Docs Dose: Comedian and Journalist Dom Joly is the first to answer our questionnaire on documentary making

In anticipation of the application deadline for our funding and recognition awards, we have asked leading lights in the world of documentary making to answer the Whicker’s World Foundation questionnaire. We hope this series of articles, ‘Docs Dose’, will serve as both inspiration and light relief as you perfect your applications ahead of the January 31st deadline.

First to share his insights with us is writer, comedian and television documentary maker Dom Joly. Although the surreal hidden camera show Trigger Happy TV made him famous, Dom Joly has worked as a political journalist with a growing passion for documentaries about people in parts of the world a long way from the tourist trail.

Before moving to Britain, Joly grew up in Beirut attending the same Quaker school as Osama Bin-Laden. In 2005 he returned to Lebanon and Syria to make Dom Joly’s Excellent Adventure in which he (spoiler alert) ended up finding the graffiti he had carved in a desert cave 30 years earlier. Joly went on to make Dom Joly’s Happy Hour which examined drinking cultures around the world and Made in Britain which set out to discover what exactly is still manufactured in the UK. Dom Joly lives in the Cotswolds with his wife and children and a hairy black pig called Wilbur.

1) In three words, I became a documentary maker…

To have adventures

2) What changes have you seen in the last few years?

More one man bands

3) Where would you like to see the documentary genre going and why?

I love where it’s going right now: it’s nice and cinematic

4) What was the last thing you saw on screen or through the lens that made your skin creep or tingle?

My pig being castrated

5) Which moment in the whole documentary process makes you the most happy?


6) Who in the industry do you think is underrated? Why?

Myself – cos I’m good

7) Who in the industry do you think is overrated? Why?

Louis Theroux – he has a prison obsession

8) What’s the most surprising encounter or location that triggered a story for you?

Paintball game with Hezbollah in south Beirut

9) What’s the best tip you have inherited?

Keep out of the way

10) What’s the best tip you’d like to pass on?

Press record and take the lens cap off

Thanks very much Dom. We do hope the memory of Wilbur’s ‘loss’ is healing now.

So was Dom fair about Louis? Let us know on Twitter @whickersworld and join us next week to find out what Louis Theroux thinks makes a documentary great …out next Thursday, January 7th, three weeks before the awards submission deadline.