from the Sunday Times Magazine in 2008

November 30, 2008

Guillaume Depardieu: total eclipse of the son

He was the enfant terrible of French cinema. A tormented soul who inherited his famous father’s talent — along with his demons. It was a fatal combination that would send Guillaume Depardieu to an early grave

The story you are about to read is a tragedy of French cinema, a meditation on life, death and amputation, the love and hate between a father and son, and a young man of Paris who lived hard and fast and all too briefly.

read online at The Times website
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November 16, 2008

Bill Hawker: Where is my daughter’s killer?

This man’s 22-year-old daughter was killed in a Tokyo apartment. The police were standing outside the door when her killer came out. Yet he is still free 20 months later. David James Smith investigates the body-in-the-bath murder of Lindsay Hawker

They should have parted ways when the English lesson was over. Lindsay would have left the cafe alone and gone to work at the language school and got on with her life. She would have come home to England, eventually, returned to study, surely, become a GP, inevitably, as she had always intended, married Ryan maybe, had children, made grandparents of her parents, Bill and Julia, aunts of her sisters, Lisa and Louise, and made old bones herself.

read online at The Times website
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July 6, 2008

Lucy Braham and William Jaggs: The murder that shook Harrow

One teacher’s son killed another teacher’s daughter, and Harrow School was shaken to its core. But the signs of an increasingly troubled mind had been apparent for many years

Monday evening in September 2006, and two middle-aged men – neighbours, colleagues, friends – are having a pint at their local pub. They had walked down West Street to the Castle after a dinner to mark the start of the new term at the school where they worked. Both men were eminent in their profession, senior members of staff at one of the world’s most prestigious private schools, Harrow.

read online at The Times website
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June 29, 2008

Where Bond seduced his beauties: the backlots of Pinewood Studios

Bond seduced his beauties here, Barbara Windsor lost her bikini – and Keira Knightley got drenched. David James Smith roams the backlots of Pinewood Studios

Here nothing is ever quite what it seems to be. It should come as no surprise that the hand-carved solid oak entrance to the main building of Pinewood film studios is actually an extravagantly grand Elizabethan fireplace, imported seven decades ago from a stately home in Derbyshire. It was set up on plinths to make room for the doors beneath, which are from the RMS Mauretania, an ocean liner decommissioned in the 1930s. Pinewood bought the bulk of its fixtures and fittings at auction.

read online at The Times website
download article (pdf)

May 4, 2008

Within these walls: the Jersey childcare scandal

As police continue to search for bodies at Haut de la Garenne — the centre of the Jersey childcare scandal — Britain’s foremost crime writer, David James Smith, asks: how many victims, abusers and government officials kept quiet?

Kevin hid from the police the first time they came over to see him, in February. He was suffering from depression and decided he just couldn’t handle talking about it all. So, when the two officers flew in from Jersey and made their way to the hostel in Hackney where Kevin was staying, ready to take his statement, he had already left, and was hiding away at the home of a friend, waiting until the police had gone.

read online at The Times website

March 23, 2008

The ascent of Barack Obama, Mr Charisma

He has burst out of obscurity to make a bid for the White House. David James Smith traces the roots of Barack Obama’s ambition

Tony Peterson was visiting his younger brother, Keith, in Boulder, Colorado, in the late 1990s. They were in a bookshop together when Keith plucked a paperback out of the remainder bin and said: “I’m buying this, do you want one?” Tony looked at the book, which was called Dreams from My Father. It meant nothing to him, but his brother said: “Well, look who wrote it.” The author’s name was Barack Obama. “That’s Barry!” said Keith.

read online at The Times website

January 27, 2008

A wild time in Zambia with the kids

David James Smith took his timid but enraptured family on safari in Zambia. Mercifully, they also tracked down a Jacuzzi

No picture in a book or piece of film on TV can prepare you for the sheer power and fearsome enormity of a bull elephant up close. It certainly scared the hell out of our son that first morning in Zambia. From a distance, the bull and its mate and their baby had made a cute-looking nuclear family, traipsing across the plain towards some tasty foliage. As we drew alongside, the bull turned, reared its head and snorted.

read online at The Times website


Latest News

  • The Sleep Of Reason – The James Bulger Case by David James Smith:
    Faber Finds edition with new preface, available September 15th, 2011.

  • Young Mandela the movie – in development.

    From The Guardian
    Read the article

    In the Diary column of The Independent, April 13th, 2011

    More on my previously unsubstantiated claim that the writer-director Peter Kosminsky, creator of The Promise, is working on a drama about Nelson Mandela. I’ve now learnt that the project is a feature film, in development with Film 4, about the young Mandela. Kosminsky is currently at work on the script and, given the complaints about the anti-Jewish bias of The Promise, it is unlikely to be a standard bland portrait of the former South African president.

Latest Review

    New York Times – J. M. Ledgard
  • Nelson Mandela was circumcised as a 16-year-old boy alongside a flowing river in the Eastern Cape. The ceremony was similar to those of other Bantu peoples. An elder moved through the line making ring-like cuts, and foreskins fell away. The boys could not so much as blink; it was a rite of passage that took you beyond pain. read full review

See David James Smith…

Jon Venables: What Went Wrong
BBC 1, 10.35
Thursday, April 21st, 2011