Buerk during the filming for Britain's Secret Treasures at the British Museum, London on 23 June 2012
|Born||Michael Duncan Buerk
18 February 1946
Solihull, West Midlands (county)
|Education||Secondary: Solihull School, University: University of Sussex and UWI Cardiff|
|Occupation||TV presenter, newsreader and journalist|
|Notable credit(s)||BBC News
Pineapple Dance Studios
|Family||Wife Christine & twin sons|
Michael Duncan Buerk (born 18 February 1946) is a BBC journalist and newsreader, best known for his reporting of the Ethiopian famine on 23 October 1984, which inspired the Band Aid charity record and subsequently, the Live Aid concert.
Buerk was born in Solihull, and was educated at Solihull School, an Independent school in the West Midlands where he was a member of the Combined Cadet Force and represented the school on the sports field.
Michael Buerk's hopes of a career in the armed forces were dashed when he failed an eyesight test at the selection centre. After a brief spell as a hod carrier he began his career in journalism with the Bromsgrove Messenger, South Wales Echo (where he shared a house with Sue Lawley in Cardiff), and the Daily Mail, he joined Radio Bristol in 1970 before becoming a reporter for BBC News in 1973.
He was awarded the Golden Nymph award at the Monte Carlo festival for his reports on the famine from Korem in Ethiopia, first broadcast on 23 October 1984. The footage of the famine was shot by Mohamed Amin. He later said that the broadcast was one of "the most influential pieces of television ever broadcast [prompting] a surge of generosity across the world for Ethiopia[that raised] more than $130 million". Another notable bulletin he is renowned for is being the first news reporter on the BBC News in the 2000s, making the bulletin at 0100 GMT on the 1 January 2000.
Buerk has worked for
On the BBC's Children in Need Buerk has performed several times along with an ensemble of BBC News presenters. In 2004 he dressed in leather to perform Duran Duran classics; in 2005 he sang the Queen song "Bohemian Rhapsody". He was sometimes imitated by Jon Culshaw on Dead Ringers.
On 28 July 2007, Buerk appeared on a special celebrity version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? with Jennie Bond to raise money for NCH, the children's charity. With a combined effort, they raised £64,000. He is also a supporter of the British Red Cross and in October 2008 came out in support of an Alternate Reality Game, Traces of Hope, which the charity developed. In 2010, he narrated Sky1 reality show Pineapple Dance Studios. Buerk has also made five guest appearances on the BBC's The One Show in April and September 2010. He has also appeared as a sit in/cover presenter for Jason Manford on six occasions. On 4 January 2011, Buerk appeared on Celebrity Mastermind and won. In July 2012, he began to co-present a series (with Bettany Hughes) on ITV called Britain's Secret Treasures, looking at fifty of the most remarkable archaeological finds made by the British public.
Buerk asserted in a Radio Times interview in August 2005 that the "shift in the balance of power between the sexes" has gone too far and that men are now little more than "sperm donors". In particular, he objected to the many women now in senior positions within the BBC, echoing the outburst the previous year by sacked former Director General, Alasdair Milne. This was in anticipation of Buerk's 45-minute TV-essay, "Michael Buerk on What Are Men For?" as part of Five's six-part Don't Get Me Started! series, broadcast on Tuesday 23 August 2005. The reaction to "What Are Men For?" was quite severe, criticising in particular Buerk's choices of sympathetic interview subjects, including "an odious chauvinistic farmer" and "a ridiculous Sloane" according to Guardian journalist Sam Wollaston. Buerk has also criticised contemporary newsreaders for being overpaid Autocue-reading "lame brains". At the end of 2012 he despaired of the state of Britain, and of the BBC. Of the Corporation's coverage of the Thames River Pageant celebrating Britain and the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the throne, he wrote: "The Dunkirk Little Ships, the most evocative reminders of this country’s bravest hour, were ignored so that a pneumatic bird-brain from Strictly Come Dancing could talk to transvestites in Battersea Park."
Buerk lives in Guildford with his wife, with whom he has twin sons. One of his sons, Roland, who is also a BBC journalist, survived the South Asian tsunami on Boxing Day 2004, and was also in Tokyo when the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami struck.
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