Profile

Profile

United Kingdom

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

Episodes

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Mike Pence  

Becky Milligan profiles the man who could be the next President of America. Mild mannered, disciplined and a seasoned politician, Mike Pence was largely unknown until he was selected by Donald Trump to serve as his Vice-President. PRODUCERS: Beth Sagar Fenton and Joe Kent EDITOR Penny Murphy.

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Arlene Foster  

Arlene Foster had been hoping to celebrate her first twelve months in charge of Northern Ireland this week. Instead, she's found herself forced out of office. It's got little to do with religion, constitution or the almost four THOUSAND people who've lost their lives during political conflict over the decades. The DUP leader and Northern Ireland First Minister has had to step down in a bitter row over renewable energy subsidies. On Profile, Mark Coles looks back at Arlene Foster's life and career and the reasons behind this week's political upheavals. Producer Smita Patel Researcher Jordan Dunbar.

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Dippy the Diplodocus  

It's the end of an era. Dippy the dinosaur has left the building. Gifted to King Edward VII in 1905, a 70 foot long cast of a fossilised dinosaur skeleton discovered in America has been on display at London's Natural History Museum for more than a century. It's become the country's most recognisable museum exhibit - seen by an estimated 90 million people. Now it's being replaced by the real skeleton of a giant blue whale...Dippy's 292 plaster cast bones setting off instead on a nationwide tour. On Profile this week, Mark Coles examines how Dippy the replica Diplodocus has become a national treasure. Producer Smita Patel Researcher Beth Sagar-Fenton.

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David Davis  

David Davis will be a major figure in the coming year as minister in charge of Brexit. In this week's Profile, Chris Bowlby hears how he was was shaped by a council house upbringing, SAS training, a turbulent political career and a significant love of sugar. Producer: Smita Patel Researchers: Sarah Shebbeare & Serena Tarling Editor: Penny Murphy.

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Raymond Briggs  

On Profile this week we explore the life and career of one of the world's best loved children's illustrators. Over the last half century - much to his horror - Raymond Briggs has become a part of Christmas. Two books about a grumpy Father Christmas have become bestsellers. The film adaptation of his 1978 picture book 'The Snowman' has been shown on TV every Christmas for the past three decades. And now, this Christmas, the BBC is screening 'Ethel And Ernest' - a new film of Briggs' 1998 book about his parents. Mark Coles talks to Raymond Briggs' family and friends to find out what his books are really about. Producer: Smita Patel Researcher Sarah Shebbeare Editor: Richard Knight.

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The White Helmets  

Amid the carnage of civil war there is an organisation in Syria committed to saving lives. They are called Syria Civil Defence but they are better known as 'The White Helmets'. They have over 3000 members in rebel-held areas. When an air attack hits, they rush towards the scene to look for survivors trapped under collapsed buildings. To many, they are heroes. Others suspect a conspiracy and question whether video footage of the White Helmets at work is even real. Mark Coles tells the story of the White Helmets in the week when Aleppo was brought back under Syrian government control. Producers: Alex Burton and Phoebe Keane.

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Arron Banks  

Skinny dipping with Nigel Farage, punching a business partner, and bankrolling Brexit - Edward Stourton tells the story of Arron Banks. What next for the man who spent more than £7 million campaigning for Britain to leave the EU? Producers: Ed Davey and Joe Kent.

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Sharon White  

On Profile this week Mark Coles looks at the life and career of Sharon White. The daughter of immigrant parents who came to Britain from Jamaica in the 1950s, she rose rapidly through the ranks of the civil service to become one of the most powerful women in Whitehall. In March 2015, she became chief executive of the communications regulator, Ofcom. The watchdog is in the news this week for trying to force BT to legally separate from Open Reach which runs the country's broadband network.

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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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