BBC3 chief to take over at BBC1

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The Independent Online

BBC3 controller Danny Cohen is to take over the running of BBC1, it was announced today.

He succeeds Jay Hunt who is leaving to take over as Channel 4 supremo.

Announcing the appointment, the director of BBC Vision Jana Bennett called Mr Cohen "one of the most talented TV executives of his generation".

In three years at BBC3 Mr Cohen has helped reposition the channel. He recently commissioned a youth version of Question Time for the station, which was once heavily criticised but has been named channel of the year for two of the past three years.

He had previously been an executive at Channel 4, including a stint as head of factual entertainment and head of E4. Mr Cohen commissioned Skins, The Inbetweeners, Fonejacker and Supernanny.

He said today: "It's a huge privilege to take charge of Britain's most-watched channel, and I feel honoured to have this opportunity.

"BBC1 is one of the nation's great cultural institutions, and I'm looking forward to working with a wonderful range of talented people in the coming years."

Ms Hunt has been in the post for three years and is moving to become Channel 4's chief creative officer under new chief executive David Abraham.

Ms Bennett said today: "Danny Cohen is one of the most talented TV executives of his generation.

"His work both here at the BBC and at Channel 4 with programmes such as Skins, The Inbetweeners, Being Human, Women, Weddings, War And Me and Young Voters' Question Time attest to his skills as an innovator and a great creative thinker.

"He has a deep understanding of public service broadcasting and a finely developed sense of what audiences of all ages are looking for, things which are hugely important as controller of the UK's most popular channel."

Mr Cohen's time at BBC3 has not been uncontroversial. The decision to use wild child actress Lindsay Lohan to front an investigative documentary about child trafficking drew some criticism.

But he defended her inclusion saying that the use of big names helps to draw young viewers' attention to important issues and "pull in a crowd that wouldn't otherwise switch on".

But he added: "If you get a rent-a-celeb, this audience can spot it a mile off. I've turned down more celebrity-led documentaries than I've put on the channel."

Mr Cohen was also involved in the recent strategy review which looked at BBC output.

He starts his role as BBC1 controller immediately and will oversee BBC3 until a new appointment is made.