Former Sky chief Stuart Murphy, the man responsible for striking the British pay-TV company’s landmark deal with HBO, is to head up the English National Opera (ENO). The surprise move will see Murphy, who also previously ran BBC Three, join the organization in April.

Murphy, who was formerly Director of Sky Entertainment Channels, has been named Chief Executive of the ENO and succeeds Cressida Pollock in the role. During his TV years, Murphy was responsible for commissioning shows such as Showtime co-pro Penny Dreadful and BBC comedy Little Britain, which was remade by HBO in the U.S.

The opera company’s origins start in the 19th century set up by philanthropist Emma Cons and is now based at the London Coliseum in St Martin’s Lane, where current performances include A Midsummer’s Night Dream and La Traviata.

Murphy said that he has wanted to pursue his passion for classic music and opera for a long time. “I’m absolutely delighted to have been appointed Chief Executive of English National Opera. I very much look forward to joining Daniel, Martyn and the whole ENO team. I am personally committed to ensuring that ENO continues to develop new audiences, new partnerships and on new platforms in order to ensure that the company remains as thrilling and vital now as it was when it was first founded.”

Dr Harry Brunjes, Chairman of ENO, added, “I have been thrilled by the calibre of the candidates who applied for this position, and know that Stuart’s history of enabling great creativity alongside his commercial acumen will perfectly complement ENO’s artistic and musical excellence. We were impressed by the significant growth in both Sky’s audience and output under Stuart’s direction, and by his proven ability to unite and motivate his teams through a clear and inspiring vision. Under the leadership of Cressida Pollock, and through the hard work of every single member of the company, ENO has regained its financial stability and position in Arts Council England’s National Portfolio. I look forward to seeing the company continue to prosper and grow with Stuart at the helm.”