Ridley began working with BBC as a trainee set designer in 1962 and pursued a trainee director's course during this stint. His first directing project was an episode of the popular BBC police series Z Cars, and Z Cars: Error of Judgement. As the work at BBC was not financially rewarding, he transitioned into advertising. He formed the advertising production company RSA (Ridley Scott Associates) in 1967 and came out with some of the best known and loved TV commercials in the next few years.
His first joint (with David Puttnam) endeavor, ‘The Duellists,’ was honored with the ‘Jury Prize for Best First Work’ at Cannes in 1977. Inspired by the success of 1977 film ‘Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope,’ Scott's made his mind to venture into science fiction and agreed to direct low budget science fiction horror movie, ‘Alien (1979),’ which proved a critical and commercial success. This film established his reputation as a director.
Alien was followed by ‘Blade Runner’ in 1982, but it received a lukewarm response from public and critics, but its reputation grew slowly and it is regarded as one of the most important sci-fi movies. Scott's next major project was the Apple Macintosh computer commercial that was aired during the Super Bowl on January 22, 1984.
Many of Scott's movies have also been unsuccessful, including ‘Legend (1985)’ and ‘1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992)’, but the success of films like ‘Thelma & Louise (1991),’ ‘Gladiator (2000)’ and ‘Black Hawk Down (2001)’ has kept his reputation intact.
For his contribution to the British film industry, Ridley was honored with the ‘Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire’ at the 2003 Queen's New Year Honors.