Big Brother is watching… the opera: Bazalgette appointed Arts Council chief

TV executive Sir Peter Bazalgette, the man behind hits such as Big Brother and Deal Or No Deal, has been appointed chairman of the Arts Council England.

His appointment, which takes effect in February 2013, was one of the last decisions taken by outgoing Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who was yesterday moved to the Department of Health in the Government reshuffle. It was approved by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Sir Peter became a dominant figure in British TV through his Endemol production company's delivery of a string of high-profile formats.

He served as a non-executive director of Channel 4 and is chair of English National Opera, president of the Royal Television Society and Non-Executive Director of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. He was knighted for his services to broadcasting in 2012.

In his new role, Sir Peter will provide strategic leadership to the Arts Council – which distributes public money allocated by the Government and the National Lottery to arts organisations – and act as an ambassador and advocate for arts and culture in England.

He succeeds outgoing chair Dame Liz Forgan, who completes her four-year term on 31 January.

Sir Peter said: "2013 will be an excellent time to join the Arts Council, following the success of the London 2012 Festival and the launch of The Space in 2012. Sustaining our vigorous arts and cultural sector is admittedly a challenge but one I greatly look forward to."

Sir Peter will serve a four-year term on an annual salary of £40,000, working up to two days per week for the Arts Council.

Alan Davey, chief executive of Arts Council England said: "This is an excellent appointment. Peter is a great philanthropic contributor to the arts; an enthusiast who has done amazing work with English National Opera and has helped the Arts Council over the years to develop our digital thinking. We look forward to working with him."