Andrew Macbean: Chief executive, ITEL/Cosgrove Hall
‘Nigel Pickard is one of the most market-savvy commissioning editors around. He manages to deliver the right shows for his schedule while understanding the needs of his coproduction partners. The international market is horribly tough at the moment but he looks for ways to carry producers through difficult times. His level of support for British producers is underlined by his willingness to commission longer runs and make quick decisions.’
Angus Fletcher: Senior VP International Television, The Jim Henson Company
‘People are universal in their praise of Nigel. He has done a fantastic job with CITV despite the structural constraints of the system. The way he has gone about the job suggests he has huge support at the ITV Network Centre.
‘Some people might see his commissioning of longer runs as a risk. But CITV required a bold commitment to long-running returning series so that kids could become loyal to the CITV brand. He has worked with Henson over many years and is incredibly trusting of producers. He makes his views known without interfering. Invariably, we agree with the suggestions he makes.
‘Wherever he goes after CITV, it will be an interesting move.’
Dan Maddicott: Head of kids, United Productions – producer of Dog & Duck
‘Nigel is a tremendous support once he is committed to working with you. If you have a problem, you can ring him up and discuss it. A lot of people don’t realize the enormous effort he made getting SMTV right-because it wasn’t an instant hit.
‘He knows his own mind and understands the need for quick decisions. But he always gives you a considered and rational explanation if he says no to something.’
Jane Smith: Managing director, Entertainment Rights
‘Nigel has done a massive job at CITV. I’ve known him since he was at TVS and I was at Henson-and we all adore him because he’s a real person. We are working with him now on Twins and Fetch the Vet and he makes it so enjoyable because he is madly keen on kids programs. He is a passionate producer and can’t help getting involved-and people respond to that. He also has a good eye for acquisitions. He took a chance with Pokémon and it paid off.’
Simon Bor: Founding partner of Honeycomb Animation
‘Nigel was on the ITV sub-committee that gave us our first break in 1988 when it commissioned Tube Mice. When he came back to CITV
in 1997, he commissioned the fourth series of Wolves, Witches & Giants
and asked us to come up with something new-which is how Grizzly Tales came about.
‘The most significant thing he has done for producers is commission runs of 26 episodes instead of 13. It creates a stable financial structure and reduces the stress on producers. Maybe it’s a slight risk for him, but it rules out the possibility of a coproduction partner dropping out after just 13 shows, leaving a gap in the budget. He’s been very supportive of what we do. Some people were worried that the content of Grizzly Tales might be too unpleasant for children. But he wasn’t one of them-and he has been proved right. I like the overall feel of what he has done with CITV’s animation. He has definitely made it more exciting.’
Michael Forte: Controller of children’s programs, Carlton Television
‘Nigel is a rare bird who combines a public service instinct with a keen commercial brain. He is very clear about his creative vision but also receptive to other people’s ideas. Some people calcify as they get older but he has never been rigid in his thinking. I’ve known him since his TVS days and he has always been very stimulating to talk to. He’s made a lot of important changes at CITV and I think one of the most significant has been the introduction of live presentation. He has also managed to maintain the diversity of the schedule.’
Annie Miles: Managing director, Fox Kids UK
‘I worked with Nigel at Granada on shows like Tom & Vicky before I came to Fox Kids. He is one of the nicest men in the business and he’s got the job he wanted. His choice of shows is good and he is an intuitive program-maker. He was a really good executive producer and that has shown in the case of SM:TV. It stumbled at first, but Zenith and Nigel got stuck in and now they are beating Live
Kate Fawkes: Creative director, HIT Entertainment
‘We love Nigel. He’s honest, straight and hugely likeable. I’ve known him since he was at TVS and never heard anyone say anything negative about him.
‘He has great judgement and knows how to trust his instincts. Because of his experience in cable and satellite, he understands branding and cross-promotion really well-which is great for a company like HIT. There is no side to him-he has always been true to himself.’
Marion Edwards: Producer, Telemagination
‘He is very efficient. You know you will get a quick reply and that he is always there to help if you need him. He also likes to bring people on. One of the people working with him at CITV is shadowing The Last Polar Bears because he is keen they should learn about the production process at first hand.’