Roger Cook (journalist)

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For other people of the same name, see Roger Cook.
Roger Cook
Born (1943-04-06) April 6, 1943 (age 71)

Roger Cook (born 6 April 1943) is a BAFTA award winning investigative journalist and broadcaster.

Early life[edit]

His parents were New Zealanders, but he was brought up in Australia,[1] and began his career with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as a reporter and newsreader on both radio and television.

In 1968, he moved to Britain where he joined BBC Radio 4's The World At One programme, and subsequently worked on several other BBC radio and television programmes, including PM, Nationwide, and Newsnight.

Checkpoint[edit]

In 1971 he created and presented the Radio 4 programme Checkpoint, which specialised in investigating and exposing criminals, con-men, injustice and official incompetence - and then confronting the wrong-doers on tape.[2] He is credited with creating a new genre of investigative reporting. One 1979 programme about notorious rock manager Don Arden proved to be a colourful encounter. 'When you fight the champion you go 15 rounds, you've got to be prepared to go the whole way,' Arden tells Cook: 'I'll take you with one hand strapped up my arse. You're not a man, you're a creep. You’ll be served with a writ shortly. If you want to dig up dirt about me, I’ll take your last five pounds for doing it.' The promised legal action never happened and Arden's career subsequently went into decline.

The Cook Report[edit]

In 1985 Cook moved to Central, and in 1987 started and presented his own TV series,The Cook Report.[2] In fact, it was a much better resourced version of his radio programme with a large and dedicated research team which enabled it to operate on an international scale. The show is perhaps best remembered for its ground-breaking filmed 'stings' and for Cook's trademark confrontations with his targets, during which he (and sometimes the film crew) could suffer verbal and physical abuse. Cook was variously described in the press as 'Nemesis in a leisure shirt', 'A cross between Meatloaf and the Equaliser', 'The bravest/most beaten-up journalist in Britain' and 'The Taped Crusader.'

Though sixteen series,The Cook Report ran regularly until 1998, when dwindling revenues and a focus on other kinds of programming led ITV Network Centre (which had previously cancelled the long-running World in Action) to end The Cook Report too. In its twelve years on air, The Cook Report was by some margin the highest rated current affairs programme on British television, with audiences peaking at over twelve million. In 2007, the programme returned for a 90-minute special entitled Roger Cook's Greatest Hits, in which Cook revisited and updated a number of his more memorable stories. Cook revealed in 2007 that he had received death threats as a result of the series.[3]

The programme and its production team won eleven national and international awards, culminating in a British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA) special award for its presenter in 1997 'for 25 years of outstanding quality investigative reporting'.[2]

Other activities[edit]

Roger Cook has published several books including an autobiography, Dangerous Ground, and was interviewed about his book, Roger Cook's Ten Greatest Con-Men (co-written with Tim Tate) on Radio 5 Live on Monday 5 November 2007, on the Stephen Nolan show. In October 2011 he released a fully revised and updated autobiography More Dangerous Ground.

Roger Cook also holds an Emeritus Visiting Professorship at the Centre for Broadcasting and Journalism at Nottingham Trent University and was made an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University in 2004.

Parodies[edit]

Roger Cook has been parodied by many comedians such as Benny Hill and Reeves and Mortimer. He says he regards it as a compliment. In the eighties his 'Checkpoint' series got its sitcom counterpart in BBC Radio 4's Delve Special, where investigative journalist David Lander, played by Stephen Fry, doorstepped many a villain. When Roger Cook's investigations moved to television, so did his parody, in Channel 4's This is David Lander, which was followed later by Tony Slattery taking over the central role in This is David Harper. Many of Lander and Harper's investigations were based on reports made by Cook, Panorama and World in Action.

A puppet version of Cook also appeared several times in the satirical series Spitting Image. In his favourite sketch, his puppet double goes to the Heavenly Gates and confronts God as if He were a crooked estate agent who promised land to the Jews, only to offer the same land to the Arabs under the name of Allah.

Personal life[edit]

Cook has been married twice, first for 5 years whilst he was still living in Australia. He married his second wife Frances in 1983, they have a daughter Belinda, born 1985.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pepper, D (16 August 1998). "Roger Cook: 'I think I passed my brain going the other way'". The Independent. Retrieved 11 August 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c "Roger Cook on the dangers of investigative journalism", BBC, 25 January 2012. Retrieved 11 November 2013
  3. ^ "Roger Reveals Death Threats", Metro, 30 October 2007. Retrieved 11 November 2013