

2009 155’

A non-broadcast video of a long autobiographical conversation, in which the eloquent and influential anarchist writer and activist COLIN WARD discusses his life and ideas with the celebrated nature writer ROGER DEAKIN.

Personally Speaking: A Long Conversation with Stuart Hall

2009 254’

Stuart Hall in conversation with Maya Jaggi

Sweet William: My Life with Shakespeare

2012 97’

A filmed record by Mike Dibb and Chris Cox of the brilliant one man show, written and performed by the actor Michael Pennington

Barbara Thompson: Playing Against Time

2012 BBC4 80’

Playing Against Time is a feature-length documentary about Barbara’s inspiring and creative struggle with Parkinsons disease, whose physical effects are particularly cruel, and visible, in the life of an improvising jazz musician.

A Life in Lillian Road

2017 35’

Celebrating the life of Violet Paice, this little London cul-de-sac’s oldest resident.

Painted With My Hair

2020 Arena 59’

How a US lifer survived long-term solitary confinement through a remarkable pen-pal friendship and the making of beautiful little paintings from M&M’s.