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Sir Gerrard Jude "Gerry" Robinson (born 23 October 1948, Dunfanaghy, County Donegal, Ireland) is an Irish-born British business executive and television presenter. He is the former non-executive Chairman of Allied Domecq and the ex-Chairman/chief executive of Granada.
The ninth of 10 children born to Anthony and Elizabeth Robinson, an Irish father and a Scottish mother, Robinson moved with his family to England from County Donegal in his early teens. He briefly trained to become a Catholic priest at St. Mary's Seminary of the Holy Ghost Fathers at Castlehead, Grange-over-Sands, Lancashire. He began a career in accounting in 1965 as a clerk with the Matchbox Toys company. After achieving his Chartered Management Accountant qualification, he was promoted and became a chief accountant at a Lesney factory in east London.
In 1974, he left Matchbox to work for Lex Vehicle Leasing as a management accountant. He then rose through the company before being appointed finance director. In 1980, he joined the UK franchise of Coca Cola, owned at that time by Grand Metropolitan. In 1983 he was appointed managing director of Grand Metropolitan's international services division. In 1987 he led the successful £163m management buyout of the loss-making contract services and catering division of Compass Group, known as Compass Caterers. He joined Granada as CEO in 1991, and soon ousted Granada's chairman, David Plowright in 1992, which led John Cleese to call Robinson "an upstart caterer c**t".
Robinson steered the company through various mergers, and hostile takeovers including London Weekend Television (1993) and Forte Group (1996). In 1999 Robinson was the subject of a biography, Lord of the Dance, written by business journalist William Kay, and published by Orion Business Books [ISBN 0752810480]. In 2005 he made an unsuccessful attempt to oust Doug Flynn as CEO of Rentokil Initial and install himself as Executive chairman for a 5% stake in the company, then valued at £56M.
Robinson's first foray into broadcasting was a revival of the BBC's Troubleshooter show, originally fronted by Sir John Harvey-Jones in the early 1990s. Titled I'll Show Them Who's Boss and co-produced by the Open University, in 2004 he went into struggling businesses to try to turn them round by advice and mentoring.
In January 2007 following a similar format, he presented a three-part series, Can Gerry Robinson Fix the NHS? as he attempted to reduce waiting lists at Rotherham General Hospital. He returned a year later for a sequel, Can Gerry Robinson Fix the NHS? One Year On. In December 2009, Robinson presented a programme in a similar format entitled Can Gerry Robinson Fix Dementia Care Homes?.
In June 2009 he presented a special edition of The Money Programme entitled Gerry Robinson's Car Crash investigating the history and future of the British motor industry. He regularly appears on British TV as a celebrity businessman. In July 2009 he started a TV series called Gerry's Big Decision, in which he reviews struggling companies and decides whether it is worth investing his own money to save them. From 14 January – 18 February 2011 he presented BBC2 show Can't Take It with You, which helps people to write their wills.
Robinson has divorced and remarried and has four children. He lives in Holland Park, West London and also owns a Georgian country house in his native Donegal near Raphoe; he established a botanical garden with a narrow gauge railway – the Difflin Lake Railway – which is open to the public.
Although originally a Conservative Party supporter, he supported Tony Blair and starred in a Labour Party election broadcast, saying that "... frankly, there's only one party that can represent Britain best, getting business right, and that's New Labour".
In June 2008, Robinson was one of four Labour donors who expressed their concerns with Gordon Brown's leadership and stated he would not be contributing any more money to the Labour Party until there was a change of leader. He had donated some £70,000 to the party between 2001 and 2005.
He was knighted in the 2003 New Year Honours List.
- "David Plowright obituary". The Telegraph. 30 August 2006. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
- "BBC/OU Open2.net, "Can Gerry Robinson Fix The NHS?"". Open2.net. Retrieved 14 July 2009.
- "BBC/OU Open2.net – Can Gerry Robinson Fix The NHS? One Year On". Open2.net. 22 November 2007. Retrieved 14 July 2009.
- British Broadcasting Corporation. "Can Gerry Robinson Fix Dementia Care Homes?". BBC. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
- IMDb bio
- Gerry Robinson official website
- http://www.oakfieldpark.com/ Oakfield Park
- "Granada TV Part Two: Comrades at the Top". GuardianLies.com. Retrieved 14 July 2009.
- "Labour donor says Brown must go". BBC News. 29 June 2008. Retrieved 14 July 2009.
- Gerry Robinson: Bank of America profile; retrieved 16 August 2011.
- Interview in The Independent
- "Labour donor says Brown must go", BBC News 29 June 2008
- Gerry Robinson on his admiration for Samuel Beckett, BBC Radio 4 Great Lives – listen online: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00wqbjq
|Chair of Arts Council England