Callum Macrae and Bitek Oketch in Uganda


Callum Macrae has reported, directed and executive-produced a large number of television programmes, including some thirty Dispatches, and has made films for BBC’s Panorama, ITV’s Network First and FIVE’s Stranger than Fiction. He has worked across several genres including current affairs, history, science and business.  He writes regularly for newspapers and periodicals, and has acted as a script doctor for both Channel Four and FIVE and provided editorial consultancy and voice–overs.

His output has ranged from serious investigations to observational documentaries to closely argued polemics, and he has won several awards.

In the last five years his projects have included an Unreported World on the Ivory Coast for Channel 4, which he filmed and directed from both sides of the civil war, (described as: “One of the bravest and most gripping films ever to be buried away in the schedules” by the Guardian, and “remarkable courage…tense powerful stuff’ by The Mail on Sunday).

Ana Lopes. Founder of the International Union of Sex Workers

He directed, narrated and filmed, My Body My Business for Channel Four, The Guardian commented: “At last – an intelligent, articulate film about sex workers”

Made for PBS/WGBH Boston

He spent some weeks in Iraq directing an observational documentary Life and Death in the War Zone about a US military hospital for PBS in the States as part of their flagship science series, Nova.  Since then he has directed and filmed an Unreported World on the civil war in Uganda – described as ‘shocking and heartrending in equal measure’ by the Observer – and a disturbing observational film about Gypsy child weddings in Romania for BBC2, which caused much controversy after its screening as part of the recent international Gypsy Film Festival in London.

He wrote, directed and narrated two docs for FIVE.  “Fly me!” The History of the Flight Attendant – was an authoritative but mischievous look at 75 years of sexual politics, described as “fascinating and outrageous” by the Scotsman.  In a similar vein “Stranger than Fiction: The Real Flying Saucers” told the amazing but true story of how the CIA invented aliens from outer space as a cover story for their experiments with genuine flying saucer technology they stole from the Nazis.  The Express described it as “this absorbing and sometimes hilarious documentary.”

He covered the war in Northern Uganda for the BBC Two documentary “A Day of War’” and his experiences filming a massacre on the Sudan/Uganda border were featured on a BBC 4/2 documentary, “Frontline”. His footage was shown all over the world.

BBC series

BBC series

He produced, directed and shot the film which opened the  Sweeney Investigates series on BBC 2, an expose of Madonna’s Kabbalah sect.  It was described as “a devastating indictment” by the Sunday Times.  He then filmed and directed a Panorama investigation which exposed the crushing claustrophobia of the “Postcode Poverty” trap.

His more recent films include Iraq’s Mission Billionsa Dispatches investigation filmed in the US and Iraq, into Coalition misuse of billions of dollars of Iraqi funds. It was described as “a mind-boggling Dispatches” by the Times, ‘ this important investigation’ by the Guardian, and ‘this impressive film…and affecting report,’ by the Sunday Times. It was a finalist for the 2006 One World award and the 2007 RTS awards. It won the 2007 Sony Impact Award at the Rory Peck Awards

He spent a year wirh the BBC1’s flagship undercover investigative series “Whistleblower: – and directed a headline-grabbing expose of lying, dissembling and miss-selling in Barclays Bank.  He then produced a film in Haiti for the BBC as part of the Cooking in the Danger Zone strand and visited Senegal twice – he produced and reported special report for Ch4 News and a Witness for Al Jazeera English.

Last year he directed a Panorama investigation On Whose Orders into serious allegations of prisoner abuse and unlawful killing by British troops in Iraq.  The film generated considerable controversy and the BBC had to go to court to overturn a gagging order to broadcast it.  (The Sun ran a full-page story denouncing the “Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation.” )

Since then he has returned to Uganda and Southern Sudan to make The Final Betrayal for Al Jazeera English and a radio documentary on the peace process for BBC Radio 4’s flagship international affairs strand Crossing Continents. His most recent work was to film, produce and direct a  major two-part series presented by Rageh Omaar.  America’s New Frontline, tramsmitted by AlJazeera English in September 2009, was a highly acclaimed examination of the new US military Command AFRICOM, and America’s strategy for Africa under Obama.

For six years he worked full time as reporter and presenter on Channel 4’s Dispatches, responsible for such award-winning investigations as Secrets of the Gaul (winner RTS award for best current affairs programme) which finally located the wreck of the trawler The Gaul lost mysteriously in arctic seas 60 miles north of Norway. That film forced the government to agree to a public inquiry.  He also reported the Dispatches special Loss of the Marchioness (winner “Indie” award for Best News and Current Affairs programme).  That film led to the re-opening of the inquest and the public inquiry into the deaths of the 51victims. Before joining Dispatches as its first on-screen reporter he reported the Network First investigation which first revealed the extent of human testing of chemical and biological weapons at Porton Down.

Seven years ago he won the Harold Wincott “business programme of the year” award for Hamleys: A Real Toy Story, an observational film which followed the crisis in the fortunes of the world-famous toy store.  He narrated, directed, and filmed an observational documentary about the government’s controversial Better Hospital Food project (for C4), transmitted in 2002. He continues to write occasionally for newspapers including The Observer and the Guardian and such outlets as BBC News Online.

BACKGROUND  – Callum Macrae grew up in Nigeria and Scotland.  He studied painting at Edinburgh College of Art for five years, was a dustman for two years, ran a pirate radio station for six months and was a teacher for seven years. He was a member of the Official Edinburgh Festival’s governing Council and President of Edinburgh and District Trades Council. For two years he produced a weekly satirical cartoon strip for the Times Educational Supplement.  He then became a full-time writer working initially for a variety of newspapers and magazines including the Scotsman, the Herald and the Guardian.  He joined The Observer as Scottish correspondent, where he stayed for three years winning the Campaigning Journalist of the Year award in 1992,   That year he moved into television, presenting and reporting on Ch 4’s weekly magazine programmes Hard News, and investigative legal series The Brief.



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