U.K. children’s TV veteran Janie Grace is to step into the hot seat vacated by Nigel Pickard as controller of children’s and youth programs at ITV network center. Grace, currently managing director of Nickelodeon UK, will join Britain’s biggest terrestrial net some time this fall. Her responsibilities include commissioning 650 hours of children’s TV a year, budgeted at around US$60 million. She will also develop ITV’s planned digital kids channel, still to be greenlit by the net’s owners.
As one of the U.K.’s most experienced children’s programmers, her appointment should help ITV to maintain its lead against the BBC in the race for young viewers in the crucial Saturday morning segment. Network center director David Liddiment says: ‘Janie has fantastic credentials and experience, which make her the ideal choice to take CITV forward. Her achievements as the architect of the most successful children’s channel in the U.K. give her a valuable perspective on CITV’s future competitive strategy and development. I am delighted we have attracted her back to ITV.’
Grace has almost 30 years of experience in children’s TV, having first dipped her toe in the genre as an assistant producer for the BBC in 1972. She worked in radio before winning a reputation as a children’s program maker in the early `80s, when she was employed as a director and producer at ITV station TVS.
When TVS lost its license to Meridian in 1991, Grace joined the new company as controller of children’s and daytime. There she won awards for several shows such as kid drama Eye Of The Storm and ZZZAP!, a project funded by the EBU. In 1995, Grace left Meridian to join Nick as its managing director. Her commissions there have included Renford Rejects and an acclaimed document of children’s lives called Kid Nation. Last year, she oversaw the U.K. launch of Nick Junior.
Commenting on new her job, Grace says: ‘I am passionate about the children’s audience and excited at this opportunity to reach all British kids and position CITV as a market leader in the digital age.’ In addition to commissioning, producing and scheduling the CITV brand, Grace will also oversee the CITV on-line service and monthly magazine.