Michael Grade

From Academic Kids

Michael Grade CBE (born March 8, 1943) is a British businessman and a distinctive figure in the field of broadcasting.

He was born into a show business family. His father was the theatrical agent Leslie Grade, and his uncles were the impresarios Lord Lew Grade and Lord Bernard Delfont. He was educated at the Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School.

He began his career as a journalist with the Daily Mirror in 1960, and was a sports columnist from 1964 to 1966. When his father suffered a serious stroke in 1966 the 23-year-old Grade moved into his theatrical business. In 1969 he moved to London Management & Representation. He went into television in 1973 when he joined LWT as Deputy Controller of Entertainment, achieving the post of Director of Programmes in 1977. In 1981 he had a stint in the US at Embassy Television and as an independent producer.

Grade joined BBC Television in 1984 as Controller for BBC One, becoming Director of Programmes in 1986 and Managing Director Designate in 1987. His tenure as Controller was especially controversial, with several high profile public outcries over decisions, such as axing Dynasty and postponing Doctor Who for eighteen months, along with the axing of many other shows. It is not entirely clear the extent to which Grade alone was responsible for these decisions, but in the case of both Dynasty and Doctor Who he became the most prominent target of the campaigns to save the series. (In recent years Grade has on a number of occasions claimed that he axed Doctor Who out of personal dislike, but contemporary evidence does not quite add up to this; it may have had more to do with freeing studio time and other resources for pet projects such as EastEnders. Following the end of the 2005 revived series of Doctor Who he wrote a letter to the BBC Director-General congratulating all involved in the project on its success, signing-off with "PS never dreamed I would ever write this. Must be going soft!"[1] (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1511605,00.html)) Later in 1986 he took the decision to fire actor Colin Baker from the role of the Doctor on Doctor Who (Grade was going out with Baker's ex-wife Liza Goddard at the time). He was also responsible for the repeating of Australian soap opera Neighbours, then purely an afternoon programme, in a later timeslot, on the advice of his daughter who was irritated that she could not watch it due to school. This proved to be a scheduling decision that still remains in place as of 2004, and paid off at the time with audiences in excess of 15 million viewers for the new 5.35pm showings.

In 1988 he returned to commercial television, accepting the post of chief executive of Channel 4, replacing Jeremy Isaacs. He held that job until 1997, and, despite attacks from the Conservative press (The Daily Mail gave him his Pornographer-in-chief nickname during this period), he was successful in developing the business. He went from Channel 4 to head First Leisure Corporation, leaving there in 1999 after a substantial restructuring to return to media as chairman of the new Pinewood and Shepperton studios company.

Grade had ambitions to become chairman of the BBC board of governors in 2001, but lost out to Gavyn Davies. He was also on the board of the ill-fated Millennium Dome. He currently has links with Octopus Publishing, the Camelot Group, and Hemscott, which he has indicated he will be giving up.

Following Davies' resignation as a result of the Hutton Inquiry report, it was announced on 2 April 2004 that Grade had been appointed chairman of the Board of Governors of the BBC, at the time his only show stopper requirment was that he did not have to give up being a Charlton Athletic Director. He took up his post on May 17.

He was made a CBE in 1998 and he is currently married to his third wife.

External links

Preceded by:
Lord Ryder (Acting)
BBC Chairman
Followed by:
Current Incumbent
Preceded by:
Alan Hart
Controller of BBC One
Followed by:
Jonathan Powell

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