The only clues that we're sitting at the heart of the world’s most popular film database is an original framed poster for Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo - and Needham’s endearingly geeky love of anything movie-related.
The moment we whip out our tape recorder to start the interview, he regales us with a goof in 1990 Harrison Ford flick Presumed Innocent where a dictaphone appears to be recording even though it doesn’t actually have a cassette inside it…
This man lives, sleeps and breathes movies. He has to. He’s Mr IMDb – and what began as his hobby has blossomed into an indispensable resource for the film industry.
IMDb has existed, in one form or another, for almost as long as the internet itself. It began, says Needham, “back in the internet Stone Age” before web browsers existed – before the web even existed – as rec.arts.movies, a text-only Usenet bulletin board.
Working at Hewlett-Packard’s UK research labs in Bristol, Needham was an early citizen of the internet and proudly tells totalfilm.com that he had an email address way back in 1985, at a time when most people were still struggling to load games on to their ZX Spectrums.
The only thing that rivalled his love of computers was his love of movies - a passion that once led him to watch a rented VHS copy of Alien 14 times in 14 days.
The two interests merged in the mid-’80s when he wrote
a database programme to keep track of what films he'd seen, who was in them and what he thought of them.
“This sounds terribly geeky, doesn’t it?” he laughs as we sip tea in the kitchen of the house that was once his home and now serves only as an oversized office. “But it worked out alright, though…”