LONDON — Stuart Murphy, director of entertainment channels at U.K. pay TV operator Sky, is to step down. He has signed a production deal with Sky’s international distribution arm, Sky Vision, to write and develop comedy and drama projects.
Murphy has ruled himself out of contention for the BBC’s director of television role, which Danny Cohen is vacating next month. Murphy told the Guardian Friday: “100% no, it’s not where my head’s at. I don’t want to go from one job that is brilliant but all consuming to another. I want to work at a different pace, I want an eclectic mixture of things I do in life.”
Murphy, who has been at Sky for six and a half years, has overseen the running of channels Sky 1, Sky Atlantic, Sky Arts and Sky Living, as well as being responsible for the comedy, drama, factual and entertainment commissioning teams. He is a board member of the History channels, Jupiter Productions and a board observer at Jaunt, which is pioneering cinematic virtual reality.
Among the hit shows that Sky entertainment channels have aired are “A League of Their Own,” “An Idiot Abroad,” “David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum Alive” and “Fortitude.” Upcoming programs include “Fungus the Bogeyman.” Sky said he had “revolutionized Sky’s relationship with the U.K. independent production community.”
Gary Davey, managing director, content, at Sky, said Murphy was responsible for “brilliant dramas” from “The Enfield Haunting” to “You, Me and the Apocalypse,” and “stand-out comedies,” including “Moone Boy” and “Stella.” “He has developed compelling channel brands which our customers value, and commissioned content they love,” he said.
Murphy added several other shows that Sky has bought or commissioned that he is particularly proud of, such as “Modern Family,” “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” and “The Last Panthers.”
“There are very few jobs that have such an amazing range, where one has the joy of working with such relentlessly curious people, and I have never taken any of that for granted,” he said.
Murphy joined Sky in 2009 as director of programs at Sky 1, where he moved the channel toward original commissions. These included “Strikeback,” “An Idiot Abroad” and “Treasure Island.” In 2011, Sky 1 won Broadcast’s Channel of the Year Award for the first time. In 2011, he launched Sky Atlantic, a result of a multi-year exclusive deal with HBO, which has become one of the key reasons for new subscribers to join Sky.
During Murphy’s time at Sky, the company has stepped up its international co-commissioning, partnering with NBC (“Dracula and You,” “Me and The Apocalypse”), Canal Plus (“The Tunnel” and “The Last Panthers”), Showtime (“Penny Dreadful”) and HBO (“Strikeback” and “Doll and Em” — the first Sky show ever to sell to HBO).
In 2012, he was appointed director, entertainment channels, and has since overseen the repositioning and relaunch of Sky Living, the recent relaunch of Sky Arts, the development of what is claimed to be the world’s largest on-demand arts catalog, and the launch of free-to-air channels Pick and Challenge.
His previous roles include creative director at Twofour Productions, creative director at RDF, and the first controller of BBC Three, commissioning “Little Britain,” “Gavin and Stacey,” “Torchwood,” “Nighty Night” and “Bodies.”