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25 Years After ‘Baby One More Time,' Video Director Nigel **** Says Britney Spears ‘Always Delivered’ (Exclusive)

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It was the music video watched 'round the world. 

In 1998, an upcoming 16-year-old Britney Spears was set to release her debut single “Baby One More Time” and needed a music video to accompany it. With the help of director Nigel ****, the music video remains her most-viewed solo video, 25 years later. 

How does one of the world’s most iconic music videos come to be? Says ****, 71, “The magic ingredient is a hit record.”

The English director is known for making some of the most influential videos in music history — “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses, Cher’s “Believe” and the 1995 Oasis hit “Wonderwall” — and believes that it’s the music itself that makes the video. “If you make a video for a song, which goes nowhere, nobody notices,” he tells PEOPLE.

It was the music that led **** to direct a video for a relatively unknown teenage Spears, now 42, despite discouragement from others.

“I had done a few videos for [her label] Jive Records and they sent me the track and I thought, ‘This is a great record,' " **** recalls. “And I was actually advised not to consider doing it because it was an unknown 16-year-old girl. But I said, ‘Look, it’s a great song. This is a hit.' ” 

Trusting his gut, **** pitched an idea for the music video — and was immediately shot down.

“The rep at the label said, ‘Look, we don’t like your idea, but Britney has a great idea so why don’t you have a phone call with her?’ And I put the phone down and I’m like, ‘Oh this is f---ing great. I’m now going to be told how to make a video by a 16-year-old girl,' " he recalls. 

After a “moment of clarity,” **** realized, “ 'Who better to tell me what other 16-year-old girls are going to want to see in their video than a 16-year-old girl?' ” The idea from Spears was simple: “We had a phone call and she just said, ‘I want to be dancing in a school with cute boys.’ And I’m like, ‘... and that’s it?’ So I put the phone down, wrote the idea and everybody loved it,” **** adds. 

While working alongside Spears went well for **** — “She was absolutely lovely, and she worked incredibly hard. I was very impressed by her work ethic,” he recalls — there was one topic of contention.

“I assumed that she was going to be wearing gym clothes, and we did a wardrobe fitting beforehand, and she’s trying on all of this stuff — T-shirt, gym shoes and whatnot — and says, ‘Well, why wouldn’t I be wearing a school uniform?' " **** recalls. “I went ‘No, no, no, no, no, no, we don't want to go down that road,’ but her record company person and producer were there, and they overruled me.”

**** admits now that Spears seemingly made the right call, as “it’s become iconic,” but reveals that he “took a lot of stick” for the decision afterward.

“There was one review in a British music paper, which said, ‘Britney Spears is obviously dressed by dirty old men in raincoats,' " he says.


After a positive experience working together on “Baby One More Time,” **** was approached by Spears' team two years later to direct the video for her new single, “Oops!... I Did It Again,” the first track off of her second album of the same name. “We had a phone call and Britney said, ‘I want to be with a spaceman. I want to be wearing a red suit. I don’t want there to be any rockets in it. And you’ll do the rest,' " he says. “I had no concern about if she was going to pull it off. She was always going to deliver.”

**** adds, “We actually got a red suit together, which I really liked. And then the night before, somebody rang me up and said, 'Just so you know, Britney’s having the guy who did a suit for Michael Jackson make a suit for tomorrow.' So she turned up and it's all shiny and clingy, and I preferred my choice, but there you go.”


After filming wrapped on their second music video together, **** and Spears never saw each other again. “I am hurt about what's happened in Britney’s world,” **** says, referring to the coverage of the pop star over the years and her recent book, The Woman in Me. “For a young person to go through that, obviously there was some damage there. And I try not to feel responsible for that. But yeah, I mean, it's a vicious business.”

Still, he remains impressed by young Spears' stick-to-it-iveness.

He adds, "There's a few other artists in that vein that I worked with who could have learned a lot by following her example."



Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time" video director Nigel **** talks about the iconic moment and Spears "work ethic," 25 years later.
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3 minutes ago, RogerJohnson said:

I love hearing stories about all the classic songs/videos/performances. I wish Britney would share from her point of view. 

That would be amazing, that's one thing that I wish was more of when she released her albums pre con.

Many times she'd say she'd let the music speak for itself, or it be a surprise or just very vague in her answers.

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Britney has always been provocative. If she hadn't taken this deeper, her career wouldn't have taken off. She captured the public's obsession in the fine line of innocence and sensuality. It's no thing that she sold many records having poor investment in radios.

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4 minutes ago, rebellion_is_the_way said:

This poor guy always speaks highly of Britney and i sense that he is unable to reach her.

If they ever reunited, he'd be a great choice to do a video with as he seems to really respect Britney as an artist and genuinely feels for her.

Britney has good ideas, he'd write something amazing to pull it all together, both Baby and Oops are ICONIC.

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Who wrote those lies? 

Nigel D-i-c-k shot also Sometimes and You Drive Me Crazy. So he saw how Britney become more adult (compare her persona in BOMT to YDC)

They got 4 great teen videos together.

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, Acer said:

Who wrote those lies? 

Nigel D-i-c-k shot also Sometimes and You Drive Me Crazy. So he saw how Britney become more adult (compare her persona in BOMT to YDC)

They got 4 great teen videos together.

What are you talking about? The exclusive is about the BOMT 25th anniversary and he said the last time he saw her was after they shot the OOPS video. It could've been a typo on People Magazine's part, but Nigel has talked about this on camera, so these are his words.

Sometimes and You Drive Me Crazy have nothing to do with this, those songs and videos aren't iconic like Baby and Oops.

Edited by DiamondCircus
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