Charles Denton, the eminence grise of U.K. independent TV producers, has been appointed head of BBC TV drama, heralding a major revamp of the department.

Denton, who joins the pubcaster May 10, will chair a new drama editorial board, consisting of London and regional drama chiefs plus any executives appointed to deal solely with indie producers.

Mark Shivas, the BBC’s head of drama since 1988, will remain at the pubcaster as head of drama films and executive producer of Screen 2, BBC2’s telefilm slot.

The 55-year-old Denton is one of the best-respected figures in the British TV industry. Backers expect him to give the BBC’s inconsistent drama department the shakeup many people inside and outside the pubcaster believe it needs.

For the last nine years, he has been chief exec of Zenith, prominent indie production house responsible for the top ITV drama “Inspector Morse” and feature films “Wish You Were Here” and Hal Hartley’s “Simple Men.”

He is also the chairman of PACT, the trade organization for indie producers.

Denton said his objective is “to see the BBC’s drama output across both channels recognized as the best in the world.” To achieve this, he continued, it would be necessary “to establish equal access for ideas from any source”– a clear signal of encouragement to indies. “I intend to ensure that the BBC is the first port of call for writers, producers, directors and performers, in fact for all of the creative talents which enrich this country,” he said.

Will Wyatt, managing director of BBC TV, indicated that the BBC would continue to develop its policy for producing theatrical movies under Shivas, which has resulted in hits “Truly, Madly, Deeply” and “Enchanted April.”

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