Top TV man's predictions

FORMER Woodbridge School pupil Wayne Garvie has just been appointed to one of the top jobs in the BBC. ANDREW CLARKE asked him how he sees the future of broadcasting.

FORMER Woodbridge School pupil Wayne Garvie has just been appointed to one of the top jobs in the BBC. ANDREW CLARKE asked him how he sees the future of broadcasting.

He was the architect behind such TV hits as Strictly Come Dancing and Honey, We're Killing The Kids - now Suffolk man Wayne Garvie is going to be the BBC's ambassador to the world.

Wayne who has been head of entertainment for the past four years, boosting the BBC's rating with a host of hit variety shows, has just been appointed director of content and production and will working with BBC Worldwide to boost co-productions and selling BBC shows to other countries.

Mr Garvie, 42, who was born and raised in Melton, near Woodbridge, has returned to live in Suffolk after moving away to university and starting his television career in Manchester.

In his new job he will be seeking to boost the BBC's profile around the world - particularly in American, Canada and Australia but he's also got an eye on India, China and Russia. The BBC has sold Strictly Come Dancing to ABC in America. Wayne will also be developing more co-productions with other companies, which have led to high budget television blockbusters like Rome and Band of Brothers.

He's also keen to commission some more classic novel adaptations after the huge success of Bleak House. He said: “There's a huge demand for quality series like these and a tremendous opportunity for the BBC to strike up international partnerships and to sell them abroad. It's a fact of life now that if you work in television you are working on a global basis. I have a production team working in London, Manchester, New York and Los Angeles.

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“It was a big decision at the time but moving to the BBC was the best thing I ever did. I was able to play in a completely different world.

“What's really interesting is that towards the end of my time at Granada we were making programmes that would drive advertising revenue and push up the share price. You could have a very successful show but if it wasn't reaching the right demographics for the advertising market, it wouldn't be seen as a success. I found that quite difficult, particularly when I was director of broadcasting in charge of scheduling and on-air promotions.

“The great thing about the BBC is that the shareholders are the public- I think you are answerable to everyone. I always tell my producers if you go over budget you have just cost the corporation 100 licence fees.”

But programmes have to be made cost-effectively, without cutting corners. He said: “If you look at Strictly Come Dancing - that is a quality piece of entertainment. It's well packaged, the contestants are dancing to a proper orchestra, they are not dancing to cheap, pre-recorded tracks, the money we spend on the series is up there on the screen for the licence fee payers to see. The thing that obsesses me more than anything else is quality…it should run through BBC programmes like lettering in a stick of rock.

“The public perception of television is that nothing is as good as it was, and yet Doctor Who proved that today's programmes are better than those that have gone before. It is far better acted, directed, scripted, produced - it is a world away from what Dr Who used to be like.”

He said that scheduling is also extremely important. “If you have a schedule that has Strictly Come Dancing, Bleak House, Panorama and the latest Attenborough - that is a fantastic portfolio, there is something there for everyone. Those successes mean that you take a take a risk on something else - perhaps an entertainment show that is slightly off-beat perhaps.

“We are finding that people are now watching television very differently to the way they were even five years ago. People with Sky Plus or Tivo boxes don't watch television in the same way as those with just five channels. Very shortly everyone will soon be digital and will be consuming TV in a completely different ways. The old idea of the schedules as they were are going to change but the latest research shows that there has been an upsurge in shared family viewing. People want programmes they can sit down and watch together. This is what Strictly... X-Factor and Dr Who have all tapped into.”

Wayne started his television career working for Granada TV as a researcher in the sports department. His first job was supplying information about a bowls tournament.

He worked at Granada for ten years progressing to documentaries and shows like Paul O'Grady, the Krypton factor, then became a producer for Richard and Judy.

He said: “I remember my first day at Granada, I was walking along a corridor and there was Jack Duckworth holding a door open for me. I was so excited that I had phone up my Mum and tell her.”

He says part of his success is due to being in the right place at the right time. “When I was at Granada the fortunes of Manchester changed. The football team suddenly became really, really good and the whole city started to turn around. It became a very vibrant, exciting place where things were happening. “In the world of comedy we had Steve Coogan and Caroline Aherne, Peter Kay and the music scene exploded - there was Tony Wilson and Factory Records, Oasis.”

He was head-hunted by the BBC in August 1998 to run its Manchester operation and was made director of broadcasting. Now its time for a new international challenge.

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