Michael Peacock

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Michael Peacock (born 1930) is a British television executive, who from 1964 until the following year was the first ever Controller of BBC Two, the Corporation's second television channel and only the third ever to be launched in the UK.

He joined BBC Television working in the Talks Department based at Lime Grove Studios, working his way up to become the producer of the Corporation's premier current affairs programme Panorama at the age of just twenty-five. Under his control the programme became hugely popular, and it was he who masterminded what is still its most remembered edition, an infamous April Fool's prank which fooled many viewers into believing that spaghetti grew on trees.

Late in the 1950s he was promoted to Editor of Television News, controlling the regular bulletins as well as coverage of special events such as the General Election of 1959. He remained into this post until 1964, when he was appointed to be the initial Controller of BBC Two, setting up the channel from scratch.

However, although he oversaw the screening of some notable successes such as the highly esteemed documentary series The Great War and the sitcom The Likely Lads, his tenure at the channel was not seen as being a great success by his BBC superiors and he was switched in 1965 to be Controller of the more mainstream BBC One, to which it was thought his talents would be more suited. This makes Peacock one of only three people (the others being Alan Yentob and Michael Jackson) ever to have been Controller of both BBC One and BBC Two.

His superiors' suspicions proved to be correct and his control of BBC One saw him restore his reputation and running a channel at the peak of one of its golden eras. However, his stay in control was only to be a little longer than his tenure at BBC Two. This was because in 1967 he was head-hunted by the newly-formed London Weekend Television. However, his time at LWT proved to be as frustrating as his time at BBC Two had been, and he was fired by the company in 1969.

He has since worked in film for Warner Brothers and again in television for Video Arts and Unique Broadcasting, as well as working for a time at the London School of Economics.

Preceded by:
Donald Baverstock
1963-1965
Controller of BBC One
1965-1967
Followed by:
Paul Fox
1967-1973
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