Profile

Profile

United Kingdom

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

Episodes

Michel Barnier  

Brexit negotiations between the EU and the UK are months away. And - as we keep hearing - there will be no discussion before notification (of the now infamous Article 50). But we do know who will represent the EU in those negotiations: the French politician Michel Barnier, who met his counterpart David Davis this week. Born in the Savoie region in south-east France, Barnier has been a committed Gaullist since he was a teenager. At 27 he made history in France by becoming the youngest MP ever elected. And in 1992 he took great pride in bringing the Winter Olympics to his region. His allies say he is a reasonable, sensitive negotiator. His critics tell us he can be self-important and cold. Everyone agrees he will be fiercely committed to defending the EU's interests in the complex Brexit negotiations ahead. Presenter: Becky Milligan Producers: Smita Patel and Alex Burton.

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Stephen Bannon  

On Profile this week, Mark Coles, examines the life and career of Stephen Bannon - dubbed by some as the 'most powerful, most dangerous political operative in America today'. A former US Navy engineer, investment banker and Hollywood producer, for the past four years he's been the driving force behind Breitbart News - a populist, at times deliberately provocative right wing news website. In August, he was drafted in to oversee Donald Trump's then faltering presidential campaign. Now, with Trump heading to the White House, he's been appointed the President Elect's new Chief Strategist. Democrats and civil rights groups are appalled. They accuse Bannon of creating a platform for far right views, fostering racism and anti-semitism. Nonsense, say his supporters. He's simply a patriot, fed up with the way his country has been governed in the past by progressive liberal elites.

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Gina Miller  

To some, she is a saboteur of democracy, a woman using her massive wealth and friends in high places to subvert the judgement of 17.4 million voters in the European Union referendum. To others, this is a woman of unimpeachable principle, fighting to protect a cornerstone of the unwritten British constitution. With the Supreme Court now set to decide on whether Article 50 can be invoked without a vote in Parliament - thus setting Brexit into motion - we ask, who is Gina Miller, the woman behind the legal bid? Well, she has certainly had an interesting life. Born in Guyana, this thrice-married 51-year-old now runs an investment firm, by way of modelling and plentiful philanthropy. Never one to duck a scrap, she has picked fights in the lofty world of high finance and the altogether milder waters of the third sector. At the end of a week that has seen her become the target of both fulminating newspaper headlines and online abuse, we learn about the formative years that thickened up Gina Miller's skin before the onslaught. School friends, Britain's richest plumber and husbands number two and three are among our witnesses; the future of the country is at stake. Mark Coles profiles Gina Miller.

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Tom Ilube  

An entrepreneur who helped found Britain's first online bank. A philanthropist who fled Idi Amin's Ugana and is now on a mission to track down the undiscovered Albert Einsteins of Africa. He embarked on a search to find a long-lost sister in Uganda after thirty years; he once rocked an 'impressive' Afro; his backers number a former head of MI6, and during his honeymoon in Mexico he sneaked away from his wife to attend a maths conference. Oh, and he's hell-bent on making it into space. You've possibly never heard him, but he's just been named the most influential black person in the UK. Becky Milligan profiles Tom Ilube.

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Glenda Jackson  

As Glenda Jackson returns to the West End stage, Mark Coles profiles the Oscar-winning actor and former Labour MP, with contributions from her son Dan Hodges, Hollywood actor George Segal and legendary theatre director Peter Brook. Producer Smita Patel Researcher Sarah Shebbeare.

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Professor Alexis Jay  

As jobs go, it's a daunting one. Three predecessors have already resigned. On Profile this week Mark Coles profiles Professor Alexis Jay, the fourth and latest person appointed to chair the independent inquiry into institutional child sex abuse in England and Wales. Researcher Kirsteen Knight Producer Smita Patel.

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Lee Kun-Hee (Chairman, Samsung)  

Samsung started out as a tiny exporter of dried fish. Today it's one of the world's biggest tech giants; the family-run business accounts for about a quarter of South Korea's entire GDP. This week Samsung was forced to stop production of its new Galaxy Note 7 smartphone after a number of them apparently exploded or caught fire. Samsung's chairman Lee Kun-Hee - son of the firm's founder - saw the value of his company plummet. You'd think he'd be fuming. But he hasn't been seen since he suffered a heart attack in 2014. Some in South Korea think he could be dead. Mark Coles tells the story of Lee Kun-Hee - one of the world's most enigmatic and fascinating business leaders. Researcher: Kirsteen Knight Producer: Smita Patel.

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Professor David J Thouless  

British Professor David Thouless won this year's Nobel Prize for contributions to the field of topology. Two other British physicists, Professor J. Michael Kosterlitz and Professor Duncan Haldane shared the award. Of course the physics is rather complicated, you don't win a Nobel prize for discovering something obvious, but put simply, David Thouless worked out a way of predicting how a material will behave using maths. In this programme, though, we'll focus on the man himself. Who is David Thouless and how did he spend his time when he wasn't thinking about equations? We'll hear about the treats he liked as a school boy during the war, about family holidays from his son, Michael Thouless, himself a Professor of Engineering and we'll also hear that things in the real world didn't often go as smoothly as planned... Audio from the Hubbard Theory Consortium 50th Anniversary Lecture used, with thanks. Producer Smita Patel & Researcher Phoebe Keane.

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Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy  

When Theresa May became Prime Minister she appointed Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy as her joint Chiefs of Staff. It's a role first imported from the US by Tony Blair, when he brought in Jonathan Powell to help oversee the day-to-day running of government. The position puts Timothy and Hill at the heart of decision-making inside Number 10. So who are they? And how much influence do they really have? Mark Coles reports. Producer: Ben Crighton.

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Emma Walmsley  

Emma Walmsley will be one of just seven female bosses in the country's top 100 companies when she takes the helm of GSK next year. The pharmaceutical giant is worth £80bn, making it the most valuable company with a woman CEO. But how did Emma Walmsley get to where she is today? Mark Coles looks back over her school days and her rise up the corporate career ladder at L'Oreal. We hear from her father, retired vice admiral Sir Robert Walmsley, her school friend and her business associate Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of advertising firm WPP. Who is Emma Walmsley and what impact will she have on one of Britain's biggest companies?

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Rodrigo Duterte  

The new President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, is in the news this week because he's threatening to send home some of America's troops and "re-orientate" his country's foreign policy away from its traditional ally, America. And last week he was reported to have called President Obama a "son of a whore". Not surprisingly, perhaps, he has caught the attention of the world's media. But human rights organisations have been paying close attention to Mr Duterte for other reasons: he is alleged to have been complicit in the killing of drug dealers and criminals by vigilante ‘death squads’. Presenter: Edward Stourton Producer: Phoebe Keane and Micaela Papa

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Elon Musk  

Elon Musk is the billionaire owner of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, and the co-founder of Paypal. He plans to colonise Mars. Last week that dream might have been scuppered as his SpaceX rocket exploded on the Launchpad in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This is the first time a rocket has exploded at launch since 1960. It was carrying a satellite Facebook wanted to use to provide internet access to Africa. While investigations continue into what caused last week's explosion, this week Mark Coles explores the life of the man who also wants to make the travel time from London to Manchester 18 minutes and to counter global warming. Producers: Charlotte Pritchard and Phoebe Keane.

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Amber Rudd  

Amber Rudd has risen rapidly through British politics, becoming Home Secretary only six years after being elected an MP in 2010. It's a rise unmatched by any other politician since World War Two. Becky Milligan profiles the woman who has made this leap and stepped into Theresa May's shoes. In an exclusive interview for Profile her sister, Melissa Dunford Wood talks candidly about their childhood, parents and friends, and how her sister was "on the floor" after the unexpected and painful divorce from her ex husband AA Gill.

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Seumas Milne  

Last October Seumas Milne, a Winchester- and Oxford-educated left-winger, was granted unpaid leave from his position at The Guardian to enter the world of political spin as executive director of strategy and communications in Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party. The appointment wasn't without controversy. Milne has been labelled a Stalinist by David Cameron and caused division at The Guardian for chairing an event with President Putin. Jeremy Corbyn has chosen a hard-left thinker as his right-hand man. As the Labour Party hustings come to a close this week, Adam Fleming speaks to friends and colleagues to find out about the man who's at the heart of the Corbyn project. Producer: Smita Patel.

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Laura Trott  

Mark Coles speaks to family, friends and colleagues of cyclist Laura Trott - the first British woman to win four Olympic golds - to find out how, after winning her first bike race at the age of eight, she has carried on winning ever since. Producer: Smita Patel.

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13/08/2016  

Poet, painter and virtuoso pianist, Stephen Hough has been described as a polymath. He learned to play on a piano that cost £5 from a local antique shop and went on to become a virtuoso to astonish the world. Becky Milligan speaks to lifelong friends and some of the world's leading names in classical music to profile a man who plays like a dream. Producers Smita Patel & Ed Davey.

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06/08/2016  

As the Rio Games begin, who is Thomas Bach? He holds a gold medal in fencing and is now arguably the most important man in the world of the Olympics. As President of the International Olympic Committee, in the past couple of weeks Thomas Bach has been surrounded by controversy over a decision to allow Russian athletes to compete in Rio or not. Mark Coles speaks to those who have known him throughout his career as well as to an old fencing opponent. "His style wasn't elegant", he says, "but it was effective".

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Sonia Friedman  

You may not have heard of Sonia Friedman, but she's one of the most important people in British theatre. She's produced many of the biggest stage hits of the past 15 years - including Jerusalem and The Book of Mormon - and is a multiple award winner. This week, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opened in London. It was produced by Sonia Friedman. Her first job interview was with Laurence Olivier and Joan Plowright in their kitchen. She got the job. She's a consummate deal-maker and is able to persuade writers and performers from JK Rowling to Mark Rylance and Benedict Cumberbatch to work with her. Mark Coles talks to family, friends and colleagues to discover more about her life and career. Producers: Charlotte Prichard and Sarah Shebbeare.

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Owen Smith  

Edward Stourton profiles the Labour leadership contender, Owen Smith. MP for Pontypridd since 2010, Mr Smith is challenging Jeremy Corbyn, saying that he's not up to the job. A former colleague at BBC Wales - where Mr Smith worked as a journalist - describes him as bright and ambitious, sometimes exasperating, and someone who 'didn't know their place'. And an old family friend tells us his character is firmly rooted in the culture of the South Wales valleys. Producers: Charlotte Pritchard and Laura Gray.

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Theresa May  

With no leadership campaign - during which the public might have got to know her better - Theresa May has entered Downing Street with a remarkably low profile. Mark Coles has been talking to people who know her well - including new Cabinet appointees Justine Greening and Chris Grayling - to try to find out who she really is, and what she believes in. Producer: Smita Patel.

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