They waste no time. The TV executive responsible for popularising reality TV in Britain has been appointed chairman of Arts Council England. The Department of Culture announced the move following the appointment of Maria Miller the new Culture Secretary. The 58-year-old Bazalgette is best known for his Endemol production company, the creators of Big Brother and Deal Or No Deal.
Sir Peter is also chair of the English National Opera and president of the Royal Television Society. He has also served as a non-executive director of Channel 4. This gives him an edge over Maria Miller, the new Culture Secretary, who has no previous experience in an arts related job. Bazalgette is known at the BBC for his programs such as, Ready Steady Cook, Changing Rooms and Ground Force. His shows have become international hits. He is also responsible for bringing Big Brother to the UK, an event that marked the age of ‘Cheap Programming’.
He will now succeed Dame Liz Forgan, whose four-year tenure ends on 31 January. The appointment was approved by the Prime Minister and was one of the last decisions taken by outgoing Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who was promoted to the job of health secretary in yesterday’s government reshuffle, dispite being embroiled in the BSkyB scandal. .
Bazalgette will serve for four-years at the Arts Council, on an annual salary of £40,000, working up to two days per week. This is another indication that the job is part-time. The government-backed council promotes and funds the arts across England and as part of its remit is involved in investing National Lottery money. Similar bodies take on the role in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Sir Peter said: “Sustaining our vigorous arts and cultural sector is admittedly a challenge but one I greatly look forward to.”
Arts Council England chief executive Alan Davey said: “This is an excellent appointment. “Peter is a great philanthropic contributor to the arts; an enthusiast who has done amazing work with English National Opera and has helped the Arts Council over the years to develop our digital thinking. We look forward to working with him.”
Peter Bazalgette, who is receiving a knighthood for services to broadcasting, is one of the most influential figures in British television. He is also a Bafta fellow.