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Olwyn Silvester

Olwyn Silvester is an Emmy and BAFTA award winning producer and Managing Director of Bedlam, an independent film and television production company.

Olwyn has spent her entire career in radio, television and now film. She has worked with all the main UK broadcasters and major US networks. Her comprehensive credits include several landmark documentaries with Sir David Attenborough, the highly-regarded Trial and Error on Channel 4, and multiple series for the BBC, National Geographic, History, Discovery and other channels.

Originally from Hartshill, in Stoke-on-Trent, Olwyn’s first experience of the broadcast industry was at Cauldon College – now called Stoke-on-Trent College – where she was studying for a secretarial qualification. A work experience placement at BBC Radio Stoke lead to a Saturday job answering the phones. She later landed a fulltime position as a Junior Secretary in the BBC Director General’s office in London.

A desire to get into production saw Olwyn move into radio and, eventually, TV. Between 1979 and 1989, she worked in almost every BBC department as a production assistant, with credits including Eastenders, Top of the Pops, Rough Justice, Blue Peter and more.

Olwyn then became a Freelance Production Manager, working on projects for BSkyB and the BBC. In 1992, she joined several former BBC colleagues as a founder director of Just Television. Here she production managed all programmes produced by the company, including Channel 4’s Dispatches. She also worked on Trial and Error, which investigated miscarriages of justice, helping to overturn six convictions.

In 2000, she became the company’s Managing Director, responsible for all development, pitching and production. The company won the Royal Television Society Specialist Journalism Award in 1999 and the New York Festival News Investigation Gold World Medal in 2001 for their challenging documentaries and factual programming.

In 2003, Olwyn became freelance again, holding a series of senior executive positions at several large production companies. In 2007, she met and started working with Sir David Attenborough on The Link, Kingdom of Plants in 3D and the 2011 Emmy and BAFTA winning First Life.

In 2012, Olwyn joined Bedlam after the major success of the company’s film, The King’s Speech. As Managing Director and Producer, she is responsible for the day-to-day running and production output, which has included critically acclaimed films and high-end documentaries for the world’s leading broadcasters. The company has a slate of projects in development, including Fearless, the story of Leicester City F.C. and player Jamie Vardy winning the Premier League title in 2015/16.

The Award of Honorary Doctor of Staffordshire University is bestowed upon Olwyn in recognition of her leading and influential role in the UK film and TV industry. It also acknowledges her drive and passion for developing young female talent, through mentoring, providing trainee opportunities and as a role model.

Photo of Olwyn Silvester

Olwyn Silvester was bestowed the award in 2019

I am completely bowled over to be receiving this award. I left school with almost no qualifications, so I’ve always been in awe of the academic world. So to be honoured by Staffordshire University for what I’ve achieved in a different way is amazing.

Olwyn Silvester