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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 April 2006, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
Theroux promises to raise stakes
By Kevin Young
BBC News entertainment reporter

Louis Theroux with Sir Jimmy Savile
Now then, now then... Theroux squares up to Sir Jimmy Savile
Louis Theroux is to make 10 new films for BBC Two over the next three years - and says he is scouring the globe for "more mature" subjects.

The Bafta-winning documentary-maker is likely to be spending a lot of time in airports in the coming months.

After getting under the skin of British celebrities, including political couple Neil and Christine Hamilton, magician Paul Daniels and DJ Sir Jimmy Savile, he says it is time to look further afield for his next targets.

"I enjoy travelling and seeing new worlds, being admitted to interesting places where rules are somehow different and I can learn how it all works," he says.

"Although I'm not ruling out British stories, I have a feeling that the best stories for us will be abroad. We've got some really good ideas already."

Louis Theroux in between Christine and Neil Hamilton
Theroux remains on the Hamiltons' Christmas card list
The aim is to raise the stakes on previous series, he says.

"I'm 35 years old, I've got a baby, I've got a house. When I started doing this I was 23, working for Michael Moore.

"I'm a different person from what I was. I've got different priorities. I need to keep myself interested, trying to take subjects that are a tiny bit more mature."

Although he believes the public is more fascinated by celebrity than ever, he is interested in human stories - "people having ups and downs, their ambitions and their dreams, and how they're frustrated or otherwise" - whether or not his subjects are famous.

"In general, it's just an intersection of who's interesting with what's possible, because there are certainly a lot of interesting people who I'm not convinced I'd get access to for long enough."

Flexible approach

Theroux approaches each subject with "a rough idea" of how the finished documentary may look, but says he needs to be flexible.

Chris Eubank and Louis Theroux
After several films in the UK, Theroux is looking further afield
"You go prepared for one thing and when it turns out to be something else, you go with that," he says.

"You need to have some kind of a theory or a thesis, and then if it's either proved or disproved, so be it, that's all to the good.

"With Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee, she seemed to have been depicted as something of a gold-digger in some of the press I read and the marriage had been pilloried a bit.

"I suppose I went in there trying to anatomise the marriage, and maybe if there were cracks in it, to try to bring them out.

"I didn't really find anything. It seemed like quite a strong relationship to me and I told them so. If that's what you find, then that's what you report."

'Don't antagonise'

He says he strives to build a bond of trust with his subjects - but without becoming too close to them.

"The only conflict comes in the sense that you assume that they will have no problem with the truth being told. I don't try to antagonise.

Louis Theroux (top) with Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee
Theroux "found no cracks" in Paul Daniels' marriage
"If it turns out that they've lied to me or it becomes clear that they're not levelling with me, then I call them on it and sometimes that's when you might have a disagreement.

"You're just trying to have a good bedside manner, I suppose.

"You're not there to become friends, you're there to do a job as a journalist, but there's no reason to make it unpleasant."

So does Theroux keep in touch with any of his previous interviewees?

"The Hamiltons send me Christmas cards - I think they're the only ones actually.

"I don't think Jimmy Savile is much of a card sender. He has that sort of bachelor air which suggests that probably compiling Christmas card lists is not one of the things he does."

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