Born in New Delhi to an English father and Australian mother, Radford was raised in India. He moved to England to attend Oxford and after graduating worked briefly as an actor and a teacher. In 1971, he was among the first twenty-five students to enroll at the National Film School. Radford began as a documentary filmmaker. His most notable efforts include "The Madonna and the Volcano" (1979) and "Van Morrison in Ireland" (1981). Radford made his screenwriting debut and also directed the remake of "Another Time, Another Place" (1983). He received mixed reviews for his adaptation of George Orwell's "1984" (1984), in which Richard Burton gave his last screen performance. Radford had somewhat better luck with "White Mischief" (1987), a fictional retelling of a famous murder in colonial Kenya that featured Joss Ackland, Charles Dance and Greta Scacchi. He received some of his best notices to date for "Il Postino (The Postman)" (1994), the lyrical drama that charts the relationship between Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (Phillipe Noiret) and the local fisherman (Massimo Troisi in his final film appearance) he hires as his personal mailman.