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Pickard leaves CITV to head BBC children’s unit

CITV kids controller Nigel Pickard, the man behind a major branding initiative and arguably responsible for helping CITV beat out the BBC in Saturday morning ratings, has made the leap over to his largest (albeit noncommercial) competitor after just two years...
July 1, 2000

CITV kids controller Nigel Pickard, the man behind a major branding initiative and arguably responsible for helping CITV beat out the BBC in Saturday morning ratings, has made the leap over to his largest (albeit noncommercial) competitor after just two years at CITV.

Pickard, formerly controller of children’s and youth programming for CITV, is assuming the newly created position of controller of the BBC children’s department. Pickard will report directly to Alan Yentob, director of the BBC’s drama, entertainment and children’s divisions. His new role will include scheduling, commissioning and production within the children’s department, along with overseeing the BBC’s children’s Web presence. Pickard will also work closely with BBC Worldwide on commercial activities.

Theresa Plummer-Andrews, head of acquisitions and co-productions at the BBC children’s department (who will report directly to Pickard), says his main role will be to synthesize the broadcast and production sides of the children’s department-including in-house production, acquisition, channels and on-line activities-into a cohesive unit. ‘I think basically he’ll put it all back together from when it was split up,’ she says, adding that he will build an overall strategy for the children’s department. Plummer-Andrews says Pickard will continue in the vein of increasing in-house production and that ‘it’s jolly good news for us.’

As to who will fill his shoes over at CITV, industry pundits theorize that possible contenders include: Stephen Andrew, Granada Media’s head of children’s programs; Dan Maddicott, head of programming at United Media; Carlton Media’s head of kids Michael Forte; and Joan Lofts, who has been advising CITV and is director of broadcasting for ITV2. Due to the merger of Carlton Communications (which is a 50/50 partner in the ONdigital platform with Granada) and United News and Media (and Granada’s acquisitive nature), it may take time for the dust to settle before a successor is chosen.

ITV spokesperson Nicola Howson could not comment on the matter of replacement, since Pickard had not officially left at press time, aside from saying ‘Nigel leaves ITV in top shape: Strong commissions, growing ratings and success in Saturday morning slots.’ Pickard also created a CITV Web presence, launching www.citv.co.uk in October. As well, a digital kids channel was in the works when he left, causing speculation that its launch may be delayed.

David Ferguson, managing director of Film Fair Europe and VP of Cinar Europe, theorizes that scheduling-wise, ITV is in the clear for another two to three years. At the time of Pickard’s resignation, he was working on new projects for 2002-2003 and had set a standard of 90 commissions a year for CITV. Ferguson says Pickard will bring ‘a very commercial appreciation, yet an eye for quality’ to the BBC.

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