ITV program topper Nigel Pickard is joining leading British indie RDF Media to oversee family programming and spearhead a new drive into children’s fare, the company has confirmed.
Pickard, whose future at ITV had been in doubt since Simon Shaps was appointed as the web’s director of TV in the fall, will join RDF in March.
In his new job as director of family and children’s programming, Pickard will work at expanding the outfit’s family shows, attempting to replicate the success of skeins like “Scrapheap Challenge,” aired by Channel 4 in Blighty and cabler TLC in the U.S.
Pickard, head of children’s at the BBC before rejoining ITV three years ago, also will be managing director of a new RDF children’s division to bow in the spring.
RDF chief exec David Frank said: “I’m confident that Nigel can help RDF become a leading supplier of family entertainment and establish us as a significant force in children’s programming. His arrival marks a continuation of our strategy to broaden the range of programs we make and the broadcasters to whom we sell.”
Pickard is an industry veteran who is well placed to take RDF, best known for reality skeins like “Wife Swap” and “Faking It,” into children’s fare.
Shaps said: “Three years is a long time in what is an incredibly demanding position, and I understand entirely his reasons for wanting to seek a new challenge. He leaves on a high, having overseen one of the strongest autumn schedules ITV has had for many years.”
ITV chief exec Charles Allen said: “Nigel has done a tremendous job in one of the most difficult posts in British television. Under his leadership ITV1 has held its own in a fiercely competitive environment, ITV2 has become the biggest digital channel in the country and ITV3 and ITV4 both launched with record-breaking audiences.”
Pickard’s departure from ITV is the most high-profile since Shaps arrived. He is the fourth commissioning executive to leave in the last month, and other departures are expected as ITV wrestles to improve the performance of flagship web ITV1 and cut costs.