Talkback CEO to ankle indie firm

Surprise departure comes at a bad time

LONDON — One of the most high-profile players in Blighty’s independent sector, Peter Fincham, CEO of Talkback Thames, will ankle when his contract expires in June.

His surprise departure comes at a crucial time for U.K. indie producers as the BBC is poised to take more shows from outside its own production base and investors have started buying into the sector as it consolidates.

Fincham, whose name was linked to the CEO’s job at terrestrial web Channel 4 last year, joined Talkback in 1985 and built it up during the 1980s and ’90s into one of the U.K.’s leading indies.

In 2000 he and his partners, comedians Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones, sold the company to Pearson TV (now FremantleMedia) for £62 million ($93 million).

He remained managing director of Talkback and at the beginning of 2003 took over as CEO of FremantleMedia’s U.K. production arm.

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He brought the operating divisions of Talkback and Thames together to form Talkback Thames.

The company’s programs range from veteran police drama “The Bill” to innovative C4 comedy “Green Wing” to panel game “Never Mind the Buzzcocks.”

Four years ago, Fincham won the individual kudo at the Indie Awards for his contribution to the independent sector.

Of his departure he said: “It’s an entirely personal decision. When Talkback was sold in 2000, I committed to five years, and I’m delighted to have seen that through. I need a break and a change. I’ve got no plans for the future.”