The top 50 newsmakers of 2006

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Sensationally walks out on chairman's job at the BBC to become the new executive chairman of ITV

For all his red socks and braces, Michael Grade has never before conjured a showstopper like this. Uncle Lew, the founder of ATV, his father Leslie (a theatrical agent) and his mentor Billy Cotton (who put Monty Python and the Two Ronnies on TV) would be proud. "I think they need a bit of creative leadership. That's what's missing here," he said of his new colleagues, who cheered him from the balconies as he made his entry at Gray's Inn Road. Restoring the network was a challenge he couldn't resist. Oh, and the money. Having earned £140,000 at the Beeb, he will now pick up a basic of £825,000, plus a cash bonus of 150% of salary, plus a share bonus. The package could be worth £4m. That's showbiz.


Starts a fresh newspaper war in London and scuppers Richard Branson's bid for ITV, while feeding a frenzy of social networking online

Murdoch set out his stall in March in a speech where he embraced the new media revolution but said papers still had a future. His purchase in 2005 has led to a frenzy of interest this year in social networking websites. In October, Murdoch launched his first foray into the British newspaper market since acquiring Today in 1987. The launch of thelondonpaper prompted Associated Newspapers, publishers of the London Evening Standard, to bring out a rival evening free, London Lite, and the capital's streets were heaving with merchandisers dressed in purple or maroon. Then he made his play in television, with BSkyB, run by his son James, making a shock acquisition of 18% of ITV, thwarting a takeover attempt by cable operator NTL and its chief shareholder, Richard Branson. All in all, not a bad year's work for a 75-year-old.


News that he makes £4,666-an-hour for his radio show caused uproar but he dominates the broadcast media

Wossy might not have been too happy when a BBC mole leaked to the press details of his earnings. But the revelation he was paid £720,000-a-year for his weekly Radio 2 show and news he has been awarded a three-year BBC contract worth £18m, confirmed his position as Britain's most highly-valued broadcaster. The BBC director general, Mark Thompson, may have winced at the headlines ('Why is the BBC lavishing such grotesque sums on Ross & co' Daily Mail) at a time when he was re-negotiating the licence fee, but controllers Peter Fincham (BBC1) and Lesley Douglas (Radio 2) aren't complaining. Ross has been the heavy artillery in defending Radio 2's impregnable position, while Friday Night with Jonathan Ross is taking 30% of audience share. He made headlines in October for a "vulgar" interview with David Cameron, in which he asked the Tory leader if he'd once fantasised over Lady Thatcher.


Going up the tubes for $1bn

When three PayPal employees were looking for ways to share videos online, they never imagined their solution would end up netting them more than $1bn less than two years later. But that's exactly what happened to Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, alongside co-founder Jawed Karim, when they sold YouTube to Google for $1.65bn in November. Although the site only launched in late 2005, by this July 100 million clips were being viewed daily and 65,000 new videos uploaded every 24 hours. The success was helped by various copyright scandals with NBC and CBS, who later changed tack, realising they could promote themselves on the site. After deals with Warner, Universal and Sony BMG to provide free music-videos, Chen has claimed "every music video ever created" will be on the site within months.


Loses husband but keeps place in the Cabinet

After the excitement of last year's successful Olympic bid, in which she was seen cavorting with Lord Coe, David Beckham and the like, Tessa's newsmaking was a lot more painful in 2006. For a while she was hanging on to her career, as headlines focused on allegations by an Italian prosecutor that her husband David Mills, an international lawyer, had been implicated in a corruption probe involving the Italian politician and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi. Her husband denied the allegations. Their marriage collapsed but she has kept her job, partly because of her skill in avoiding making enemies. Much of her year has been spent in negotiations over the settlement of the BBC licence fee, a process in which she appears to have taken a tough line, eventually siding with the Treasury's assessment that the corporation has failed to make its case for the fee to be set above the rate of inflation.


Soft lights, soft interview, great scoop

An international media furore broke out after the revelation in October that Madonna had adopted an African baby, but she only granted one interview to a journalist from her country of residence - Kirsty Wark. As a regular presenter of Newsnight and Newsnight Review, Wark is no stranger to tough interviewees and awkward questions, so it surprised some that her biggest scoop of the year resulted in her least probing interview. Instead of the usual sombre Newsnight desk with its video backdrop, Wark flew to New York to interview Madonna in a studio bedecked with silk curtains and elaborate candelabra, no doubt blessed with Kabbalah water. Wark's deferential interview style has been widely criticised but no other British journalist has come close to interviewing the material girl following the $2m adoption scandal.


Role as a power-broker is revealed but forced to abandon his dreams for Press Gazette

"St Matthew of the Shadows" was unveiled as "The Great Manipulator" when the PR man broke his own golden rule of not standing between the footlights and the stage. He was revealed to have hosted a dinner party at his Notting Hill home for Tessa Jowell, his client the American casino billionaire Philip Anschutz, and other movers and shakers. Although commentators expressed dismay that a foreign businessman could get access to a Secretary of State in such a way, Freud's reputation as a fixer grew immensely. The year ended in disappointment as Freud was forced to sell off the journalism trade magazine Press Gazette, which he'd bought with his friend Piers Morgan only last year. The ill-starred venture, which nearly led to the title closing altogether, suggests he should concentrate on his formidable PR empire.


Builds his channel, kills off Dubya

Of all the terrestrial channels, Channel 4 is in the rudest health, reporting record profits of £48.5m on turnover of £900m. Andy Duncan, who as a marketer understands the importance of branding in a complex digital marketplace better than most, has been busy with the rest of his television portfolio too, making E4 and FilmFour available for free. The still fresh More 4 made big headlines with Death of a President - the faked film of George W Bush being shot produced one of the iconic still photographs of the year, and caused uproar in the US. Duncan is also at the cutting edge of media convergence and moved into radio and magazines while continuing to experiment with user-generated content online. He isn't easy to pigeonhole. After all, this year he also sanctioned a Channel 4 series on masturbation under the heading "Wank Week".


Starts to show his incisors - and they're just as sharp as his dad's

Though it bore all the hallmarks of a classic Rupert sting, BSkyB's raid on 17.9 per cent of ITV's shareholding last month was primarily the idea of his son James Murdoch. The young Murdoch, who many assume is being groomed to inherit his father's News Corp empire in New York, claimed that the £940m deal was not an attempt to stymie Richard Branson's ambitions to own ITV but was simply an investment. Commentators saw it differently. "An astonishing spoiling tactic," said the BBC's business correspondent Robert Peston. Soon, the normally low-profile James was turning his attentions to the BBC, publicly accusing the corporation of "megalomania". He faces a tough year ahead if he is to stay on course to meet his target of 10 million Sky subscribers by 2010, but he will be hoping for a strong performance from the cult US drama Lost; Sky One paid a colossal £20m to wrest it away from Channel 4.


The beard is back

Having announced plans to rebrand the cable group NTL (in which he is the biggest shareholder) as Virgin Media in the first quarter this year, Sir Richard's plans for offering quadruple-play packages (TV, Virgin mobile, phone-over-internet and broadband) were knocked off course by BSkyB last month. Just as NTL was preparing to make a £4.7bn bid for Britain's biggest commercial broadcaster, Sky stepped in and bought a 17.9 per cent ITV stake. Nonetheless, Branson is undoubtedly back on the British media scene. He promptly went on the offensive over Sky's audacious move, publicly berating Rupert Murdoch's influence over British society and particularly its politicians (even though he presides over a £25bn global business himself). His quadruple-play ambitions are far from thwarted, and 2007 looks like being a big year in media for the British public's most popular entrepreneur.


The pair with 100 million friends

The virtual world of MySpace is not so different to life on terra firma - users meet friends, listen to music and see unknowns become celebrities overnight, all under the watchful eye of Rupert Murdoch. The News Corp boss bought the social networking site last year for $580m, stamping his seal of approval on the world wide web as a sound business investment and hoping that the popular site would direct users to his Fox TV and Sky sites. MySpace, created in 2003 by Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe, has proliferated so rapidly since the Murdoch buyout that it now hosts 80 per cent of all the social networking traffic on the net and announced the creation of its 100 millionth account earlier this year. The site has gained particular notoriety for publicising new music and facilitating the success of artists such as Lily Allen and the Arctic Monkeys. Its main rival is YouTube - currently growing at a far quicker rate - but the two sites actually feed off each other, sharing many users who want to link their content and share music and videos.


Moves into top role at media watchdog

The former chief operating officer of Ofcom moved into the chief executive's role in the summer, succeeding Stephen Carter. The most remarkable thing about Ed Richards' accession to the head job was that it attracted hardly a single word of dissent. Some senior media executives no doubt wanted to keep the watchdog on side for future regulatory squabbles, but the over-riding public view of Richards' appointment was that he was "the right man for the job". Few people understand the digital future better than the 41-year-old, who was formerly a controller of corporate strategy at the BBC and before that a Downing Street policy adviser. His first major test will be to examine whether BSkyB's shock acquisition of ITV amounts to a "change in control".


The most promiscuous man in broadcasting

The former heroin addict, who was sacked from MTV after turning up for work dressed as Osama bin Laden on 12 September 2001, kicked off the year hosting Big Brother's Big Mouth and then Russell Brand's Got Issues, both on E4. The Russell Brand Show on Channel 4 was launched to compete with Jonathan Ross. Radio-wise, his BBC6 Music stint came to an end last month when it was announced he would host a Saturday night show on Radio 2. He writes a football column for The Guardian and has squeezed in a new series for MTV and a sell-out stand-up tour. He was crowned GQ's most stylish and Loaded's funniest man. He describes himself as an "S&M Willy Wonka".


Yorkshire loudmouth piles on the listeners

The Leeds-born loudmouth Chris Moyles won a Sony Gold radio award for best entertainment show this year and published his autobiography. His show clogs up Radio 1's airwaves every weekday morning with a medley of slapstick pranks, hackneyed features and incessant mockery, gays and women being his favourite targets. Whether this says more about Moyles or his audience, it has proved a winning formula for the station and he's been piling on listeners since 2004. He is now often called "the saviour of Radio 1" and just under seven million tune in each day, placing him not far behind Wogan in the ratings war. He isn't lagging far behind in earnings, either, reportedly earning £630,000, more than twice the salary of the station's next-highest earner Jo Whiley. Moyles has been the subject of various Ofcom investigations for referring to women as "dirty whores" and making homophobic remarks.


New editor-in-chief of The Economist oversees more phenomenal sales growth

A former US editor of the magazine that prefers to be known as a "newspaper", Micklethwait enjoys a lofty reputation across the pond for his bestselling analysis of American conservatism The Right Nation, which he wrote with Economist colleague Adrian Wooldridge. Since becoming editor-in-chief in March, Micklethwait has piled on more sales, particularly in America, and has managed to take advantage of uncertainty at The Daily Telegraph and Financial Times to poach new staff. ABC circulation figures published in July showed that the title had increased sales by 4.5 per cent year-on-year, making it the most successful British news publication. At the Society of Editors conference in Glasgow last month, Andrew Neil described the magazine that he used to edit as "the most successful magazine global brand in the world, on and off the web".


Youngest-ever editor of The Daily Telegraph invents the hub-and-spoke newsroom

Whether it will prove a success is another thing. There are many within the newspaper itself who have their doubts, and Lewis has had to draw on all his diplomatic skills to fight off strike action. Those skills did not include describing some staff as "Luddites". Lewis, 37, is nothing if not evangelical about his multimedia approach to news and claims that the Telegraph's comparatively elderly readership are embracing the podcasts, vodcasts and blogging he's introducing. With the help of an increase in bulk sales, he oversees a title that has maintained a headline circulation of more than 900,000, making it comfortably the most-read title in the daily quality newspaper market.


The Big Beast of adland returns

Not that Sir Frank ever really went away. But he became the talk of the business at the start of the year when he set up The Red Brick Road (the alternative route Dorothy chose to avoid in The Wizard of Oz) as his new vehicle, having prised the £45m Tesco account from the agency that bears his own name. He brought in Paul Weinberger from Lowe London and Paul Hammersley from DDB London, and the Heineken business came hot on the heels of the supermarket's account. He also made Stella Artois into the global brand it is today. Next year will show if he still has the magic touch.


The magazine that broke the mould

Jane Bruton has had an absolutely fabulous year. As editor of the "weekly glossy" Grazia she has carved out a new, very lucrative niche in the market, bridging the gap between the traditionally downmarket women's weeklies and high-fashion monthlies. The secret lay in turning an open secret into a publishing phenomenon - women who dress with style still enjoy tasteless gossip. The magazine has broken heaps of exclusives and rotates its favourite cover-girls from week to week. The formula sells more than 170,000 copies a week and Bruton's colleagues at the British Society of Magazine Editors rewarded her last month with their Editors' Editor award.


King of the blarney talks the talk, walks the walk

Terry Wogan has cultivated a generation-spanning following, including students and pensioners. He is into his fifth decade as a broadcaster, and attracts an amazing eight million listeners every morning to his Radio 2 breakfast show Wake Up To Wogan - far more than any other show. His long-time producer and sidekick Paul Walters died of cancer earlier this year but Tel has soldiered on. The revelation that he earns £800,000 from the BBC hit the headlines in the summer, but he defended his salary in an interview: "The amount they said was true and I don't give a monkey's about people knowing it. Nor do I feel guilty. If you do the maths, factoring in my eight million listeners, I cost the BBC about 2p a fortnight. I think I'm cheap at the price."


BBC's king of new media is given even more power

The BBC's "creative future review" in the summer saw this already important player catapulted to a new level. His staff was increased from 850 to 1,500 and his budget from £250m to £400m so that he might prosecute a plan to transform with added video content. Highfield aims to enable viewers to watch online the BBC TV shows they missed during the previous week, and to make available significant proportions of the its television archive. Broadcast magazine was moved to note that he "is increasingly coming to be recognised as one of the most influential figures in world media". Highfield, 41, is a motor-racing nut who's not afraid to get behind the wheel of a Grand Prix car. He will need all his nerve and judgement to take on the Googles and Yahoo!s of this world, while convincing commercial operators and licence-fee payers that such vast public investment is justified.


Deal or new deal, Noel is once more TV's hottest property

The prize for most spectacular comeback of 2006 goes to Noel Edmonds. The former Radio 1 DJ and House Party and Telly Addicts presenter returned to our screens as the host of the mind-bogglingly popular daytime hit Deal or No Deal in late 2005. The show, which gives contestants the opportunity to win up to £250,000 by opening a series of 22 boxes, is broadcast six days a week and regularly pulls in audiences of four million. Edmonds presides, guiding the contestants through the maze of boxes with the help of a mysterious banker on the end of a phone. In March, Channel 4 extended his contract for 18 months for a reputed £3m, and he has achieved cult status at the age of 57. Since Edmonds' acrimonious departure from the BBC in 2000 after a 30-year television and radio career, his marriage broke down and he was said to be at a very low ebb. Now, thanks to the fickle world of entertainment, he has a Bafta nomination under his belt.


The Beeb's bespectacled political editor takes on Blair and Bush

When he was appointed in autumn 2005, Nick Robinson faced a difficult task stepping into the vacuum left by his predecessor, Andrew Marr, and his distinctive style of political broadcasting. But Robinson, with his combative style, his willingness to ask the difficult question, his populist instinct, his Gucci glasses and his bald pate, has established himself as a BBC institution only a year after returning from ITV. He has been a multimedia dynamo, blogging, making documentaries for Radio 4 and tackling the big stories on the bulletins, News 24 and Today. He infuriated Tony Blair by questioning him over tensions with Gordon Brown during the Lebanon crisis, and incurred a hateful glare from George Bush for suggesting he was in denial over Iraq. Both confrontations, of course, made for great telly.


Monty on the march through Europe

Much as many of his former colleagues at Trinity Mirror (then Mirror Group) would love to think of Monty as yesterday's man, this dourest of Ulstermen proved them all wrong by emerging as a 21st-century European media mogul, snapping up newspapers across the Continent. David Montgomery has been derided for not much liking his fellow members of the human race, and certainly that was a view taken by some of his new employees at the Berliner Zeitung, who promptly denounced their new boss as an "Anglo-Saxon locust" and started a demonstration outside the paper. Through his company Mecom he has spent 2006 amassing a large portfolio of titles in Germany, Holland, Lithuania, Norway, Denmark, Poland and Ukraine. His aim will be to drive up the profit margins of the papers from, typically, 7 per cent to close to 20 per cent. That's a hungry locust.


New polish at The Spectator

The latest edition of The Spectator is a sumptuous Christmas double-issue - 132 pages and perfect-bound, a tribute to the lustre Matthew d'Ancona has brought to the title since he succeeded Boris Johnson as editor at the beginning of the year. A former Sunday Telegraph grandee, d'Ancona made changes that were not to everyone's liking, many of them attributed to chief executive Andrew Neil. Fraser Nelson arrived as political editor to the sound of Neil's enthusiastic endorsement, and Peter Oborne moved on. The magazine became seriously preoccupied with Westminster politics, and introduced a style section - You've Earned It - that was decried in some quarters as vulgar and somehow unworthy of The Spectator's finer traditions. Some of the charm seemed to go out of the magazine. The changes made business sense, though; advertising and circulation remain strong. D'Ancona's profile took on another dimension when Dylan Jones hired him as a political columnist on GQ.


Foive out of foive

The description "natural broadcaster" is often invoked, but few warrant it more than the 39-year-old West Midlander who does for football presenting what John Peel used to do for pop. Chiles' bedside manner and refusal to take himself too seriously have turned him into an enormously well-liked figure, now in demand across the broadcasting spectrum. Having already been attached to the hugely successful BBC genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?, he impressed again this year with his deft handling of the Apprentice spin-off show in which those rejected by Sir Alan Sugar shared their pain in front of a live audience. Chiles continues to anchor the Sunday night Match of the Day 2 programme in a way that makes it very much the discerning football fan's programme of choice, and he had a superb World Cup overlooking various German landmarks. How long before he gets his own chat-show? The BBC might just have unearthed the new Parky.


Proving the doubters wrong

Five's main news anchor began presenting Desert Island Discs in October, taking over from Sue Lawley, who resigned after 18 years. Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer said he believed Young's "warmth and curiosity" would be perfect for radio's longest-running music programme, but the press reported fears that Young would be "too lowbrow". Her debut show with castaway Quentin Blake prompted a tabloid newspaper profile that described her as "ruthless, disloyal and chillingly ambitious".

But sources at the BBC said audience figures for her first shows outstripped those for Lawley's last shows, and calls to the BBC's "audience line" endorsed her style of interviewing by a majority of two to one. Young started her career as a newsreader for BBC Scotland. She has presented the bi-weekly discussion show Kirsty on STV; the BBC2 consumer affairs show The Street; and news specials for Five on the MMR debate and children on drugs. She is married to Nick Jones, owner of the Soho House Group, and has two children.


The spies we loved

She is the joint managing director of Kudos, the company which makes hit spy drama Spooks, which has been sold to an astonishing 50 countries. When the idea was mooted six years ago before the dawn of a new age of international terrorism, Channel 4 passed. Thankfully, the BBC saw its potential and filming of the sixth series is now under way. Independent production company Kudos quickly built a reputation for polished, high-end drama and also makes Hustle, Life on Mars, The Amazing Mrs Pritchard and recent BBC drama Tsunami. BBC Three is now developing a Spooks spin off, Rogue Spooks. Spooks regularly pulls audiences of more than five million and part of the show's popularity must be down to its timely pinning down of the zeitgeist - a British-born suicide bomber appeared on Spooks before the 7/7 bombings and Israeli intelligence even phoned the BBC to complain about a recent episode, worried the portrayal of Mossad was a little too close to home. Kudos is now reportedly being targetted for a buy-up by the larger indy Shine.


Getting BBC4 noticed

BBC4, of which Janice Hadlow is controller, has seen its viewing figures rise 40 per cent year on year. She joined the channel in June last year, saying that the hardest thing about working for a niche channel (it has less than 1 per cent of the overall share of viewers) is getting noticed. That's something she has achieved over the last year and a half, commissioning David Starkey's Six Wives and Elizabeth and Karbala, City of Martyrs, that run alongside The Thick Of It and Jack Dee's Lead Balloon. Next year, the channel, which launched in 2002, will screen a dramatisation of George and Weedon Grossmith's cult novel The Diary of a Nobody, after Hadlow persuaded Andrew Davies, who wrote the screenplay for Pride and Prejudice, to adapt it for the small screen, as part of its Edwardian season. Hadlow was previously head of specialist factual at Channel 4 television. She has worked as a producer on Radio 4's Woman's Hour and created and edited The Late Show.


Director of Guinness ad scoops adland's top prize

Kleinman's reputation continues to grow after he landed the Grand Prix at the Cannes International Advertising Festival for his portrayal of the Guinness drinker as human kind at its most advanced. The ad, entitled "noitulovE" (that's Evolution spelt backwards, folks), showed a group of blokes drinking the black stuff in the pub and then took them back through time, via the sea and the desert to their origins in the ice age. For Kleinman, the award was long overdue. "I've been in contention for the Grand Prix a few times - and been pipped to the post by just a couple of votes, apparently - so it was nice that the jury was sensible for once," he told this section in July. Apart from the Guinness work, for London agency AMV, Kleinman also marked 2006 by directing the title sequences for the new James Bond movie, Casino Royale.


Flextech boss jumps ship to Five

In the musical chairs that took place in the upper echelons of the British television industry during 2006, this was another move that few would have foreseen. Shortly after Jane Lighting, chief executive of channel Five, announced her much-awaited portfolio of new channels (Five Life and Five US), she went to see her popular director of programmes Dan Chambers, and fired him. Lighting then turned to her old pal from Flextech, who shocked colleagues by heading off to Five's HQ in Covent Garden. Opie had been at Flextech for 13 years. She is a highly capable operator having built up the profile of Flextech's channel brands (Living, Bravo, Trouble). But will she have the nose to sniff out Five's desperately needed first original breakout hit? Five, itself, continues to be at the centre of speculation that it might be traded by owners RTL in return for BSkyB's new stake in ITV.


Charting troubled waters at 'Sunday Telegraph'

Highly thought of as the business editor of The Times, she was poached by the Barclay brothers to become the new editor of the Sunday Telegraph in March. Her task has not been easy. She was occupying an editor's chair freshly vacated by Sarah Sands after only nine months. Not only that, Sands' time had coincided with a radical redesign of one of the most traditional newspapers. Just to unsettle matters further, the entire Telegraph Group was in the process of transferring its operation from Canary Wharf to Victoria. Though Wheatcroft, 55, was not the architect of the move, she was obliged to plead with journalists not to strike. Sales are down 8.2 per cent on last year's paper, but the fact she remains in post is an achievement in itself.


Master marketer attempts to sell a White Elephant

Named by Marketing Week as the "Marketing CEO of the Year" and chosen by the Marketing Society as a star speaker at its annual conference last month, Peter Erskine has had quite a year. The chief executive of O2 has turned the company's fortunes around, transforming what was once boring old BT Cellnet into the fastest-growing mobile phone company, characterised by clever, laidback commercials, feelgood music sponsorship and smart sports branding. Not bad for a man who once sold wall putty and drinks machines, and who still insists on wearing an enormous, unfashionable moustache. Erskine and his team recently announced Justin Timberlake as the first artist to perform at the former Millennium Dome, the White Elephant which will be relaunched next year as "The O2", an audacious marketing move. Having struck gold by sponsoring the Ashes winners of 2005 and the Rugby World Cup winners of 2003, he will be hoping things aren't starting to unravel with the recent failings of England's rugby team, not so resplendent in their O2 shirts.


Bad-boy agency comes of age

Calcraft is the most high-profile of the five founders of the agency that revolutionised British adland, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this month. Once seen as an enfant terrible, it has stepped out from behind its own apron-strings to land business from Coca-Cola, producing Coke's Christmas campaign (Father Christmas's romance with a woman from small-town America). Mother, which operates from an east London headquarters called the Biscuit Building, was once known mainly for its ground-breaking work for marginal brands such as Supernoodles. Now it has a roster of global clients such as Unilever and Diageo. The question is whether Calcraft and his fellow partners - Robert Saville, Mark Waites, Andy Medd and Matthew Clark - can retain their edge. That's certainly the plan. "We are only interested in clients with ambition who want to do something really great, who want work that really makes a difference," Calcraft recently told this supplement.


That was the killer question that was

The veteran broadcaster, 67, moved to the al-Jazeera International television channel. During his first interview for the channel last month, Tony Blair disclosed that the Iraq invasion had "so far been pretty much of a disaster". Sir David was immortalised on stage this year in Frost-Nixon, based on his interviews with Richard Nixon after Watergate, which received the largest audience for a news interview in history. Sir David, who has written 15 books and produced eight films, is one of Britain's most respected presenters. He was the first person to be given a full interview by President Bush, and his programmes have included the BBC's Breakfast With Frost (which ended in May last year after 500 shows), The Frost Programme, Frost on Friday and A Degree of Frost. He is married to Lady Carina, a former fashion model and the daughter of the Duke of Norfolk.


"Balls" and "Paint" - the man behind Britain's best ads

It was never going to be easy to follow the spectacular "Balls" campaign for Sony Bravia, in which thousands of bouncy balls were filmed cascading down a street in San Francisco, but Fallon London damn near pulled it off by hiring a disused Glasgow housing estate and dousing it in jets, sprays and downpours of every conceivable hue (at a cost of about £2m). Sony's "Balls" may have been beaten to the Grand Prix at Cannes by Guinness's "noitulovE" (see Danny Kleinman), but many thought the Fallon ad should have won. Still, Senior was soon celebrating; the agency, which has won new clients in the form of Orange (consumer account) Cadbury (Bournville) and (rebrand) and held on to its business with the BBC was last week named agency of the year by the adland trade magazine Campaign. Senior said: "We have stuck to our guns for eight years and this is a fantastic dividend."


The blog of war

Guido Fawkes's political blog has gained praise and notoriety over the past 12 months for its bold reporting and the intrigue surrounding his identity. The name isn't the most auspicious of pseudonyms for someone who makes a living grubbing for gossip in the murkier corners of Westminster, but Fawkes blogs for the politicians, the lobby journalists and the layman alike. He is rewarded for his frankness - he refuses to keep quiet about the open secrets political reporters never print, and was responsible for outing John Prescott's affair and naming Tracey Temple this summer. In May, he co-authored a book with the Conservative blogger Iain Dale about Labour Party sleaze and helped Press Gazette to out his own identity last month as one Paul Staines, a former acid-house party promoter who made his fortune in finance. He is currently setting up a company called MessageSpace to help the more popular political blogs make money.


Rock'n'roll culcha

The former Kenickie rockstrel has hauled herself out of the embers of ITV's decommissioned pop music show CD:UK to become a regular presenter on The Culture Show on BBC2. The 28-year-old appears on the weekly arts show in addition to her day job as the breakfast host on the indie station Xfm, and enjoys a profile (if not listening figures) in line with Johnny Vaughan and Christian O'Connell. Laverne got used to the spotlight aged 17 when her band had a Top 10 album. She went on to present a string of music television shows and became a regular stand-in DJ on BBC1 and 6 Music. Laverne has been one of BBC2's main Glastonbury presenters for several years, but proving her mettle to an older audience should keep her in work once her looks start to fade.


The Barber makes his cuts but is pleased with his new look

In a newspaper industry where there are few causes for optimism, Lionel Barber's Financial Times was one notable exception last month. Whereas all the other daily papers posted falls in circulation, the FT was slightly up on 12 months earlier. Barber marked his first year at the helm in October and has wasted little time in making his mark on a title that began life in 1888 with the slogan "The Friend of the Honest Financier and the Respectable Broker". Barber lost a few friends in the summer when he announced a revamp of the FT's news operation, which involved 50 redundancies and an increasingly multimedia approach. It was a restructuring that was to foreshadow a similar overhaul of the Telegraph titles later in the year, although Barber managed to carry out his revolution without bringing staff to the brink of industrial action. Nonetheless, he continues to crack the whip and is keen on the idea of FT staffers being at their desks at 7am.


The Tories' favourite Guardianista

Even the most self-important of newspaper columnists might occasionally wonder how much influence they really have. But the distinguished Guardian writer and conscience of New Labour Polly Toynbee had her weightiness confirmed in November when she emerged as a key figure in Tory thinking about social inequality. The subject dearest to Toynbee's heart - five years ago, she went undercover to write a book about low-pay Britain - has been seized on by David Cameron as a key battleground, and an area where the Tories need to break with their traditional attitudes. Contrasting her views with Winston Churchill's notion that welfare should be regarded as "a safety net holding people just above the abyss", a Tory research said that Toynbee "supplied imagery that is more appropriate for Conservative social policy in the 21st century". Not all Tories were pleased; Boris Johnson asked: "How the hell... can a proper Tory find anything to admire in Polly's world view?"


Year of the gnome

The Private Eye editor celebrated his 20th anniversary in the chair this year. As well as presiding over a robust circulation - recent issues have sold 213,000 copies - the revered organ continues to provide some of the sharpest satire on the market. The Eye has also retained its reputation for investigative journalism despite the loss of Paul Foot. On television, where he was famously dubbed "sperm of the devil" by the late Paula Yates, Hislop continues to impress in Have I Got News For You. He has also proved he can press the buttons of Middle England after making the jump to serious output, both on television and radio, with series covering historical and religious affairs. The Hislop household will look back on 2006 as doubly successful following the publication of The Island by the editor's wife, Victoria.


The reforming DG marches forward but loses his war-chest

Much of the BBC director general's year has been spent on campaigning hard for a favourable licence-fee settlement and driving forward his programme of cost-cutting reforms. Many observers feel he deserves credit for embracing the BBC's digital future in the "creative future review", which could ultimately lead to the treasure trove of the BBC film archive being made available online. Thompson made headlines with his brinkmanship over the proposed transfer of BBC departments to Salford, saying the move would not happen without the right licence-fee deal (BBC governors have since said the move represents value for money). Then, amid strong rumours that - to the BBC's disappointment - the settlement would be below the level of inflation, came another bombshell; the BBC chairman Michael Grade was decamping to rivals ITV, undermining Thompson's hopes that the licence deal could be improved. Close but no cigar, as Grade might have said to him.


Big-mouth strikes again

Even in such a busy media year as 2006, Kelvin was making news. "Opinionated and contentious" is what Sun editor Rebekah Wade signed up for when she brought back the "Beast of Bouverie Street". What she surely didn't have in mind was the Beast getting his teeth into the old wounds of Hillsborough and reminding Liverpudlians just why so many of them turned their backs on the Sun in 1989. "I was not sorry then and I'm not sorry now," said MacKenzie to a group of business people in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He claimed he had only apologised for the notorious Sun article, headlined "The Truth" and claiming that drunken Liverpool supporters were responsible for the tragedy, because he had been told to by Rupert Murdoch. Latest reports claim that MacKenzie is being lined up to host a reality TV show in which he tells regional newspapers how to improve their products. Let's hope for his sake that the Liverpool Echo doesn't take him up on the offer.


A stagger in the right direction

For so long second fiddle to The Spectator, the New Statesman is making a concerted effort to bridge a still-wide gap - 30,000 circulation, compared with 70,000. That's thanks to the energy and innovation of the paper's one-time political editor, who took over from Peter Wilby as editor in mid-2005. Kampfner has overseen an admired relaunch and just been named editor of the year in the current-affairs magazine category in the BSME awards. Kampfner is much more high profile than Wilby, with a strategy to get the magazine talked about. He is also fighting a war on what he calls "lazy journalism", and prides himself on refusing a number of pieces offered by cabinet ministers because they weren't "rigorous" enough. Political editor Martin Bright has scored some notable successes while digging away at stories behind the invasion of Iraq, and Wilby himself lives on in the form of a media column.


Celeb magazine on fire

Despite healthy competition on the news-stand, the gossip mag Heat still leads the pack. It returned record sales of nearly 580,000 this summer and was named best entertainment magazine by the British Society of Magazine Editors. Before the editor, Mark Frith, got his hands on the ailing title, readers had to choose between Hello!, OK! and Now for a peep inside the lives of celebrities. Frith repositioned Heat as a magazine that exposed celebrities' flaws and indiscretions, but which they were still proud to be in. Frith, a former editor of Smash Hits, cashed in on its demise earlier this year by publishing The Best of Smash Hits.


High-grade scoop

It was one of the scoops of the year - the sensational news that Michael Grade, director general of the BBC, was jumping ship to succeed Charles Allen as the chairman of troubled ITV. And the story came from neither the BBC nor ITV - nor indeed from a Murdoch paper, which rarely misses the chance to revel in a BBC misfortune. Instead, the man snapping his braces was Jeff Randall, one-time BBC business editor, now editor-at-large at The Telegraph. It was easily the paper's most eye-catching exclusive since Will Lewis succeeded Martin Newland as editor and the operation moved from Canary Wharf to Victoria. "I had to be absolutely sure that my sources were 100 per cent correct," Randall said. "The thing I most admired about William was that he never asked me who they were. He trusted me because he knew that had I got it wrong I would have had to resign the next day."


PR force behind the makeover of M&S

While Marks & Spencer boss Stuart Rose has rightly taken most of the accolades for the revival of one of the stalwarts of the high street, some key media professionals have played pivotal roles in the transformation. Howard-Allen, as M&S director of communications, has been at the heart of the repositioning strategy, helping to ensure maximum exposure for the company's "Your M&S" advertising campaign, featuring Twiggy and made by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R. Not only does Howard-Allen oversee M&S's corporate PR, she also heads the company's specialist food and fashion teams, both of which have enjoyed a better press. She was named PR professional of the year by PR Week magazine. Last month, M&S announced a 32 per cent rise in half-year profits.


No crisis, just great drama

Was made controller of BBC Fiction in October. She is responsible for drama and comedy commissioning, programme acquisitions and BBC films. From 2000 to 2006, she was controller of drama commissioning on BBCs 1, 2, 3 and 4. Commissions during that time included Shakespeare, Rome, Jane Eyre, Life on Mars, Bleak House, Hotel Babylon, Robin Hood, Doctor Who, Bodies, Torchwood, Blackpool, Casanova and Spooks. She joined the BBC in 1985 as a secretary. She was recently forced to defend Doctor Who being seen sharing a bed with Rose Tyler, his assistant. "They do spend a night in the same bed, but it is with their clothes on and on top of the covers. Anyway, I'm sure it gets interrupted by a monster," she said. Commissions to be transmitted in 2007 include Jekyll, Sense and Sensibility, Lilies, Stuart, A Life Backwards and Party Animals.


Sensational Fleet Street transfer deal

Left The Times as assistant editor last month after 18 years at the paper to take up the same post at The Daily Telegraph. The former diarist's leaving do was graced by the presence of three national newspaper editors at the private bar 18/19 at Soho House - Robert Thomson of the Times, Will Lewis of The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph's Patience Wheatcroft. Also in attendance were The Times' former editor Peter Stothard; Amanda Platell, who temporarily lured Pierce away to the Sunday Express when she edited it; and John Bryant, editor-in-chief of the Telegraph and the man who persuaded Pierce to move. Thomson said he had "broken more stories than anyone else in the room," adding: "There's only one Andrew Pierce and the Telegraph, to whom we are passing him on, has a duty to look after this national living treasure."


All hands to the pump for editor turned PR man

The former News of the World editor must have been one of the busiest people in PR this year. He chose to take on Heather Mills as a client during her acrimonious split with Sir Paul McCartney. While Sir Paul has maintained what he hopes is a dignified silence, his 38-year-old estranged wife accused him of verbal abuse and violence and then told a tabloid TV interviewer that she would rather lose the rest of her limbs than repeat the trauma of her marriage breakdown. Hall now shares his brief with The PR Office. When not firefighting on Mills-McCartney, Hall has had his work cut out defending the reputation of West Ham United, the club he supports, which has been through one of the most traumatic starts to a season in its history, culminating in a takeover by an Icelandic business group and the sacking of the previously popular manager Alan Pardew.


New editor of Today

Took over as editor of BBC Radio 4's Today programme in April. Thomas, formerly editor of BBC radio newsgathering, was a favourite to get the job. He began his BBC career in 1991 as a junior producer on Today. He became assistant editor and then left for spells as breakfast editor and head of news at Five Live. The BBC head of news, Helen Boaden, described him as "an excellent journalist with a great passion for connecting with audiences". Thomas described the job as the best in BBC daily journalism. "It's fascinating and full of challenges, and I'm very fortunate to be taking it on at a time when the programme's in such good shape." Thomas replaced Kevin Marsh, who went to head the BBC's College of Journalism. Three weeks into the job, Thomas said he wasn't going to rule out the confrontational interview as it was necessary on occasion.