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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 March, 2005, 14:19 GMT
Ali G producer to be BBC One boss
Peter Fincham
Peter Fincham formerly worked at Talkback Thames
New BBC One controller Peter Fincham sees it as a priority to ensure the continued success of the channel, he has told the BBC News website.

Mr Fincham, who was executive producer on shows including Da Ali G Show and I'm Alan Partridge, resigned as boss of Talkback Thames in January.

He will replace Lorraine Heggessey, who will become Talkback's chief executive.

He said success for BBC One was vital, but it was more about serving audiences than "judging our rivals' ratings".

The job will be Mr Fincham's first within the corporation.

He was previously boss of Talkback Thames, and executive produced such programmes as I'm Alan Partridge and Never Mind the Buzzcocks, as well as producing popular BBC shows including The Apprentice.

Outwardly facing

Mr Fincham is credited with the smooth merger of independent production companies Talkback and Thames under the banner Talkback Thames, in 2003. He left the company in January.

He said that his new job had a "clear focus", and his appointment represented a change within the BBC.

"Appointing me, as an outsider, who has never worked at the BBC is a sign of an outwardly facing BBC," he said.
Lorraine Heggessey
Lorraine Heggessey is effectively swapping jobs with Peter Fincham

And he praised the work of his predecessor Ms Heggessey - who is leaving to become Talkback's chief executive - particularly her decision to commission the hit show Strictly Come Dancing.

"It is a great way of revisiting an old genre, and very well executed," he said, but added that the BBC should be wary of reviving old favourites too often.

"BBC One should be fresh and open to new ideas. Obviously it's wonderful when old formats work as well as Strictly Come Dancing has, but those should be the exception rather than the rule."

At a press conference earlier, Mr Fincham described BBC One as "am important part of the BBC and our national life".

'Default setting'

"I'm of that generation that is old enough to remember a world where there was only the BBC to watch and in our house BBC was the default setting."

He also said that he would nor rule out buying big-name stars, such as Graham Norton, for BBC One.

"Broadcasters generally go through phases when they think they should buy up talent and when they think they shouldn't. The BBC must be in there fighting and getting the right people for BBC One."

Sacha Baron Cohen as Ali G
Mr Fincham brought Ali G's show to TV

He said he was keen to focus on comedy on the channel and that celebrity programmes would not be abandoned. When asked about EastEnders, which has recently suffered a fall in ratings, he said, "It's an absolutely crucial part of the BBC One schedule and will continue to be so."

Delighted

BBC director general Mark Thompson said he was delighted to welcome "one of the most influential and innovative programme makers in UK broadcasting."

And the corporation's director of television Jana Bennett said: "If there are maybe 10 people who have shaped television over the last decade, Peter is one of them. He is a talent magnet and I think we have a wonderful era in front of us."

Mr Fincham also commented on reports in the press relating to an incident in which Mr Thompson bit a journalist on the arm, while he was working on the Nine O'Clock News.

"He only ever stroked me," he said. Ms Bennett added: "I have never even seen Mark bare his teeth."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Peter Fincham explains the challenges ahead



SEE ALSO:
Fincham's vision for BBC One
24 Mar 05 |  Entertainment
Fincham's switch over to BBC One
24 Mar 05 |  Entertainment
BBC One chief Heggessey to leave
14 Feb 05 |  Entertainment
Heggessey: A hard act to follow
14 Feb 05 |  Entertainment
BBC One: Names in the frame
15 Feb 05 |  Entertainment


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