New controller of BBC1 promises no more soaps

The new controller of BBC1 has set out a vision for the channel that will see original drama and comedy favoured over soap operas.

The new controller of BBC1 has set out a vision for the channel that will see original drama and comedy favoured over soap operas.

Peter Fincham, who joins the BBC from the leading independent production company Talkback Thames, where he was chief executive, said yesterday it was "unlikely" that he would commission a major new soap opera.

The producer responsible for some of television's most popular shows, including I'm Alan Partridge, Da Ali G Show and Jamie's Kitchen, promised that BBC1 would remain a mainstream channel,but it needed to show "the full range" of drama, from original one-off pieces such as Stephen Poliakoff's acclaimed The Lost Prince, made by Talkback Thames, to popular continuing drama.

Mr Fincham praised Little Britain and said he wanted more comedy to come straight to BBC1. "It's terribly important for major channels to have their tent-pole comedy shows. My background before I did any other sort of programme was in comedy and that's something I want to bring a lot of focus to.

"Not for a minute am I thinking of taking BBC1 down a road that abandons the mainstream. Am I going to chase ratings? I certainly want to chase success. BBC1 needs to be a successful channel," he said.

He vowed support for EastEnders, which has suffered a fall in ratings, but did not rule out moving the soap to another slot. "We've got to find the right place on the schedule for EastEnders. We live in a moving world where all schedules move."

He added that he wanted to commission more special projects, such as the week of programmes devoted to Africa in July and an Egypt season in the autumn.

Mr Fincham, whose appointment was announced yesterday, defended Strictly Come Dancing against the criticism that the format has been over-exploited. He also described the comedian Graham Norton, who is tied to the BBC in a golden handcuffs deal, as "a great piece of talent" who would continue to play a central role on BBC1.

In a straight job swap, Mr Fincham is replacing Lorraine Heggessey, who announced last month that she was leaving to head his former company, Talkback Thames.

The BBC's director of television, Jana Bennett, praised the new appointment: "If there are maybe 10 people who have shaped television over the last decade, Peter is one of them. "He is known as someone who attracts the best talent, supports the best ideas and then backs them with tenacious passion."

The 47-year-old, who has four children, joked: "I once applied for a job as a researcher on The Late, Late Breakfast Show and was turned down, so it's taken me 20 years to get a job at the BBC ­ but what a job.

"I grew up watching BBC1 and the first programmes I made as an independent producer were for BBC1, so it's enormously flattering."

Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones, Mr Fincham's Cambridge contemporary, started Talkback in 1981 as a radio commercials business in Soho's Carnaby Street. Mr Fincham joined Talkback as managing director in 1986, and in 2000 led the £62m sale of the business to Pearson TV.

The company now employs 800 staff, produces 850 hours of programming a year and made a turnover of £131m in 2003.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
news
New Articles
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Sport
sport
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Brand Marketing Manager - Essex - £45,000 + £5000 car allowance

£40000 - £45000 per annum + car allowance: Ashdown Group: Senior Brand Manager...

Guru Careers: .NET Developer /.NET Software Developer

£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a .NET Developer /.NET Software ...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

Guru Careers: Technical Operations Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Technical Ope...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all