BBC searching for new head of television after Danny Cohen announces departure

David Prior's picture
by David Prior

Danny Cohen, the BBC director of television who commissioned shows including Last Tango In Halifax, Happy Valley and The Voice, is to leave the broadcaster to "pursue a new leadership challenge".

Cohen has spent eight years at the corporation and said he is considering "a number of exciting opportunities", believed to be both in the UK and US.

Cohen was head of Channel 4 Documentaries and head of E4 before joining the BBC in 2007, first as controller of BBC3 where he commissioned the likes of cult drama Being Human and acclaimed documentary series Our War.

He was appointed controller of BBC One in 2010 and two years ago took on his current role, overseeing content on all BBC channels as well as BBC Productions, BBC Films and BBC iPlayer.

He will leave the BBC at the end of November, with Mark Linsey, controller of entertainment commissioning, taking on his responsibilities until an appointment is made.

He said: "After eight wonderful years at the BBC, it is time for my next big challenge. BBC Television is on brilliant creative form. I feel very privileged to have led Television for the world's finest public service broadcaster and to have worked with so many smart and talented people.

"In the last few weeks I've been approached about a number of exciting opportunities and I want to consider these in an open and transparent way."

Tony Hall, Director-General, said: "Danny has done an extraordinary job over the last eight years at the BBC. In a world of intense competition and choice, he has further enhanced the BBC's reputation for quality programming that is full of ambition and creativity.

"Danny has led the incredible resurgence of drama on the BBC, having commissioned or overseen shows like Happy Valley, Poldark, Last Tango In Halifax, Wolf Hall, Top Of The Lake, Peaky Blinders, Doctor Who and the forthcoming Dickensian and War And Peace.

"He has also made an outstanding contribution to comedy and entertainment, with shows such as Cradle To Grave, Peter Kay's Car Share, Strictly Come Dancing, EastEnders and The Graham Norton Show. He also led BBC One's 2012 London Olympics coverage. That is one hell of a CV."

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