George Entwistle has been announced as the next director general of the BBC, after a final round of interviews took place in London yesterday. Entwistle, who is currently director of BBC Vision will take over from Mark Thompson later this year.
Entwistle began his career as a writer and magazine editor before joining the BBC in 1989 as a Broadcast Journalism trainee. Following a spell as assistant producer on Panorama, he went on to become editor of BBC Two’s flagship programme Newsnight in 2001, starting the day before the 9/11 attacks for which the show won five RTS Awards.
Described as a “loyal BBC soldier” he has held numerous positions within the BBC, including Head and Commissioning Editor of TV Current Affairs, Acting Controller of BBC4 before being appointed director of BBC Vision last year. Overseeing the commission of programmes including Call The Midwife, Birdsong and Frozen Planet, he recently suffered criticism following the BBC’s maligned coverage of the Diamond Jubilee.
It is understood that a shortlist of four candidates were each grilled in 90 minute sessions conducted by the BBC Trust chairman, Lord Patten, and his deputy, Dianne Coyle yesterday. Those also believed to have made it through to the final round were Caroline Thomson, the BBC chief operating officer, and Ofcom chief executive, Ed Richards. Despite speculation surrounding the fourth candidate bidding to succeed Thompson, their name is as yet unknown.
Following today’s appointment George Entwistle said, “I’m delighted the Chairman and Trustees think I’m the right person for the job. Mark Thompson will be a tough act to follow. But it’s a privilege to be asked to lead the greatest broadcasting organisation in the world and a privilege to be able to continue to serve our audiences in this new role.”
Outgoing Mark Thompson added: “I think this is a brilliant appointment. George has shown himself to be an outstanding leader with an intuitive understanding of public sector broadcasting. He has a formidable track record as a programme maker and in recent years has also shown his calibre as a leader. I wish him and the BBC every success in the years to come.”
Thompson has served as DG since May 2004, having previously worked as BBC’s Director of Television and Chief Executive of Channel 4. He announced his departure in March 2012 and will step down from the role after the London 2012 Olympic Games.