Every year, The Stage publishes The Stage 100, a list of the most influential people working in the theatre industry. For the last several years we have also published a complementary list focussing on our other passions of television and radio.
2011’s list, published in this week’s issue of The Stage and revealed below, is listed alphabetically. The 20 (actually 26, as some entries ‘double up’) includes comedians and writers as well as the faces behind the programming of Britain’s major television channels.
Summaries are written by Matthew Hemley and Scott Matthewman.
Shane Allen comedy controller
Channel 4 head of comedy Allen has spent the last year ensuring comedy continues to thrive on the channel, bringing us the likes of The Morgana Show - which gave new talent Morgana Robinson her big break - and PhoneShop. The broadcaster revealed in October it had ploughed an extra £5 million into its comedy budget and in 2011 its spend will be almost double 2009 levels. And with the loss of Big Brother meaning Allen has more hours to fill, comedy lovers can expect some fun viewing in the year to come, including Campus, a new series from the creators of Green Wing, plus fresh shows from Noel Fielding and Chris Addison.
Mark Bell/Jan Younghusband
Bell is the BBC’s commissioning editor for the arts, while Younghusband oversees BBC music and events. Bell commissioned the drama Garrow’s Law - which returned for a second run in 2010 - and Macbeth, the broadcast version of the stage show starring Patrick Stewart. Younghusband has recently commissioned Frankenstein’s Wedding… Live in Leeds, which will be broadcast in March and is described by the BBC as a “bold and ambitious music and drama event”. She was also behind an array of programmes about opera in 2010, which included content of productions from the Royal Opera House and documentaries from the likes of Stephen Fry.
Campbell has held the top job in drama at Channel 4 for just over a year now, and in September she finally got to unveil her plans for the broadcaster, vowing to double its output of original drama from next year. Last year viewers saw This is England ‘86, Mo and Any Human Heart. This year the broadcaster will give us Peter Kosminsky’s The Promise, as well as Ronan Bennett’s thriller Top Boy. There will also be Naked Apes, which will air on Channel 4, and Beaver Falls, for E4. Campbell has promised “more to come throughout 2011”. Its output might not be as large as other channels, but it always punches well above its weight.
Described by BBC Vision director Jana Bennett as one of “the most talented TV executives of his generation”, Cohen was appointed controller of the UK’s most popular channel - BBC1 - in October 2009. Just 36 years old, Cohen was formerly in charge of BBC3 and its £100 million budget but now has a budget of £1.13 billion. At BBC3 he relaunched the channel to give it a better focus on young audiences. While it may be too soon to see what he plans to do with BBC1, those within the industry have welcomed the appointment, with one drama producer saying of Cohen - who oversaw the commissioning of drama Being Human - that he is someone who “understands classy drama”. Watch this space.
Whatever you think of him, there’s no denying the impact Cowell has had, and continues to have, on entertainment television. Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor, which his company Syco co-produces with Talkback Thames, continue to be watched by millions every year. ITV in 2010 signed up both shows for another three years. On top of that, Cowell was recently presented with an Emmy in recognition of his contribution to television around the world. The ‘stars’ his shows found in 2010 might not be around at the end of this year, but Cowell doesn’t appear to be going anywhere fast.
With ITV director of drama Laura Mackie calling him a writer at “the top of his game”, Fellowes enjoyed huge success last year with Downton Abbey, starring Maggie Smith. The first episode of the upstairs downstairs drama debuted with more than seven million viewers, while the last episode ended with around ten million. Meanwhile, ITV has ordered a second series to be shown this year and is already thinking about a third. Fellowes has also been commissioned by ITV to write a drama about the sinking of the Titanic, so things certainly seem to be going his way.
The list continues after the jump