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Kee, Robert (1919-)

Journalist, Presenter

Main image of Kee, Robert (1919-)

Robert Kee started his journalistic career on Picture Post magazine in 1949, was a correspondent for The Observer during the 1956 Suez crisis, and also wrote for The Sunday Times. His television career began in the early Richard Dimbleby days of Panorama (BBC, 1953- ), in 1958, when the British public was given a more radical and questioning form of current affairs.

After a four-year stint with Panorama, Kee moved to ITV where, among other projects, he wrote/narrated Children of Revolution (tx. 21/7/1965), one of the first documentaries to examine young people in a Communist state (Czechoslovakia), and co-chaired with Bernard Levin the interview series Kee and Levin (1966). One of his high points with the current affairs programme This Week (ITV, 1956-68) was when he conducted a revealing interview with American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King (tx. 13/10/1966).

When ITV made an earnest attempt to instil the habit of afternoon television in late 1972, he was appointed presenter of ITN's First Report (it become News at One in 1981), providing a studio-based anchor for various field reporters. One of his later programmes for ITV was the 50th anniversary series General Strike Report (ITV, 1976), a compelling current affairs style string of daily reports following the turbulent events of May 1926.

He returned to the BBC in 1978 and, for producer Jeremy Isaacs, wrote and presented the comprehensive 13-part documentary Ireland: A Television History (BBC, 1980-81). Unfortunately, the series arrived on screen about the same time as ITV's lengthy analysis The Troubles (1981), inadvertently reducing the impact of both programmes. He was, however, awarded the Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize for the engrossing series.

On his return to Panorama in 1982, in the presenter's chair, he found himself in conflict with the BBC over his public attack - via a letter to The Times - on the programme's 10/5/1982 edition about the Falklands crisis. He disassociated himself from the broadcast (which he had presented) which later gave rise to criticism that it was 'unpatriotic' over the Falklands issue.

Following his resignation from the BBC, he became one of TV-am's 'Famous Five' (Angela Rippon, David Frost, Anna Ford, Michael Parkinson), presenting the news on Good Morning Britain (1983-92). In 1984 he served as co-presenter (with theologian Ann Loades) on the religious current affairs series 7 Days (Channel 4, 1982-88), remaining with the programme until 1988.

Tise Vahimagi

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Thumbnail image of Ireland: A Television History (1980-81)Ireland: A Television History (1980-81)

Challenging history written and presented by Robert Kee

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