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Alistair Cooke

Alistair Cooke (born 1908) is an English-born American journalist and broadcaster. He lives in New York with his family.

Born in Salford, England, Alistair Cooke was educated at Blackpool Grammar School[?] and Jesus College, Cambridge, where he gained a first-class honours degree in English. As a graduate student, he went to Yale University for two years on a fellowship.

In 1935, back in England, Cooke became London correspondent for NBC. Each week, he recorded a 15-minute talk for American listeners on life in Britain, under the series title of London Letter.

Cooke returned to America in 1937, this time for good: he became an US citizen in 1941.

Shortly after emigrating, Cooke suggested to the BBC the idea of doing the London Letter in reverse: a 15-minute talk for British listeners on life in America. The BBC was not keen, and the first American Letter was not broadcast until March 24, 1946. The series was not initially expected to last long, but it was still going in 1950, when it was renamed Letter From America; it was still going in 1991, when Alistair Cooke received a special BAFTA silver award for his contribution to Anglo American relations; and, as of 2003, Letter From America is still being recorded every week and broadcast not only in Britain but many other Commonwealth countries as well.

In 1947, Cooke became a foreign correspondent for the Manchester Guardian. (It was, incidentally, the first time he had been employed as a staff reporter; all his previous work had been freelance.) He has also served as foreign correspondent for the Times.

In 1971, Cooke became the presenter of the new Masterpiece Theatre, PBS's showcase of quality British television. He remained presenter for another 22 years, retiring from the role in 1992.

In 1973 Alistair Cooke was awarded an honorary knighthood (KBE).

Alistair Cooke's America, a 13-part television series about the United States and its history, was first broadcast in both Britain and the US in 1973, and was followed by a book of the same title. It was a great success in both countries, and resulted in Cooke being invited to address the joint Houses of the United States Congress as part of Congress's bicentennial celebrations. Alistair Cooke has said that, of all his work, Alistair Cooke's America is what he is most proud of; it is the result and expression of his long love of America. (Cooke was once asked how long it took him to make the series. "I do not want to be coy," he replied, "but it took 40 years.")

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