The appointment is seen as a chance for Channel 4's chief executive, Michael Jackson, to prove himself as a prime candidate to be the next director-general of the BBC.
Mr Jackson has been his own director of programmes, with a hands-on approach to shaping the schedule. Now, say industry insiders, he needs to demonstrate he can delegate that task and play a more strategic role.
For Mr Gardam, the new job is a chance to be one of the biggest players in television. Most recently controller of news and current affairs at Channel 5, his background, like Mr Jackson's, is BBC-based. Mr Gardam, though, has worked only on factual programmes, while the Channel 4 job requires skills in everything from drama to quiz shows.
His task at Channel 4 is to deliver a schedule that meets the channel's licence requirement to be "distinctive" - a target that is increasingly difficult to achieve as the BBC takes on a much wider programme mix.
Mr Gardam, a former editor of Panorama and Newsnight, will need to show that he is more than an intellectual with a reputation for producing high-brow programmes. He has managed this to some degree with the much- acclaimed Channel 5 news, taking an approach inherited from Janet Street- Porter that "entertainment is news, news in entertainment".
Channel 4 viewers can expect more programmes about sex and relationships - as Mr Gardam seems to have taken the view that, for television, the personal is the new politics.Reuse content