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Goodbye to the Noughties

Panorama marks the end of the first decade of the millennium - the so-called 'noughties' - with a look back on some of the tough questions asked and the key issues of the day that were put under the microscope by the world's longest-running investigative reporting programme.

Here Caroline Mallan, from Panorama's web team, gives her take on the decade that was.

Panorama's decade began with a string of hard-hitting investigations. Among them was the ground-breaking 'Who Bombed Omagh?' in which reporter John Ware revisited the events of 15 August 1998 and named the four perpetrators of the bomb attack which killed 29 people and unborn twins.

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The programme won a Royal Television Society award but also attracted unwelcome attention. In 2001 a car bomb planted by the Real IRA exploded outside BBC Television Centre in London.

The security services suggested the attack was revenge for the Panorama programme.

John Ware continues to cover the issues of Northern Ireland's struggle for peace for Panorama.


In 2001, Panorama picked up the thread of what was arguably the biggest story of the decade just days after the terrorist attacks of 11 September.

In World's Most Wanted, Panorama retraced the events that led to the attacks and reporter Jane Corbin, who had first reported on Osama bin Laden in 1998, examined the man, his motives and how New York was coping in the aftermath of the attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

This film combined the cataclysmic events and footage of September 11th with reports from eyewitnesses and victims families, including those who had received calls from Flight 93, with solid information on Bin Laden's terror network.

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In 2002, Panorama revisited the story of big pharmaceutical companies amid the growing popularity of anti-depressants.

In the Secrets of Seroxat, reporter Shelley Jofre looked into the safety of the anti-depressant drug and revealed its sometimes dark side effects. Panorama uncovered evidence of people getting hooked on the drug and suffering serious withdrawal symptoms when they tried to come off it.

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For some, it lead to self harm and even suicide, despite little warning of these possible side effects from drugsmaker GlaxoSmithKline, which forcefully denied the allegations.

In 2003's Inside Guantanamo, Panorama gained rare access to the newly-opened detention centre that went on to define the presidency of George W Bush and continues to haunt Barack Obama's presidency.

A six month investigation took reporter Vivian White to Asia, Africa, Europe, and America, to talk to those on the receiving end of American justice - both in Guantanamo and in other detention facilities around the globe - and to those responsible for administering it.

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This programme offered early testimonials of detainees being tortured in captivity abroad - a theme that would resurface as the War on Terror marched on.

By 2004, Hilary Andersson had travelled deep into the remote mountains of Jebel Mara in Darfur, where local black Africans were being attacked by members of the
Sudanese-government backed Janjaweed Arab militia.

The New Killing Fields was, for many, the first sense of the horrors of what has since become widely viewed as a genocide.

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Panorama's work helped push the issue to the front of the news agenda. The team picked up a host of awards for their work, including the Royal Television Society award and George Peabody award as part of the BBC's overall coverage of the crisis, the Best Television Documentary Prize at the Amnesty International Media Awards and was named Current Affairs Film of the Year at Banff International Television Festival.


In 2005, Margaret Haywood became Panorama's Undercover Nurse.

Margy, as she is known, with more than 20 years of nursing experience, wore a hidden camera and microphone as she did nursing shifts on a ward at Brighton's Royal Sussex County Hospital.

Over the course of her three month investigation, Margy exposed suffering and a series of indignities at the hospital, including a patient left to die on her own and another left waiting for hours for help to go to the toilet.

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Margy's work for Panorama jeopardised her career, leading to her eventually being struck off by the Nursing and Midwifery Council in April 2009 for breaching patient confidentiality - a decision later overturned.

In November 2009, Margy's efforts were vindicated when she won the Nursing Standard's patients' choice award.

By 2006, Panorama reported on what became the Bail Hostel Scandal.

A Home Office investigation was ordered after it was revealed that a convicted paeodophile and child-killer was befriending children while at a bail hostel in Bristol.

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The secret filming of the convict led to such concern among the programme producers, that police were contacted three times to report the violations of licence conditions.

It was not until the third call to 999 that police moved to re-arrest the man who was one of more than 2,000 offenders living in more than a hundred hostels in England and Wales on court orders and on licence from prison.

In 2007, Panorama's John Sweeney made headlines around the world for his encounter with the Church of Scientology's Tommy Davis in Scientology and Me. Sweeney, who had been investigating the practices of the controversial group for months, had a very vocal blow out on camera, completely losing his temper.

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In taking a close look at Scientology - popular with high-profile celebrities - the reporter described in detail how it felt to be pressurised by the group.

Scientology continues to make headlines internationally, with France recently examining the financial practices of the group.

In 2008, the darling of the British High Street, Primark, was exposed for using suppliers who sub-contracted work out to children in the developing world.

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At a time when ethical sourcing is increasingly a determining factor for consumers, the company responded swiftlyto sever ties with the suppliers in question and reassure their customers that child labour was not being employed in its manufacturing processes.

The programme, in addition to winning a RTS Current Affairs Home award, also brought attention to an issue that has since gone mainstream.

In 2009, Panorama's examination of racism on a Bristol housing estate was both shocked and angered many in Britain.

Undercover: Hate on the Doorstep, followed reporters Tamanna Rahman and Amil Khan as they set up house on the Southmead estate under the guise of a young married couple.

Over the course of their investigation, Tamanna in particular found herself on the receiving end of both verbal and physical assaults virtually every time she left the house. At one point she was the victim of an attempted mugging by an 11-year-old boy.

The most startling moment perhaps came when Amil was punched in the head in an unprovoked attack. The programme drew hundreds of comments from viewers and questioned the position taken by Trevor Phillips, head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, when he said in an interview that having neighbours of a different ethnic background is no longer an issue in modern Britain when compared to other countries.

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The Commission say his comments followed two Mori polls which, it claimed, showed the majority of British people to be increasingly at ease with racial diversity.

These were our picks for some of the best programmes of the decade, please join in our forum to leave us a comment or tell us your own highlights.

Happy New Year from the Panorama Team.


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