Home grown John-Martin White was part of the team that picked up the Best Documentary Oscar in this year’s awards.

The former York House and Merchant Taylors’ schoolboy was ‘second camera’ on the UK leg of the filming of Icarus, which lifted the lid off the Russian state-sponsored doping programme.

Watford Observer:

After Sunday’s win Oscar, 52, said: “It is a wonderful thing to have an association with a project that has achieved an Oscar. I was such a small part of it: perhaps two days’ work. It has certainly lifted my spirits.”

John-Martin, who grew up in Rickmansworth, was involved in covering the press conference, which exposed the whole doping scandal and led to the International Olympic Committee excluding Russia from the recent Winter Games.

“When you think of the bravery of some people, going into medical centres and filming the illegal doping, with people being bumped off and still being bumped off to this day as we have seen, I am very happy to have an association with the success. But I doubt that my contribution swung it at the Oscars,” he added with a chuckle.

The Oscar association has only reaffirmed John-Martin’s belief in the strength of the medium of film and television.

Watford Observer:

The renegade Russian scientist, Dr Grigory Rodchenkov, who blew the whistle on his country’s state-sponsored doping programme and is central figure in the documentary, is in protective custody in the United States.

However, while the role might seem minor, he was effectively the central pivot in setting up the cameras, the angles and the production in covering the press conference, after effectively being head-hunted for the role in the American-based documentary.

“I worked on a documentary on Madonna and film director, the late Murray Lerner, recommended me for Icarus,” John-Martin explained.

His journey from Rickmansworth to being part of an Oscar-winning unit was somewhat unexpected, particularly as he took a degree course in engineering but then opted for giving rein to his artistic bent.

“I have never regretted it. I suppose I got the taste for it when I was given the role of Sir Thomas Moore in Man for All Seasons at Merchant Taylors by Andy Grant. We worked with girls from St Helens School, Northwood. What was not to like about that? I enjoyed acting and that sparked me,” said John-Martin, whose mother is the esteemed former Watford Observer journalist Grelle White, doyen of the Watford Arts Forum.

After repeated failures trying to break into TV he gained an introduction to Channel 4 by a former college friend who he “bumped into on a bus”.

“I was taken on and worked there for two years before opting to go freelance.”

He thought he might have made a mistake but is happy that “it sort of rolled on from there”, filming many documentaries that have been aired on BBC 2 and BBC 4.

“I won’t pretend there have not been times when it has been very tough and the rise of the youngster has been troubling but you adjust,” said John-Martin, who worked on several music documentaries including classical music and a feature film on the career of The Who, Amazing Journey.

His next project is a piece on violinist Nigel Kennedy.