Born in Calcutta, Thomas was taken to South Africa when he was six years old. He moved to England in 1967, where he has written, directed and produced 40 major documentaries and dramas. He is also author of a highly-acclaimed biography Rhodes, the Race for Africa.
Thomas's films have taken the top prizes at numerous documentary festivals, including the most prestigious -- the US Emmy Award, the George Foster Peabody Award, the British Academy Award and the Grierson Award for best British Documentary. Two of his documentaries, Twins - The Divided Self and Man and Animal won fourteen international awards between them.
Thomas has succeeded in creating programmes with a strong message that are also highly popular. The opening programme of his 1998 series on obesity, Fat, won three awards from the British Medical Association and was also one of the ten most popular programmes of the week in the UK, with an audience of 9.5 million. When his drama Death of a Princess was originally shown in the United States, it earned one of the highest ratings in the history of PBS, while his 2004 programmes on the Ancient Greek Olympics were sold to 83 countries.
In 2007, his documentary,The Tank Man, was invited for special screenings at the US AGM of Amnesty International and the United States Congress.
His recent work includes a two-hour documentary on The Qur’an (co-produced by Channel 4 and National Geographic) which premiered in the UK on July 14th 2008, and has subsequently been seen in 32 counties; How do you know God exists? which premiered in the UK on August 16th 2009 and For Neda, a documentary special for HBO, which tells story of Neda Agha Soltan, the young Iranian woman who was shot in the heart by a sniper while demonstrating against the rigged election in Iran. The programme premiered in the United States on the first anniversary of Neda's death – July 20th 2010, and has subsequently been seen around the world. During four broadcasts in Iran by Voice of America, the authorities shut off the power to whole districts of Tehran, the capital.
For Neda has received outstanding reviews and four major awards -- the 2011 Peabody Award, the Documentary of the Year award from the Foreign Press Association, and the Clarion Award for Best Television Documentary from the Association of Women in Communications. Thomas also shared the Foreign Press Association's Journalist of the Year award with his Iranian co-producer, Saeed Kamali Dehghan.
Thomas has just completed the documentary Questioning Darwin for HBO. It will air early in 2014.