Sunday, September 21, 2008

Place your bets

The Guardian says Jane Tranter is leaving. There doesn't seem to have been a confirmation yet so this may just be yet another in the long chain of rumours about her going that we've seen this year. Yet the Guardian is confident enough that it talks about who's likely to replace her as Controller, BBC Fiction.

I interviewed her once for something at BBC News, haven't the faintest idea what it was about now, but I came out of her office very impressed. And as a drama nut, really quite happy. So she's going to be tough to replace and the Guardian's list is interesting: all very strong candidates, most of them women as it happens. I feel that's a good thing but I do notice that I noticed: if the majority had been men, would I have thought to mention it?

But, anyway, I am so certain about this. So certain. Nobody's even hinted at it, and I have asked some of the people involved but they all deny it, yet I will bet you money that Jane Tranter will be replaced by Julie Gardner.

I think this will be good news too, though I also think it's great that there are so many genuinely strong candidates. Isn't British TV drama in good shape?

But it will be Julie Gardner.

Please place your bets and come back when I am made a fool of or I start typing very smugly.



Scott Matthewman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William Gallagher said...

D'oh! I'm wrong!

No offence to the new guy, Ben Stephenson, but I'd have been so pleased if it were Julie Gardner.

Oh, well. This is why I'm sliding out of journalism into drama where you can just make things up.

Now, now, stop that.


Scott Matthewman said...

Ben Stephenson has just been appointed as Controller, Drama Commissioning, which basically gives him more responsibility than he does at the moment - and effectively rules him out of taking the main BBC Fiction Controller role.

I think Julie Gardner's the strongest option from within the BBC, but it really depends on which direction the executive wants to take the role...

William Gallagher said...

Ah... I see... There was word that Jane Tranter's job had been expanded and expanded in order to keep hold of her for all this time, and that therefore it'd be shrunk back after she left.

So this could be the start of the slicing yet still be room for Julie.

I hang on in there.


Scott Matthewman said...

Here's hoping. I interviewed Julie at the start of DW Season 3, and she's so nice. Seems very passionate about drama in all forms, as well.

Actually, isn't Controller, Drama Commissioning (Stephenson's new post) Gardner's current role? Or is she TV Controller, and Stephenson for all platforms?

All these similar job titles get so confusing...

William Gallagher said...

She was very encouraging to me when I was at TVC as a journalist and she was across the street at Centre House working as a script editor.

I'm confused about her title, too. But when it was announced she was leaving Doctor Who it was also revealed she would step down from whatever her other duties were called. Highly suspicious, I suspected then that she'd replace Jane Tranter but she's never confirmed or denied.

In some ways I do think it's a shame that the one person in charge can make such a difference to British TV drama but they can and do. During Mal Young's reign I wasn't very keen on most productions because they felt the same, and they felt soapy like his background. Fine, just not for me. And I've heard an argument that all Jane Tranter's dramas are the same, but obviously I must have the same taste as her because I like 'em a lot.


Jason Arnopp said...

Dan Turner and I were so impressed with Ben in a discussion session he took part in at the Edinburgh TV Festival. He was genuinely passionate and excited about TV, as well as being as tough as an exec needs to be. So it's great to see him get the throne.