BBC drama chief Polly Hill “to resign today” and announce move to ITV

In a surprise move, the BBC's controller of drama commissioning is expected to confirm to bosses today that she is leaving with a formal announcement from ITV expected on Friday

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Polly Hill, the BBC’s controller of drama commissioning is expected to resign formally from the Corporation today [Thursday].

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The executive, who took over from the hugely successful Ben Stephenson in May last year, is expected to hand in her notice ahead of a move to a new job as head of drama at ITV, say sources. That role became free after Steve November announced his departure earlier this month.

According to sources, ITV is planning to announce Hill’s appointment tomorrow [Friday]. The successors to departed director of entertainment Elaine Bedell and factual boss Richard Klein are also set to be announced by the commercial broadcaster tomorrow.

The news will be a blow to the BBC. Hill was a popular and respected figure who worked closely with Stephenson. Stephenson was identified as one of the key architects of the BBC’s current “golden age” of drama and was poached to run the TV department of Star Wars producer and director JJ Abrams’ production company Bad Robot last year.

In the past two years the BBC’s drama has scored success after success with shows such as Wolf Hall, Line of Duty, War and Peace, Poldark, Marvelous, Doctor Foster, The Night Manager and many more. Since the success of Downton Abbey, ITV has struggled to break through with many of its dramas.

“With more than 450 hours of commissioning at a major global broadcaster making some of the best drama in the world today, the head of BBC drama commissioning is a plum job,” commented an industry source. “But there are other realities for anyone in that job and ITV is able to pay more, for one thing.”

Announcing Hill’s appointment last year, the BBC’s then director of television Danny Cohen said she had an “exceptional track record for delivering outstanding drama… Polly’s work speaks for itself and is driven by her passion for writing and storytelling”.

An ITV spokesman said: “We do not comment on speculation.”

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The BBC also declined to comment.