Piers Wenger has been appointed Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, aka the biggest job in UK drama, in a move that will see him leave his position as Head of Drama at Channel 4. The hire comes amid a series of revolving doors at the British broadcasters. Wenger is replacing former BBC drama chief Polly Hill who defected to ITV in April; she had earlier replaced Ben Stephenson who now runs TV for JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot. Wenger will be responsible for commissioning across the whole of the BBC portfolio and overseeing more than 450 hours of drama per year. He takes up his new position in the fall.
Wenger has been Head of Drama at Channel 4 drama since 2012. There, he significantly increased the number of international co-production partnerships and saw such series as Indian Summers, No Offence and Humans all renewed for second seasons following strong ratings performances. Last year, Indian Summers scored the highest ever overnight in 20 years for a Channel 4 drama, and Humans (made with AMC) went on to break that record later the same year. Wenger’s credits also include BAFTA winner This Is England 90; the upcoming National Treasure by Jack Thorne; and Peter Kosminsky’s ISIS drama. Prior to C4, Wenger was Head of Drama at BBC Wales and executive producer of Doctor Who in the Matt Smith years.
Shortly after Wenger’s new job was made public, Channel 4 announced that his deputy, Beth Willis, will take over his post there.
Charlotte Moore, BBC Controller of TV Channels and iPlayer, announced Wenger’s appointment today, calling him “a brilliant creative leader with great taste and a passion for writing. He has a breadth of experience and knowledge of the global industry, as well as a real understanding of audiences. BBC Drama is in exceptional form and I’m thrilled that Piers will continue to build on this and enhance our world class reputation.”
Wenger added, “I have had an unforgettable and brilliant time at C4 and it is with real sadness that I am saying goodbye. But the scope and scale of BBC Drama make this an irresistible challenge and I could not be more excited about joining the talented team there and for the new relationships and creative adventures which lie ahead of me at the BBC.”