Inside Story: The media stars of 2006

We asked our panel of experts from every sector of the industry to name the people they predict will make the most impact in the next 12 months.
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Stef Calcraft, 42, Mother

"Mother getting Boots was completely huge for quite a small agency. The outcome has been fantastically boring but I think they're worth about £90m and it's allowed them to become a very big and important agency. Somehow the situation - the boringness of Boots or its product - has created completely unmemorable work, but the arrival of Mother in the big world is interesting, no question."

M T Rainey, 50, and Jim Kelly, 51

"They are obviously people to watch. They built up their own spectacularly successful agency, did a reverse takeover of Y&R London. They're on what is euphemistically called "Martin Sorrell gardening leave" - so what next? People assume that they're going to do something together, and they're very interested to know what they're going to do because their track record is so fantastic."


Cassandra Yap, 27, and Marion Cohen, 30, Saatchi & Saatchi

"Although women go into art college with the intention of becoming advertising creatives for a long list of reasons they either give up on the idea once they've finished their degrees or simply never get that job in the male-dominated creative departments of London. These two with their early success show every sign of being stars of the future.

Monty Verdi, 34, art director, Leo Burnett

"There's a lot of buzz about this guy. He beat 6,000 people to design the Fink Tank logo competition set up by Graham Fink. He's since been at Leo Burnett where he impressed on Fiat and with William Shatner for Bran Flakes."


Duncan Jones, 34, director

"Duncan Jones is an outstanding person who will be a star next year. He is David Bowie's son - he was Zowie Bowie, famously, then he became Joe Bowie, and now he's plain Duncan Jones. I've just hired him and I'd say by trade he's a film director but he also designs computer games so he's a real techno-wizard. He's got a movie screenplay on the go and he's already directed an epic three-and-a-half minute advert for us for McCain when we were at TBWA last year. He's currently working on what I think will be one of next year's commercials of the year. He was working with a production company called Frank Films and the producer came in and said to me, "I want you to see a reel and I'm not going to tell you who it is." He showed me this reel and I said, "That's the most inventive thing I've seen in years, I want to work with this person." It was a really clever way of doing it as the work stood for itself. He is the nicest person you'll ever meet. He's such a genuine guy and he's intent on making it in his own right. I see him as a major talent. We've got him for now but I'm sure Hollywood will beckon for him eventually. He's a new generation of creative in that you can't badge him. I wouldn't call him a copywriter or an art director; he's a creator, whether it's directing commercials or having ideas or writing stories. It's just really exciting to have him around, he's terrific."

Tally Parr, 30, producer, Fresh Air Radio Advertising

"She is a fix-it. She organised an amazing event in the summer for Café Direct where they took over the London Eye and in each pod there was a different act performing. It was an amazing idea. You bought your ticket and you walked onto the pod and you might have got Blur playing in the pod live or a stand-up comedian or an artist painting you. She is just full of ideas, but she makes them happen, that's the important thing. For me it really is cutting edge stuff."



Tim Bowdler, 58, chief executive of Johnston Press

"The chief executive of Johnston Press, the UK's fourth largest regional newspaper group, was already one of the movers and shakers of the regional press. His role was underlined on December 19 when Johnston agreed to pay the Barclay brothers £160 million for Scotsman Publications. The deal makes Johnston Press a much more formidable player in the regional media. But Bowdler, a professional manager who came to the newspaper industry from outside, is unlikely to be finished yet. He has expressed an interest in buying Northcliffe Newspapers, put up for sale recently by Viscount Rothermere. Johnston would have a better chance of getting such a £1.5 billion deal through the competition authorities than larger rivals Newsquest or Trinity Mirror."

Murdoch MacLennan, 56, Telegraph chief executive

"All eyes in the national newspaper industry this year will be on Telegraph chief executive Murdoch MacLennan to see whether there is method in his madness. Since the Barclays took over the Telegraph from Conrad Black, MacLennan has got rid of everyone of seniority, both commercial and editorial, from the Black era. In the case of Telegraph editor Martin Newland the departure happened rather sooner than planned, leaving an unexpected hole. In 2005 MacLennan showed he knows how to sack people. This year he has to demonstrate he has the ability to build something up in a highly competitive market."


Emily Smith, 31, US correspondent, The Sun

"The Sun's U.S. correspondent Emily Smith writes concisely and well and I tend to look out for her byline. Many of the stories she files are showbusiness-based, which is great for the paper, but she has shown that she's sharp and well-informed on most subjects. This and great productivity suggests that she is destined for greater things."

Ian Reeves, 39, editor of Press Gazette

"Just outside the national paper firmament is Ian Reeves, who as editor of Press Gazette has guided it through recent tumultuous times, including the Morgan-Freud takeover and the furore over the Press Awards. Reeves is an excellent writer and, as he proved with his recent long piece on Rupert Murdoch, a first-class interviewer. One of the nationals should snap him up, assuming he wants to go."


Martin Clarke, 41, Associated Newspapers

"Associated´s special projects man may get a new one - the London Evening Standard."

Gerard Baker, 43, The Times

"The Thunderer´s man in the US has Murdoch's ear and is tipped for the top."


Gordon Thomson, 34, editor of Time Out

"I helped appoint Gordon so obviously I think he's really good but I'm not retained by Tony Elliott [Time Out's publisher] anymore. I was amazed that he didn't pick any awards up for best newcomer. He's only been there 14 or 15 months but he's made Time Out a real, vibrant, must-read title again. There's loads of great editorial. A lot of big companies ask me to help them or advise them on who might be good editors to work for them and twice I've had to resist recommending Gordon because it would undo the work I did for Tony, but I think he's doing an excellent job. You've just got to pick Time Out up now to read their covers and I don't think anyone had really done that for a few years."

Modern Toss, cartoonists (Jon Link, 37, & Mick Bunnage, 45)

"In Esquire magazine they have the cartoonists Modern Toss. Mick Bunnage originally did "Dr Mick" for me at Loaded, and Jon Link was the creative director of Jack. I'm not sure of the last time a magazine cartoon got a TV series, but Channel 4 have just commissioned a six-part TV series based on the cartoons that they do in their own and other magazines. I think that everyone will be going mental about Modern Toss next year. It's very funny. It's just sick humour that is very true to life."


Steve Goodman, 44, group press director, MediaCom UK

"The extension of Steve Goodman's responsibilities into WPP's Group M (as of January, Goodman becomes Group M's managing director of print trading, overseeing all the print trading deals and activity of the various WPP agencies), makes 2006 an important year for magazines and their relationships with agencies. He's hugely influential and very significant for us as he's a real believer in the magazine medium - he really wants magazines to prevail."



Ian Peacock, 43, columnist, writer and broadcaster

"Ian Peacock is a broadcaster who has had an illness and is now beginning to return to the microphone. I heard him again for the first time in two or three years the other day. He is a very eccentric broadcaster and we need a few more of those. He always does great things."

Ray Gosling, 66, documentary maker

"Ray Gosling has been ostracised by Radio 4 for 10 years. The Radio 4 controller, James Boyle, took a dislike to him and said he didn't want that 'northern git' on his network, so Ray became persona non-grata for a while and he was left basically destitute because he fell out of fashion.



Julian Henry, 46, Henry's House

"Henry's House is Julian Henry's agency. I think he's one of the last of the good independents. He's advised people like Beckham and done stuff for brands like Virgin Mobile, and that sort of company certainly has an ability to understand client base and the impact of that. Bigger ad agencies or more corporate PR companies would have to look at a company like Henry's House to be able to expand and produce something different."

Alan Edwards, 50, The Outside Organisation

"Alan Edwards' Outside Organisation is similar. He's an independent and the sort of clients that he has got, including David Bowie, would make him an interesting acquisition for a communications practice, because of the gradual obsession with brands to want to connect more and more to music, particularly the download generation. If the market does liven up this year, and there are more mergers and acquisitions coming through, these are prime scalps who have everything: experience and the client base which any of these big brands would need to make themselves more viable for the future."


"I know both of these people well and am biased, not least because I'm related to one and have hired the other, but it doesn't stop me being able to rate their ability."

Zac Schwarz, 25, Shine Communications

"Zac Schwarz is in his twenties and works for Shine PR. He is the most fantastically good brand PR person. He combines the flair in event with an unbelievably good grasp for strategy and I think he's very good. He's very promising. He doesn't need any advice from me, he's in a class of his own."

Saskia Sissons, 40, The Design Council

"Saskia Sissons was in journalism and then joined me in my old PR agency HMC. She's now the senior press officer at the Design Council. The Design Council's media profile has risen substantially since she joined them and she really knows that to put a good story out you have to know that it's a good story in the first place. She has all of the flair and instinct of a very good journalist. She really understands, with the experience of her previous roles as a journalist as well as being in pr, how to get the story across. I think she's the best kind of corporate pr really - somebody that understands her brief."



Julie Etchingham, presenter, Sky News

"Julie is the outstanding young talent in TV news presentation. She has journalistic skills in depth and is equally home on location or in the studio. She's got a growing reputation as a versatile presenter who can handle anything that's thrown at her, from detailed interviewing to the biggest breaking news story."

Gideon Joseph, 30, editor, News and Current Affairs, C4

"Gideon Joseph came to Sky News from Granada less than a year ago. He was enormously popular and demonstrated the rare skills of having both intellectual rigour and good populist judgement. His ability to network was extraordinary. He had a fantastic contacts book and if he found it lacking and he needed your skills, you would become his best friend instantly. Imagine then how pissed off I was when Dorothy Byrne (the uber talent-spotter at 4) poached him to become editor, news and current affairs, aged just 30."


Liam Keelan, 38, head of scheduling and planning, BBC1

"Not only is he a brilliant scheduler but he has great editorial judgement and a warm and funny personality. He is definitely capable of much more in 2006."

Susanna White, director of Bleak House

"Already an established documentary director and now looks set to make a name for herself in drama. She did a stunning job directing Bleak House and is very highly spoken of by the cast."


Richard Hammond, 36, presenter, The 5 O'Clock Show

"After some inspired general science and car abuse on Brainiac and Top Gear, Richard Hammond is moving to become a regular face on ITV daytime. The 5 O'Clock Show, an hour-long daily consumer and entertainment show, launches tomorrow at 5pm."

Emily Maitlis, 34, presenter, BBC London

"Former Sky presenter Emily Maitlis made her debut presenting Newsnight last October. After an accomplished first outing the smart money must be on her moving on this year from the current day job at BBC London."



Ben Verwaayen, 53, chief executive of BT

"After many years of tinkering at the edges of the media industry, BT's stars may be coming into alignment in this corner of the firmament. With broadband fast enough for television-watching at less than £10 a month, internet penetration set to pass two-thirds of the UK and on-demand content rights issues being resolved, coupled with a great-looking TV over IP service, 2006 could be the year when BT becomes the next Sky."

Sergey Brin, 32, co-founder of Google

"Well, hardly a new kid on the block. But what they're planning on doing in 'video search' has a direct and very significant relevance for the BBC and other broadcasters. They plan to index every piece of information in the world. Having recently seen some of their stuff in development, I'd not bet against their plans for world domination."


"This is a very clever American site where you type in a song and it selects 30 or 40 others that you will like. It's a real punch in the eye for Apple and iTunes, taking the Amazon recommendations idea to a new level by comparing the soundwaves of songs. It's launching in the UK in 2006 and is going to be amazing."

"I would nominate this even if it wasn't run by my business partner Peter Robinson, who is a journalist writing for 'NME' and 'The Observer'. This site is the best place to go for pop music and is responsible for pop no longer being a dirty word. The site began four or five years ago but has just been relaunched and is starting a mobile service next year."


"I expect to see in 2006 a continuation of the trend towards group blogs, attempts to create whole communities rather than those with just a single voice.

One worth watching will be the link between Guido Fawkes ( and so that we can get our Westminster gossip in one place. "

Chicken Yoghurt

"For an individual voice we could do worse than keep an eye on a rather angry leftish writer who blogs on Chicken Yoghurt ( I still can't quite grasp that no editor has yet had the wit to put that man on a retainer."