Ulster film mogul with the Midas touch
The success of Slumdog Millionaire is a personal triumph for Belfast-born executive producer Paul Smith.
Mr Smith, who turns 62 on Friday, is currently Chairman of Complete Communications, which includes Celador Films and Celador Radio Broadcasting, and helped mastermind the world’s most popular TV quiz show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
And it was he who pushed the idea of having the quiz as one of the central plots in Slumdog Millionaire, which has now paid off handsomely.
He was educated at The Royal Belfast Academical Institution. He left Belfast in February 1966 to join BBC Television in London as a trainee projectionist.
Over the following seven years he went on to direct, working on children’s and light entertainment programmes. In 1973 he turned freelance, working for many network and regional ITV companies.
He brought the talent of Jasper Carrott to the television screens of the UK and created It’ll Be Alright on The Night — ITV’s longest running entertainment programme.
Celador Productions was formed in 1983, making it one of the country’s fist light entertainment production companies.
Its well known programmes so far include Winning Lines (BBC1), Britain’s Brainiest (ITV1), The Detectives (BBC1), Commercial Breakdown (BBC1), Talking Telephone Numbers (ITV1), Auntie’s Bloomers (BBC1), The Hypnotic World of Paul McKenna (ITV1), the multi award-winning Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? (ITV1) and You Are What You Eat (Channel 4).
In 1999, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? won a British Academy Award for Best Light Entertainment Programme or Series. In 2000 & 2001, the show won two Emmy Awards for the US Version, both in the category of Outstanding Game or Audience Participation Show.
Mr Smith recently expanded the Celador Group to include Celador Radio Broadcasting, a new division bidding for new UK radio licences.