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Farewell Clive James


Clive James

Clive James ©Michael Powell /

Farewell Clive James who died on 24th November 2019 at the age of 80. I spent a very enjoyable hour or so photographing him for The Times in the mid 1990s. I shot maybe three or four rolls* of him as he chatted and afterwards during some one-to-one time. For somebody who had spent so much of his life in front of a camera he seemed genuinely nervous in front of mine. I hope that wasn’t a reflection on me as I consider myself quite discreet and sensitive when photographing people. Maybe it was the lack of control as most of his TV appearances were his own work, wonderful travel series, documentaries and hilarious late night chat shows. (Check out the regular TV appearances with Peter Cook). Anyway, he soon relaxed and a stream of funny stories, recollections and observations flowed (which I wish I could repeat here). One thing I remember was that when setting up my distinctly low-tech lighting (a single Metz CT-45 flashgun connected by a 15 foot sync cable and translucent brolly) I said “This is as high-tech as it gets”. He replied with “But I’m a low-tech guy”.

I’ll locate the rest of the Clive James shoot sometime for another blog post but for now this is the one shot I can find. The Times printed a more thoughtful tight portrait of him looking down the lens, a style I regret getting a bit too keen on back then. I’ve noticed that all my portrait shots from recent years are much looser and certainly better lit, though you can’t knock that old Metz! Clive James appears in my website gallery of portraits. Check out portraits old and new here.

*rolls of photographic film for those too young to know. Look it up, it’s amazing. Think of it as the visual version of vinyl**

**vinyl – think of it as the analogue version of mp3***

***mp3 – think of it as the digital version of compact cassette****

****cassette – think of it as the audio version of photographic film.

Glad that’s all cleared up.

Lincoln City manager Michael Appleton

Lincoln City manager Michael Appleton was interviewed by Henry Winter in The Times yesterday in a fascinating piece that covered Appleton’s playing career, a devastating injury, subsequent legal action and move into coaching and football management. Just prior to the interview we strolled the streets around Lincoln Cathedral during which I shot some atmospheric portraits utilising multiple flash set ups and the dying autumn daylight. The cathedral itself is currently being renovated at its west side and is covered by scaffolding so I used the stone arches at Exchequer Gate as my location.

Michael Appleton started his playing career at Manchester Utd with spells at Wimbledon, Lincoln City, Grimsby Town, Preston North End and West Bromwich Albion. It was whilst playing for West Bromwich he sustained a knee injury in training that cut short his playing career. His surgeon decided to operate. The decision was ruled damaging and incorrect in court and Appleton received a £1.5 million settlement. He still feels the pain in his knee daily.

Michael Appleton recently took over as Lincoln City manager when Danny Cowley and brother Nicky accepted an offer to manage struggling Huddersfield Town. The former PE teachers oversaw a double promotion, a quarter final FA Cup tie against Arsenal whilst still a non-league team and victory in the 2017-18 EFL Trophy final at Wembley. However, after an excellent start to the new season in League 1 under the Cowleys the team lost five of their seven last games with Danny and Nicky. After a brief caretaker management spell during which Lincoln were defeated at home 6-0 to Oxford Utd, Michael Appleton was appointed new manager. Ironically, he was manager of Oxford Utd when they secured promotion to League One just a few years ago and was in the stand to watch his old side thrash his new side just a few days before his tenure started. His interim job was as caretaker at Leicester City. (See previous blogs on Leicester City players Harry Maguire and Shinzi Okazaki. An Andy King post will follow).

I am a regular down at Sincil Bank as a Lincoln City fan and have enjoyed meeting and photographing quite a few of the players and managers over the years. A post will follow soon on those encounters and include the portraits I shot.






Michael Appleton, Manager of Lincoln City F.C. photographed by the city’s cathedral.  ©Michael Powell /


Tealby wedding photography

Tealby wedding photography this was a beautiful warm summer’s day for a Lincolnshire wedding in Tealby church followed by a reception at my friend Rachel Green’s Wold Cottage. Not a difficult commute on this occasion – it’s on my doorstep! Here’s a small selection of my favourite shots from the day starting at Papermill Cottages where Geoff was getting ready to canapés, food, drink and dancing down at Rachel’s and some late evening portraits of Philippa. There was even a quick diversion to Tealby Thorpe so that Geoff & Philippa could rehearse their wedding dance out of sight of guests. Despite the very long hours of daylight we even managed to play around with some sparklers. To see some of the recipe photography I do with Rachel go here.

Photography by Michael Powell / Music by Brendan Perkins

England and Leicester City’s Harry Maguire

I was very pleased to see my portrait of England and Leicester City’s Harry Maguire used so well in the Mail on Sunday. For more on the star defender and goal scorer in the World Cup 2018 see my previous blog here on photographing him on a visit to his old school in Chesterfield as well as my commission to photograph Liverpool FC Captain and England player, Jordan Henderson for The Times.


Portrait of England player Harry Maguire sitting with football in casual clothes looking to camera.

Photograph ©Michael Powell Text ©Mail on Sunday



Oleg Gordievsky the MI6 spy who helped prevent nuclear war

Russian double agent Oleg Gordievsky is the subject of a new book by  The Times writer, Ben Macintyre. ‘The Spy and the Traitor’ reveals how Oleg Gordievsky reported the Russian leadership’s growing paranoia to MI6 which influenced Ronald Reagan’s public softening to the USSR. It was thought that planned American military rehearsals in the 1980s could be misinterpreted by Moscow as a sign of imminent nuclear attack that nudged the world closer to the brink of war. It appears Gordievsky played a crucial role in preventing that war and paving the way for improved relations between the west and Russia. The book details the nerve-shredding escape of Gorievsky to London in 1986 where he still lives under constant police protection.

No surrender. Double agent, Oleg Gordievsky escaped Russia to live in London. ©Michael Powell /


In 1993 The Times commissioned me to photograph Oleg Gordievsky during and after a very rare interview. The location was only revealed at the last moment and I floated around the West End of London awaiting the address. Eventually, a hotel room was chosen and plain clothes (and presumably armed) officers kept a discreet but watchful eye on me throughout the interview.

Relations between Moscow and London may have improved considerably under President Gorbachev’s policy of glasnost but Gordievsky was (and still is) a marked man. There are many Russian agents that still considered him a traitor. In recent years there have been a number of apparent murders and attempted murders of ex Russians nationals living in the UK including the poisoned Alexander Litvinenko and double agent, Sergie Skripal who survived Novichok poisoning in Salisbury in March 2018.

Ben Macintyre’s book ‘The Spy and the Traitor’ is published by Penguin Randon House.