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Donal MacIntyre was born in Dublin in 1966. He and his twin brother are among five children of an Irish playwright and American-born teacher. He grew up in Ireland and the USA and was active in sport, playing rugby and representing his Ireland in canoeing at the World Championships. Donal's highest world ranking was 11th. He raced around the globe from Australia to Portugal and won many Irish and British titles at various levels. He was also a member of two Irish Olympic training squads but failed to make the games because - in his own words - 'he wasn't good enough'. He is an avid mountain climber and an occasional but inept boxer.
He studied in Dublin and London, later completing a Masters degree in Communication Policy at City University.
Initially employed in print media, he worked as a news reporter for The Sunday Tribune and later with The Irish Press in Dublin. He worked in finance journalism, sports and news and but did his first investigations into the Law Society there which were faced with allegations of restrictive practises. He has written for The Guardian, The Mail and New Statesman among many other publications.
Areas of Expertise
His first work in television was for the award winning BBC investigative sports strand On-The-Line in 1993. At one stage, for this programme he went undercover as an Adventure Sports Instructor to expose the lack of employment standards in the industry. This was in the wake of the Lyme Regis canoeing disaster in which four people drowned. His canoeing experience got him his first work undercover.
Then, again using undercover tactics he investigated cruelty in greyhound racing in Ireland, Spain, the UK and the US. . For this programme he won awards in both Ireland and the U.S.A. and seven people were convicted of animal cruelty. He then moved from the BBC to ITV's BAFTA winning World in Action investigative programme. Donal was to win a Royal Television Society Award for a film on drug dealing by night-club bouncers.
He was to win two Royal Television Society Awards for a film on drug dealing by night-club bouncers. For this programme he spent 11 months undercover as a bouncer in Nottingham and received three death threats after the programme was broadcast. It was the most audacious and dangerous undercover programme done by a UK broadcaster and was rewarded with two high profile awards.
His profile led him to being poached by the BBC to front a major undercover series. The series would be broadcast around the world and made headlines everywhere it was broadcast. 'MacIntyre Undercover' was screened in November 1999 and was the culmination of almost two years research by MacIntyre and his BBC team. The series covered organised football violence, the fashion industry, abuse within care homes and Nigerian con men.
The programme's greatest triumph was when after a month long trial, two dangerous Chelsea football hooligans that had been secretly filmed by the programme, were convicted of conspiracy to commit violent disorder and affray. They were sentenced to seven and six years respectively, in November 2000, and were banned from attending football matches for 10 years. Three other Football Hooligans were also convicted in a separate trial as a result of the programme.
He wrote an on-the-hoof diary account of his journey as one man leading four lives, which was published by BBC, which sold 40,000 copies. The book tells of the fatigue he suffered often interchanging roles several times in the same day. As a result of death threats from the series on football he had to stay in a safe-house and live with bodyguards while continuing to work for the BBC.
A Reuters Fellowship would lead to two terms at Oxford University and he also spent time in the U.S. In June 2001, he presented a BAFTA nominated documentary on the Oklahoma bomber, Timothy McVeigh. 'MacIntyre Investigates' looked at street crime, the heroin trade in the Golden Triangle and the vice trade.
Police criticism of his care programme which had changed Government policy led to legal and a public service celebrity death match between the BBC and the Kent Police. MacIntyre sued the Police for libel and won an unprecedented legal victory which consolidated his reputation for hard hitting and sturdy investigative journalism.
MacIntyre, although sometimes controversial is always passionate, had won a major victory for the learning disabled community and moved the Police to review the way they investigate abuse against the vulnerable. His victory against the Kent Force was applauded internationally and MacIntyre gave his five figure libel winnings in the £750,000 action to three charities in the sector.
While preparing for a new series in 2002 of 'MacIntyre Investigates' for BBC 1 MacIntyre was enlisted to put his sporting accolades to the test when he presented the landmark series : Wild Weather, with the BBC science department. He became a mainstream presenter confirming his broad appeal. It was broadcast in the USA and fifty other countries. The series was nominated for a BAFTA. The DVD of the series was one of BBC's best selling products of the year.
His further investigations into Street crime, sex slaves and the illegal trade in wild animals revealed remarkable insights and put MacIntyre into considerable danger. His output demonstrated that his journalistic range and diversity was broader than any other British Television journalist. His undercover shows made his name but a number of open access traditional documentaries on the subject of Foundlings and on children who abuse their parents showed a deftness and sensitivity that belied his hard man image. A further personal film about the death of the explorer and friend Sir Peter Blake added weight to this.
MacIntyre lectures around the world bringing to large audiences of students and journalists his unique brand of commitment journalism. From the Oxford Union to Belgrade Seminars - MacIntyre is in demand. His BBC and Five outputs has sold to over 70 countries worldwide.
In January 2003 MacIntyre joined FIVE in a high profile move. He continued to work on BBC projects while developing films and strands for FIVE.
His first project for FIVE on credit card fraud as part of the 'MacIntyre UK Undercover' strand got a record audience. His subsequent investigations for the strand involved abuse in elderly and learning disabled care homes were acclaimed and his new 'MacIntyre's Millions' strand was praised for its exposes on the trade in endangered animals, the trade in stolen organs and trade in arms in Eastern Europe.
MacIntyre continues to develop projects for FIVE and other broadcasters. Shortly to come to the screen is a three part series on the British Underworld - with never before seen footage of gangsters up close and personal. MacIntyre has produced and directed one of the shows 'Gangster' which has already been described as 'remarkable' and 'compelling' by critics in previews.
As a reporter and athlete, director and campaigner MacIntyre has always found pushed the boundaries and promises that he will continue to do so with pride and gusto. Unable to go undercover in the UK himself in a recent expose on care homes, MacIntyre employed his brother, Tadhg, an international athlete, and psychologist to go undercover. Together they made a formidable team and produced one of the most thought provoking and powerful documentaries of 2003.
He is a passionate and committed journalist. He is currently an Ambassador for MENCAP, the learning disability charity and also a advocate for the 'Action Against Elder Abuse' charity.