My Life In Media: Peter Bazalgette

Peter Bazalgette, 51, is the great grandson of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, who built London's sewer system. He graduated in law from Cambridge University. In 2002 he was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Television Society. He has two children.

Peter Bazalgette, 51, is the great grandson of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, who built London's sewer system. He graduated in law from Cambridge University. In 2002 he was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Television Society. He has two children.

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

Having no alternative, following a very poor law degree. And the dinners I had to eat in the Middle Temple were execrable. Finally, my father told me that journalists were ghastly types who hung around in pubs. That sounded ideal to me and I joined the BBC News Training Scheme.

When you were 15 years old, what was the family newspaper and did you read it?

The Times and I did read it. It had ads on the front page and was still the sort of paper that required ironing by a butler. We also took the New Statesman - my father said he needed to know what the lefties were up to.

What were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

The Frost Report, The Man From U.N.C.L.E, Late Night Line Up and the moon landings. Radio 1 was in its glorious infancy. Was it all better than today? Of course not - everything is better now. Then there was no choice, clunky camera work and pretentious drama made by thesps who hadn't yet realised that television is a different medium to the theatre. Civilisation launched at that time and was only watched by 900,000 aesthetes - so don't believe what the wrinklies tell you about a Golden Age. They were all in the pub or watching Bruce Forsyth.

What is the best thing about your job?

Capturing people's emotions. Television remains the mass medium and with interactive technology has become wonderfully responsive.

And the worst?

How can you answer the question? I enjoy a serene existence in the sunny uplands of mediaville.

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

Radio 4's Today programme, followed by the Financial Times (the tabloids are a treat in store at the office).

Do you consult any media sources during your day at the office?

In addition to the tabloids, the MediaGuardian website,, and the streaming of Endemol reality shows.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

Inventing TV formats that have become hits abroad - from Quebec to Helsinki, from Sydney to Rome, with the pleasure of being ripped off many times in between.

And your most embarrassing moment?

Including the words "Queen", "Stallion" and "Climax" in one sentence when working as a sub in the BBC Radio newsroom in 1978.

At home, what do you tune in to?

Channel 4 News and Newsnight.

What is your Sunday paper, and do you have a favourite magazine?

The Observer and The Sunday Times. Magazines: The Spectator and Private Eye. I can't see the point of cuttings jobs such as The Week and The Economist.

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

Never letting it be thought that I have retired. Alcohol, cosmetic surgery and raw ambition should keep me going.

If you didn't work in the media what would you do?

Vanity olive farming.

Who are your best friends in the media?

Anyone I need to sell programmes to - currently Lorraine Heggessey, Roly Keating, Nigel Pickard, Kevin Lygo, Dan Chambers and James Baker.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

Kelvin MacKenzie - the greatest ever editor of The Sun.


1977: Joined the BBC as a news trainee. Worked as a researcher on That's Life, then as a features reporter and ran a corporate video company.

1983: Helped to create Food and Drink for BBC2 - now the UK's longest running food show.

1987: Founded Bazal - one of Europe's biggest entertainment groups. Hits include Ready Steady Cook, Changing Rooms and Ground Force.

1998: Became creative director of Dutch production house GMG Endemol Entertainment.

2000: Brought Big Brother across the sea from Holland. Received the 'Indie-vidual award for outstanding personal contribution to the Independent Sector' at the Indie awards.

2001: Became non-executive director of Channel 4.

2002: Appointed to the chairmanship of Endemol UK.

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