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Michael Roger Lewis Cockerell (born 26 August 1940) is a British broadcaster and journalist. He is the BBC's most established political documentary maker, with a long, Emmy award-winning career of political programmes spanning television and radio.
His father was Secretary General of the Chartered Insurance Institute, a professor who was an expert on insurance law and his mother a playwright. He was educated at Kilburn Grammar School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford where he studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE).
Cockerell joined the BBC Africa service and for 12 years he was a reporter on the current affairs programme, Panorama, he now specialises in in-depth documentaries on the politics and players of Westminster. Most notably, he has made biographical profiles of Margaret Thatcher, Edward Heath, Alan Clark, Barbara Castle, Roy Jenkins, Michael Howard, David Cameron and most recently of Boris Johnson.
Besides the profiles, over the last decade he has made documentaries on particular political themes. Among them are the How to Be trilogy (How to Be Chancellor, How to Be Foreign Secretary, How to Be Home Secretary); a three-part series on the history of Anglo-American, Anglo-German and Anglo-French relations; an observational documentary on the workings of Alastair Campbell's press office in News from Number 10; and a three-part analysis of Tony Blair's 10 years in office as Prime Minister. He has also presented a programme on How to be an ex Prime Minister, broadcast just before Blair's resignation.
One of Cockerell's recent series for the BBC is The Great Offices of State. It is a behind-the-scenes look at the Home Office, the Foreign Office, and the UK Treasury, three of the UK's Great Offices of State. This was followed by the 2011 series The Secret World of Whitehall.
In the run-up to the May 2010 elections, Cockerell released a documentary entitled How to Win the TV Debate in which he prophetically revealed the importance of Britain's first television debates in the outcome of the general election. The programme featured candid interviews with US presidents and their advisers on the tricks of the debate trade. in 2015 Cockerell did a six part series on the House of Commons for BBC2. It took Cockerell six years to persuade the BBC to film inside the Commons.
Cockerell has interviewed eight Prime Ministers - more than any other reporter in British political broadcasting. Prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, he interviewed Tony Blair for his documentary on Britain's relationship with the United States, Hotline to the President. That interview was widely reported on the front pages of British newspapers when Tony Blair accepted that the need to sustain the transatlantic 'special relationship' meant a willingness to 'pay the blood price'.
Michael was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of East Anglia in 2007.
He first married 1970 (div 1981) Anne Christine Adriane Faber (1944-28 November 2002), eldest child and only daughter of Julian Faber and his wife Lady Caroline Faber née Macmillan, a daughter of Harold Macmillan. They had one son and one daughter. He then married 1984 (div by 1991) Bridget Alexandra Heathcoat-Amory (b. 21 May 1952), daughter of Brigadier Roderick Heathcoat-Amory and his wife Sonia Myrtle Heathcoat-Amory, née Denison. His second wife was sister of the Tory MP David Heathcoat-Amory, and sister-in-law of the 6th Earl Cairns; they had two more daughters, one of whom is the journalist Alice Cockerell.
He has three more daughters with his third wife Anna Lloyd, whom he married in August 2011.
- Daily Telegraph interview 2 December 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2013
- Michael Cockerell (reporter) (14 February 2010). The Great Offices of State. BBC Four. Retrieved 2010-02-14.
- Lundy, Darryl. "Sonia Myrtle Denison". The Peerage.[unreliable source?]. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- Lundy, Darryl. "Bridget Alexandra Heathcoat-Amory". The Peerage.[unreliable source?]. Retrieved 10 April 2009. Bridget's elder half-sister is Amanda Mary Heathcoat-Amory (b. 1944), who married the 6th Earl Cairns in 1964, and has issue, three sons.