In a surprise move, the BBC has announced that Director of Television Danny Cohen is to step down from his post and exit the corporation later this year.
Cohen has been serving as Director Of Television for the past two years and in that time has been responsible for all the channels under the BBC’s remit including the iPlayer and commissioning across drama, comedy and factual. Prior to taking up post he served as Controller of BBC One and before that Controller of BBC Three.
“After eight wonderful years at the BBC, it is time for my next big challenge. BBC Television is on brilliant creative form. I feel very privileged to have led Television for the world’s finest public service broadcaster and to have worked with so many smart and talented people”, said Cohen. “In particular, I’d like to thank my fantastic team across BBC Television, all the people who have been involved with making our programmes in the last few years, my colleagues on the Executive Board and Tony Hall, who I admire greatly”.
His exit is said to be due to “a number of exciting opportunities” at other companies, which Cohen said he wanted to consider in “an open and transparent way”. He will step down from his post as Director of Television at the end of November, with his number two, the BBC’s Controller of Entertainment Commissioning Mark Linsey, assuming Cohen’s responsibilities until a permanent replacement is appointed. The race for the job is considered wide-open with no apparent successor waiting in the wings.
Cohen’s departure is a major blow for the BBC and comes mere months after the corporation lost another key executive to the private sector, when then Controller of Drama Commissioning exited to lead the TV division of JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions in Los Angeles. Like Stephenson, Cohen is widely respected by the creative industry and is said to have been instrumental in securing a working partnership with J.K. Rowling and her agent Neil Blair, paving the way for BBC One commissions The Casual Vacancy and The Cormoran Strike Mysteries.
“Danny has done an extraordinary job over the last eight years at the BBC. In a world of intense competition and choice, he has further enhanced the BBC’s reputation for quality programming that is full of ambition and creativity, said BBC Director-General Tony Hall. “Danny has led the incredible resurgence of drama on the BBC, having commissioned or overseen shows like Happy Valley, Poldark, Last Tango In Halifax, Wolf Hall, Top Of The Lake, Peaky Blinders, Doctor Who and the forthcoming Dickensian and War And Peace. He is one of TV’s great talents. I know everyone who has worked with Danny has huge admiration for what he has delivered for the BBC. I want to wish him well for the future.”