Beeb’s Yentob back on top

LONDON — The BBC has restored Alan Yentob to its top creative job, after a year in which the pubcaster seemed to have pushed the man regarded as its finest program-maker out into the cold.

Yentob was named Friday as the BBC’s director of television and deputy managing director of broadcasting, filling the vacancy left by the departure of Michael Jackson to become chief exec of Channel 4.

The appointment was widely welcomed among BBC producers, who had been lobbying fiercely for Yentob’s return to what they saw as his rightful place at the heart of the pubcaster’s creative decision-making.

He lost that position last summer in the BBC’s radical restructuring, which split broadcasting from production for the first time. Up to then, Yentob was controller of BBC1 and his protege Jackson had the junior post of BBC2 controller.

But in the reshuffle, Jackson was awarded the newly created top job as director of television and controller of BBC1, responsible for commissioning and scheduling the BBC’s two TV webs, while Yentob was handed the second prize as director of programs.

For the past year Yentob has struggled to make sense of this new job in charge of the BBC’s production division, and it seemed like his long and glittering BBC career was on the wane. But Jackson’s decision to quit for Channel 4 re-opened the door.

In his new post, Yentob will oversee the two BBC channels in partnership with David Docherty, named deputy director of television. A separate controller of BBC1, reporting to Yentob, will be appointed in the coming weeks.

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