Our interview with Billy Williams OBE BSC

Our interview with Billy Williams OBE BSC

A knock at the door and who answered but Anne, artist and the supportive wife of national treasure Billy Williams, praising us on our efficient arrival time considering the travel from Surrey from Leicester (5 minutes early). Working as an apprentice for his dad from the age of 14, Williams worked on news stories and documentaries during wartime Britain and grew to be one of the world’s most respected cinematographers, filming classics such as Women in Love (1969), Gandhi (1981) and On Golden Pond (1982).

Filming Cooke Optics TV interviews is always a pleasure. Firstly, the interviewing experience is more comfortable when filmed in a familiar location to the interviewee – where better than their living room? Warmly welcomed by both Billy and Anne, we set up our interview, drank tea (shortbread and all) and spent the afternoon with fantastic company.

At 88 years old, the film veteran was entertaining us with stories of working in the golden age of cinema with Orson Welles, Katharine Hepburn and Richard Attenborough. Hearing on-set stories about any of your film heroes (as told by your hero) demystifies the Hollywood glamour and shiny screen personas that one may be used to by only seeing them on your cinema or television screen – refreshing.


A particular highlight for co-director Kieran was when he met Richard Attenborough in Leicester after a screening of Gandhi in 2003. Attenborough patiently waited until he saw every single person after the screening, he signed Kieran’s cinema ticket, with Williams completing the director/cinematographer partnership 15 years later by also signing the ticket!

We could have stayed with Billy and Anne all week, thank you both.


Cooke Optics TV

Stay tuned for some fantastic new content coming your way, and for interviews (produced by yours truly) with the best in the film industry, be sure to check out Cooke Optics TV (youtube.com/cookeopticstv). And if you are ever in the Leicester Cooke Factory – keep your eyes peeled for a photo of Williams, Attenborough and Roger Pratt opening the then-new Cooke factory in the 80s!

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