BBC1 chief is moved to ailing sports division

Peter Salmon, controller of BBC1 has, after months of public criticism, been moved aside by Greg Dyke to become the corporation's sports supremo.

Peter Salmon, controller of BBC1 has, after months of public criticism, been moved aside by Greg Dyke to become the corporation's sports supremo.

As director of sport he will be required to salvage the BBC's reputation as a sports broadcaster after a year in which it failed to retain rights to Premiership football and lost the presenter Des Lynam to ITV. Lorraine Heggessy, at present co-head of BBC Education, is expected to replace Mr Salmon at BBC1, becoming the channel's first female controller.

Mr Dyke, when he took over the top BBC job, promised to appoint a powerful sports chief who would "duck and dive" to win back rights and put sports at the heart of the corporation.

But Mr Salmon will run a department depleted by the loss of a host of contracts, including Formula One racing, Ryder Cup golf and Test cricket.

A rival at ITV said: "You need a streetfighter in the BBC job, a wheeler-dealer who will be good at securing rights against the odds by collaborating with commercial companies."

Mr Dyke had been expected to appoint a high-profile deal-maker from commercial television and BBC sources said they believed the Carlton Television chief executive, Clive Jones, would take the post. However, they understood the BBC could not afford to buy out Mr Jones from his lucrative position at Carlton.

Mr Salmon, a well-respected television programme-maker, has a very different background. He started out as a producer of Crimewatch and BBC2's environmental series Nature, and was executive producer of the Wallace and Gromit animation The Wrong Trousers.

Mr Dyke said yesterday: "He brings to the department great experience in programme-making plus an acute awareness of the bigger picture in broadcasting - a picture in which BBC Sport needs to consolidate its position."

Earlier this year the BBC's governors condemned the output of BBC1 as being "below standard", saying it relied too much on "lighter factual" programmes such as Changing Rooms and Ground Force.

It was the third year in succession that BBC1's performance had been criticised by the governors, which led to mounting speculation that Mr Salmon would move from the job. The rumours increased when, at the Edinburgh Television Festival, Mr Dyke said the channel lacked imaginative ideas, citing its use of soap stars in dramas such as Harbour Lights and Sunburn.

Mr Salmon's public image was damaged because he was responsible for the muchcriticised BBC decision not to broadcast coverage of the Queen Mother's birthday pageant.

Mr Dyke said: "Peter told Mark Thompson [director of television] and I some months ago that he didn't want to continue as controller of BBC1 beyond this autumn."

The appointment of a new controller is itself immersed in controversy. Broadcasting executives said Mr Dyke was clearly reducing the traditional power of the controllers of BBC1 and BBC2. He has introduced a new commissioning system, which will mean that controllers share commissioning power with a new team of genre heads.

A former BBC television executive said: "In the past controllers were getting too involved in actual programme-making. They were reading drama scripts, for instance, and getting involved in casting ... The new system would make sense if the BBC could find a team of really high-powered commissioning editors, but so far they have not pulled it off. For example, there is no drama commissioner in place."

Ms Heggessy will face a tough challenge in her new job. Her background is in factual programmes, while BBC1 is in desperate need of popular drama. She has been in the public eye only once in recent years, to appear on Blue Peter to make an on-screen apology for the presenter Richard Bacon when he was sacked after a drugs spree that was exposed in the national press.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer / Front-End Designer - City of London

£27000 - £33000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End Devel...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Recruitment Genius: Junior PHP Web Developer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Guru Careers: Front End Web Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: Our client help leading creative agencies ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot