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Easily the most-watched investigative reporter on British TV and arguably the bravest; Roger Cook’s programmes were the stuff of legend.
Roger was brought up in Australia, where he began his broadcasting career as a radio and television reporter/newsreader for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. In 1968, Roger started work with BBC Radio Four as a reporter on The World at One, and went on to present both The World at One and the PM Programme. In 1973 he created Checkpoint, the iconic investigative radio programme that he produced and presented for 12 years. During that time, he also presented regular investigations for Nationwide on BBC1 and Newsnight on BBC2. He is widely credited with originating a whole new genre of broadcasting.
Roger joined ITV in 1985 and the ground-breaking Cook Report was born. For 16 series, Roger travelled tens of thousands of miles a year in pursuit of major criminals, con-men and corrupt officials. For the whole of its long run, the series was by far the most popular current affairs programme on British television with audiences often approaching ten million.
Amongst its many firsts, The Cook Report exposed the likes of child pornographers, Northern Ireland protection rackets, baby trading in Brazil, the illicit ivory trade, canned hunting, the real story of Hillsborough, war criminals in Bosnia, British criminals on the run in Spain, those behind 9/11 and other terrorist plots and the Russian black market in weapons-grade plutonium. In all, there were more than 120 editions – a number of which were followed by successful police prosecutions or major changes in the law. In the pursuit of justice and in the course of making those programmes, he was injured numerous times and made physical and journalistic fearlessness his trademark.
Roger Cook has been much imitated, but never equalled. He has won 12 major national and international awards, including a British Academy (BAFTA) Special Award ‘For 25 years of outstanding quality investigative reporting’.
For over two decades, Roger has also been Visiting Professor (and latterly Emeritus Professor) at the Centre for Broadcasting and Journalism at Nottingham Trent University and was made an Honorary Doctor of Letters in 2004.
From the hilarious to the hair-raising, Roger has many a tale to tell from a unique career spanning more than 40 years as a globe-trotting investigative reporter. Now, with the launch of the latest edition of his memoirs, you have a chance to meet the man and acquire a personally signed copy of the book.
In over forty years of broadcasting on radio and television Roger Cook has become the pre-eminent practitioner of undercover investigative journalism. His autobiography takes us behind the scenes of his hugely successful Cook Report series. He sustains a catalogue of injuries, as well as enduring a crucifying workload, compounded by jet-lag and numerous death threats. Yet Cook himself comes across as a courageous and determined workaholic and the programme emerges as a significant force for good. More Dangerous Ground is an entertaining account of a unique career.
Times Literary Supplement
Most journalists report the news, but few can claim to make the news – and Roger Cook is one of those. His programmes have changed the face of investigative journalism. Throughout a long career of exposing chicanery and righting wrongs, I have been amazed at how well he’s done it. For that, he has earned the respect of us all.
Sir Trevor McDonald
As a legendary catcher of criminals, Roger Cook is up there with Hercule Poirot. But television's most intrepid journalist has done it for real. International terrorists, triad gangs, nuclear thieves, people traffickers and hunters of endangered animals – all have had their collars felt by Cook. And while others have often found investigations too difficult or dangerous, Cook has unfailingly put himself on the line. More Dangerous Ground is a cracking good read. Its pages ooze the kind of adventure few of us experience in a lifetime and remind us of the public service he has given at incredible personal risk.
Jasper Gerard, The Sunday Times
Checkpoint and The Cook Report established Roger Cook as the leading investigative broadcaster in Britain. Indeed, I doubt whether he has an equivalent in any other country. He has been widely recognized for his fine and fearless reportage and led the way for a whole new genre of investigative broadcasting. In this lively and intriguing account of an extraordinary career, you can follow him as he blazes a journalistic trail across the world, revisit some of his key cases and watch him wield his sharpest weapon: the truth.
Richard Wade, Former Head of Radio 4
Rich and on the Run – about wealthy criminal fugitives 50 mins
Making a Killing – about the multi-billion-pound illegal wildlife trade - 45 mins
Terror in the Skies – about airport security and airborne terrorism - 45min
The Cook Report - how it began and how often it was satirised. 45 mins
I also do Q & A sessions.