Waris Hussein: Groundbreaking Director

Moving from India to the UK at the age of just nine, no one could have predicted that Lucklow born Waris Hussein (1938-present) would have gone on to have such a successful and arguably ground-breaking career as a television and film director.

There’s no denying that from the out set, Hussein strived to be at the top of his game, aiming for excellence in his studies and work. Educated at Eton, he went on to study English Literature at world-renowned Cambridge University before attending the reputable Slade School of Fine Art where he studied theatre design.

Having tried his hand at directing whilst at university, Hussein realised his passion for the trade and, at21, landed himself a job as a trainee director at the BBC where his mother, Attia Hussein, already worked, broadcasting on a variety of topical issues (often with an artistic focus) and even featuring as a dramatic star for the corporation. It would seem that her involvement with and contribution to the media were of great influence to her son, inspiring him to embark on a career in the same industry.

As a homosexual Indian director, Waris’ appointment was remarkably unconventional for the 1960’s during which diversity was far from accepted or embraced and Indian directors were virtually non-existent in the West. Impressively he was not only the first Indian director to work for the Drama Department of the BBC but also goes down in history as the youngest ever director employed by the company.

Hussein’s fantastic list of works speaks for itself in revealing his talent and commitment to his trade. Perhaps most notably, in 1963 he worked along side esteemed English television and film producer Verity Lambert, directing the first ever Doctor Who serial: “An Unearthly Child”. Despite reservations about how an association with televisual science fiction would impact his career, his subsequent direction of television and film, as well as his work alongside reputable theatre productions and collaboration with acclaimed composers, it’s fair to say that Hussein’s impact has been wonderfully positive, consequently making a name for himself across several continents.

His contribution to the entertainment world has been suitably acknowledge and he is first Indian to win BAFTA and Emmy awards for his prestigious collection of works. More recently, he has begun teaching the next generation of film enthusiasts–aventure that is greatly indicative of his valuable experience and distinguished talent.


Grace Ellerby


Featured image from The Radio Times. 

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