Canadian Producer/Director

Paul Almond is the producer/director of more than 100 television dramas in Toronto, London, and Los Angeles between 1954 and 1967. Almond has produced and directed dramas for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) shows as Folio, The Unforeseen,and Wojeck.

Among his many accomplishments in "live" or "live to tape" television are the early experimental religious drama The Hill which used simple wooden platforms, a cyclorama and improvisation; Arthur Hailey's realistic early drama about the threats of nuclear technology Seeds of Power; the fascinating, televisual adaptation of Dylan Thomas' radio piece Under Milk Wood which alternated between stylized shots of elements of the set with realistic shots of the actors; Pinter's controversial Birthday Party; A Close Prisoner the self-reflexive and chilling satire by Clive Exton; and television versions of Christopher Fry's Sleep of Prisoners, Venus Observed, and A Phoenix too Frequent, and Jean Anouilh's Antigone. He also produced and directed a chilling adaptation of Crime and Punishment called The Murderer; the dark, anti-war comedy The Neutron and the Olive and his creative partner, designer Rudy Dorn's drama about World War II from the point of view of a German soldier, The Broken Sky. Other successful adaptations included Macbeth with Sean Connery and Zoe Caldwell, using only a flight of steps and a huge throne, and Julius Caesar using one 12 foot decorative column. At the time of these "experimental" productions Dorn and Almond shared a theory that the "only real thing was the emotion expressed on the face of a really good actor".

Almond directed for the most successful series in CBC television history, Wojeck, including the prescient episode on drug abuse ("All Aboard for Candyland"), at a time when such subjects were rarely seen on television.

Two of his 1960s dramas were censored by the CBC: Anouilh's Point of Departure which showed two unmarried people in bed together and Shadow of a Pale Horse a vivid anti-war drama which depicted, according to the broadcaster, a too explicit hanging in one scene. In instances such as these, when the CBC management threatened to cancel a programme, (which became easier when tape came into use), the Corporation, under pressure from its creative staff, sometimes compromised by scheduling the drama at 11:30 P.M. when it was hoped that everyone likely to complain was in bed: In the case of Michael Tait's Fellowship the CBC canceled the show altogether but relented and broadcast it at a later date. In a rare return to television in 1978 Almond directed the award-winning docudrama Every Person is Guilty on the anthology For the Record.

Television critics and colleagues said of Paul Almond that he was "the mystic", "the romantic", "the man with an eye for symbolic levels of meaning", an "actor's director". Camera-man and well-known television writer Grahame Woods, author of Twelve and a Half Cents, Vicky: Ann's Story, and Glory Enough for All, said "he's very responsive and creates a lot of energy. He had a passion for what he was doing and it's infectious". The actor and director David Gardner characterised Almond's work as "moody... The camera moved a great deal. He was a very volatile director. But once you got to know Paul it was terrific."

Paul Almond himself has said that in some ways he preferred live television to any other form, because it had not only an excitement but a flow of action. In his view, live television allowed both the camera-man and the director more freedom to respond to the performance itself and literally "call the shots" in unforeseen patterns and rhythms. Early television did not require three people to run a camera. Almond was one of the most influential of the generation of producer/directors in the 1950s and 1960s who were discovering what could be done with the huge, clumsy and unreliable cameras of live television. He and his co-conspirators took "live-to-tape" drama, which was supposed to be taped with minimum interruption because it was very difficult to edit into territory which demanded many pauses for change of scene, costume, special effect etc. From those early experiments and the eventual discovery of cleaner easier ways to edit tape came true electronic drama.

With limited CBC experience of filmed TV drama, Almond adapted to film so well that his first full-length feature film Isabel in 1968 (shown on the CBC in 1969) was a critical success and was followed by Act of the Heart, Journey, Final Assignment, Ups and Downs and Captive Hearts. He is still producing and directing feature films.

-Mary Jane Miller

Paul Almond

PAUL ALMOND. Born in Montréal, Québec, Canada, 1931. Attended Bishop's College School, Lennoxville, Québec; McGill University B.A., Montréal; Balliol College M.A., Oxford; president of the poetry society and editor of a literary magazine. Married Geneviève Bujold, 1967. Director for a Shakespearean repertory company, U.K.; returned to join the CBC in Toronto, 1954; directed and/or produced various drama, action, comedy and horror series and specials for TV until 1967; independent producer since 1967. Awards: Bronze Prize, Houston Film Festival, Ups and Downs, 1981.

TELEVISION (selection)

1955-67 Folio (until 1967)
1958-60 The Unforeseen
1959-67 Festival (until 1967)
1960-61 R.C.M.P.
1960-61 First Person (producer)
1961-64 Playdate
1963-66 The Forest Rangers
1966 Wojeck (director)


1956 The Queen of Spades (producer)
1957 Who Destroyed the Earth
1963 The Rose Tattoo (producer) for Granada TV
1967 La Roulotte aux Poupées (director)
1979 Every Person is Guilty

FILMS (selection)

Isabel, 1968; The Act of the Heart, 1969; Journey, 1971; Final Assignment, 1979; Ups and Downs, 1981; Kiss Me Better, 1981; Eye of the Falcon, 1985; Captive Hearts, 1987; The Dance Goes On, 1991; Freedom Had a Price, 1994 (narrator).


Arsenault, Andre G. "On Location: Paul Almond's Fate of a Hunter." Cinema Canada (Montreal), February 1987.

"Director Almond Misses Prep Bandwagon." Calgary (Canada), Herald, 11 December 1983.

Drainie, Bronwyn. Living the Part: John Drainie and the Dilemma of Canadian Stardom. Toronto: Macmillan, 1988.

Rutherford, Paul. When Television Was Young: Prime Time Canada 1952-1967. Toronto, Canada and Buffalo, New York: University of Toronto Press, 1990.

See also Canadian Programming in English; Wojeck