In May, we began a search for the top 100 Prolific Northerners 2014, our attempt to identify the North’s leading media and creative industry figures.
We have combined the views of a diverse and expert panel of judges, readers’ suggestions and our own research and investigations, and below is the final list of 100.
Please note that the list is in alphabetical order – you can read a review of how we put it together here.
The Prolific Northerners 2014
A script editor on Coronation Street at the age of just 24 – when all the writers were former Manchester Evening News sports journalists, he once said – Burnley-born Abbott has gone on to become one of the leading screenwriters of his generation.
An 11th and final series of Shameless, the Channel 4 drama that he’s probably best known for, aired last year, and the 54-year-old now spends half the year in Los Angeles with his own production company, Abbottvision.
Next up will be No Offence, an eight-part Manchester-based police drama for Channel 4 that he says will mix “cop drama, family saga and social mayhem”. Given he was abandoned by both parents by the time he was 11 and brought up by his pregnant 16-year-old sister, Abbott seems to be drawing from experience again.
Jamie Allan and Steve Sowden
Allan (below), 36, and Sowden (right), 37, were handed the reins by previous owners Chris Henry, Glenn Patterson and Andrew Watson in a management buy-out in 2011 (financial director Watson retained his share). Since then, they’ve grown turnover to over £11m and staff numbers at the Leeds agency now stand at 65.
Sowden originally started at the agency as a senior account executive in 2003, while Allan worked for MediaVest, Brilliant Media and Brahm before joining in 2009. They each now own 37.5% of the company.
Only 18 months off his 70th birthday, Allen has shown a huge reluctance to give up the buzz that comes with fronting a three-hour daily news show. A fixture on 5 live since its launch in 1994, the Essex-born broadcaster is one of the most experienced journalists the Beeb can offer, and post-Paxman one of the few that can be relied upon to go toe-to-toe with passing politicians.
One of the station’s presenters who did relocate when the station moved to MediaCityUK, his continuing value to the station was confirmed recently by Jonathan Wall’s shake-up: Allen now has sole presenting reins on new three-hour morning show 5 live Daily. The only concession to age seems to be that on Thursdays and Fridays he hands over to Adrian Chiles.
Anderson-Dixon has over three decades of experience in regional media, joining Northcliffe in 1983 and holding a number of senior advertising and regional MD roles before moving to Trinity in 2011.
He initially oversaw the publisher’s Midlands territory but after Simon Fox replaced Sly Bailey and introduced his One Trinity Mirror approach, Liverpool-based Anderson-Dixon was put in charge of one of three new publishing regions, covering Manchester, Liverpool, Cheshire, Huddersfield and North Wales.
After originally training as a professional composer in Manchester, Aylott worked with Strangeways prisoners and in 1995 released the first ever record from a British prison. That led on to him using inmates – including lifers – when setting up Summit Media in 2000 with his mother, Marion.
The Hull-based digital agency, a specialist in retail with clients including Arcadia Group, Argos and Selfridges, now employs 140 staff, turns over £37.1m and has further offices in London, Paris and Prague. Aylott, 43, is a keen polo player and sailor as well as a qualified pilot and water-ski instructor.
Google showed a degree of foresight when it selected Manchester as its first UK regional office back in 2005, and in Barke the company found a dependable and able leader.
Having relocated from London, where he managed agency sales for Handbag.com, the 40-year-old is responsible for building and retaining agency relationships in the North and Scotland and is now established as the search giant’s most well-known face outside the capital.
Bennett is responsible for the operations of ITV’s London Studios, Manchester Studios and the channel’s film and TV equipment supplier, Provision, thereby covering a large proportion of ITV’s studio production, post production and location activities, including 350 staff.
Starting out in TV audio, he’s a former controller of operations for Carlton Studios and was ITV’s director of Northern resources for four years before taking on his current role in 2010. The 52-year-old sailing enthusiast is also chairman of 3sixtymedia.
Sheffield-born Benson has chalked up over 35 years in the industry, initially as a journalist on the newsroom floor – he had spells at the Telegraph & Argus and Sheffield Star before taking the editorship of the Newcastle Chronicle in the early 90s – but he’s been in his current executive role for over 13 years.
Many accused Trinity of being slow to adapt to the digital world under Sly Bailey, but under Simon Fox the developments are coming thick and fast. Top of Chester-based Benson’s in-tray is the publisher’s digital-first newsroom, which launched in the North East and is being rolled out across its other regional centres. There are encouraging signs of progress: flagship regionals the MEN and the Liverpool Echo have both succeeded in at least doubling online visitors over the past year.
The Yorkshire-born producer caught the drama bug at school in Keighley and in the 1980s formed a theatre company for drug addicts after initially volunteering at an Edinburgh drop-in centre for junkies and ex-prisoners. The experience inspired his first play and in the early 90s he moved to Manchester to work with a community arts workshop.
He eventually landed a job as a storyliner on Emmerdale, going on to work for The Bill and Ballykissangel, and after a first spell at Coronation Street, returned to Emmerdale as producer in 2009.
When Phil Collinson left for another ITV role in 2012, Blackburn returned to Weatherfield and successfully managed the move to MediaCityUK. He still lives in Yorkshire, but spends half the week in Manchester.
After a spell in the capital, Blair returned to the North last year when he joined Shiver, the factual arm of ITV Studios. Based at MediaCityUK, he looks after Countrywise, wildlife programming with Ray Mears and a number of current affairs series including Tonight and the Martin Lewis Money Show.
Previously he had been ITV’s editor of current affairs with responsibility for programmes such as Exposure and its now legendary expose of Jimmy Savile, and before that he was head of news and programmes for ITV Central and regional director for the Granada, Central and Wales regions.
With four acquisitions since September, Communisis is following through on its intention to grow its front-end agency business, and more are set to follow before the year is out.
The Leeds marketing services group saw sales tumble during the recession but since assuming the helm in 2009, 53-year-old Blundell has overseen a 42% growth in revenues to £270m that certainly justifies his £700,000 pay packet.
After developing a taste for start-up life as part of the launch team at First Direct back in the early 1990s, Boddy and former colleague Andy Gardner set up data analytics consultancy Alphanumeric, now part of Jaywing plc, in 1999.
The Sheffield-based marketing and consulting group is now a £26.9m turnover business, with around 600 staff (270 in the North), and Boddy has a 6.6% share.
Since being appointed chief executive in 2012, Boddy’s main focus has been to reverse a slide in profits that led to the company admitting last year that “we are still not doing as well as we want to”, and he has certainly been proactive, disposing of e-commerce subsidiary Tryzens in October and completing the £18m acquisition of fast-growing Epiphany earlier this year. This week’s results hinted that things are moving in the right direction.
Borrell, who hails from the North West, was deputy editor at the Newcastle Evening Chronicle and editor of the Lancashire Evening Post and the Birmingham Mail before falling sales at the latter saw him made redundant by Trinity Mirror in 2005. He re-emerged a year later as editor of Lancashire Life and sister title Lake District Life – a move he later described as a “shock to the system” after the more frenetic pace of newspapers – and in 2009 he was appointed group editor of all Archant Life’s magazines in the North, meaning he now also has responsibility for Cheshire Life, Yorkshire Life, North East Life, Living Edge and their associated websites.
Borrell’s influence soon helped the Cheshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire Lifes to a trend-bucking sales increase, but the reality of the declining print market has since set in and publication of North East Life was even suspended temporarily last year. The magazines have retained an editorial integrity however, resisting the urge to overload on advertising, and the continuing profitability of the titles was emphasised by Archant’s recent investment in Cheshire Life and Cheshire Resident.
A board director at Elmwood brand agency at the age of just 25, Bruce has been at the helm of Nunwood since setting it up in 1997. The Leeds-based research agency now has operations in Australia and the US, with clients including Virgin Mobile, Yorkshire Building Society and Hallmark. Originally a pure research company, in recent years it has seen a rapid growth in its customer experience management business.
Turnover stands at around £7m, with staff numbers now totalling 130. Bruce, 48, owns 47% of the company.
Not four years since he was doing the social media for Marketing Manchester, Bryant has carved out an influential position at the top of one of the world’s best-read technology blogs. The Next Web attracts 6.5m visitors a month and media-friendly Bryant has risen swiftly since joining as a part-time reporter in 2009.
The Leeds University graduate has also become something of a go-to technology commentator for the BBC and other media outlets, and he’s a regular presence on the panels of technology conferences across Europe. Back in Manchester, he’s a co-founder of TechHub Manchester and a council member at Manchester Digital.
Bullas founded Cheshire-based Click Consult in 2003 and quickly established the SEO agency as one the leading agencies of its type outside London, generating pre-tax profit of £1m plus.
However, a combination of increased competition, diversification, search engine updates and significant R&D costs led to a restructure of the agency in 2013. Staff numbers are back to 70 and rising again as the agency – which acquired the Click.co.uk domain and rebranded last year – has focused on organic and paid search services.
The 36-year-old, previously a consumer electronics buyer for Safeway, owns 100% of the company.
Bullough leads a team of over 200 staff and has responsibility for all in-house production for CBBC at MediaCityUK.
Now living on the edge of the Peak District, Bullough has been at the Beeb since 1991 and worked in the North ever since moving to Manchester in 1993. In that time she’s work in Daytime and Features, run the Manchester Entertainment development team has developed and executive produced shows for BBC One, Two, Three and Four.
Before moving to her current role in 2011, she was head of Entertainment Production North in Manchester and head of Vision North, producing shows including Mastermind, Question Of Sport and Dragon’s Den. A former chair of the RTS North, her current remit includes everything from Tracy Beaker Returns and 4 O’Clock Club to Blue Peter and Newsround.
Robin Burgess OBE
Awarded an OBE in 2008 for services to the newspaper industry and to the community in Cumbria, Burgess is the fourth generation of his family to run Cumbrian media business CN Group, which owns print titles such as the News and Star, North-West Evening Mail, The Cumberland News and Cumbrian Life magazine, as well as three radio stations. The 63-year-old owns a 9% stake individually.
The realities of the declining print market have begun to bite in recent years. Turnover has shrunk from around £40m in 2005 to £25m in 2013, with the company employing 200 fewer people (at around 500) than it had done four years earlier. The company still dominates the market on its patch, but it’s perhaps no surprise that Burgess has recently called for the introduction of online paywalls.
Butcher had a 23-year executive career with Trinity Mirror in the North West, rising to managing director of the region, before his role was axed as part of a management shake-up in March 2012.
He went on to be a non executive director for Liverpool online publisher Survival Media and interim MD at SAS Media Solutions before he returned to the top table of regional publishers as MD of Johnston Press in the North West. As such his remit covers titles including the Lancashire Evening Post, Wigan Evening Post and The Blackpool Gazette.
While 5 live Breakfast co-host Rachel Burden has moved her family up to Knutsford, Campbell still splits his time between MediaCityUK and London, where his family are based.
This is less of a snub to Salford, where he broadcasts live on the station daily between 7 and 10am, and more of a practical necessity: the 53-year-old Scot has become an even more ubiquitous presence on television.
His unquestionably skilful interviewing technique is given full rein on BBC1’s Sunday show The Big Questions – which recently completed its seventh series – while his softer side comes to the fore on ITV’s BAFTA award-winning eye-moistener Long Lost Family. He’s also just completed a four-part series on adoption for primetime ITV.
Charles Cecil MBE
A games industry legend, Cecil is the MD and co-founder of York-based Revolution Software, now regarded as one of the world’s leading adventure game companies.
Educated at Manchester University, the 52-year-old created the genre-defining Broken Sword franchise in 1996, which in five instalments has shifted over six million units, and he also created a series of Doctor Who adventures for the BBC in 2010.
Awarded an MBE in 2011, he has a wide array of industry roles, including a place on the boards of the British Film Institute and Screen Yorkshire, an ambassadorial position for BAFTA (Video Games) and visiting lecturer positions with the University of York and the National Film and Television School. Together with his wife Noirin Carmody, also a co-founder, he owns 80% of Revolution.
Having launched the company that would become Stickyeyes in 1998, when he was still in his 20s, Chalmers had to wait until the recession for the Leeds digital agency to really boom.
From sales of £3.5m in 2007, Stickyeyes has grown to a £15.1m-turnover business that sits atop Prolific North’s Top 50 Digital Agencies list, and its 117 staff have recently moved into gleaming new offices in Leeds city centre. Clients include GSK, Hertz, Halifax and Lakeland, and Chalmers has a 95% stake.
Vin Chinnaraja and Patrick Altoft
Chinnaraja (right), 38, set up Branded3 in 2003 with former freelance SEO consultant Altoft (below), 33, coming on board four years later to set up the Yorkshire agency’s SEO department, initially as a separate company before the two merged in 2011.
The pair quickly grew Branded3 into a 50-strong agency with billings of £4.1m, and last summer it was acquired by St Ives in a deal worth up to £25m. Just over £14m of that sum is linked to performance up until 2016, so both Chinnaraja and Altoft continue to lead the company at its Leeds HQ.
Clients include Virgin Holidays, BMW and Yorkshire Building society, and last year the agency also established a London office.
After a varied newspaper career that has included the editorships of the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph and Sheffield Star, Clifford was headhunted by Johnston Press last summer to take charge of editorial at the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post, as well as 18 weeklies across the county.
He hasn’t wasted time in leaving his mark, relaunching the Post in March with changes to design, tone and coverage – and the return of ‘The’ to the masthead. The 49-year-old Liverpool University graduate’s biggest challenge, in common with all regional editors, will be stemming the flow of departing print readers – the Evening Post lost 16.5% in the second half of 2013 – and converting more of the improving digital audience into actual revenue.
Currently, however, he’s away from the newsroom recovering from a nasty cycle accident.
Collinson, 43, was initially an actor but joined Granada to become a script editor and writer for the likes of Emmerdale and Peak Practice. He subsequently moved into production and after joining the BBC in the early 2000s, was the producer on Doctor Who when the show was revived in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston in the title role.
He went on to spend two years as head of drama, Manchester, before leaving the Beeb to produce Coronation Street, being known for explosive storylines that included the “tram crash” live 50th anniversary episode in December 2010.
Since leaving the soap in 2012 he has stayed with the broadcaster, working with ITV Studios creative director Kieran Roberts on the development of new dramas.
Connock left Ten Alps – the media group he founded with Sir Bob Geldof – under something of a cloud in 2011, but since his departure the company’s turnover has halved and its share price is down around 80%.
The 49-year-old moved on to production titan Shine, initially as director of new business but now as MD of its MediaCityUK-based Northern operation, Shine North. Commissions under his watch have included Geeks for E4 and it’s recently agreed an exclusive factual programming deal with Idris Elba’s production company.
Connock’s influence stretches wider however as chairman of the RTS in the North West and a host of academic institutions. He lives in Alderley Edge with his wife Sumi, ITV’s creative director of entertainment.
Connock was BBC’s commissioning editor of daytime when ITV Studios poached her in February 2009 to lead entertainment at its Manchester base.
The UMIST graduate started off as a runner on the Big Breakfast and had spells at London Weekend Television, Tiger Aspect and MTV – where she devised the format for Dirty Sanchez – before overseeing the likes of Eggheads, Strictly: It Takes Two and Through the Keyhole.
Cordwell was born in Canada and now lives in Ilkley but she is synonymous with Manchester and its digital scene. After a grounding in advertising at BDH and JWT, she set up Magnetic North in 2000 with three colleagues and, fuelled by an early win of the Kellogg’s Frosties account, quickly established a reputation that holds to this day, despite a relatively modest 25 staff.
Has forged a strong relationship with the BBC in recent years and Magnetic was recently the only Northern agency to be named on its digital design roster. Cordwell owns just over 72% of the company and has recently said the company is planning on “scaling up” over the next couple of years.
Alongside the day job, she’s also a board member on Greater Manchester’s Local Enterprise Partnership, chair of Future Everything and a board member of CityCo.
Brian Cosgrove and Simon Hall
Cosgrove Hall, the company behind classics such as Danger Mouse and Wind in the Willows, was shut down by owner ITV in 2009 but the company was resurrected two years later when Cosgrove (right) and Mark Hall teamed up with Irish entrepreneur Francis Fitzpatrick. Mark Hall died in 2011 but his son Simon (below) – the former MD of Manchester post production house Hullabaloo Studios before its closure in 2010 – is now managing director with Cosgrove as creative director.
Now operating from a new 5,000 sq ft space in Didsbury, the company has been busily staffing up over the last few months to work on new cartoons including Pip Ahoy! for Channel 5 and HeroGliffix and Powwow Pando for ITV. Much more is set to follow, with a turnover of £50m forecast within the next four years. The company has recently set up a fund to offer potential investors a share of its future output.
Frank Cottrell Boyce
Merseyside-born Cottrell Boyce, a father of seven, cut his teeth on scripts for Brookside and has gone on to become one of Britain’s most celebrated and decorated screenwriters and novelists.
His collaborations with director – and fellow Northerner – Michael Winterbottom led to acclaimed films such as Welcome to Sarajevo and 24 Hour Party People, while his Widnes-set novel Millions was garlanded with awards and subsequently became a successful film, directed by Danny Boyle.
But it was another collaboration with Boyle, on the staggering opening ceremony for the London Olympics, that truly catapulted Cottrell Boyce to mainstream attention. His most recent work has included the screenplay for The Railway Man, starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, and he’s also written an episode for the much-anticipated new series of Doctor Who.
As a 25-year-old, Yorkshire-born Dudleston was earning £2.10 an hour in the Dewsbury branch of McDonald’s, but after breaking into direct marketing she worked for various agencies before being headhunted by the boss of CMW to take over its Northern office, in Dudleston’s words “just six people under a railway arch in Leeds”.
A year later it merged with digital agency twentysix in London, and since then it has grown to 110 staff and a £5.7m turnover with offices in New York and Singapore and global clients including P&G, Rackspace and the Cartoon Network.
A University of Salford graduate, Dudleston – nicknamed Gale Force 12 at school – has kept to a tradition of buying pizza for all 110 employees every payday.
Durnford, who sold his Morecambe-based cable TV and broadband provider Smallworld Fibre to Virgin Media in February, has wasted no time in gaining a significant foothold on the Northern digital scene.
In May, he acquired Lancaster agency Fat Media, in the process merging it with his own Kendal agency, Motive Technology, and is aiming to add 30 staff to the 90-strong agency over the next year.
The 46-year-old Durham University graduate spent over a decade in marketing with the likes of Mars, Robinsons and Nestle before setting up technology company Netfonics in 2003, which was subsequently absorbed into Smallworld.
Code has averaged 20% year-on-year growth since Foggett founded the digital agency with Louis Georgiou and Wini Tse 15 years ago. Now boasting 80 staff with 2013 turnover exceeding £5million (and growth of 15% forecast for this year), its work for clients including First TransPennine Express, Oxfam and Chester Zoo is still something of a standard-bearer for the region.
It’s not resting on its laurels though – a London office and overseas business are the focus for this year, and Foggett has hinted recently that they may look to quicken the pace of growth with an acquisition. The 41-year-old, also the chair of Manchester Digital, owns a third share of Code with the two other founders.
Growing up in Cheshire and now living in Leeds, Ford is one of the most powerful people in UK radio. She runs a portfolio of 45 commercial local, national and digital stations, including Absolute Radio, Key 103, Metro Radio, Radio Aire and City Talk, reaching 14.4m listeners in total.
Starting her career in local newspaper advertising sales, Ford joined Emap in 1994 as MD of Preston-based Rock FM, progressing to group MD of Emap Radio. The business was acquired by the Bauer Media Group in 2008. A keen cook and gardener, her achievements were recognised with a Gold award at the 2011 Arqiva Awards.
Fowler heads up UTV Media GB’s Local Radio division, which includes Wish FM in Wigan and St Helens, Wire FM in Warrington, Widnes and Runcorn and Juice FM in Liverpool.
A former station director at Signal Radio and Juice FM, he took over in January 2013 and according to the most recent RAJAR figures (May 2014) has overseen a 9% year-on-year increase in the number of average listener hours.
Gleave joined the instore retail marketing specialist over 30 years ago as a 17-year-old, holding a series of roles within the company before becoming MD in 2000. Two years ago he and wife Steph, the company’s sales and marketing director, raised £4.75m and completed an MBO from parent company McCann Worldgroup.
Today it is a £16m-turnover business, employing over 120 at its Macclesfield HQ, working with clients including Boots, B&Q and McCormick.
Godwin originally joined the BBC in 1986, moving to the Children’s department three years later and working as an assistant producer, studio director, producer and editor on programmes including Blue Peter, Going Live and Record Breakers.
After a five-year stint at Nickelodeon UK he returned in 2005 as head of children’s entertainment, becoming head of news, factual and entertainment before taking his present role and leading the relocation to Salford. The Manchester University graduate is now responsible for all aspects of children’s output including the CBBC and CBeebies channels, and is also a member of the BAFTA Children’s Committee and the BBC North Board.
After joining Latitude in 2002, 40-year-old Gregory held a plethora of roles – account director, head of production, head of search, new business manager and chief operating officer – before becoming managing director when Alex Hoye left in 2012.
His time at the company will have given Gregory a good seat on the rollercoaster that Latitude became in the late 2000s: after rapid growth had delivered sales of £59m by 2008, it suddenly collapsed in January 2010 having lost £10.3m inside 23 months and accrued debts north of £20m. Gregory was himself a casualty financially and was the only former management shareholder to remain with the company, which was only saved thanks to a pre-pack administration. It was subsequently bought by data company Callcredit Information Group.
Things appear much healthier now, with turnover growing to £24m in 2013 and staff numbers back up to 125, mainly based in Warrington but with other offices in London, Dubai and Kaunas. Gregory is also a founder of the SAScon conference.
Gross has seen it all at Amaze – the dark days of its 2007 collapse into debt-laden administration, its subsequent rescue by the Hasgrove Group and then, last year, its sale to St Ives for £24.3m.
Recruited back in 1999, Gross has been CEO since 2011 and must take a lot of the credit for driving the digital marketing and technology agency to a £17.3m turnover in its last accounts before the transaction.
She’s now responsible for a team of over 200 people across offices in Manchester, Liverpool, London and Brussels, with a client portfolio that includes ODEON, Travis Perkins, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Dyson and The Co-operative Group. The 42-year-old also sits on the executive committee of BIMA (British Interactive Media Association).
Harris was an early adopter, working as a programmer from 1995, and it was this work that led him to spot a gap in the market for a dedicated multilingual search marketing service. So followed Search Laboratory in 2005, and the company now works with the likes of Mulberry, Barbour, The Guardian and Volkswagen.
Over the last couple of years the Leeds company has more than doubled in size to over 150 staff, and last year revenue stood at £7.66m. The 45-year-old father of three, a season ticket-holder at Leeds United and the owner of a pet snake, owns almost 72% of the company with his father Ron – who came out of retirement to help his son set up the business and is currently finance director – owning the remaining share.
His earn-out period after selling Rippleffect to Trinity Mirror expired in 2011, but Hatton has continued to be a daily presence at the digital agency as it’s grown to 80 staff and a turnover of £6.35m, making it the largest of its type in Liverpool.
Also played a key role in Trinity’s £8m acquisition of Newcastle-based email marketing agency Communicator in 2012, and last year assumed the role of MD of the publisher’s digital marketing services. In practice this will only add to his responsibilities at Rippleffect if and when Trinity identifies another suitable acquisition.
Gareth Healey and Gordon Bethell
Gratterpalm was originally established in 1978 but was bought out in 2002 by a team led by Bethell (right) and Healey (below), who each have an equal share in the business.
It’s now one of the top five integrated agencies in the North, with over 150 staff, a £10m-plus turnover and clients including Coral, Halfords, Hermes and Asda, with the latter having worked with Gratterpalm for over 30 years.
Named 29th on the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For 2013, the agency is now based at reputedly the greenest office in Leeds, with rainwater from the roof used to flush the toilets.
Hicks has been at PA since 2002, when the national news agency moved its Northern editorial and data operations – including hundreds of staff – to a purpose-built HQ on the site of the former police station in the historic East Yorkshire village of Howden.
A former assistant editor on the Yorkshire Post who trained as a journalist in Sheffield, Hicks-Clarke is the executive in charge of editorial page production, sport and racing data and pages, TV listings and much more. She’s also a member of the Humber LEP Employment and Skills board and the York, North Yorkshire & East Riding LEP Skills and Employability board.
Formerly a journalist on the Lancashire Evening Post and Liverpool Echo, Higgerson has been at the forefront of Trinity’s belated attempts to bring its regional titles into the digital era, working with the likes of the Manchester Evening News, Liverpool Echo and Newcastle Chronicle.
Higgerson is playing a key role in Trinity’s switch to Newsroom 3.1, its digital-first publishing process that is radically altering the way its regional newsrooms operate, and also oversees Trinity’s data journalism unit. His eponymous blog was recently ranked one of the top 10 journalism blogs by Cision.
The Liverpool University graduate trained at Darlington College before starting her journalism career as a cub reporter on the Derby Evening Telegraph, going on to work for the Oxford Mail and UK News before moving into television as a producer for ITN.
In 12 years she worked in a number of departments including Westminster, Five News, London Tonight and ITV News before in 2007 moving to the North West to take up the post of head of news at ITV Border. Her portfolio there expanded to cover the Tyne Tees region and Houlihan oversaw a major restructure of both news regions in 2008/9.
She moved back South again in November 2009 as head of news for ITN Anglia but returned to Border last September for her current role.
Manchester design and digital agency Creative Lynx sold a minority stake to the French advertising giant Havas in 2012 and subsequently became Havas Lynx when it merged with Euro RSCG Life 4D.
Hunt, whose association with Creative Lynx goes back to 1998 when it sponsored him through a design degree, was promoted to its senior management board at just 25 and eight years later, in 2013 after it had become Havas Lynx, was appointed CEO.
The firm employs over 250 people (160 plus at the Manchester HQ) and has further offices in New York and London. Hunt is well known within healthcare digital marketing circles and is credited with groundbreaking campaigns such as the Psoriasis 360 social media campaign.
Stockport-born Irvine started on the Warrington Guardian and worked for the Derby Telegraph, Bradford Telegraph & Argus and Liverpool Echo before taking his first full editorship, on the North Wales Daily Post, in 2005. Seven years later he was offered the MEN job when Maria McGeoghan decided to step down, and he also has a wider responsibility for the Huddersfield Daily Examiner.
His time at the MEN has been marked by falling print sales and staff-streamlining – a familiar story for all regionals – as Trinity moves to a more centralised content system and digital-first newsroom, but the paper has certainly developed a more vibrant and smart online operation, with daily unique users now ahead of both the Echo and the Evening Standard.
Andy Jeal, Dave Lucas and Elliott Muscant
Jeal (below right), 52, and Lucas (below left), 49, left TMD Manchester back in 1994 to set up MediaVest, which grew to over 200 staff before its £95m acquisition by Aegis Media in 2011.
Muscant (above right), who started in the business as a graduate trainee, was previously the head of MediaVest’s digital division, MVi, before becoming MD of MediaVest and now Carat.
Brian and Darren Jobling
Brian (right) founded Zeppotron Games in 1987, with older brother Darren (below) joining three years later, and their company – which changed its name to Eutechnyx in 1996 – has gone on to establish itself as a world leader in the racing game genre. Among its most successful games are Auto Club Revolution, Big Mutha Truckers and the NASCAR series, and employs around 130 staff, mainly at its Gateshead HQ but also at studios in China, Hong Kong and the US.
The company has had to make two rounds of redundancies over the last year due to “restructuring”, but turnover is forecast to rise substantially to £8m this year. The brothers actually sold the company to an American company, Merit Studios, in 1996, but bought it back in 2000.
Amsterdam-based Prime Technology Ventures invested £6m in 2000 and are now the largest single shareholder. Individually, Brian, 45, has a 22% share while Darren, 47, owns 7%.
Jones was managing director of Global’s Cardiff music station Red Dragon – now Capital South Wales – before he was promoted internally to head its sales operation in the North.
After a complicated period of landscape-shifting since Global’s protracted takeover of GMG Radio – and its subsequent sell-off of eight stations to Communicorp – Jones’s patch now includes Heart (formerly Real Radio), Capital, XFM, Gold and Smooth.
Joynson grew up in Buckinghamshire but has stayed in York after initially moving there to train as a teacher. She got her break at Radio York – where she met her husband, BBC presenter Andy Joynson – before moving into production with Open University TV and then a PR role at the BBC. She joined Screen Yorkshire in 2002 as head of industry development and became chief executive in 2006.
After restructuring and expanding the organisation, she has since played a key role in establishing a reputation for the county as the ‘Hollywood of England’. After opting to remain independent of Creative England in 2011 – unlike North West Vision – Screen Yorkshire now manages the £15m Yorkshire Content Fund, the biggest regional investment fund in the UK, that recently has seen Death Comes to Pemberley, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and Bill come to York, Peaky Blinders film in Ripon and the now notorious Jamaica Inn visit Huddersfield. The success of the fund led to it being doubled in size earlier this year.
A former on-screen reporter for North West Tonight and producer for Granada, Lewis owns 100% of £2.2m-turnover Nine Lives, the production company she founded in 2007 and now has 28 staff.
Arguably the largest factual indie in the North West, recent commissions include Pound Shop Wars, The Human Mannequin and the BAFTA-winning Me, My Dad and His Kidney. The 49-year-old is also the founder of The Indie Club networking organisation, which now has 400 members, vice-chairs the PACT Council and sits on the RTS NW Committee.
Once described by PR Week as “like a living, breathing, human bottle of champagne”, Lindsay has been in marketing since the late 80s but waited until 2002 to found Tangerine. It now employs around 60 people at its Manchester HQ and was England’s highest ranking agency in last year’s World PR report, with 2012 revenue rising 46% to £4.3m.
Current clients include Kitbag.com, JW Lees, Cafe Football and Amir Khan, and Lindsay, a Manchester United season ticket-holder, has also launched The Juice Academy, the UK’s first employer-led social media apprenticeship.
Little originally trained as an interpreter but her head was turned when covering a holiday on the reception desk of an ad agency.
She quickly moved through the ranks and in 1985 joined McCann Manchester, launching the first Universal McCann in the UK three years later. It went on to become the largest media buyer outside London.
In 1998 she switched back to agency management, becoming MD and then CEO of McCann Manchester, and today the Prestbury powerhouse is a £96m-turnover business employing over 300 staff. Recent client wins have included CrossCountry and Go Outdoors and its work for Aldi has won numerous awards.
A former editor of the Daily Sport, Burnley-born Livesey has belatedly carved out a successful BBC broadcasting career on both radio and TV. Initially as presenter of the Radio Lancashire breakfast show and then sport on North West Tonight, the 50-year-old grabbed his national chance when standing in on Radio 5 live’s late night show, eventually holding the slot for three years.
In recent months he’s been reporting for The One Show and fronting a range of different 5 live programmes, but as of October he’ll be taking over from Peter Allen on its high-profile drivetime show, alongside Anna Foster. All quite serious and respectable for the man who once headlined a Sport story about the murder of Gianni Versace with “Shoots You, Sir”.
Judged on circulation alone, Machray’s editorship of the Liverpool Echo – which will chalk up a decade next year – does not rank as much of a success, with the numbers buying the print title during his tenure almost halving to around 65,000, and the jury is still out on the wisdom of launching a Sunday edition earlier this year.
That the Echo has maintained and even strengthened its voice and influence on Merseyside is testament to the way it has turned loyal readers into a sizeable social media audience and stuck unwaveringly to local causes such as the Hillsborough families’ ongoing struggle for justice. For the past three years, the 53-year-old Geordie has also overseen editorial for all Trinity’s 22 titles across the North West.
A daily fixture at MediaCityUK – where his 6 Music show with Mark Radcliffe is recorded – Wigan-born Maconie is an increasingly ubiquitous presence as a broadcaster, author and cultural commentator.
Aside from other 6 Music shows (Freak Zone and Freakier Zone), the 52-year-old recently completed a sweeping 50-programme social history of pop music for Radio 2 (The People’s Songs), backed up by both a book and a one-man show.
His series of travel books has seen him compared to both Bill Bryson and Alan Bennett and he’s a regular documentary presenter across BBC outlets on subjects spanning Ralph Vaughan Williams to Britpop. He’s also a regular contributor to Cumbria Life.
As a 17-year-old in 1990, Maddock was on a radio production course in Liverpool when his decision to answer a ringing telephone proved fortuitous – it was the Radio City news editor looking for a student to help out on a leadership election special that night.
He did a good job and went on to become the station’s youngest-ever programme director – leading it to seven Sony Gold wins – and before 5 live came calling last summer, was Bauer’s programme director for the North West, overseeing Radio City, Rock FM and Magic 999 in Preston, and Key 103 and Magic 1152 in Manchester.
The Evertonian’s role at 5 live sees him lead on commissioning from indies, and he’s also responsible for major event planning.
The growing importance of quality home-grown drama to the BBC was emphasised this week by Martin’s appointment, one of three new regional drama heads for the Beeb.
A development executive for BBC Drama North since joining the corporation in 2008 – setting up its in-house drama department under Phil Collinson – she has since developed programmes including the Preston Passion and The Secret of Crickley Hall. The Manchester University graduate has also been a producer at ITV, worked in the commissioning department at Sky 1 and script edited shows such as A&E, No Angels and Linda Green, and was executive producer on the BAFTA-winning In The Flesh.
After the shock of losing the £50m Co-op account to Leo Burnett in 2012, McCallum has steered TBWA Manchester into much calmer waters and indeed the agency has recently won some very chunky accounts in the shape of Merlin Entertainments, Wilkinson, Smyths Toys and Eurocamp.
The 51-year-old Scot began his career in marketing for Manchester’s Wilsons Brewery and after 10 years with EURO RSCG KLP moved to TBWA in 2005, first as chief executive of Tequila before a merger created TBWA Manchester in 2007. McCallum has been in charge since 2009 and it continues to be one of the few Northern agencies that holds its own – and regularly beats – London competition.
McGovern, who turns 65 in September, continues to create powerful drama that maintains his place as arguably the region’s most recognisable – and internationally successful – TV writer and producer.
Moving On, produced by Liverpool-based LA Productions, returned for a fifth series over the winter and became the first drama to premiere on the BBC iPlayer. Common, a devastating film about the controversial Joint Enterprise Law, hit primetime BBC One on Sunday and filming for an epic 18th-century convict drama, Banished, has recently taken place in Sydney ahead of transmission next year. The self-confessed “grafter” shows no sign of slowing up just yet.
She was once derided as “too common for telly” by her own bosses, but McGovern’s broad Teesside tones have not stopped the 32-year-old becoming one of the corporation’s most recognisable and distinctive journalists.
Any remaining concerns over her suitability for the high-profile role of BBC Breakfast business presenter need only glance at a CV that reveals a good decade at the coalface of financial journalism. She was the lead producer on the Today programme soon after graduation and as producer for Evan Davis, the then BBC economics editor, had a front-row seat as the financial world collapsed in the late 2000s. For three years she was also the lead business news producer on the One, Six and Ten O’Clock bulletins, and since 2012 has also been a main relief presenter on the BBC Breakfast sofa.
With Stephanie Flanders now departed and McGovern clearly popular with BBC chiefs and viewers alike, you suspect this former Irish dancer may be stepping her way to the top of her chosen tree.
MediaCityUK-based McIntosh joined the BBC in April 2013 after a career in journalism that had spanned the Wall Street Journal’s Europe edition, The Guardian and the Edinburgh Evening News.
The 40-year-old Scot’s track record of online success – he launched WSJ.com Europe and the Guardian’s blog, audio and video output – convinced the BBC he was the best man to lead its suite of websites, including BBC News, Sport and the iPlayer.
Zimbabwe-born McKay started out selling display and classified ads for the Warrington Guardian, but it’s in digital marketing that he has made his name.
After senior positions with Bigmouthmedia (now DigitasLBi) and Global Media GmbH, the 42-year-old was persuaded in 2008 to join some former colleagues in setting up a new digital agency, Lakestar. In what was at the time a loss-making agency, McKay took a 62% stake and led its revival to such an extent that McCann Worldgroup paid what market observers suggested was likely to be an eight-figure amount when acquiring it in 2012.
McKay remains the CEO, with current clients including Halfords, Kuoni and Navman Wireless.
The 54-year-old Scot has been chief executive since July 2010, when Brass was born out of the merger of Brahm – where he was also chief executive – and its sister agency swamp.
Has managed to steer the agency through a difficult 2011/12, when turnover dipped by 30% due to a combination of the loss of the Persimmon Homes account and reduced spending from recession-hit public sector clients.
Turnover was back up to £16.5m in 2013, and the 130-strong agency works with clients include Warburtons, CBBC and the Yorkshire Building Society. Morgan owns nearly 5% of the business.
Aberdonian Morrice actually started his career on the sports desk of the Dundee Evening Telegraph, but after turning his back on journalism, became a copywriter and in 1990 grabbed the chance to set up his own agency, Smarts. It had grown into a 30-strong outfit with billings of £2m by the time he decided to cash in, selling to Citigate for £3.2m in 2000.
After a less than enjoyable period as boss of the new Citigate Smarts, Morrice caught the agency bug again and in 2007 he relocated to Bollington to head up IAS, which had been acquired by parent company Media Square.
His stated ambition at the time was for the B2B specialist to be number one internationally within 10 years, and a few years down the line that doesn’t seem as outlandish as it may have once done. Last year’s merger with New York B2B agency Stein has created a £15m-turnover business employing over 100 staff, and plans are afoot for US and European expansion. Morrice has just over 3% in MSQ Partners, a group of seven agencies set up in 2012.
Starting off as a researcher and editorial assistant to Germaine Greer, Nottinghamshire-born Oates moved into broadcasting as a producer on The Archers, where she stayed for seven years before becoming the story editor on another rural family soap, Emmerdale, in 2010.
The Warwick University graduate then moved across the Pennines to Coronation Street, as assistant producer, before returning to Emmerdale in October 2012 to take the top job as series producer.
Against the backdrop of a rapidly changing industry, Oldham is managing Johnston Press’s attempts to create a sustainable business in Yorkshire.
The former MD of East Lancashire Newspapers took the job on in 2011 and oversees titles including the Yorkshire Post and Evening Post, Halifax Courier and Scarborough News. Much of her brief has centred on cost-cutting – the company’s voluntary redundancy scheme led to a plethora of departures from the Post, and even its iconic HQ was sold off – but while print sales continue to spiral down, a cross-group website relaunch has contributed to a rise in digital advertising revenues, handing the publisher its first profit increase in seven years.
The 39-year-old was working in mobile as long ago as the late 90s when he worked on the Ericsson R380, the first phone to be marketed as a smartphone. He went on to co-found EMCC Software Ltd, which was turning over £4m by 2006, but after it unexpectedly went into administration in 2009, Partington and three colleagues set up Apadmi.
The 70-strong Manchester agency has since built a very strong reputation as an app developer, responsible for the award-winning BBC iPlayer Radio (3 million downloads at last count) and Guardian Witness apps. For the past two years, Partington has also been CEO of RealityMine, a mobile technology research company part-owned by Apadmi that now operates in over 15 countries. He founded Mobile Monday Manchester in 2011.
The former business editor of the Yorkshire Post launched TheBusinessDesk.com in November 2007, expanding it into the North West a year later and the Midlands in 2010, and now claims 115,000 registered users across the three sites.
Last year Parkin and co-founder Paul Snape sold their stakes for an undisclosed sum to Birmingham-based technology investor Mark Hales, who now owns 100% of the business. Parkin, 43, continues to be involved as a director and also writes a weekly column. Last summer he was awarded an honorary MBA by Leeds Metropolitan University.
Claire Poyser and Kate Little
Poyser (pictured right) and Little (below) took joint charge of Lime in March 2013 when former chief executive Lesley Douglas left to set up her own indie.
Both worked for the BBC before establishing their broadcasting reputations in senior roles at ITV Studios, Poyser as director of production and Little as director of business affairs. Lime has continued to ripen delightfully under their stewardship, with turnover up nearly 12% to £65.6m in 2013 and over 350 permanent staff, mainly based at its Childwall HQ.
It continues to mine the reality genre very successfully with shows like The Only Way is Essex and Geordie Shore – MTV UK’s biggest ever hit – and is now pushing its US growth, recently striking a deal with Disney to produce its first UK live action production, Evermoor.
Bolton-born Radcliffe has come a long way since his first job, as a producer on Piccadilly Radio in Manchester. The 56-year-old is one of the BBC’s most recognisable music presenters on radio and TV, based at MediaCityUK for his BBC 6 Music day job with Stuart Maconie, but also indulging his love of folk with his weekly Folk Show for Radio 2.
Now a grandfather living in the rural idyll of Cheshire’s Whitley, he’s also a regular presence on TV, narrating everything from BBC 1’s Call the Council to BBC Four’s The Richest Songs in the World, while continuing to front much of the broadcaster’s live music output, including Glastonbury and the Cambridge Folk Festival.
Bradford-born Rashid may have read engineering at Oxford and started his career as a banker, but in the 25 years since he has forged the kind of BBC career that you suspect is building towards a job right at the top of the ladder.
After spells on the World Service, BBC World and BBC News, he headed up BBC East Midlands before moving to Manchester in 2009 as head of BBC North West. One of the most powerful Asians in the British media, Rashid oversees all BBC content generated in the region on TV, radio and online.
Liverpool-based Reade, 56, is one of the most high-profile national journalists to still live in the North. The former Echo columnist writes two weekly columns for the Mirror – one on sport, the other on anything – and so reaches a good proportion of the near-million who still buy the paper every day, not to mention the 50 million users who browse the site each month.
Last month he donated a kidney to his son Philip, also a journalist, and a sufferer of renal kidney failure since birth.
Roberts worked as a producer on programmes including Children’s Ward, The Krypton Factor, Emmerdale and Coronation Street, overseeing some of the latter’s most successful storylines including the Richard Hillman serial killer plot, which peaked with 19.4m viewers.
Since 2005 he has been running ITV Studios’ Manchester drama department, and has also returned to Weatherfield as executive producer. Born in Guyana and raised in the South of England, Roberts moved to Manchester in the 80s. One of his main concerns over the last year has been ensuring the smooth transition to Corrie’s new £10m base at MediaCityUK.
Burnley-born Salmon has overseen the creation and development of MediaCityUK, which will soon house over 3,000 BBC staff, 854 of them relocated from the South.
While Salmon took some flak for the costs of the latter, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee did compliment the BBC on a “good job” overall, completed on time and within the £224m budget.
Married to Happy Valley star Sarah Lancashire, the 58-year-old had an extensive production career with the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 before a series of executive roles that has now culminated in a broadened role of Director of BBC England and a salary of £375,000. The father of four is also a member of the boards of Creative Skillset, Manchester International Festival, Comic Relief and the North Arts Council.
Jonathan Sands OBE
Sands joined Elmwood as a 21-year-old, was managing director at 24 and by 27 had taken over the company in an MBO. The 53-year-old is now chairman, and the 24-strong agency he bought has well over 100 staff at its HQ in Leeds and around the world in London, Edinburgh, New York, Melbourne and Singapore.
Elmwood’s success has been built on its reputation for effectiveness – it’s won more International Design Effectiveness Awards than any other agency – and its most recent results saw turnover leap by 25% to £13.3m. Sands was awarded an OBE in the New Years Honours List in 2011.
Leeds-born Sewards cannot be accused of having had an orthodox route into marketing. Having initially trained as an accountant, it was only through doing the books for Brahm that he struck up a partnership that would end in the agency offering him an accounts job three months later. From there he found his skills were better suited to marketing, and he stayed for 10 years.
After five years with the Charles Walls Group (CWG), he and five colleagues set up Hôme in 2002 with backing from multi-millionaire businessman Paul Sykes, and the agency has since grown to 140 people with clients including Bonmarché, Asda and Jet2.
Rapid recent growth saw the agency land a place in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 2013, with revenue up 65% over three years to £18.6m.
Appsense, the Daresbury-based technology company founded by Sharland 15 years ago, now employs around 500 people globally with turnover growing to £62m last year, more than double the number in 2010.
Last year did see the company sink into the red, with a loss of £11m the result of a sizeable and ongoing internal investment, but Goldman Sachs – who invested $71m for a 28 per cent stake in 2011 – is driving US expansion from Appsense’s California HQ and has said it is committed for the long term.
Cheshire-based Sharland still owns more than half of the company, the exact valuation of which led to a divorce case with ex-wife Alison that played out in the national newspapers earlier this year.
Before joining Epiphany in 2009, Shaw was the chief technology officer and a director at Latitude, where he set up and led Latitude White, its SME-targeted PPC business. When Latitude collapsed into administration a year later, the 43-year-old was one of those owed money.
His time at Epiphany has had to date a far happier ending thanks to its £18m sale to Sheffield-based Jaywing plc earlier this year, although Shaw does remain in charge of the Leeds-based business. At the time of the deal, he held a 5% stake in the company with founders Shane Quigley and Robin Skidmore sharing the bulk of the company between them.
Under his watch, £6.2m-turnover Epiphany has enjoyed an unbroken period of growth and now employs 140-plus, mainly in Leeds but also at offices in London and Sydney. Clients include Virgin Holidays, Tesco and Pets at Home.
Andrew Sheldon, Jess Fowle, Glyn Middleton and Marc Allen
Three former producers at Yorkshire Television, Fowle, Sheldon and Middleton (pictured below) left to set up True North in a spare bedroom in 2002, and each retains a third share in the business. It’s now the biggest genuine indie in the North, with turnover rising 42% last year to £10.1m, and the perfect riposte to anyone bemoaning the magnetic drift of all Northern TV production to MediaCityUK.
Over 600 hours of the Leeds-based company’s programmes have been broadcast in the UK, including Animal Frontline for BBC One, Building The Dream for Channel 4, Junior Vets for CBBC and series three of The Valleys for MTV.
Sheldon is primarily responsible for current affairs, documentaries and daytime shows, Fowle handles features, formats and children’s shows, while Middleton looks after distribution, secondary rights and international business. Former BBC executive Allen (pictured top right) joined the company last year to inject some “extra commercial understanding”, and as managing director is responsible for all business operations.
Sixteen years after she set up the company while still in her 20s, Red is flying high. Following swiftly on the heels of the BAFTA award-winning Last Tango in Halifax – now in production for a third series – its Sally Wainwright-penned drama Happy Valley proved one of the primetime smashes of the year so far, finishing with almost 8m people in its BBC1 9pm slot.
Other recent hits have included ITV’s Prey and Scott & Bailey, with Russell T Davies’ highly anticipated reunion with Red on Channel 4’s Cucumber and E4’s Banana set to air soon.
Rochdale-born Shindler, 45, had owned 95% but sold a majority stake in the company to Studiocanal in December in a deal thought to value Red at about £30m. Last year she was ranked one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK by Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.
When Shuttleworth set up Savvy in 2006, she had three children under three, the most recent having arrived only three months before. But from those inauspicious beginnings in the attic of her house in Leeds, the 47-year-old Yorkshirewoman has built retail specialist Savvy into a 67-strong business with clients including Morphy Richards, adidas and Britvic.
Previously the MD of The Marketing Store for 10 years before selling it to an American business, Shuttleworth owns 100% of Savvy.
A former international gymnast, Slater’s stock as one of British broadcasting’s leading figures was cemented last month with the award of an OBE. A BBC ‘lifer’, she’s spent most of those 30-plus years in the sports department, culminating in her taking over the top job from Roger Mosey in 2009.
She couldn’t have picked a more significant time to take the helm – aside from managing BBC Sport’s move to MediaCityUK, she also led the coverage for the 2012 Olympics, the Beeb’s biggest ever event. Last year she also won back the broadcasting rights for the FA Cup after a five-year absence, although she’s also overseen the loss of full Formula One coverage and the Grand National moved to Channel 4 in 2012.
APS has grown considerably in the 12 years since Snelson, 49, took the helm at the company originally founded by his grandfather in 1961 as Allied Publicity Services.
It now turns over £56m with 600 staff based in 20 sites worldwide, including around 325 at its base in Stockport, and over the past year has secured meaty contracts with the Midlands Co-operative Society and Ford.
Snelson, who owns 100% of the company he has worked at for 28 years, is largely responsible for its transition from essentially a printing company to something far more technologically driven. Was once described as working “at a speed many find hard to keep up with”.
Previously broadcast director at CIA Manchester, Cumbrian Style has been at the helm of MEC Manchester since 2003, and clients at one of the North’s ‘big three’ media buying agencies include Lloyds Banking Group, PZ Cussons and Nintendo. Style’s Manchester operation has also been designated a national centre for certain digital activities by parent WPP plc.
An enthusiastic bike racer for Manchester Wheelers, Style has led MEC – formerly known as Mediaedge:cia – to a number of awards in recent years, and MEC as a whole has been one of the Sunday Times’ 50 Best Companies to Work For in each of the past three years.
Since taking charge at Manchester-headquartered Citypress in 1998 – assuming the reins from his father David, the founder – Tattersall has overseen its development into one of the most recognised and admired PR agencies in the region.
With billings of £3.2m, around 50 staff across five offices and plans to expand in London, it was recently the only Northern agency to win a place on the Post Office roster. Tattersall, 40, owns two-thirds of the company with his wife Donna, the company’s finance director.
The straight-talking Australian heads up Warrington-headquartered UTV Media (GB), one of the largest radio groups in the UK with talkSPORT and 13 regional stations including Juice, The Pulse 1 and 2 in Bradford, Tower FM in Bolton and Bury and Wire FM in Warrington, Widnes and Runcorn. Total listenership at the local stations stands at 1.2m adults a week.
Arriving in the UK in 1995 as general manager of the internet service provider DNA Internet, which was subsequently acquired by UTV in 2000, the 43-year-old was appointed CEO in 2005. According to UTV Media’s results for 2013, revenue for the radio division fell 7% to £51.2m, with operating profit falling from £12.9m to £7.9m. Taunton earned £317,000 in the same year.
After a childhood split between Liverpool and York, Taylor initially made her name as a spotter of innovative comedy, with Spaced and Black Books among the programmes she commissioned while at Channel 4.
She was also head of comedy at Hat Trick Productions before beginning her Beeb career in 2005, rising to controller of comedy commissioning – the corporation’s first Salford-based genre controller – with primetime hits under her belt including Outnumbered, Miranda, Mrs Brown’s Boys and Twenty Twelve.
Taylor took the CBBC controller job in 2012 because she wanted a new challenge, and has scored successes with the likes of Hank Zipzer, Justin’s House and All at Sea while demonstrating a fondness for vintage programming through the likes of The Furchester Hotel and a revival of Danger Mouse. Now living in Hebden Bridge, she is managing a 10.5% children’s budget cut to £91m by 2016-17.
Huddersfield-born Thwaites edited the Teesside Evening Gazette and was editorial development manager for Trinity Mirror Regionals before taking over as editor of the Chronicle in Newcastle. His current role extends to all of Trinity’s local titles in the North East, including The Journal and Sunday Sun.
Print sales have continue their downward spiral regardless – the Chronicle fell another 9% to stand at just under 40,000 in January 2014 – but unique visitors to the website rose by nearly 18% over the last year to 111,000. Accelerating that growth, as the pilot region for Trinity’s new digital-first publishing process, will be a priority for 46-year-old Thwaites over the next year.
Unsworth has spent around three decades in marketing and advertising, the latter 11 years in charge of BJL. Hailing from St Helens, she worked for Pilkingtons and the London agency TSGH before becoming a senior account manager at JWT.
After taking a career break to start a family, she began part-time consulting and one of her clients, an agency set up by former JWT directors called Barrington Johnson Lorains, persuaded her to join as a permanent director in 1996. By 2003, she and the three founding directors had completed an MBO and Unsworth was installed was MD.
Turnover did scale the heights of £9m by 2008, but after dipping in the recession, are on the rise again and the company posted £6.5m in 2013, with staff numbers back up to around 84. Current clients include Swinton Insurance, British Airways and Cash Generator, and Unsworth has this year led the opening of BJL London.
Although he originally trained as a journalist, Waddington is now a leading PR consultant and the current president of the CIPR.
He established his name as the co-founder of technology specialist Rainier PR, eventually selling the £2.3m-turnover agency to Loewy, and then founded Speed before joining Ketchum in December 2012.
He’s worked with the likes of The Associated Press, Cisco, The Economist and IBM, and has co-authored or edited four books. He splits his time between London and his 400-year-old farmhouse home in the Northumberland hills.
Huddersfield-born Wainwright left Yorkshire for London straight after university in York, but her recent run of successful, Red Production Company-produced TV dramas will ensure she’ll always be associated with her county of birth.
2009’s Unforgiven was named best drama by the RTS, while Last Tango in Halifax – originally turned down by the BBC – is now on its third series and heavily decorated by BAFTA. BBC One’s Happy Valley, a West Yorkshire-set crime drama starring Sarah Lancashire that had 7.8m on the edge of their seat, was hailed by Broadchurch writer Chris Chibnall as “one of the great British dramas of all time” while Manchester-set Scott & Bailey – also initially rejected – was a hit for ITV.
Now 50, Wainwright has been writing for television for a quarter of a century, starting on the likes of Children’s Ward, The Archers and Emmerdale before spending five years writing for Coronation Street in the 90s.
Wall, a fanatical supporter of Altrincham FC, assumed the top job at 5 live last year when Adrian van Klaveren was moved to another post in the fallout from the Jimmy Savile scandal. Unlike his predecessor, the 41-year-old has moved his family up North and he now lives with his wife and two children in Knutsford.
Wall began his career at Radio Humberside before moving into BBC Sport, becoming editor of 5 live Sport before being appointed the station’s deputy controller and commissioning editor in 2008. Has made a conscious attempt to address the station’s reputation for serious news and politics coverage, and has also introduced an online ‘in short’ initiative and a new hour-long science show.
The audience seems to approve – listeners in the final quarter of 2013 were up from 6.27m to 6.53m year on year, and the station is sure to benefit from a World Cup boost this summer.
Doug Ward and Shaun Gibson
With the experience of their own failed start-up behind them, in 2012 Ward (right) and Gibson (below) took an 11-week bus tour around the tech communities of the UK, with the result being online start-up resource Tech Britain.
They went on to help found TechHub Manchester, a co-working space for tech start-ups, and its success has led to them planning a much larger workspace in the city called Factory, a version of London’s Google Campus.
Along the way, the pair have advised 10 Downing Street on their experiences of Britain’s start-ups and are both advisors to the University of Manchester.
A qualified civil engineer, Webb recently saw her role extended to include Birmingham and Bristol, as well as BBC North at Salford, and is in charge of everything from technology and people to office space and “future ways of working”.
Educated at Liverpool University, she moved back to the North West with her family in 2011, having been promoted from project director for BBC North. Previously she led a major transformation programme within BBC Vision and managed the Value for Money programme in 2005/6. She’s a member of the BBC North Board.
Previously lived in Yorkshire as head of news at ITV Tyne Tees and Border, but now resides in Manchester having taken over the same role at Granada Reports two years ago, replacing Richard Frediani. For West it marked a return to the programme she had originally joined in 1999 as a bulletin editor and then news editor.
Her time in charge of ITV’s third biggest regional news has been eventful so far: she was at the helm when the programme moved to new studios in the Orange Tower at MediaCityUK, and its coverage of the Hillsborough disaster and the Lee Rigby trial saw it nominated for television BAFTAs in each of the last two years, beating the BBC and Channel 4 to the award last year.
Wheeler, 52, became chief operating officer after the acquisition of Brilliant Media in 2011 and his remit covers the WPP-owned company’s offices in Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham.
The Brilliant purchase certainly seems to have been a shrewd move, especially as its former rival only cost £1 – albeit with liabilities of £2.1m – after becoming insolvent. After adding an extra £5m in sales in its first post-transaction results, turnover at MediaCom North surged to £155m from £113m in 2012, with pre-tax profit up to £3.4m.
Wheeler started his career at CIA Media Solutions in 1987, becoming managing director in 1994 before leaving two years later to found MediaCom North with colleagues Declan McKenna and Andy Bartholomew. The agency was generating billings of around £40m by the time the three managing partners sold up to WPP in 2006.
Sara Wilde McKeown
Born and bred in Liverpool, UMIST graduate Wilde McKeown joined Trinity Mirror as a management trainee in the late 80s, becoming sales director in 1994 and going on to set up a new business for the company, Trinity Publishing. She returned to her home town in 2000 as deputy MD of the Daily Post and Echo, and 18 months later became the youngest and only female MD of one of the large regional publishers.
She filled a number of other senior roles for Trinity, eventually leading commercial strategy for all regions, but she left in 2012 when new chief executive Simon Fox merged regional and national operations soon after taking over from Sly Bailey. Wilde McKeown resurfaced in May 2013 as managing director of Paver Smith and is soon to unveil a rebrand at the 23-strong, £1.7m-turnover agency, a year after founders Dougal Paver and Rachel Smith sold their stakes and left the company.
Wilde McKeown, who is married to producer Colin McKeown, is also chair of Liverpool City Region’s Visitor Economy Board and a trustee of the Royal Court Theatre Trust.
Sue Woodward OBE
It’s the latest example of Woodward turning a big idea into reality, having previously been creative director for both the 2002 Commonwealth Games and Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture bid in 2008.
It’s sometimes easy to forget she also had a long career in journalism, starting on the Liverpool Echo and working for the BBC and Channel 4 before a successful period at Granada culminated in five years as managing director. She was awarded the OBE in 2003 for services to broadcasting and the Commonwealth Games.
Our judges were handpicked to provide a cross-sector and pan-region perspective on the contenders for the final 100. They were:
- Simon Binns, Heart of Manchester BID Manager at CityCo
- Tom Cheesewright, Founder of Book of the Future
- Mark Dickinson, Chairman of Prolific North
- Matt Gardiner, Sales & Services Director at Melbourne Server Hosting
- Michael Gibson, Managing Director of Fat Media
- Ian Green, Director of Green Communications
- Kate Harris, Head of Regional Development, NABS
- Herb Kim, Founder of the Thinking Digital Conference
- Jo Leah, Managing Director of Weber Shandwick North
- Sharon Mars, Senior Communications Adviser at The Big Partnership
- Rachel Pinkney, North West Events Manager at the RTS
- Michael Taylor, Chairman of Downtown Manchester