The Cook Report
|The Cook Report|
Cook report opening credits.
|Created by||Roger Cook|
|Theme music composer||Darren S-Pullman|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||118 plus 8 x 60 minute specials|
|Producer(s)||Clive Entwistle, Peter Salkeld, Howard Foster, Tim Tate, David Warren & Steve Warr|
|Running time||25 mins (excluding advertisements)|
|Production company(s)||Central Independent Television|
|Picture format||4:3 (1987–1998)|
|Audio format||Mono (1987–1992)|
|Original release||22 July 1987 –|
24 August 1999
For sixteen series over twelve years the programme featured Roger Cook travelling the world to investigate serious criminal activity, injustice and official incompetence. But it is perhaps best remembered for its ground-breaking undercover 'stings' and for Cook's trademark confrontations with his targets, during which he (and sometimes the film crew) could suffer verbal and physical abuse. In its time, The Cook Report was by some margin the highest rated current affairs programme on British television, with audiences peaking at more than 12 million. It was credited with helping to achieve numerous criminal convictions and a number of changes in the law.
Amongst the many subjects tackled, the programme has exposed Northern Ireland protection rackets, baby trading in Brazil and Guatemala, canned hunting in South Africa, loan sharks, the ivory trade, people smuggling, drug dealing, mock auctions, counterfeit consumer goods, manipulation of the UK Singles Chart, war criminals in Bosnia, the Russian black market in weapons-grade plutonium and Satanic Ritual Abuse.
"Profits before patients" investigation
In July 1990 the show investigated the Tainted Blood Scandal focusing on how Haemophiliacs had become infected with HIV by using Contaminated Blood Products. In total some 1,243 people in the UK were infected with HIV through using these products. At the time of the show some 100 had died of AIDS, as of 2017 the total number of those who have died who were infected with HIV is closer to 1,000. Since the show aired the scandal has roared on and continues to be debated in British Parliament as victims and their families still fight for justice.
"Cash for questions" investigation
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In 1994, The Cook Report worked in co-operation with The Guardian newspaper on the infamous cash for questions story and had filmed a lobbyist claiming that he ‘used MPs like taxis’ and paid them to ask questions in Parliament on behalf of clients. The programme arranged a sting operation to see if this claim was justified, but by the end of the then current series filming was incomplete. The Guardian subsequently decided to cover the story. Since the story would have been dated by the time the programme was back on air nearly six months later, it was cancelled on a pragmatic basis. It was the only film out of the 130 produced which was cancelled in this way.
Cook Report Specials
The Cook Report ran regularly for two seven-part series each year until 1997, when the programme reached its 122nd edition. It was then replaced by a number of hour-long Cook Report Specials including:
- Doctors From Hell (24/08/1999)
- Locks, Stocks, Burglars and Fences (23/04/1999)
- The Dodgy Motor Show (03/12/1998)
- The Antiques Rogue Show (19/08/1998)
- Profits Before Patients (23/07/1990)
- The Devil's Work (17/07/1989)
The Cook Report came to an end in 1999 when ITV, which had previously cancelled a number of current affairs programmes made for the channel (including World in Action) was faced with dwindling budgets and had concentrated on other kinds of programming. The ITV Network Centre decided to concentrate its current affairs efforts on Tonight - which, though it attracted fewer viewers, was said to be significantly less costly to make. Cook went on to work on other projects and is also Emeritus Visiting Professor at the Centre for Broadcasting and Journalism at Nottingham Trent University. He was made an Honorary Doctor of Letters in 2004.
In February and April 2000, the News of the World published a series of front page allegations claiming that The Cook Report had faked a number of programmes in which crimes were set up for him to solve. Roger Cook and members of the relevant production teams issued writs for libel, against the paper. The newspaper demanded an investigation by the then regulator, the Independent Television Commission, after it sent its dossier of evidence about the programme which, after an eighteen-month investigation, in October 2001 exonerated the programme.
The News of the World initially dismissed the Commission’s findings as ‘a whitewash’, but after key witnesses for the defense had voluntarily retracted their paid-for testimony, the News of the World reluctantly had to agree with the ITC’s conclusions and made the following statement to that effect in open court:
"The News of the World accepts that neither Mr Cook nor Carlton [TV] nor the editors, producers, legal advisers and researchers were a party to any fakery or deception." It was also accepted that the allegations were false and should never have been published, but the subsequent short correction was printed on page 38. Mr Cook's solicitor, Ian Bloom, described the allegations as "devastating for Mr Cook both professionally and personally, while the News of the World accepts that neither Mr Cook nor Carlton nor the editors, producers, legal advisers or researchers were a party to any fakery or deception. While it is accepted that the NoW believed that it had grounds to look into the matter, the News of the World now acknowledges that the articles contained material inaccuracies which should not have been published,"
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.
- "Cook's reheats | Media". London: The Guardian. 29 August 2000. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
- Janine Gibson, Media Correspondent (1 September 2000). "Carlton investigates Cook Report 'set ups' | Media". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
- "Entertainment | Cook Report artfully exposes experts". BBC News. 4 August 1998. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
- Glenda Cooper (7 December 1995). "'Cook Report' cot-death claim faces dismissal - News". London: The Independent. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
- Peter Conchie (4 December 1998). "Television Review - Arts & Entertainment". London: The Independent. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
- "BBC News - Roger Cook on the dangers of investigative journalism". Bbc.co.uk. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
- "Doctoring the evidence | Culture". London: The Guardian. 24 August 1999. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
- The Cook Report: Worse Than The Mafia, BFI Database
- The Cook Report: Baby Bandits, BFI Database
- The Cook Report: Making a Killing, BFI Database
- The Cook Report: Bags Of Trouble, BFI Database
- The Cook Report: Only Fools and Fakes, BFI Database
- The Cook Report: Putting the Record Straight Part 1 and The Cook Report: Putting the Record Straight Part 2, BFI Database
- "Television - from the Tablet Archive". Archive.thetablet.co.uk. 29 July 1989. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
- Walton, James (31 October 2007). "Last night on television: Roger Cook's Greatest Hits (ITV1) - Spooks (BBC1) - Telegraph". London: telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
- Carlton investigates Cook Report 'set ups Janine Gibson, Media CorrespondentThe Guardian, Monday 14 February 2000
- "Roger Cook sues paper | UK news | The Guardian". theguardian.com. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
- NoW admits Cook Report allegations were false by Ciar ByrneMedia Guardian, Wednesday 31 July 2002
- "Roger Cook beats forgery claims | News | Broadcast". broadcastnow.co.uk. Retrieved 4 March 2014.