KEN Russell is one of Britain's best-known and most influential film directors.

He dominated the country's movie industry from the late 60s to early 80s with a string of hit - but controversial - films including Women in Love, The Music Lovers, Tommy, The Devils and Altered States.

Russell developed a reputation as the enfant terrible of British cinema. He was often controversial, famously directing Oliver Reed and Alan Bates' nude wrestling scene for Women in Love as well as driving the censors wild with a section of The Devils in which a group of nuns rape' a statue of Christ.

He was responsible for launching the movie careers of Oliver Reed and Glenda Jackson and has directed Kathleen Turner, Gabriel Byrne, Sean Bean, Elton John, Roger Daltrey, Eric Clapton and Anthony Perkins, to name a few.

Russell developed his love of film as a child. His mother used to regularly take him to the local cinema in Portswood high street and he put on film shows at home.

He trained as a dancer and worked as a photographer before moving into directing.

His early career was in television where he made a number of eye-catching films for the Monitor series.

Russell fell out of favour with the mainstream movie industry several years ago and now makes his own films which he releases himself.

Russell has been married four times and now lives with his wife Elize, known as Lisi, and their dog Nipper in Lymington.

The pair suffered a huge blow last year when their East Boldre home burnt down, with almost all of their possessions - including much of Russell's movie-making equipment - being lost in the fire.

However, he is back making films with Lisi's help and enjoyed a return to the limelight earlier this year when he took part in Celebrity Big Brother.

Name: Ken Russell Occupation: film director Date of birth: July 2, 1927 local link: Was born and brought up in Southampton, now lives in Lymington