Nick Ross

Nick Ross

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Nick Ross is a British radio and television presenter across a wide range of factual programmes and during the 1980s and 90s he was one of the most ubiquitous of British broadcasters, but he is best known for his long-running co-hosting of the BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 TV show Crimewatch
Crimewatch is a long-running and high-profile British television programme produced by the BBC, that reconstructs major unsolved crimes with a view to gaining information from the members of the public. The programme is usually broadcast once a month on BBC One...

which he left on 2 July 2007 after 23 years. He recently filmed a new series for BBC One
BBC One is the flagship television channel of the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It was launched on 2 November 1936 as the BBC Television Service, and was the world's first regular television service with a high level of image resolution...

 and has made documentaries for Radio 4.

Early life

Brought up in Surrey
Surrey is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of...

, Ross went to Wallington County Grammar School and then read psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

 at Queen's University Belfast. The Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney is an Irish poet, writer and lecturer. He lives in Dublin. Heaney has received the Nobel Prize in Literature , the Golden Wreath of Poetry , T. S. Eliot Prize and two Whitbread prizes...

 was one of his lecturers. 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
BBC Northern Ireland
BBC Northern Ireland is the main public service broadcaster in Northern Ireland.The organisation is one of the three national regions of the BBC, together with BBC Scotland and BBC Wales. Based at Broadcasting House, Belfast, it provides television, radio, online and interactive television content...



Nick Ross began broadcasting in Northern Ireland while still a student and reported on the violence as the Troubles started. He returned to London and presented British radio programmes such as the BBC's World at One
The World At One
The World at One, or WATO for short, is BBC Radio 4's long-running lunchtime news and current affairs programme, which is broadcast from 1pm to 1:30pm from Monday to Friday. The programme describes itself as "Britain's leading political programme. With a reputation for rigorous and original...

, PM
PM (Radio 4)
PM, sometimes referred to as the PM programme to avoid ambiguity, is BBC Radio 4's long-running early evening news and current affairs programme.-Broadcast times:...

and The World Tonight
The World Tonight
The World Tonight is a British current affairs radio programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4, every weekday evening, which started out as an extension of the 10pm news. It features news, analysis and comment on domestic and world issues...

, and moved to TV in 1979 as a reporter for Man Alive
Man Alive BBC TV
Man Alive is a documentary and current affairs series which ran on BBC2 between 1965 and 1981. During that time there were nearly 500 programmes tackling a range of social and political issues, both in the UK and abroad...

on BBC2. He made several documentaries in a brief stint as a producer. The Biggest Epidemic of Our Times was a powerful polemic on road accidents which was made for Man Alive but transferred to BBC1 and was repeated for many years, and is often cited as one of the most influential TV shows of the period. According to at least one author, by reframing the whole concept of road safety Ross's campaigning transformed public attidues 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." 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, from which Crimewatch
Crimewatch is a long-running and high-profile British television programme produced by the BBC, that reconstructs major unsolved crimes with a view to gaining information from the members of the public. The programme is usually broadcast once a month on BBC One...

developed (based on a German prototype) in 1984.

Crimewatch 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. Around the same time his celebrity status was enhanced when he presented Britain's first daily breakfast TV programme, Breakfast Time
Breakfast Time
Breakfast Time was British television's first national breakfast show, beating TV-am's flagship programme Good Morning Britain to the air by two weeks.The show was revolutionary for the time...

on BBC1, with Frank Bough
Frank Bough
Frank Bough is a retired British television presenter who is best known as the former host of BBC sports and current affairs shows including Grandstand, Nationwide and Breakfast Time, which he fronted alongside Selina Scott.-Early life:...

 and Selina Scott
Selina Scott
Selina Scott is a British newsreader, journalist, television producer and presenter.- Background and early life :Scott was born in Scarborough, North Riding of Yorkshire in 1951, the eldest of five children...

, as well as launching Watchdog
Watchdog (TV series)
Watchdog is a BBC television series that investigates viewers' reports of problematic experiences with traders, retailers, and other companies around the UK...

as a prime time stand-alone consumer series. He was poached to start a new early evening news programme Sixty Minutes
Sixty Minutes (TV series)
Sixty Minutes was a news and current affairs programme which ran each day at 5:40pm between 24 October 1983 to 27 July 1984 on BBC One. It replaced the Nationwide programme, and like Nationwide, it also integrated the BBC regional news programmes into a single magazine programme.However, the BBC's...

, which proved an unwieldy format but was the BBC's first attempt to unite its news division with current affairs programmers.

He has frequently appeared on other shows, including Have I Got News for You
Have I Got News for You
Have I Got News for You is a British television panel show produced by Hat Trick Productions for the BBC. It is based loosely on the BBC Radio 4 show The News Quiz, and has been broadcast since 1990, currently the BBC's longest-ever running television panel show...

, and on 1 April 1985 Ross made a guest appearance on the final episode of Are You Being Served?
Are You Being Served?
Are You Being Served? is a British sitcom broadcast from 1972 to 1985. It was set in the ladies' and gentlemen's clothing departments of Grace Brothers, a large, fictional London department store. It was written mainly by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft, with contributions by Michael Knowles and John...


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
Call Nick Ross
Call Nick Ross was a ground-breaking phone-in on BBC Radio 4 between 1989 and 1997. Its significance was in the resources Radio 4 applied to what had, until then, been largely a cheap way of making radio shows, combined with the editorial skill of its presenter Nick Ross and editors including Nick...

. He is regarded as having transformed the genre by attracting politicians and others at the centre of news events as well as ordinary listeners so that the programme put callers directly in touch with the people who mattered. 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.

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. but the show's format could not compete with The Weakest Link
The Weakest Link
The Weakest Link is a television game show which first appeared in the United Kingdom on BBC Two on 14 August 2000 and will end its run in 2012 when its host Anne Robinson ends her contract. The original British version of the show airs around the world on BBC Entertainment...


His co-presenter, Jill Dando
Jill Dando
Jill Wendy Dando was an English journalist, television presenter and newsreader who worked for the BBC for 14 years. She was murdered by gunshot outside her home in Fulham, West London; her killer has never been identified....

, was murdered in 1999 and Nick Ross started a campaign to commemorate her, culminating in the establishment of the Jill Dando Institute
Jill Dando Institute
The UCL Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science is an institute of crime science located in London, United Kingdom and a part of University College London...

 of Crime Science
Crime science
Crime science is the study of crime in order to find ways to prevent it. Three features distinguish crime science from criminology: it is single-minded about cutting crime, rather than studying it for its own sake; accordingly it focuses on crime rather than criminals; and it is multidisciplinary,...

 at University College London
University College London
University College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and the oldest and largest constituent college of the federal University of London...

. He is a Visiting Professor, Chairman of the Board of the Institute and an Honorary Fellow of UCL, as well as an Honorary Fellow of the Academy of Experimental Criminologists. 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 concept has since adopted elsewhere with several US researchers calling themselves crime scientists and crime science teaching and research at other universities including at Twente University in the Netherlands. There are currently plans to create a crime science department at the University of Manchester.

In late 2007, Ross left Crimewatch, soon followed by his co-presenter Fiona Bruce
Fiona Bruce
Fiona Elizabeth Bruce is a British journalist, newsreader and television presenter. Since joining the BBC in 1989, she has gone on to present many flagship programmes for the corporation including the BBC News at Six, BBC News at Ten, Crimewatch, Call My Bluff and, most recently, Antiques Roadshow...

. The replacement presenter, Kirsty Young
Kirsty Young
Kirsty Jackson Young is a Scottish television presenter and radio presenter. She is the main presenter of Crimewatch and Desert Island Discs. She is married to millionaire club owner Nick Jones.- Career :...

, was about 20 years younger than Nick and the BBC were accused of ageism
Ageism, also called age discrimination is stereotyping of and discrimination against individuals or groups because of their age. It is a set of beliefs, attitudes, norms, and values used to justify age based prejudice, discrimination, and subordination...

 over these changes. 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
BBC One is the flagship television channel of the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It was launched on 2 November 1936 as the BBC Television Service, and was the world's first regular television service with a high level of image resolution...

 series The Truth About Crime
The Truth About Crime
The Truth About Crime is a British television documentary series inspired and presented by Nick Ross in association with the film-maker Roger Graef, executive producer Sam Collyns and series producer Alice Perman...

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
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

as an "outstanding... sane, insightful and compellingly argued documentary series."

He has since been making other TV shows, such as Secrets of the Crime Museum, and science programmes for BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...


Away from broadcasting

Ross has had a role 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
Nuffield Council on Bioethics
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics is a UK-based independent charitable body, which examines and reports on ethical issues raised by new advances in biological and medical research...

 1999-2005 and a member of the Council's Working Party on Ethics of research involving animals (2003-2005). He has a wide range of outside interests including ethics (notably medical ethics), promoting science and evidence-led health-care, crime prevention, road safety and fire safety.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts
Royal Society of Arts
The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce is a British multi-disciplinary institution, based in London. The name Royal Society of Arts is frequently used for brevity...

 and the Royal Society of Medicine
Royal Society of Medicine
The Royal Society of Medicine is a British charitable organisation whose main purpose is as a provider of medical education, running over 350 meetings and conferences each year.- History and overview :...

, 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
James Lind Alliance
The James Lind Alliance is a non-profit making initiative which was established in 2004. It has been established to bring patients and clinicians together to identify and prioritise the unanswered questions about treatments that they agree are most important. This information will help ensure that...

. He is Chairman of the Wales Cancer Bank Advisory Board, president of several charities including HealthWatch
HealthWatch is a long-established UK charity which promotes evidence-based medicine. Its formal aims are:# The assessment and testing of treatments, whether “orthodox” or “alternative”;...

 and Tacade, and a Trustee of Crimestoppers
Crime Stoppers or Crimestoppers is a program separate from the emergency telephone number system, that allows a member of the community to provide anonymous information about criminal activity. It thereby allows the person to provide crime solving assistance to the authorities without being...

, of Sense About Science
Sense About Science
Sense About Science is a British charity that promotes the public understanding of science. Sense About Science was conceived in 2002 by Lord Taverne, Bridget Ogilvie and others to promote respect for scientific evidence and good science. Sense About Science was established as a charitable trust in...

 and of the UK Stem Cell Foundation. He was a member of the Ethics Standards Advisory Panel for onCore (the UK tissue bank), and an adviser to Crime Concerna and Victim Support
Victim Support
Victim Support is a charity in England and Wales which aims to help victims and witnesses of crime by raising awareness of their needs and by delivering dedicated services to them. It was established in 1974. It is a national charity with branches in every community and each criminal court in...

. He served two terms as an Ambassador for the World Wide Fund for Nature
World Wide Fund for Nature
The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States...

 (WWF) 2004-11.

He is President of the Kensington Society and of the London Accident Prevention Council, a patron of Prisoners Abroad
Prisoners Abroad
Prisoners Abroad is a UK-registered charity which supports British citizens who are imprisoned overseas. It also works with ex-prisoners returning to the UK and with families members and friends of those detained. The organisation aims to provide for the basic welfare needs of Britons who are held...

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

In 2003 he was tipped by The Sun
The Sun (newspaper)
The Sun is a daily national tabloid newspaper published in the United Kingdom and owned by News Corporation. Sister editions are published in Glasgow and Dublin...

newspaper as a candidate for Mayor of London, and his name was mentioned again for the 2008 election, and though he declined to put his name forward for nomination he wrote a manifesto for London's evening paper and chaired one of the key public debates.

In 2011 he was tipped as a possible Crime Commissioner for London.

He is considered to be in the top rank of chairmen and moderators for corporate and government meetings. His wife, Sarah Caplin
Sarah Caplin
Sarah Caplin is a British producer and television executive at ITV, married to TV presener Nick Ross for 25 years. and is a former employee of the BBC...

 founded ChildLine
ChildLine is a free 24 hour counselling service for children and young people up to 18 in the UK provided by the NSPCC. ChildLine deals with any issue which causes distress or concern, common issues dealt with include child abuse, bullying, parental separation or divorce, pregnancy and substance...

, was Deputy Secetary of the BBC and a senior executive with ITV, the British commercial broadcaster. They have three sons: Adam, Sam and Jack.

External links