In a fairly seismic move for the British broadcasting scene, the BBC’s drama chief Polly Hill has joined ITV as their new head of drama. The surprising news comes as ITV bolsters its exec lineup after a number of recent departures. Also joining ITV is Optomen managing director Sue Murphy as the commissioner for factual entertainment. ITV Studios’ Siobhan Greene becomes the commissioning team’s head of entertainment and Peter Davey has been promoted to head of comedy. Angela Jain will take over as managing director of ITV Studios Entertainment.
Tapping Hill is a coup for ITV chiefs, particularly given her high standing in the UK creative community. It also comes as she basks in the glow of ratings and critical smash hit in the John Le Carré adaptation The Night Manager, starring Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie. Hill also had a number of high profile commissions in the pipelines, notably the Philip Pullman epic trilogy His Dark Materials with New Line and Bad Wolf. Deadline broke the news this week that Jack Thorne, arguably the hottest British writer currently working on the back of his unprecedented three BAFTA noms, would be writing the event TV series.
ITV announced last week that drama boss Steve November would be leaving the company after 16 years. November’s exit came at a challenging time for ITV, following the end of ratings juggernaut Downton Abbey. While the distribution side of the business ITV Studios has continued to expand and grow ambitiously with a number of acquisitions and first-look deals, the channel has suffered from a ratings decline. Big-budget gambles such as Jekyll And Hyde and Beowulf have not worked as hoped with audiences.
“A channel’s programming is only as good as the choices the commissioning teams make, and so it is vital to have the best people possible in these crucial positions,” said Kevin Lygo, ITV director of Television. “I’m delighted to announce that Polly, Sue, Shu, Peter, and Rosemary will be joining imminently to lead the programming team through the next phase of ITV’s output. Each of them bring a blend of passion and experience to the roles and I’m confident that as a team we can continue to build on the raft of shows that help to make ITV Britain’s most popular commercial channel.”