BSkyB’s Woolfe moves to Five

Dawn Airey makes third senior appointment

U.K. broadcaster Five has tapped Richard Woolfe as programming topper — the third key appointment made by CEO Dawn Airey, who just started work at the company Oct. 27.

Woolfe, who is BSkyB’s director of programs for channels Sky 1, Sky 2 and Sky 3, will be responsible for the commissioning, scheduling and strategy for Five’s main channel.

Woolfe, who has been making waves at BSkyB by commissioning more U.K. shows, including dramas like the BAFTA-winning “Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather,” and remaking “Gladiators,” will join next year and report directly to Airey.

Amid the latest round of musical chairs at Five, which has had three program toppers in two years, director of programs Ben Gale is leaving the channel, having joined only in May.

Airey, not prone to understatement, hailed her latest signing as “the greatest showman working in British television today.”

“He has a sixth sense for commissioning and producing popular programming that truly strikes a chord with viewers. He will bring a tremendous energy, creativity and chutzpah to the Five brand.”

Woolfe, hired by Airey when she worked at BSkyB, is certain to bring a more blatantly populist approach to the underperforming Five, which needs to re-establish a clear, strong identity in a highly competitive market.

In a statement, Airey said Gale had done a “great job in difficult circumstances, but Five needs someone with a different programming background and, crucially, experience in turning around channels.”

Airey had previously poached acquisitions topper Jeff Ford from Blighty’s Channel 4 and upped ad sales director Mark White to managing director.

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