Hit Play above to watch our exclusive Quickfire Questions video from the red carpet launch of An Accidental Studio
You might know George Harrison as “the quiet one” in The Beatles, but did you know he had a secret passion for filmmaking?
The lead guitarist of the best-selling British band - who passed away in 2001 - is set to be honoured in a new documentary exploring Handmade Films, the filmmaking and distribution company he co-founded.
The one-off AMC documentary An Accidental Studio will be available to watch exclusively on BT TV.
Here's everything you need to know about An Accidental Studio, including when it’s released, and why you should watch it - with exclusive insight from those closest to him at Handmade, including director and Monty Python member Terry Gilliam and friend and film producer Ray Cooper.
When is An Accidental Studio on TV?
An Accidental Studio will be available exclusively on demand for BT TV customers on Wednesday, April 3 ahead of its broadcast on AMC at 9pm on Saturday, May 4 (BT channel number 332 / 381 HD).
What’s it about?
An Accidental Studio is a one-off documentary film charting the early years of British filmmaking and distribution company Handmade Films.
The documentary is seen through the eyes of the filmmakers, key people in the company, and the man who started it all: former Beatle George Harrison.
Featuring never-before-seen or heard interviews with Harrison, the documentary captures an extraordinary moment in film history where one company dominated the British movie scene.
Handmade Films turned films that everyone else had rejected into international iconic hits. Its successes include Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits, the Oscar-nominated Mona Lisa, Alan Bennett’s triple-Bafta winner A Private Function, the cult classic Withnail & I, and The Long Good Friday - the film that launched the long career of the late Bob Hoskins.
The documentary explores the stories behind the Handmade lens and offers a rare, personal, and largely untold insight into Harrison’s love of comedy and cinema.
Who’s in An Accidental Studio?
Aside from newly released interviews with George Harrison, An Accidental Studio features exclusive contributions from Michael Palin (Monty Python, A Private Function), Terry Gilliam (Time Bandits, Monty Python), Richard E. Grant (Withnail & I, below), Bruce Robinson (director of Withnail & I), Neil Jordan (director of Mona Lisa) and many others.
It also features archive interviews with stars including Bob Hoskins, John Cleese and Helen Mirren.
Three reasons to watch An Accidental Studio
1. It reveals George Harrison’s passion for Handmade Films
The Beatles are the best-selling artist of all time, selling 277.1 million records - that’s more than Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Madonna.
But Liverpudlian Harrison was more than just the lead guitarist of the Beatles, as the documentary reveals.
He famously founded Handmade Films so that he could make the films he wanted to watch.
Terry Gilliam, Monty Python member and Time Bandits director, told BT TV: “George was completely supportive [of us making the films]. He wanted to see good people do good things, and have some fun while were doing it, and that’s what it was like!”
Ray Cooper, Head of Production at Handmade Films, told us: “If anyone has a doubt about the beauty of their dreams, this is the thing to watch, because it shows how someone with passion and love in their hearts can make things happen for anybody.”
2. It shows how important Handmade Films was for British cinema
George Harrison was once labelled the “saviour of the British film industry”, as he took on the big Hollywood studios with movies made this side of the pond.
Sanjeev Bhaskar, host of the Q&A for An Accidental Studio, told BT TV: “His backing of talent gave us not only this slew of amazing, best-of-their-kind films, but I think it set a template in terms of inspiration for a lot of filmmakers since.”
Cathy Tyson, actress in Mona Lisa - which won Handmade Films a Bafta for, below - added: “If Handmade Films is still in existence, that’s brilliant isn’t it? It’s an inspiration to keep going, and I guess I owe a lot to him.”
3. You’ll discover secrets from some of Handmade’s best-known films
If you’re a Monty Python fan, you’ll absolutely love finding out the behind-the-scenes secrets from the making of films including Life of Brian.
The documentary reveals the truth behind Harrison's bankrolling of the film, which is astonishing - it shows how passionate he was.
Speaking at the AMC and BT TV exclusive launch of An Accidental Studio, actor Michael Palin - pictured above, centre, in Life of Brian - revealed how the film's cast and crew discovered that Harrison had financed the film.
“We’d already begun production, we had people out in Africa, building sets and everything," he confessed.
"It was an extraordinary thing to find out that George was prepared to put £5 million or whatever it was to make the film.”
Watch the trailer for An Accidental Studio
An Accidental Studio will be available exclusively on demand for BT TV customers on Wednesday, April 3 ahead of airing on AMC on Saturday, May 4 at 9pm (BT channel number 332 / 381 HD).
AMC is the drama channel exclusive to BT TV customers.
Images: AMC UK / Rex Features