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Martin Durkin studied ancient and medieval history at University College London and economic history at the London School of Economics. He worked as a financial journalist before joining the current affairs department of London Weekend Television in 1989. In 1994 he became a director of RDF Television, where he produced and directed some major documentaries and helped devise a number of shows, including Scrapheap Challenge (aka Junkyard Wars) and Shipwrecked..
In 1999 he became managing director of Wag TV. He was listed in Broadcast magazine as one of the top ten executive producers in British TV and is on the special advisory committee of the World Congress of Science Producers.
Those of his films which have touched on subjects relating to environmentalism have received special attention from environmental campaigners, in particular the political activist George Monbiot. In The Guardian Monbiot described one of Durkin’s films (relating to the medical safety of breast implants: Storm in a D-Cup) as the work of a charlatan. The following week it was awarded Best Science Documentary of the Year by the British Medical Association..
He lives in London with his wife and four children.
The Great Global Warming Swindle
"Only very rarely can a TV documentary be seen as a pivotal moment in a major political debate, but such was Channel 4’s The Great Global Warming Swindle. Never before has there been such a devastatingly authoritative account of how the hysteria over global warming has parted company with reality. Martin Durkin’s superbly professional film shows how the evidence is now overwhelming that the chief cause of climate change is not human activity, but changes in radiation from the sun"
(Christopher Brooker, Sunday Telegraph)
The Rise and Fall of GM
The one programme all of you should have watched last week was The Rise & Fall of GM (Monday, C4), which was one of the cleverest, hardest, most complete repudiations of a commonly held prejudice you'll ever see. Almost everything you think you know about GM is wrong, not just wrong but vauntingly selfish, criminally neglectful and ultimately murderous.
The recipe of sentiment and cynicism, stirred with wilful ignorance, uncannily mirrors the story of Gregor Mendel …How can it be that science is still having to fight this bigotry? A Guardian journalist said he thought the mass boycott of GM food was democracy at work - such a chronically dumb thing to say … GM will happen, the Greens will be shown to be risibly Luddite; but it will happen later rather than sooner and, in the meantime, every harvest will bring starvation and premature death. Dying for your own principles is laudatory; being made to die for someone else's is ecological.
This epic documentary was a hugely challenging piece of television and one which contained perhaps the best ever use of music in a factual programme. From Mexican bongo players to Sinatra and the Flintstones theme, it was clever and unsettling. It didn’t so much advocate genetic modification or defend multinational biotech companies as illuminate how little we know about GM, how our gut reaction is all we consider in this debate. Perhaps that’s because our bellies are full.
Are we in the West, by spurning GM foods, even though there is no scientific evidence to suggest they are dangerous to eat, condemning millions in the Third World to starve, and condemning the children of those nations to staying ill-educated because they have to skip school to help their parents weed the fields since local farmers can’t afford herbicides and pesticides?
Against Nature is one of the most brilliantly successful and persuasive pieces of polemic it has ever been my pleasure to watch on television. Producer/director Martin Durkin sets out to show that while the greens may fancy themselves as folk heroes and rebels there is good reason to see them as timid and dangerous conservatives. The programme takes up jewel after jewel in the green crown and shows them to be fakes... Given the notorious inability of politicians to catch even the most important television programmes, it might be an idea if this one were loaded onto a cassette and screened on the Westminster monitors, on the hour, every hour, for a week or so.
Martin Durkin’s dazzlingly provocative series...
It’s not often a programme takes your breath away with a truly daring political thesis. After all, television is meant to be anodyne when it comes to opinions. But Against Nature will have a great many people up in arms with rage... This is a series to make you sit up and take notice.
Few programmes have caused as much controversy as the Channel 4 series Against Nature.
I loved Against Nature. This was a ferocious attack on the green movement. It will do them tremendous good to get a taste of their own medicine. With anyone else I might have said they would have a hard time answering the case the programme made against them, but like all fanatics they will ignore it altogether, or express outrage and horror that anyone was allowed to make it in the first place.a splendid hatchet job.
For the past three Tuesday nights, on ABC-TV, the full power of television documentary-making has been unleashed against the international conservation movement. Against Nature was a spectacularly good piece of work, raising genuine issues of concern in a stunning visual package with clever subliminal messages all over the shop... fascinating viewing.
There has never been a series on British television like Channel 4’s Against Nature.
Music to the ears of a sceptic.
Channel 4 may soon find a Green gunboat heading its way.
When Channel 4’s Right to Reply took up the question of Against Nature being unbalanced, the fury of the Green representatives at finding their own single-minded approach used against them was comical to behold.
(One of Chris Dunkley’s Top Ten TV Highlights of the Year)
'Only very rarely can a documentary be seen as a pivotal moment in a major political debate, but such is The Great Global Warming Swindle. Never before has there been such a devastatingly authoritative account of how the hysteria over global warming has parted company with reality. Martin Durkin’s superbly professional film shows how the evidence is now overwhelming that the chief cause of climate change is not human activity, but changes in radiation from the sun.'
(Christopher Brooker, Sunday Telegraph)
'The Global Warmers have had their day. For years they have blamed ordinary folk for just about every environmental disaster known to man. But now, at last, the truth is out. Watch The Great Global Warming Swindle and be amazed.'
(Editorial, The Sunday Express)
'If you’re worried about the polar bears, watch the brilliant, devastating film The Great Global Warming Swindle.'
(Peter Hitchins, Mail on Sunday)
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