Simon Berthon worked at the top of the television industry for nearly four decades as an executive producer, producer, director, and writer. He was a founding partner and Chief Executive of the successful independent production company, 3BM Television, and was Vice-Chair of Directors UK from 2007-2011. Dividing his time between London and Wiltshire, he now writes thrillers and works independently as a freelance executive producer and consultant.
Simon’s award-winning television productions include Nuremberg: Goering’s Last Stand (BAFTA Huw Wheldon award winner), The Ascent of Money (International Emmy winner for Documentary), Age of Terror (Broadcast Award), The Big Story (Premier Ondas, Barcelona), World in Action (Gold Hugo, Chicago), and The Shape of the World (Gold, New York). His programmes cross many genres - history, science, religion, current affairs, arts, drama-documentary and observational documentary - the Daily Telegraph described him as a “formidable Second World War historian”.
Brought up in Hampshire and educated in Winchester and Bristol, Simon began his career at the BBC as a news trainee. Aged just 27, he was appointed Editor of BBC Northern Ireland’s investigative current affairs series Spotlight and Head of Current Affairs, BBC NI. He drew much of the background in Woman of State/A Secret Worth Killing For from the years he spent in Belfast in the 1970s. In 1980 he joined ITV’s World in Action as a producer/director and was made Deputy Editor. In 1993 he was the originator and founding editor of ITV’s weekly current affairs series The Big Story.
In 1996 he was a founding director of 3BM Television and was its Chief Executive (2001-2004) and Executive Chair (2004-2007). He was responsible for high quality programming for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, PBS, Discovery and National Geographic, ranging from award-winning history films to critically acclaimed science and religion series like Cannibal and Children of Abraham. Over this period Simon doubled 3BM’s turnover and devised the strategy which led to its successful sale in 2004 to Ten Alps plc. In 2007, he left the company to work with a new range of film-makers.
Life as an independent
As Executive Director, since 2012 he has produced a wide range of films: Prince, Son & Heir: Charles at 70; Spying on the Royals; George III: The Genius of the Mad King, Elizabeth at 90; Mothers, Murderers and Mistresses; Edward VIII’s Murderous Mistress; The Other Pompei; Titanboa: Monster Snake; The Fall of Singapore: The Great Betrayal and The Hunt for Bin Laden and has been Executive Producer for Niall Ferguson’s Channel Four output.
As Vice-Chair of Directors UK from 2007-2011, Simon was a key architect in changing it from a purely rights-collecting society to a dynamic membership body for British screen directors.
Simon has written three non-fiction books to tie in with his award-winning television programmes. In 2016, he wrote his first thriller which was fiercely fought over by agents and publishers and came out as Woman of State in 2018 (it was retitled in paperback as A Secret worth Killing For). He has since written The Inquiry (published 2019) and his third thriller, A Time to Lie, is published in December 2020 (paperback June 2021).
Simon is an accomplished public speaker, having toured the United States to publish his TV series and lectured at venues such as the National Army Museum. His appearance at the 2019 Oxford Book and Clapham Book Festivals were sold out and he has been a frequent moderator at sessions for the World History Congress and World Congress of Science and Factual Producers.