Grenville Middleton

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Grenville Middleton (b. Springs, 02/02/1938) is a cinematographer and puppeteer.


Grenville Austin Roberts Atkin Middleton was born in Springs, where his father was a surveyor on the Vogelstruisbult gold mine. After World War II, the family moved to the Libanon gold mine on the West Rand, where he attended primary school. As a teenager, he was sent to King Edward VII School as a boarder and while at school he would go to Killarney Film Studios on Saturday mornings to make himself available for odd jobs.

Subsequently, at the age of 18, he went to work for Alpha Film Studios as an assistant cameraman. He trained under Ronnie Shears and Stewart Farnell, two English cameramen who spent some time in South Africa. This was followed by a stint with David Millin Productions, where he worked on the feature Donker Afrika. Back at Alpha Film Studios he became a fully-fledged cameraman, shooting commercials for Alexander Films and in 1958 he worked with Sven Persson on a travelogue for the South African Tourist Corporation.

He then worked his passage to England, where he found employment with Associated-Rediffusion as a television cameraman. The idea was that he would gain experience in British television and then return to South Africa to apply his skills in the local television industry. However, the country’s tardiness in setting up television necessitated a change of plans and in 1967 he and his new family returned to South Africa. He first rejoined Sven Persson and after that shot several local features and documentaries for directors like Percival Rubens and Howard Rennie. He even co-directed a feature entitled Insident op Paradysstrand (1972), which was credited to him and Gordon Anderson, though he had already returned to England after the shoot had been completed.

He had, in fact, returned to England in 1970, where he was involved in a variety television productions, as well as films for Tudor Gates and Wilbur Stark. The television documentaries included A Touch of Churchill, a Touch of Hitler: the Life of Cecil Rhodes (1971), directed by fellow South African Antony Thomas and the same director’s Hang Up Your Brightest Colours: the Life and Death of Michael Collins (1973). In addition, he built up a strong working relationship with Kenneth Griffith, the maverick Welsh actor/writer/director who had an abiding interest in everything South African and speaks highly of Gren Middleton in his autobiography.

In 1979 he and his wife, Juliet Rogers, set up the Movingstage Marionette Company, which gradually began to take up more of his time. After some years of touring, the couple bought and converted an old river barge to create a 55-seat floating marionette theatre which cruises the Thames between Oxford and London during the summer months. There are many examples of their work on the internet, notably a film version of Endgames, which was directed by Gren Middleton himself. (FO)

Filmography (South African films only)

Donker Afrika (assistant cameraman) (feature) (David Millin/1957), City of Contrasts (assistant cameraman) (documentary) (Robert Hartford-Davis/1959), King of Africa / Caccia ai Violenti (camera operator) (feature) (Nino Scolaro & Sandy Howard/1968), One for the Pot (cameraman) (filmed stage play) (Alf Travers/1968), Raka (cameraman) (filmed ballet) (Alf Travers/1968), Strangers at Sunrise (cinematographer) (feature) (Percival Rubens/1969), Stop Exchange (cinematographer) (feature) (Howard Rennie/1970), Forgotten Summer (cinematographer) (feature) (Howard Rennie/1970), Mister Kingstreet’s War / Heroes Die Hard (cinematographer) (feature) (Percival Rubens/1971), Insident op Paradysstrand (cinematographer) (feature) (Grenville Middleton & Gordon Anderson/1972).

Television Programmes with Kenneth Griffith

A Touch of Churchill, a Touch of Hitler: the Life of Cecil Rhodes (documentary) (Antony Thomas/1971), Sons of the Blood: the Great Boer War 1899-1902 Recalled by Those Who Fought it (4 parts) (David Gerrard/1972), Hang Up Your Brightest Colours: the Life and Death of Michael Collins (Antony Thomas/1973), The Public’s Right to Know (Silvio Narizzano/1974), Napoleon: the Man on the Rock (Michael Pearce/1975), A Famous Journey (Margery Baker/1979), Clive of India (Michael Pearce/1983), Zola Budd: the Girl Who Didn’t Run (Kenneth Griffith/1989).


Le Roux, André I. & Fourie, Lilla – Filmverlede: geskiedenis van die Suid-Afrikaanse speelfilm

Griffith, Kenneth - The Fool's Pardon

Private correspondence

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