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Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 12:42 GMT
Thompson climbs TV ladder
Mark Thompson
Mark Thompson is behind the BBC's digital plans
Mark Thompson's appointment as chief executive of Channel 4 follows a long and distinguished career at the BBC.

Mark Thompson started at the bottom of the BBC ladder, joining the corporation as a production trainee in 1979.

After two years of learning the ropes he became involved in launching the long-running consumer rights series Watchdog.

He went on to work on Breakfast Time and London Plus before being becoming output editor on Newsnight in 1985.

An Oxford graduate, he was appointed editor of the Nine O'Clock News in 1988 before joining the Panorama team.

Rising through the ranks, Mr Thompson became head of features before being appointed head of factual programmes in 1994.

Acclaim

The father-of-three is credited with playing a key role in the strength of such factual shows as Animal Hospital, Modern Times and Ready, Steady, Cook.

As controller of BBC2 between 1996 to 1998, he presided over a number of critically acclaimed series including The Cops, The Royle Family, Our Mutual Friend and The Fast Show.

Factual programming during that time was also strong with the likes of The Nazis - A Warning from History, Storyville, Naked, Back to the Floor and Ground Force.

He was succeeded as controller by present incumbent Jane Root.

His next job saw him presiding over output across the whole of the UK as director of national and regional broadcasting.

A restructure by director-general Greg Dyke saw Mr Thompson become director of television in April 2000.

Knock back

He was a member of the BBC's Charter Review Task Force on Entertainment in 1991; the Programme Strategy Review team led by Alan Yentob and Liz Forgan in 1993, and he chaired the Edinburgh International Television Festival in 1996.

He is also heavily involved in the the soon-to-be launched BBC Four digital channel which will replace BBC Knowledge as a provider of cultural and educational programming.

But the corporation's digital plans took a knock when culture secretary Tessa Jowell kicked out proposals for youth channel BBC Three.

She felt there was not enough distinction between the channel and its potential competitors and sent Mr Thompson and his team back to the drawing board.

New, "radically different" plans have been resubmitted to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

See also:

16 Nov 01 | TV and Radio
Favourites abandon C4 race
11 Dec 01 | TV and Radio
BBC man 'set for Channel 4 top job'
15 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
Michael Jackson: Media man
24 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
BBC man 'tipped' for Channel 4
21 Nov 00 | Entertainment
British TV's Emmy glory
27 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Channel 5 boss leaves
01 May 01 | Business
Big Brother, Ali G boost C4 revenue
30 Mar 01 | TV and Radio
Channel 5 turns four
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