Michael Cockerell is the BBC’s most established political documentary maker, with a long, award-winning career of political programming spanning both television and radio.
His spring of 2013 TV portrait of Boris Johnson for BBC2 Boris Johnson: The Irresistible Rise is the first and only insight into the private and professional life of this larger than life political figure. Johnson has always, up until now declined to be profiled in such a way.
Having been a reporter on the flagship current affairs programme Panorama his speciality is in-depth documentaries on the politics and players of Westminster. Most notably, he has filmed biographical profiles of Edward Heath, Alan Clark, Barbara Castle, Roy Jenkins, Michael Howard and David Cameron.
Over the last decade, he has made a series of widely acclaimed documentaries. Among them are the How to Be trilogy (Chancellor, Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary); a 3-part series on the history of Anglo-American, Anglo-German and Anglo-French relations; a documentary on the workings of Alastair Campbell’s press office in News from Number 10; and a 3-part analysis of Tony Blair’s 10 years in office as Prime Minister. He also presented a programme on How to be an ex Prime Minister, broadcast just before Blair’s resignation.
Michael’s 2010 BBC 4 series Great Offices of State explored the secret world of Whitehall and the distinctly different cultures of the Foreign Office, the Treasury and the Home Office. He interviewed past and present Chancellors, Home and Foreign Secretaries as well as their top officials to tell the story of the great offices from the inside.
Michael has won numerous broadcasting awards and received an Honorary Doctorate for his many films from within the corridors of power and about the inner workings of government.
With a passion for cricket, he has played for the MCC at Lords, written two books about our political leaders and their image-makers and often gives presentations using TV out-takes revealing the human face of those at the top.
The Telegraph said of Michael, “You haven’t arrived as a politician until Michael Cockerell has made a documentary about you”. He 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 US, 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.
Photo credit: Erica Gornall