Profile

Profile

United Kingdom

An insight into the character of an influential figure making news headlines

Episodes

Emmanuel Macron  

Emmanuel Macron has become France's youngest-ever President at the age of 39. He created a new political movement out of nothing and defeated the populist Marine Le Pen of the Front National. But who is the former banker and civil servant and how did he rise so far so fast? The BBC's Paris Correspondent Lucy Williamson speaks to his old friends, his biographer, his voice coach and his political colleagues to find out how this son of two provincial doctors - who once dreamed of being a novelist or actor - has made it to the top of French politics.

Profile 0

Leo Varadkar  

Mark Coles looks at the life of Leo Varadkar, head of Fine Gail, the country's governing centre right party and the newly appointed Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland. Varadkar has made history in Irish politics. The country's first openly gay leader and at 38, its youngest ever. He's the son of an Indian GP and Irish nurse, who followed in family footsteps to become a doctor. Aged just eight, he expressed his desire to become health minister, a position he would come to hold in his early political career. Interviews include: his oldest friend Andy Garvey, close friend Nollaig Crowley, former teacher John Rafter, Noel Whelan, a political columnist with the Irish Times & the Irish politician Paschal Donohoe. Producer Smita Patel Researcher Sarah Shebbeare Editor Penny Murphy.

Profile 0

Arlene Foster  

Arlene Foster's Democratic Unionist Party now holds the balance of power, after elections this week. Some people have suggested that all the parties lost - but across the Irish Sea one party definitely won. Only with their votes can the Conservatives get things through the House of Commons. Which makes Arlene Foster possibly the most powerful woman in Britain. Mark Coles takes an updated look at the former first minister of Northern Ireland. Producer Smita Patel Editor Richard Vadon Researcher Jordan Dunbar.

Profile 0

Cornelia Parker  

Mark Coles profiles sculptor and installation artist Cornelia Parker, this year's official election artist. Parker's work has involved spectacular acts of destruction, from flattening brass band instruments, to dismantling old barns and blowing up sheds. As Parker roams the country observing the election campaign, Coles speaks to her friends and peers about how she went from a childhood spent in rural Cheshire where she struggled to fit in, to Turner Prize-nominated artist.

Profile 0

David Lynch  

Mark Coles profiles the director David Lynch, whose classic TV series Twin Peaks has just returned to the screen after 25 years. Obsessed with drawing and painting from an early age, Lynch's mother didn't even allow him colouring books in case they halted his artistic development. Despite dropping out of art school, Lynch first made his name with surreal short films before directing the cult hit Eraserhead. There was further success with The Elephant Man and Blue Velvet before Twin Peaks brought his work to a mainstream TV audience. Alongside his film work, Lynch has also produced paintings, photographs of abandoned factories, musical collaborations, and even designed nightclubs. A continual stream of creative output fuelled by Transcendental Meditation.

Profile 0

Robert Mueller  

Mark Coles profiles Robert Mueller who's just been appointed as special counsel to oversee the investigation into Russian interference in the US election. Mueller retired as director of the FBI four years ago, but now finds himself centre stage again. The squared-jawed Princeton graduate was decorated for bravery during the Vietnam War before training as a lawyer. Dissatisfied with private practice, he found a government job as assistant US attorney in San Francisco - a move which marked the beginning of a steady climb to the top of law enforcement in America. Robert Mueller became FBI director one week before the 2001 World Trade Center attacks and over the next twelve years transformed the organisation, moving thousands of staff from criminal investigations into counter terrorism and security. Yet surprisingly little is known about him personally.

Profile 0

Kelvin MacKenzie  

Former editor and columnist of The Sun Kelvin MacKenzie is to leave the paper after comparing Everton footballer Ross Barkley to a gorilla. It's not the first time MacKenzie has attracted controversy. In 1989, under his editorship, The Sun published a story claiming that Liverpool fans urinated on police, pick-pocketed the dead and prevented policemen giving the kiss of life to some of the victims at Hillsborough. It proved to be, as the paper later admitted, the "most terrible blunder" in The Sun's history and one for which Kelvin Mackenzie would be personally blamed. There have been allegations of bullying in the workplace and humiliating colleagues. But, as Becky Milligan hears, he's also considered to be a brilliant editor with an instinct for knowing exactly what his readers want. So is there a softer, more sensitive side to the abrasive newspaper man?

Profile 0

Jean-Claude Juncker  

The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has been called 'the chief Eurocrat' by the British press and accused of looking to bully Britain during the Brexit negotiations. But what do we know about the man Theresa May has promised to be 'a bloody difficult woman' to? One of the longest serving democratically elected leaders in the world, Juncker was Prime Minister of Luxembourg for eighteen years. A workaholic, with a famously informal greeting style that sometimes involves affectionately slapping world leaders, Juncker has developed a political reputation as a negotiator, skilled at finding compromises between two sides. But in his spare time, he's a pinball wizard.

Profile 0

Aretha Franklin  

Aretha Franklin has won hearts - and 18 Grammy awards - with her astonishing voice. But this week a bust up with another iconic singer revealed her spikier side. Always a sensation on stage, there have been struggles off it. Mark Coles talks to people who grew up with and have worked with the Queen of Soul.

Profile 0

Sam Warburton  

Welsh rugby union star Sam Warburton has been given perhaps the game's most prestigious role - captain of the British & Irish Lions - for a second time. Mark Coles talks to those who know him, as he prepares to lead the team against the mighty All Blacks.

Profile 0

Rex Tillerson  

On Profile this week, we look at the life and career of new US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. He flew to Moscow this week to urge Russia to abandon its support for Syria's President Assad following the chemical weapons on a town in northern Syria earlier this month. It seems he came away empty handed, with Donald Trump warning that relations between Russia and the US were now at "an all-time low". So who is Rex Tillerson ? Mark Coles gets to grips with Tillerson's past : his formative years in the Scouts, his time as a drummer at university, the four decades spent at oil and gas giant ExxonMobil where he ended up as CEO and his controversial business ties with Russia which now hang over his new role as America's top diplomat.

Profile 0

Gibraltar  

Becky Milligan profiles Gibraltar, the tiny British Overseas Territory on the southern tip of the Iberian coast which made headlines this week. First, Spain raised its 300-year-old claim on the territory in draft guidelines for Brexit negotiations. Then Michael Howard, a former Conservative Party leader, appeared to suggest Britain would go to war to keep it. So what is the story of 'the rock'? Producer: Smita Patel.

Profile 0

Eric Monkman  

University Challenge contestant Eric Monkman has become a social media sensation thanks to his intense delivery and incredible general knowledge, with "Monkmania" sweeping the nation. But just how did he come to know so much? And do we - in an age when we're supposedly sick of experts - need a hero like Monkman? Mark Coles finds out.

Profile 0

Catherine Corless  

Catherine Corless has made headlines around the world for exposing the horrifying story of a mass grave of almost 800 infants at a former institution for unmarried mothers run by nuns. Corless has been described as "Ireland's Erin Brockovich"; an ordinary woman and amateur historian who, in her dogged pursuit of the truth, took on the Catholic Church, the Irish government and members of her own community - and won. The case has shaken Ireland and provoked very difficult questions about how women and children were treated at Catholic institutions in the past. Presenter: Becky Milligan Producer: Ben Crighton.

Profile 0

Philip Hammond  

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, made a U-turn on his Budget this week. Just seven days after announcing a rise in National Insurance Contributions for some self-employed people, the policy was reversed. It's been portrayed as a huge political setback for the man nicknamed 'spreadsheet Phil' But who is the man behind the headlines? Mark Coles finds out. Producer: China Collins.

Profile 0

Sergey Kislyak  

Who is Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador at the heart of a massive global controversy? Sergey Kislyak - Russia's convivial Ambassador to Washington - has been in the eye of a media storm since it emerged that members of the Trump administration had undisclosed meetings with him in the run up to the 2016 US election. Kislyak is a career diplomat, having spent 35 years working for the Soviet and Russian governments. He has previously kept a low profile, favouring lavish dinners over media appearances to get his message across. But the recent controversy over the Trump administration's relationship with Russia has forced him into the spotlight. Mark Coles speaks to people who have worked with him and followed his career to get under his skin and find out where his career might go now that he's become such a controversial figure. Producer: Ben Crighton.

Profile 0

Cressida Dick  

Cressida Dick - the newly-appointed Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police - is the first woman to lead the force in its 188-year history. Dick's career has been exceptional, but not without controversy. She was gold commander in the control room in the aftermath of the 2005 London bombings and was at the helm when the innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by police at Stockwell tube station. Her appointment as Commissioner is a comeback of sorts; in 2014 she quit the police to take up a job at the Foreign Office. Producer: Ben Carter.

Profile 0

Naomie Harris  

From Finsbury Park to Hollywood; Edward Stourton looks at the life and career of the actress who played James Bond's first kick-ass, gun wielding Moneypenny.

Profile 0

John Bercow  

The Speaker of the House of Commons - John Bercow - stunned MPs this week when he announced he was "strongly opposed" to US President Donald Trump addressing Parliament when he visits Britain. It's already led one Conservative backbencher to table a motion of no confidence in him. John Bercow is no stranger to controversy. His brutal put downs of MPs and ministers in the Commons have often grabbed the headlines. Bullied at school because he was short, he began his political career on the far right - a member of the notorious Monday Club. But over the years, in his own words, his political views have "mellowed" - to the point where many Tories now regard him as a traitor and plot to unseat him. On Profile this week, Mark Coles examines the highs and lows of Speaker Bercow's life and career. Producer Smita Patel Researcher Beth Sagar-Fenton.

Profile 0

Simon Stevens  

Mark Coles profiles the man who runs NHS England. He oversees a workforce of one and a half million people, a budget of over £100 billion. According to some he's the fourth most powerful person in England. Producers: Beth Sagar-Fenton and Joe Kent.

Profile 0

0:00/0:00
Video player is in betaClose