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Beeb’s new Mr. Big

Fincham will become controller of BBC1 this summer

One of Blighty’s leading indies has landed what is arguably British TV’s key commissioning and scheduling job.

Peter Fincham, who earlier this year announced he was stepping down as CEO of production outfit TalkbackThames to “spend more time with his family,” this summer will become controller of BBC1, the pubcaster’s flagship service.

He’ll control a budget of £800 million ($1.5 billion) along with such high-profile fare as “Strictly Come Dancing,” “Dr. Who” and soap “EastEnders.”

His appointment is a coup for the BBC and its embattled director-general, Mark Thompson, who is attempting to reposition the pubcaster for the digital age and is cutting a fifth of the Beeb’s staff.

Fincham’s name has been linked previously with the CEO’s chair at Britain’s Channel 4, and he built Talkback into one of the U.K.’s production powerhouses.

He’s been involved in some of the best programming of recent times, ranging from Stephen Poliakoff‘s “The Lost Prince” to new entertainment formats like “X Factor” and factual series like “Jamie’s Kitchen.”

Under the stewardship of outgoing controller Lorraine Heggessey, who, ironically, is leaving the BBC to take Fincham’s job, BBC1 for the first time overtook ITV1 as the U.K.’s most popular network.

Fincham will have his work cut out for him in maintaining BBC1’s strong perf and ensuring the web remains popular with auds without compromising the BBC’s public service remit.

Heggessey was criticized for being too ratings-driven, but most insiders regard her as one of the more successful BBC1 heads in recent times. Under her, shows as different as “Strictly Come Dancing” and “Walking With Dinosaurs” both could win peak timeslots.

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