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Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen is the biggest private landowner in Scotland and the biggest private shareholder in ASOS, the online fashion company that is in talks to buy Topshop. Having cut his teeth in the family fashion business, Bestseller, and following a series of canny investments, Anders Povlsen has more recently become known for his ambitious plans to ‘rewild’ large areas of Scotland To that end he has bought up hundreds of thousands of acres, now owning more land there than the Queen. He is determined to transform the landscape, turning it back into forest, through sometimes controversial means. After kidnap attempts and family tragedy he has gained a reputation as a man of extreme privacy. So just who is Anders Holch Povlsen? Mark Coles tries find out the secrets of the eco-conscious online fashion supremo and CEO. Producer: May Cameron Researchers: Maia Lowerson & Beth Sagar-Fenton Editor: Rosamund Jones Mix: Nigel Appleton Production Co-ordinator: Janet Staples
Welsh screenwriter and television producer Russell T Davies has been entertaining the country for decades. From his ground-breaking series Queer as Folk to the revamped Doctor Who – his new series for Channel 4 - It’s a Sin - focuses on the 1980s AIDS crisis. The son of two teachers, Davies grew up loving drama and drawing cartoons - early indications of creativity that have served him well ever since. Mark Coles speaks to family and friends to find out more about one of the TV industry's most respected, and at times controversial, writers. Producer: Ben Crighton Researchers: Maia Lowerson and May Cameron Production Coordinator: Janet Staples Studio manager: Rod Farquhar Editor: Rosamund Jones
Nadhim Zahawi began life as a Kurdish refugee, fleeing to the UK when he was nine years old. A businessman with an eclectic portfolio, he co-founded pollsters YouGov in 2000 before becoming a Conservative MP in 2010. Now a Minister with one of the most pressing jobs in Government, who is the man responsible for England’s Covid-19 vaccination programme? Mark Coles speaks to friends and colleagues to find out. Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton Researchers: Maia Lowerson and May Cameron Production Coordinator: Janet Staples Mix: Rod Farquhar Editor: Rosamund Jones
The legendary make-up artist has just become the first in her industry to be made a Dame. Growing up in Northampton without industry contacts or formal training, Pat McGrath taught herself the techniques that have made her one of the most in-demand names in fashion. If you can name a designer label, she's probably worked for them, and now runs her own billion-dollar business. Supermodels, colleagues and friends tell Becky Milligan why she's had such a huge impact. Pat McGrath met Kim Bowen at the Wag Club and not the Blitz Club as is suggested at the beginning of this programme. Producer: Sharon Hemans Researcher: Beth Sagar-Fenton Production Coordinator: Janet Staples Mix: Neil Churchill Editor: Rosamund Jones
Tennis star Naomi Osaka had a massive year in 2020, becoming the highest earning sportswoman ever, and protesting police violence against black Americans in both her private and professional life. Born in Japan, she's spent most of her life in the US. This year she's set to light up the Tokyo Olympics as one of the stars of the games. What else lies ahead for Naomi Osaka? We hear from those closest to her including her coach and manager, and feature an exclusive interview with campaigner and tennis legend Billie Jean King. Presenter: Mark Coles Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton Editor: Rosamund Jones Mix: Rod Farquhar
The creator of Mrs Brown's Boys has had a bumpy ride to stardom. Becky Milligan charts the journey - born the youngest of 11 children in Dublin, he faced bankruptcy and serial disappointments before finding success as the the matriarch of his very own family sitcom. This year it returns - for the 10th consecutive year - to our TV screens over Christmas. Producer: Ben Crighton Editor: Rosamund Jones
The academy award winning actor’s latest film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, is one of the first big budget releases since the pandemic closed cinemas. Viola Davis is the first black actor to win an Oscar, Emmy and Tony award – a triple crown of the most prestigious awards in film, television and theatre. Born on her grandmother’s farm, a former slave plantation in South Carolina. Davis was raised on the East Coast – in Providence, Rhode Island. As a child growing up in poverty, acting became a means of escape. After a decades-long career as a respected theatre actor, she was propelled to international attention in 2008, when she was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in a single scene; alongside Meryl Streep in the film Doubt. Since then, she’s starred in a great many films and TV series; becoming widely recognised as one of the greatest actors of stage and screen this century. Becky Milligan explores her life and career and talks to her sister, Deloris, to find out what motivates an actor whose meteoric rise is symbolic of a deeper shift in how the film industry values black artists. Producers: Tom Wright and Ben Crighton Editor: Rosamund Jones
After a 30 year career of quiet public service, Dr June Raine has found herself in the spotlight when the UK became the first country to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. As the head of the MHRA she has ultimate responsibility for the process of approving any new Covid-19 vaccines in the UK, and when the eminent American immunologist Dr Anthony Fauci cast doubt over the speed of UK's approval process Dr Raine was forced to make a public response. Becky Milligan finds out more about her life, character and career. Producers: Viv Jones, Ben Crighton Editor: Rosamund Jones
The British artificial intelligence lab DeepMind have made an astonishing breakthrough in one of biology’s toughest problems. The firm announced this week that it had largely cracked the problem of predicting how proteins folds into unique shapes, a challenge scientists have been working on for 50 years. The discovery is expected to accelerate research into illnesses like cancer and Alzheimer’s, and could even help find solutions to climate change. Behind the project is DeepMind’s co-founder, Demis Hassabis. A former chess prodigy, Hassabis has always been captivated by games and the mental agility needed to play them. This fascination with the human mind inspired his determination to use artificial intelligence to solve the world’s problems. Producers: Ben Crighton, Viv Jones Editor: Rosamund Jones
The determined scientist whose team designed the Oxford vaccine. Mark Coles first discovered the many talents of Professor Sarah Gilbert in July. This week, with news of its success, he takes another look at the woman behind the latest vaccine breakthrough.
This week the political turmoil at Number 10 has made the headlines. One of the prime minister's aides whose star appears to be on the rise is former journalist Allegra Stratton, the government's new press secretary. She'll be fronting televised briefings shortly. Becky Milligan examines her life and her career so far. Producers: Bethan Head and Sally Abrahams.
On Monday, early results from the world's first effective coronavirus vaccine showed it could prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid. The vaccine has been developed by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech and is one of 11 vaccines that are currently in the final stages of testing. Mark Coles explores the lives and careers of Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci - the little known Turkish-German husband-and-wife team responsible for the development of the vaccine. Producers: Sally Abrahams and Ben Carter Editor: Rosamund Jones
As Wales eases its covid restrictions, Profile explores the life and various careers of the country's First Minister. Born and brought up in rural Wales, before entering the world of Labour politics Mark Drakeford worked as a social worker and an academic. And Mark Coles discovers that those are not his only interests. Tending his allotment, playing music and body boarding in all weathers also loom large. Presenter: Mark Coles Producers: Luke Radcliff and Ben Carter
The business woman and Great British Bake Off judge now working with the government to improve NHS food - her independent review demanding healthier meals for hospital patients. Born in South Africa, it was time spent in Paris which sparked Prue Leith's love of food. Transferring to London, she started a food empire in her bedsit, going on to open a catering college and a Michelin star restaurant. She took on public roles too, becoming the first woman on the board of British Rail, charged with fixing the network's food which had become a laughing stock. Prue built her media profile alongside roles in the arts, charity sector and education. Then after controversial team-changes in The Great British Bake Off, she's now become a bona fide celebrity, helping the hit programme reach record audiences. Producers: Richard Fenton-Smith & Ben Crighton Editor: Ros jones
The chief strategic advisor to PM Boris Johnson who thrives on getting things done and who was once regarded as Margaret Thatcher's favourite council leader. A former alarms company executive, Edward Lister's political career began in the London Borough of Wandsworth which was at the forefront of Thatcherism at the turn of the 1980s. A council leader for nearly two decades, he made the leap to City Hall when Boris Johnson made him his deputy - and he's been a trusted aide and fixer ever since. Despite his position, Sir Edward has kept a low public profile, working behind the scenes resolving recent Brexit stalemates. This week he's been the go-between in the negotiations between the government and city mayors in the North of England in the debate over the financial cost of Covid-19. Mark Coles profiles the life of the man described as the 'grown-up' at Number 10 who thrives on solving problems. Producers: Richard Fenton-Smith & Ben Crighton
The former bricklayer steering Liverpool through the latest coronavirus lockdown. Liverpool was the first region to face the toughest restrictions as the second wave of the pandemic takes hold. The man in charge of dealing with this new crisis is the first mayor of the city region, Steve Rotheram. Becky Milligan charts his rise, from a 16-year-old school leaver to prominent politician. Producer: Ben Crighton Researcher: Luke Radcliff
The man from Indiana who's "a heartbeat away" from the US presidency. Mark Coles tells the story of how a Catholic boy with Democratic Party leanings became a born-again evangelical and a hero of the Republican right. With President Donald Trump's recent bout with Covid-19, there has been more and more attention paid to the man next in line for the Oval Office. But there are doubts about whether a majority of the American public agree with the vice-president's strictly socially conservative views. Producer: Ben Crighton Researcher: Luke Radcliff
Billionaire Chuck Feeney said he would give away all of his money by 2020 – and he’s done it. An entrepreneur from childhood, he amassed a huge fortune in the duty-free business, before spending it on projects ranging from concert halls in Ireland to AIDS support in South Africa. For many years the money was only given out on condition of secrecy, that his name should never be mentioned in connection with the donations. Mark Coles finds out what’s driven this unique mission - and what his family think. Producer: Ben Crighton Researchers: Benita Barden & Beth Sagar-Fenton
Lewis Hamilton could be about to equal Michael Schumacher's incredible record of 91 Grand Prix wins - but can he achieve even more? The first black Formula 1 driver has been a champion since childhood, when he ran rings around the adults with his remote control car. Three decades on he's tipped to equal and even exceed the long standing record - but is he now determined to achieve as much off the track as on it? We hear from those who know Hamilton best, including an exclusive interview with his father, Anthony. Presenter: Becky Milligan Producer: Ben Crighton Researchers: Beth Sagar-Fenton & Benita Barden
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 the 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
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
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
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
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
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
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Podcast Details

Created by
Podcast Status
Sep 4th, 2010
Latest Episode
Jan 30th, 2021
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
14 minutes

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