Peter Salmon

Peter Salmon

Peter Salmon (born May 15, 1956cite web|url=,,368725,00.html|title=Two Halves of a Zodiac Coin at the BBC|first=Maggie|last=Hyde|publisher=Guardian Unlimited|format=Requires free registration|date=2000-09-15|accessdate=2007-01-21] ) is a British television producer and executive. Since October 2006 he has been the Chief Creative Officer of BBC Vision Productions, effectively overseeing all of BBC television's in-house programme production.cite web|url=|title=Biographies - Peter Salmon - Chief Creative Officer, BBC Vision Productions|publisher=BBC Press Office|accessdate=2007-01-21]

Early life and career

Born in Burnley, Lancashire, Salmon studied at University of Warwick and graduated in 1977 with a degree in European literature.cite news|title=Big fish makes a fine catch|publisher=The Guardian|first=Maggie|last=Brown|date=1997-09-08|accessdate=2007-01-21] He then spent six months working for the Voluntary Service Overseas charity, as a teacher in Sarawak. However, he had to return home sooner than expected when his father became ill with lung cancer, and he worked for a time in factories in his native Burnley. His father subsequently recovered, and Salmon obtained a job as a British Government press officer, before going on to work as a junior reporter for the "Chatham News and Standard" newspaper.

Initial BBC career

In 1981 Salmon joined the staff of the BBC in London as a general trainee. In 1984 he was the director of the first ever dramatic reconstruction to be featured on the crime series "Crimewatch", and he later went on to produce the programme. He also worked on the children's magazine show "Blue Peter" and the current affairs series "Newsnight".

In 1989 he moved away from the central BBC in London to become the Head of Television Features at BBC Bristol. There he oversaw over forty environmental documentaries made by the BBC Natural History Unit, and was also responsible for forging the BBC's relationship with Bristol-based animation studio Aardman Animations, becoming an executive producer on the company's Academy Award-winning short film "The Wrong Trousers" (1993).

Channel 4 and Granada

In 1993 he left the BBC to take up a position as Head of Factual Programmes at Channel 4, having been specifically identified as a "rising star" by the channel's Chief Executive, Michael Grade. There he oversaw long-running documentary series such as "Equinox" and "Cutting Edge", as well as his own commissions such as the controversial "The Dying Rooms" and "The Red Light Zone", although the latter was much-criticised as over-sensationalist and lacking serious journalistic content. However, during his time in charge of Channel 4's factual programmes, the department won several British Academy Television Awards, Royal Television Society Awards, International Emmys and two successive Prix Italias.

During his time at Channel 4, Salmon was also responsible for overseeing the channel's annual Alternative Christmas Message, broadcast opposite Queen Elizabeth II's official message on BBC One and ITV every December 25 at 3pm. In 1994, Salmon attracted some criticism for choosing the controversial American civil rights campaigner Jesse Jackson to deliver the message.cite news|title=Jesse Jackson attacks Britain in rival Queen's speech|first=Lesley|last=Thomas|publisher=The Sunday Times|date=1994-12-18|accessdate=2007-01-21]

He left Channel 4 in February 1996 to become Director of Programmes at Granada Television, one of the largest companies of the ITV network and one of the major providers of nationally-networked programming for the channel. During his time at Granada he oversaw successes such as the comedy-drama "Cold Feet" (1997) and the docudrama "Hillsborough" (1996), although both of these had already been commissioned before he joined the company.


In 1997 he left Granada after only twenty months to return to the BBC when the job of Controller of BBC One, the corporation's primary channel, became available. This vacancy had come as something of a surprise, resulting from Michael Jackson's sudden move to Channel 4 after just a year in charge.cite news|title=BBC bereft as Channel 4 picks Grade's successor|publisher=The Guardian|first=Andrew|last=Culf|date=1997-05-03|accessdate=2007-01-21] Salmon took charge of BBC One in September 1997.cite news|title=BBC1 'people's channel'|publisher=The Guardian|first=Clare|last=Longrigg|date=1997-09-03|accessdate=2007-01-21]

Salmon rejoined the BBC at a difficult time, when it was losing many senior executives such as Jackson to rival broadcasters.cite news|title=BBC poaches top executive from Granada TV|publisher=The Guardian|first=Andrew|last=Culf|date=1997-09-02|accessdate=2007-01-21] Responsible for a £652 million annual programming budget, Salmon commissioned several successful programmes, such as the drama series "Clocking Off" (2000–03) and the sitcoms "dinnerladies" (1998–2000) and "My Family" (2000–present).

However, prior to the arrival of new Director-General of the BBC Greg Dyke in 2000, BBC One had suffered from under-investment,cite news|url=,,361067,00.html|title=BBC1 controller close to being moved|publisher=The Guardian|first=Matt|last=Wells|date=2000-08-30|accessdate=2007-01-21] and for three successive years of Salmon's time in charge the channel was criticised in the annual report of the Board of Governors of the BBC for its performance and output. Dyke himself criticised the channel directly during the 2000 Edinburgh International Television Festival, firstly claiming it "had to do better" while delivering the annual MacTaggart Lecture, and then later criticising the policy of building lightweight drama series such as "Harbour Lights" (1999–2000) and "Sunburn" (1999–2000) around former soap opera stars.cite news|url=,,364317,00.html|title=One hell of a drama|publisher=The Guardian|format=Requires free registration|first=Matt|last=Wells|coauthors=Brown, Maggie|date=2000-09-04|accessdate=2007-01-21] Salmon also found himself criticised in the media for rescheduling and cutting back on the annual number of editions of BBC One's flagship current affairs series "Panorama",cite news|url=,,360503,00.html|title=A shameful decision|publisher=The Guardian|format=Requires free registration|first=David|last=Elstein|authorlink=David Elstein|date=2000-05-22|accessdate=2007-01-21] cite news|title=You cannot be serious!|publisher=The Independent|first=David|last=Aaronovitch|authorlink=David Aaronovitch|date=2000-05-16|accessdate=2007-01-21] as well as the decision not to broadcast a public pageant held to celebrate the Queen Mother's 100th birthday.cite news|title=We've got 1,000 tickets for the Queen Mum's party|publisher=The Sun|first=John|last=Kay|date=2000-05-13|accessdate=2007-01-21] BBC One also saw its audience fall to record lows on several occasions during Salmon's period in charge.cite news|url=,,368204,00.html|title=BBC1 chief appointed director of sport|publisher=The Guardian|format=Requires free registration|first=Matt|last=Wells|date=2000-09-14|accessdate=2007-01-21]

Finally, on September 13 2000, the BBC officially announced that Salmon was to leave BBC One to become the new Head of BBC Sport. His successor was eventually confirmed as being Lorraine Heggessey, who had been widely speculated as replacing Salmon even before his departure had been confirmed.

BBC Sport, Television Corporation and BBC Vision Productions

Salmon's new role saw the BBC's sports coverage across television, radio and online services being brought together under a single head of department for the first time.cite news|url=,,1164177,00.html|title=A question of sport|publisher=The Guardian|first=Paul|last=Kelso|date=2004-03-08|accessdate=2007-01-21] Although the BBC lost the prestigious television rights to The Boat Race in 2004 during Salmon's period in charge, the department was able to win back high-profile events such as the FA Cup (in 2001, after having previously lost the event to ITV in 1997), England football internationals (in 2001), and FA Premier League football highlights for "Match of the Day" (2004). He also oversaw the development of interactive television coverage of the Wimbledon tennis championships and the 2002 Commonwealth Games, and was in charge of the BBC's coverage of the prestigious 2002 FIFA World Cup, 2004 UEFA European Football Championship and 2004 Summer Olympics events. He was aided in these achievements by a large increase in the department's budget from Director-General Greg Dyke; in 2003 alone, BBC Sport was given a budget of £300 million.

In July 2005, he left the BBC to become the Chief Executive of the independent production company Television Corporation, producers of programmes such as "The Hamburg Cell".cite news|url=,,1466013,00.html|title= Television Corp looks to leap with Salmon|publisher=The Guardian|format=Requires free registration|first=Daniel|last=Pimlott|date=2005-04-22|accessdate=2007-01-21] However, when Television Corporation was taken over by the Welsh company Tinopolis, Salmon left the organisation.cite news|url=,,1968859,00.html|title=Salmon's leap of faith|publisher=The Guardian|format=Requires free registration|first=Maggie|last=Brown|date=2006-12-11|accessdate=2007-01-21] He returned to the BBC in 2006 to become Chief Creative Officer of the new "BBC Vision Productions" set-up, overseeing all creative output from the BBC's in-house production centres.

He is married to the actress Sarah Lancashire.


External links

* [ BBC Press Office official biography] at

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