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Last Updated: Monday, 24 October 2005, 07:30 GMT 08:30 UK
The TV producer in line to lead Bafta
By Victoria Lindrea
BBC News entertainment reporter

Hilary Bevan Jones
Bevan Jones is expected to become Bafta chairman next year
In a series of occasional interviews with key players in the entertainment industry, the BBC News website talks to Hilary Bevan Jones, award-winning independent TV producer and deputy chairman of Bafta.

It comes as no surprise to learn this would-be fan of TV's Lost has still not found the time to watch the show - televison dominates Hilary Bevan Jones' life, but not from the sofa.

Having produced a string of TV favourites including Red Dwarf, Black Adder and Cracker, the 53-year-old set up Tightrope Pictures in 2003 with Shameless screenwriter Paul Abbott, creating provocative drama like Dad and The Girl in the Cafe.

In addition, her new post at Bafta will almost certainly see her step into the role of chairman, taking over from Duncan Kenworthy, in June 2006.

Should she accept the role, Ms Bevan Jones will become the first woman to chair the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in its 60-year history.

Since Ms Bevan Jones joined Bafta in 1998, she has put time and effort into championing the Craft Awards which honour expertise in areas like photography and design.

John Simm in State of Play
Paul Abbott's award-winning State of Play was produced by Bevan Jones

"Bafta has enormous weight. It is a widely respected organisation, both nationally and internationally.

"I joined the Bafta council in the year that the craft awards were separated from the production awards," explains Ms Bevan Jones. "There were simply too many awards to hand out in the one ceremony.

"But I was passionately concerned that craft didn't become a second-class citizen.

Ms Bevan Jones has gone on to produce the Bafta Craft Awards over the past six years, attracting high-profile stars like Bill Nighy and Robbie Coltrane to the annual ceremony in London.

"In terms of winning a craft award, just to be nominated can change your career. If someone has been nominated, as a producer you know you are dealing with somebody who is seriously good."

As the newly-appointed deputy chairman, she is also keen to "break down the glass wall between film and television".

Matthew Fox in Lost
Bevan Jones is fascinated by "the buzz" surrounding TV's Lost

"Of course they should be celebrated individually, but one is not better than the other."

"I just think there should be more mutual respect."

Despite a perceived "gloss" that surrounds the film world, the TV producer believes times are changing.

"I was talking to an American producer recently and he was saying that because of the success of shows like Desperate Housewives and Lost, attention is turning to television from some of the senior figures in the film world."

Already, in the US, we have seen directors of the calibre of Steven Spielberg (Band of Brothers, Taken) and Bryan Singer (House), moving into television - and Ms Bevan Jones believes the UK will follow suit.

"I asked a high-profile US director whether he would be willing to direct a TV drama over here. He said, ultimately, what interested him was the script, whether it was TV or film, big or small budget. It was really heartening."

Moreover, television can have some advantages over the big screen.

Richard Curtis, who wrote The Girl in the Cafe, "could have created the drama for any medium he wanted", explains Ms Bevan Jones.

Bill Nighy and Kelly Macdonald in Girl in the Cafe
Girl in the Cafe was written by Love Actually director Richard Curtis

"But - as part of the BBC's Africa Lives season - we wanted to get the drama seen around the world at the same time - and we managed that.

"It went out just ahead of the G8 - on HBO, CNN and many of the major international broadcasters. The co-operation was fantastic."

It's an example of the "robust" nature of British television and its growing influence outside of the UK.

But Ms Bevan Jones - for all her admiration of America's Lost - is keen to avoid copy-cat success stories.

"Of course, if a show has done well there will always be clones. But I don't want to do that. I'd like to try and come up with new ideas instead."


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