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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 17 September, 2002, 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
The BBC's youngest controller
Stuart Murphy
Murphy is a political geography graduate
BBC Choice controller Stuart Murphy, who has worked in TV for just nine years, is in line to run the new BBC Three. BBC News Online looks at one of the corporation's youngest high-flyers.

Credited with giving BBC Three's predecessor, BBC Choice, a distinctive identity and a growing audience share, Stuart Murphy is about to face his greatest challenge yet.

The launch of BBC Three has been much-delayed due to government misgivings and the channel's offer has undergone several re-tunings.

Johnny Vaughan
Johnny Vaughan's chat show will feature on BBC Three
BBC Three can expect to be closely watched in its early months.

Born in 1972, Mr Murphy went to a Leeds comprehensive school and graduated from Cambridge with a degree in political geography.

He joined the BBC in Manchester straight from Cambridge in 1993, and worked on Reportage, The Sunday Show and Great Railway Journeys.

In 1996 he worked briefly for MTV and Channel 4's Big Breakfast, then retuned to the BBC as strategic development manager for the Independent Commissioning Group, which looked after the corporation's relations with independent producers.

Here, he worked under Jane Root, now controller of BBC Two.

Youngest

The following year he joined UKTV, a joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Telewest's Flextech TV, which runs channels including UK Gold and UK Style.

Charlie Higson as Swiss Toni
Murphy recently signed "Swiss Toni" for a series
In 1998 he launched commercial station Play UK as the BBC's youngest channel head. Ironically, while BBC Three is now being launched, Play UK is being axed.

A year later, Mr Murphy became the head of programming at BBC Choice - which was, at the time, a back-up service for BBC One and Two.

Under Mr Murphy, BBC Choice has changed dramatically to target the 25-34 year old market - his own age group.

He has managed to increase the channel's audience share in this highly-competitive segment of the market, fought over by Sky One, ITV2, Paramount, E4 and others.

Programming plenty of music, comedy and celebrity news, he has seen BBC Choice's weekly share of viewing double over 2001, from 0.6% to 1.2%.

But Mr Murphy is promising more for BBC Three: "The biggest difference is commitment to news, current affairs, music and arts and education," he has said.

"A third of all news shows made for BBC Three will be from these genres. That's a huge commitment."


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