Paul Atherton (born 20 March 1968) is managing director of Simple (TV) Productions and its sister not-for-profit company, Q&D Productions Limited. He is the first producer-director to have his work broadcast on the Coca-Cola billboard in Piccadilly Circus, London, with his film The Ballet of Change.[2][3]

Early life

Atherton was three months old when he was abandoned in a tent at a disused airport in Cardiff but placed with a white foster family shortly after.[4]

He grew up in the village of Ystrad Mynach in South Wales[5] attending Lewis School Pengam until the age of 16.[7]

He left home at 15, when he spent time in children's homes[8] and completed his "O" Levels. At 16 he set up home on his own, against the wishes of Social Services . After a traumatic event at the age of 18 he became homeless and lived on the streets, but by 20 he'd recovered his life and bought his first flat.

At the age of 21, Atherton was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS, often called myalgic encephalomyelitis in the United Kingdom),[9] and still suffers today.[10][11]

He attended Cardiff Business School, and obtained a BSc Honours Degree in Business Administration as a mature student in 1994.[12]

While studying he set up a mail order company specialising in silk lingerie called "A Touch of Silk".

He moved on to a career in public relations with Systems Publicity, and finally Propeller Marketing where he Account Directed clients CNN, media buyers OMD (Omnicom Media Direction) and The Daily Telegraph.[13]


His television career began at Prospect Pictures,[14] working on their live five-day-a-week cookery programme Good Food Live[15] before setting up his production companies in 2004.[16]

In 2005 his first production Silent Voices, a docudrama about domestic violence, premiered on British television, based on the real-life accounts of children who had witnessed their parents being beaten.

In 2007 Atherton was the first and only producer-director to have had his work shown on the Piccadilly Circus Coca-Cola Billboard with The Ballet of Change, a ballet of film and music telling the histories of four of London's most historic landmarks.[17]

In February 2009 he worked with (BBC, star of Waking the Dead) and Robert Cavanah (Tomb Raider / ) on a short film entitled Colour Blind, to bring attention to a UK audience, the dangers of seeing racism everywhere. He made up his White lead in Golliwog (black face) make-up to make the point.[18]

On 2 August 2009, Atherton started pre-production on a new format of documentary film that will originally take place on the Web and eventually be edited for cinema.

Prompted by his own experiences[19][20] the premise of the film is to interview 1,000 people from across the UK who have been failed by the Welfare, NHS or Social Services in the past 10 years, in order to highlight the issues of the most vulnerable people in society.

On 6 September 2010, Atherton announced that he had signed video games writer Rhianna Pratchett to write his first feature film. Vigilia (a working title) was due to shoot in 2013[21][22]

Atherton began work on , a campaigning film designed to be a springboard for public debate about the objectification of women in advertising and marketing. Shooting was completed in July 2013.[23][24]

Our London Lives opened in The Museum of London on Friday 8 January 2016 and closed on 11 February 2016. Atherton's personal but professionally recorded visits of his estranged son's visit to London over the past 16 years (1999 - 2015) was shown as part of Recording A Life exhibition in the Show Space gallery.[25]

Personal life

Atherton appeared as a voluntary performer in the London 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony, dancing in both the Rush Hour and Street Party sections.[26][27][28]

His real life experiences of childhood abandonment helped inspire the character of Eric Parkhill in Wendy Perriam's novel Broken Places (2011)[29] and his interaction with a Renault car dealership, resulting in his buying a Skoda, is retold as one of the negotiation case studies in Clive Rich's The Yes Book (2013).[30]

As a mixed-race child of White foster parents, he also comments publicly on the issues of race and adoption, often appearing on television and in the press.[31][32][33]

He has been involved in many campaigns to prevent Historic buildings from demolition,[34][35][36] including attempting to occupy the Art Deco Cinema in the KensingtonOdeon, with fellow film-maker Paul Wiffen in September 2015 [37]

And he posts under the moniker of @LondonersLondon on Twitter about the varied activities to do in London especially the inexpensive & free. [38]

He has one son, Charles Sebastian Atherton-Laurie.[39]