Legendary British national, Matthew Robinson was awarded citizenship by the government yesterday, after nearly two decades of living in the kingdom and contributing to its film and television industry.
The producer behind ‘EastEnders’, a renowned British soap opera which won the BAFTA for “Best Soap Opera” in 1999 and 2000 consecutively and ‘Taste of Life’, an iconic HIV-related television drama in Cambodia, told Khmer Times it has always been his dream to become a Cambodian citizen.
“I am really proud and delighted with being bestowed this status,” Matthew said. “I am thankful to the Department of Cinema and the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts for recommending me for citizenship.”
In 2003, Matthew, who was working as Head of Drama at BBC Wales, saw an advertisement in the BBC newspaper for a position of executive producer to produce a health-related drama in Cambodia. Back then, HIV/AIDS was a major problem in Cambodia. Nearly 2 percent of the population were infected and along with other diseases, millions of adults and children were dying every year in the country.
Despite being a filmmaker with more than 30 years experience working on television drama hits like ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘EastEnder’, Matthew, already 58 at that time, decided to apply for the position even though he had never set foot here ever before. He was contracted for three years and that was how ‘Taste of Life’ (known in Khmer as ‘Ros Cheat Chivit’), one of the most-watched drama in the country’s history of that genre, was born.
In April 2006, when ‘Taste of Life’ reached its final episode, Matthew had grown too attached to Cambodia. He and Lov Millan, head of production in ‘Taste of Life’, decided to set up Khmer Mekong Film, an independent film, drama and commercial production company. They have since produced a number of cinematic sensations such as ‘Vanished’ (2009), which generated critical acclaim in Hollywood’s Variety and ‘Price of Love’ (2016), which won four top awards at the 5th Cambodian National Film Festival (2017).
“Cambodia is my home now,” Matthew said. “I love this country and the people. I am going to live the rest of my life here.”