C4’s dramatic turn

Amid defections, net merges TV, features

LONDON — Channel 4 will merge its television drama and feature film departments, following the defection of its television drama team to the BBC.

The departure of head of drama, John Yorke, and his deputy, Lucy Richer, comes at a sensitive time for C4, making the transition to a new management team under the leadership of CEO Andy Duncan, who took over in the summer.

The move will put Tessa Ross, in charge of the scaled-down FilmFour since 2002, in overall charge of TV drama and film.

A C4 spokesman said the decision to have one exec in charge of both TV and features did not in any way represent a reduction in the web’s commitment to movie production. FilmFour’s annual budget of £17 million ($31.4 million) is unchanged.

“We remain no less committed to filmmaking and will continue to build up a strong slate,” he said.

It is understood that another topper will be hired to work alongside Ross, commissioning drama series, while she concentrates on one-off TV films, miniseries and theatrical fare.

Here and back again

Yorke joined C4 from the BBC roughly 18 months ago; persuading him and his No. 2 to leave the station is a coup for the pubcaster.

Jana Bennett, BBC director of television, lauded Yorke and Richer’s previous drama commissions for Channel 4, which include “Shameless,” “Sex Traffic” and “The Deal.”

Jane Tranter, BBC head of drama commissioning, added: “These new appointments usher a renewed creative push for drama at the BBC.

“They also give us the opportunity to create a more coherent structure, which will enable staff to have closer and more effective working relationships.”

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