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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
Heggessey one year on
Lorraine Heggessey
Heggessey came from BBC Factual and Learning
BBC News Online looks back at BBC One controller Lorraine Heggessey's first 10 months in charge of the flagship channel.

BBC One controller Lorraine Heggessey was appointed to replace Peter Salmon in November 2000.

David Attenborough
Attenborough narrates story of the sea, Blue Planet
When Heggessey took over the channel she said one of her advantages was that she "understood popular taste", and that is something she has proven.

It has been her decision to bring back Absolutely Fabulous, Only Fools and Horses at Christmas and other shows like My Family and Down to Earth.

Under her stewardship the channel has been doing unusually well in terms of ratings, with its audience share steady at 26%.

It has held this despite changes in the TV industry as a whole.


"BBC One's performance stands out because in the past year a further 1.4m households began subscribing to pay-TV," says Tim Ewington of media research group Human Capital.

"You would have expected this to drag the channel's overall audience share down - but it didn't."

Holby City
Serials like Holby City have seen 50% audience increases
This success has been attributed to strong showings in drama and soaps.

The popular soap EastEnders has gone from three episodes a week to four.

Drama serials such as Waking the Dead, Holby City and The Whistle Blower have all attracted strong audiences.

She also promised to keep BBC One responsive and vital, an aim which some critics say has not been fulfilled.


"I've not seen a lot of evidence of anything like that on BBC One," says Jeff Evans, author of the Penguin TV companion.

"There's nothing that exciting or immediate about it."

Lucy Benjamin and Steve McFadden
20 million tuned in for EastEnders' Who Shot Phil? climax
Another Heggessey commitment was to rejuvenate weekend viewing.

She has introduced the strong psychological thriller on a Sunday evening, including the recent offering Green Eyed Monster about murderous neighbours.

On Saturday night ITV recently threw down a challenge by rescheduling their Premiership challenges earlier in the evening.

Heggessey responded by scheduling a series of The Weakest Link specials against the football.

In the head-to-head battle, the Anne Robinson fronted quiz show trounced the sport, but some saw it as a counterproductive exercise.

"The schedule changes to Saturday night TV planned by the BBC and ITV come from another era," says Stuart Jeffries, author of TV history book Mrs Slocombe's Pussy.


"Now the British nation will not sit down as one to watch either football or sadism - a large proportion of viewers won't watch either."

Amanda Burton
Amanda Burton starred in ratings-winner Whistleblower
Purists argue that Heggessey should not get involved in such an open battle for viewers, when BBC One should have a public service commitment.

The arts strand Omnibus has been sent to BBC Two, leading to accusations that it is sacrificing culture to crowd-pleasing drama and quiz shows.

But Heggessey has countered these accusations by pointing to the success of shows like Tomorrow's World and BBC One's story of the life of Jesus - Son of Man.

Recent BBC One offerings such as the David Attenborough fronted The Blue Planet are large-scale, big-budget educational programmes in the Reithian tradition.

At any rate, given commissioning lead times in television, year one is perhaps too soon to judge the achievements of the controller.

"I wouldn't say I've felt a major difference in the programming," says Evans, who says he would particularly like to see her move away from lifestyle, cookery and holiday programmes.

"But it is early days yet."

See also:

22 Sep 00 | Entertainment
BBC defends boss over Frostrup
06 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
Soap climax watched by 20m
23 Jan 01 | Entertainment
BBC balloon could be grounded
14 Sep 00 | Entertainment
First woman to run BBC One
23 Oct 00 | Entertainment
BBC criticised for quiz cash
19 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
Weakest Link trounces Premiership
27 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
ITV Premiership ratings plunge
15 Jan 01 | Entertainment
EastEnders goes four times a week
25 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
BBC rejects ITV chief's criticism
09 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
Saturday night TV fever
11 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
BBC One chief to speak out
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