My Life In Media: Charles Wace


Charles Wace, 46, is the chairman of Pact, which represents Britain's independent television production companies. He is also the chief executive of Twofour Group, the production and communications company, which makes programmes for all the major broadcasters, including Sky's peak time Noel Edmonds-hosted quiz Are You Smarter Than a 10 year old? Wace grew up in the West Indies and now lives on a farm in the West Country fishing village of Newton Ferrers with his wife Sally Mountjoy, a BBC health correspondent, their three children, a Labrador and a herd of alpacas.

What inspired you to embark on a career in the media?

My stepfather, who was an American journalist, covered the war in Vietnam. I grew up thinking that I wanted to be a reporter, and did become one before moving into television.

When you were 15 years old, which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?

I was sort of away at school but in the holidays I was aware of the Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph.

And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

Minder and Parkinson and a lot of news programmes, because my interests were very journalistic.

Describe your job.

In terms of Pact I think my job is to represent a diverse industry that incorporates film, new media and television. I try to bring all those varied interests together and present a cohesive face to the broadcasters and regulators with whom I'm negotiating on a regular basis, and to try and understand what it is the broadcaster is trying to achieve and whether their interests can be aligned with our own. I think in terms of running Twofour, it is quite a fast moving group of companies, so my role is to try and take those distinct companies and create a message that links everything together.

What's the first media you turn to in the mornings?

The Today programme on Radio 4.

Do you consult any media sources during the day?

Pirate FM in Cornwall, and Chris Moyles on Radio 1. I flick between the two so if Moyles is talking too much, I switch stations. I also look at Broadcastnow.co.uk.

What do you tune into when you get home?

I love The Apprentice and Grand Designs.

What is the best thing about your job?

What I find fascinating about both jobs is working with really creative, clever people. It keeps you on your toes, because if your arguments are not intellectually sustainable then they are very quickly pointed out.

What is the worst thing about your job?

I don't have a chance to be involved in a hands-on way in making television programmes. It is sometimes frustrating to not be a core part of the creative process.

How do you feel you influence the media?

By presenting a clear and articulate voice for what the independent television community feel about a certain situation. That's sometimes a challenge because it is such a disparate industry.

What is the proudest achievement in your working life?

Leaving the BBC and setting up Twofour. I have always thought that it took some courage to do that. Twenty years ago, I can remember people that I worked with at the BBC saying that I was insane.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

Gatecrashing the first minute of the Queen's annual Christmas message, when a live broadcast that I was producing for ITV over-ran.

Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire?

I would like to be running a company that's in the top 10 of independent production companies. At the moment we're number 14.

What would you do if you didn't work in the media?

A property developer. I have been involved in a small way and despite the present housing crisis and credit crunch it is something that gives me real pleasure.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

Richard Branson for constantly reinventing himself and his companies within a generic brand. Elisabeth Murdoch is a person I admire as somebody who is creating a strong media group in their own right.

The CV

1980: Joins the Milton Keynes Gazette as a reporter

1982: Joins BBC Radio Solent

1984: Moves into TV as a producer and reporter for the BBC in Southampton

1986: Moves to Plymouth to produce the regional news programme Spotlight

1988: Sets up Twofour with a Spotlight colleague

1997: Twofour begins making Collector's Lot for Channel 4

1996: Christmas with the Royal Navy wins a Royal Television Society award for the company

2005: Five commissions The Hotel Inspector

2008: Appointed chairman of Pact

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