300 episodes

An insight into the character of an influential figure making news headlines

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An insight into the character of an influential figure making news headlines

    Kamala Harris

    Kamala Harris

    The woman who could soon be "a heartbeat away" from the presidency. This week voters in some states started sending in their ballot papers for the US presidential election. If the Democrats win when results are announced in November, it's vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris who'll be second in line to the Oval Office. She would be first black person, the first woman and the first person of Indian descent to become VP. But what is Kamala Harris really like? Why has she attracted criticism in some circles for her record as a prosecutor and a legislator, while being hailed a hero by others? And is she likely to attract voters to Joe Biden's presidential campaign, or drive them away?

    Presenter: Mark Coles
    Producer: Ben Crighton
    Researcher: Beth Sagar-Fenton

    • 13 min
    Tony Abbott

    Tony Abbott

    Why is the former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott such a controversial choice for trade adviser? Appointed by the Government to help negotiate post-Brexit deals for the UK, his supporters say he's a persuasive political operator and already has three free trade agreements under his belt. But others have been staggered by his appointment, saying he has a track record of sexism and homophobia, and will prove an "embarrassment" to the UK.

    Mark Coles speaks to colleagues, critics and even Abbott's sister to find out what drives the so-called "Mad Monk", and whether he'll make a success of the job.

    Presenter: Mark Coles
    Producer: Ben Crighton
    Researchers: Charlotte McDonald & Beth Sagar-Fenton
    Editor: Penny Murphy

    • 13 min
    Simon Case

    Simon Case

    Those in the know say he's "the ultimate keeper of secrets" - Simon Case was announced this week as the new Cabinet Secretary and head of the Civil Service. Aged just 41 and with a CV that takes him from GCHQ to Kensington Palace, he's now set to take on a role at the heart of government, heading up a workforce of more than 400,000 people. But with Covid an ongoing problem and Brexit on the cards - and without any experience of running a department - has the so-called "Rolls Royce of Sir Humphreys" got what it takes?

    Presenter: Mark Coles
    Producers: Ben Crighton & Beth Sagar-Fenton
    Editor: Penny Murphy

    • 13 min
    Dido Harding

    Dido Harding

    Health secretary Matt Hancock announced last week that Public Health England will be replaced with a new National Institute for Health Protection. Baroness Dido Harding, who ran NHS Test and Trace in England, will be heading up this new agency too, for now. Who is she? And why are some cynical about whether she'll be able to handle the new role?

    Dido Harding started out on a pig farm in Dorset, and has spent most of her adult life splitting her time between the corporate world and her beloved horses. Married to Conservative MP John Penrose, she's spent the last three years working in the public sector, and recently been a regular feature at Number 10’s daily coronavirus briefings. Mark Coles speaks to her best friend and former boss, amongst others, to find out more.

    Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton
    Researcher: May Cameron
    Editor: Kirsty Reid

    • 13 min
    Professor Sarah Gilbert

    Professor Sarah Gilbert

    The no-nonsense scientist whose team is developing a coronavirus vaccine at record speed. Mark Coles discovers the many talents of Oxford University vaccine specialist, Professor Sarah Gilbert.

    Producer: Ben Crighton
    Researcher: Di Richardson

    • 13 min
    Roger Stone

    Roger Stone

    President Trump calls him a quality guy, others call him a dirty trickster. Mark Coles looks at the life of political strategist Roger Stone, who’s advised Republican politicians since the 1970s and proudly wears a tattoo of President Nixon on his back.

    Stone was convicted of lying to congress and witness tampering in 2019 but his sentence was commuted by President Trump, days before he was due to report to prison.

    This programme contains clips from Netflix Film Get Me Roger Stone. The writers are Morgan Pehme, Daniel DiMauro and Dylan Bank.

    Producer: Ben Crighton
    Researcher: Di Richardson

    • 13 min

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