Nick Ross

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Nick Ross
Nick Ross, Moderator (33488861403).jpg
Ross moderating the WTTC Global Summit 2017 in April
Nicholas David Ross

(1947-08-07) 7 August 1947 (age 72)
Hampstead, London, England
EducationWallington County Grammar School
Alma materQueen's University Belfast
OccupationRadio and television presenter
Years active1971–present
Known forHosting BBC's Crimewatch from 1984 to 2007
Notable credit(s)
Man Alive
Breakfast Time
Sixty Minutes
Call Nick Ross
The Truth About Crime
Spouse(s)Sarah Caplin

Nicholas David Ross[1] (born 7 August 1947) is a British radio and television presenter. During the 1980s and 90s he was one of the most ubiquitous of British broadcasters but is best known for hosting of the BBC TV show Crimewatch[2] which he left on 2 July 2007 after 23 years.[3] He has subsequently filmed a major series for BBC One and has made documentaries for Radio 4. He is chairman, president, trustee or patron of a large number of charities.

Early life[edit]

He was brought up in Surrey.[4] His father, who was Jewish, fled Germany in 1933 soon after the Nazis came to power.[5] Ross went to Wallington County Grammar School and then read psychology at Queen's University Belfast. He graduated with a BA (Hons), later became a Doctor of the University (honoris causa) and he was deputy president of the Student Union and a leader of the student civil rights movement in 1968 and 1969. He started in journalism by reporting on the violence in Belfast for BBC Northern Ireland.


He began working part-time for the BBC in Northern Ireland while still a student and reported on the violence as the Troubles became acute. He returned to London and presented British radio programmes such as the BBC's The World at One, PM and The World Tonight, and moved to TV in 1979 as a reporter for Man Alive on BBC Two. He made several documentaries in a brief stint as a director and producer. The Biggest Epidemic of Our Times was a powerful polemic on road accidents which was made for Man Alive but transferred to BBC1. It was later described as a broadcast that "would transform road safety,"[6] and according to another commentator, by reframing the whole concept of road safety Ross's campaigning changed public attitudes and public policy to such an extent that, "in significant consequence British mortality rates of people under 50 are among the lowest in the world."[7] Ross also produced and directed two programmes on drug addiction, The Fix and The Cure, most famous for following an addict called Gina. He presented a law series Out of Court in this period as well as large-scale studio debates.

He was on the presenting team of a short-lived early evening news programme Sixty Minutes which began in 1983, and was intended as a replacement for Nationwide, but proved an unwieldy format. In the same period he was a founder presenter of the BBC's Breakfast Time on BBC 1, the first regular such programme in this timeslot, from its launch in early 1983, with Frank Bough and Selina Scott, as well as launching Watchdog as a prime time stand-alone consumer series.

Ross in the BBC Crimewatch studio in 2016.

Crimewatch (based on a German prototype) began in 1984, and made him a household name in the UK and his regular sign-off, "Don't have nightmares, do sleep well", became a well-known catch-phrase. In 1989 he was asked to present BBC Radio 4's Tuesday morning phone-in, the name of which was changed from Tuesday Call to Call Nick Ross. He resigned in 1997 for reasons that have never been made clear, but not before picking up an award as best radio presenter of the year. During the 1991 Gulf War he was a volunteer presenter on the BBC Radio 4 News FM service.[8]

He was attracted by Channel 4 for a time to present A Week in Politics, and then moved to cover the BBC's live broadcasts of parliament in Westminster with Nick Ross. (At one stage in the 1990s he was often doing three mainstream live programmes a day such as Call Nick Ross, Westminster with Nick Ross and Crimewatch.) As one of the star BBC presenters he was used widely in a variety of formats including chat shows, travel programmes and debates, but he was most at home in live studios, often orchestrating large-scale debates. In 2000 he presented a general knowledge quiz called The Syndicate, aired on BBC 1 which pitted two teams across three rounds on general knowledge,[9] but the show's format could not compete with The Weakest Link.

His co-presenter, Jill Dando, was murdered in 1999 and Ross started a campaign to commemorate her, culminating in the establishment of the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science at University College London (see Away from broadcasting, below).

In late 2007, Ross left Crimewatch, soon followed by his co-presenter Fiona Bruce. The replacement presenter, Kirsty Young, was 21 years younger than Ross and the BBC were accused of ageism over these changes.[10] His 23 years as the main Crimewatch anchor marks him as one of the longest-serving presenters of a continuous series in TV history.

He spent a year creating a major BBC One series The Truth About Crime[11] which aired in mid-2009 and explained the fall in crime rates and how offending can be reduced further. The show was described by The Times as an "outstanding... sane, insightful and compellingly argued documentary series."[12]

He has since been making other TV shows, such as Secrets of the Crime Museum and science programmes for BBC Radio 4 including an acclaimed re-examination of the Chernobyl disaster "Fallout: the Legacy of Chernobyl".[13] His written journalism has included a re-examination of the Air France Flight 447 air crash that provoked controversy on both sides of the Atlantic.[14][15]

He made a guest appearance on Are You Being Served?, playing himself in the episode "The Pop Star", the last episode to be broadcast in April 1985, and has frequently appeared on other shows, including Have I Got News for You.

Activities away from broadcasting[edit]

Out of the limelight Ross has a wide range of philanthropic involvements centred on medical ethics as well as promoting science and evidence-led health-care. He has also played a leading role in social action campaigns, most notably crime prevention, road safety and fire safety.[16]

Ross coined the term Crime Science to promote a practical, multidisciplinary and outcome-focused approach to crime reduction (as distinct from what he claimed was often theory-driven criminology). The Jill Dando Institute which he inspired has grown to have a substantial role in University College London, spawning a new Department of Security and Crime Science[17] and other offshoots including a Forensic Science unit and a secure data lab. Ross is chairman of the board of the Institute, a Visiting Professor, and an Honorary Fellow of University College London, as well as an Honorary Fellow of the Academy of Experimental Criminologists. His crime science concept has since been adopted in universities elsewhere, notably in New York, Cincinnati and Texas, with formal crime science courses at Loughborough in the UK and at Twente University in the Netherlands. The British Ministry of Defence DSTL has a fast-growing crime science unit and there have been plans to create a crime science department at the University of Manchester.

Ross has written several books including "Crime, how to solve it and why so much of what we're told is wrong".[18]

He has served on several government committees (including the Committee on the Ethics of Gene Therapy, the Gene Therapy Advisory Committee, the NHS National Plan Task Force, the National Crime Prevention Board and the Crime Prevention Agency Board). He was a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics 1999–2005 and a member of the Council's Working Party on Ethics of research involving animals[19] (2003–2005).

Ross is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, and of the Royal College of Surgeons, a Life Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and a non-executive director of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. He has been a member of the Committee on Public Understanding of Science, chairman of the Royal Society Prizes for Science Books (twice), Guest Director of the Cheltenham Science Festival, chairman of the National Road Safety Committee of RoSPA and is an affiliate of the James Lind Alliance. He is Chairman of the Wales Cancer Bank Advisory Board,[20] president of several charities including HealthWatch, and a Trustee of Crimestoppers, of Sense About Science and of the UK Stem Cell Foundation.[21] He was a member of the Ethics Standards Advisory Panel for onCore (the UK tissue bank), and an adviser to Crime Concern and Victim Support. He served two terms as an Ambassador for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) 2004–11.

He is President of the Kensington Society[22] and a patron of Prisoners Abroad (a registered charity which supports Britons detained overseas), and a range of other charities including the Animal Care Trust, British Wireless for the Blind Fund, Heartbeat, the Jewish Association for the Mentally Ill, the Kidney Research Aid Fund, the Myasthenia Gravis Association, the National Depression Campaign, Missing, NICHS, the Raynaud's & Scleroderma Association, Resources for Autism, SaneLine, the Simon Community Northern Ireland, and Young at Heart.

He has campaigned for sprinklers in social housing, chaired fire sector summits, lobbied ministers and was a critic of 'complacency' that led to mass fatalities in the Lakanal House and Grenfell Tower fires in London.[23]

In 2003 he was tipped by The Sun newspaper as a candidate for Mayor of London, and his name was mentioned again for the 2008 election,[24] and though he declined to put his name forward for nomination[25] he wrote a manifesto for London's evening paper[26] and chaired one of the key public debates. In 2011 he was tipped as a possible Police and crime commissioner.[27]

In 2012 it was reported that he had sold his home in Notting Hill, West London "for almost 40 times the price he paid for it" in 1993, setting "an enviable – and perhaps unbeatable – record".[28] The buyer of the house was Khalid Saïd, son of businessman Wafic Saïd.[29]

Ross works as a chairman and moderator for corporate and government meetings. His wife Sarah Caplin, co-founder of ChildLine, was Deputy Secretary of the BBC and also a senior executive with ITV, the British commercial television broadcaster. The couple have three sons: Adam, Sam and Jack.


Year Title Channel
1971–1972 Scene Around Six BBC One Northern Ireland
1972–1974 The World Tonight BBC Radio 4
1972–1974 Newsdesk BBC Radio 4
1973 Newsbeat BBC Radio 1
1974–1975 The World at One BBC Radio 4
1975–1982 Out of Court BBC Two
1975–1983 Man Alive BBC Two
1983–1984 Breakfast Time BBC One
1983–1984 Sixty Minutes BBC One
1984–2007 Crimewatch BBC One
1985 Star Memories BBC One
1985–1987 Watchdog BBC One
1986 Drug Alert BBC Radio 4
1986–1988 A Week in Politics Channel 4
1986–1997 Call Nick Ross BBC Radio 4
1988–2000 Crimewatch File BBC One
1992–1994 Crime Limited BBC One
1992–2002 So You Think You Know How To Drive BBC One
1994–1997 Westminster with Nick Ross BBC Two
1997 Party Conferences BBC Two
1997 Election Campaign BBC Two
1997–2005 The Commission BBC Radio 4
1998 Newsnight BBC Two
1999–2006 Crimewatch Solved BBC One
1999 We Shall Overcome BBC Northern Ireland
1999 Nick Ross BBC Two
1999 Trail of Guilt BBC One
1999 Storm Alert BBC One
1999–2000 The Search BBC One
2000 The Syndicate BBC One
2000 Destination Nightmares BBC One
2002 Jimmy Young Show BBC Radio 2
2002 Cracking Crime Day BBC One
2004 The Archive Hour BBC Radio 4
2008 Secrets of the Crime Museum History Channel UK
2009 The Truth About Crime BBC One
2010 Crime Hotspots BBC Radio 4
2011 Fallout: The Legacy of Chernobyl BBC Radio 4


  1. ^ "England & Wales, Birth Index 1916–2005".
  2. ^ Ross to depart from Crimewatch – Greater London Online Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Nick Ross says goodbye – Times Online – 3 July 2007]
  5. ^ "My father fled the Nazis — now I've become a German citizen". 25 October 2018. Retrieved 24 December 2018.
  6. ^ Dallas Campbell, A Horizon Guide to Car Crashes," BBC4, 9pm, 21 October 2013
  7. ^ Adam Morgan, "Eating The Big Fish", Wiley, London, 2009, pp134-136
  8. ^ "BBC - Press Office - Jenny Abramsky Oxford lecture two".
  9. ^ "The Syndicate - UKGameshows".
  10. ^ "Ross quits BBC's Crimewatch in row over ageism - Showbiz - London Eve…". 5 May 2013. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013.
  11. ^ "BBC One - The Truth About Crime". BBC.
  12. ^ "Home Page – The TLS". TheTLS.
  13. ^ "Fallout: The Legacy of Chernobyl - BBC Radio 4". BBC.
  14. ^ "Air France Flight 447: 'Damn it, we're going to crash'". The Telegraph. 28 April 2012.
  15. ^ "Report: Airbus design may have contributed to deadly crash". Fox News. 1 May 2012.
  16. ^ "Sprinklers and enlightened self-interest - FIRE". FIRE.
  17. ^ [1] UCL Dept of Security and Crime Science
  18. ^ Biteback, London. Ref The Times, 27 May 2013.
  19. ^ Ethics of research involving animals Nuffield Council on Bioethics' official website
  20. ^ (, Waters Creative Ltd. "Cancer Tissue Biobank - Wales Cancer Bank".
  21. ^ "Welcome to UK Stem Cell Foundation".
  22. ^ "Home - The Kensington Society". The Kensington Society.
  23. ^ Lack of sprinklers highlighted amid tower block fire safety concerns Yorkshire Post
  24. ^ Nick Ross urged to stand for Mayor[dead link] London Evening Standard
  25. ^ My mayoral manifesto – the A-Z of what needs doing Archived 13 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine London Evening Standard
  26. ^ My mayoral manifesto – the A-Z of what needs doing Archived 13 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ [2] Independent
  28. ^ [3] Sunday Times, 23 September 2012
  29. ^ [4] "Crimewatch Nick Ross presenter 'sells house for 40 times what he paid for it'" at

External links[edit]