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13 November 2014

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You are in: Tyne > People > Profiles > Sir Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott

Scott was knighted in 2003

Sir Ridley Scott

Movies such as Gladiator and Thelma and Louise have established Tyneside-born Sir Ridley Scott as one of the world's best-known film directors.

The highly successful film producer and director Sir Ridley Scott was born in South Shields in 1939.

As a young man he attended the West Hartlepool School of Art and then went to the Royal College of Art in London to study graphic design and advertising.

While there he also studied film-making techniques and in his final year he made a 30-minute film, Boy and a Bicycle, which was shot in the streets of South Shields and West Hartlepool.

The short film featured his father and younger brother as the main characters.

Anthony Hopkins and Ridley Scott

Working with Anthony Hopkins

Scott then spent time in the US on a design scholarship, before joining the BBC as a production designer back in London.

From there he moved into directing, quickly establishing himself as a successful director of television commercials.

His 1973 advert for Hovis, Bike Ride, is a much-loved classic.

In the advert a small boy pushes a bike laden with bread up a cobbled street to the sound of Dvorak's "New World" Symphony, arranged for brass band.


Scott's first foray into feature film-making came in the late 1970s with The Duellists.

The film starred Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine as two French officers in the Napoleonic era.

It won the prize for best first film at the Cannes Film Festival in 1977 but received mixed reviews when it was released in the US and Britain.

Scott turned to sci-fi for his next film, Alien (1979), which won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

The film was a massive hit and was most memorable for the scene in which an alien baby comes out of actor John Hurt's chest.

"As a boy growing up in South Shields, I could never have imagined that I would receive such a special recognition."

Scott on his Knighthood

When filming the scene Scott did not tell the other actors what was going to happen so that their looks of horror would be genuine.

Alien also made lead actress Sigourney Weaver a household name.

Blade Runner (1982) continued the sci-fi theme. The futuristic film set in the depressing Los Angeles of 2019 starred Harrison Ford as Deckerd, a police officer who specialises in terminating replicants (a Bladerunner).

Although the film did not do particularly well at the box office it has since become a cult classic, aided by the release of Scott's original cut of the film.

But Scott did not limit himself to just one genre and the road movie Thelma and Louise earned him his first best director nomination at the Oscars in 1992.

Other credits have included GI Jane, Black Hawk Down, Hannibal, American Gangster and the massively successful Gladiator.

Russell Crowe

Scott worked with Crowe on A Good Year


Released in 2000 and starring Russell Crowe as Roman general Maximus, the epic Gladiator earned more than $400m (£275m) at the box office world-wide.

It received 12 nominations for the 2001 Oscars and won five, including best film and best actor for Russell Crowe. Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) pipped Scott to the post for the best director award.

Scott was named a Knights Bachelor for his services to British film in the 2003 New Year's Honours.

At the time he said: "As a boy growing up in South Shields, I could never have imagined that I would receive such a special recognition."

He added: "I am truly humbled to receive this treasured award and believe it also further recognises the excellence of the British film industry."

Sir Ridley Scott cites David Lean's Great Expectations as one of his inspirations but it seems that film is in the family blood.

His brother Tony is also a director and producer and in 2002 the pair were named as the richest and most powerful movers and shakers in the UK film industry by Screen International.

And, bringing it back to Tyneside, their great uncle Dixon Scott was the man behind the creation of the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle in the 1930s.

last updated: 15/09/2008 at 10:13
created: 30/05/2008

You are in: Tyne > People > Profiles > Sir Ridley Scott

Did you know?

Sir Ridley's brother and fellow film-maker Tony Scott directed Top Gun.

In 1987 Scott formed Percy Main Productions. Its name was taken from the place Percy Main in North Tyneside.

Ridley Scott first became famous for his TV adverts, including the well-known nostalgic Hovis commercial.

Scott produced The Browning Version (1994) which was directed by fellow Geordie Mike Figgis.

The Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle was conceived, designed and built by Sir Ridley Scott's great uncle, Dixon Scott.

Scott was knighted for his services to British film in the 2003 New Year's Honours.

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