As the UK’s market-leading commercial network, ITV is not renowned for its risk taking. But that may change now that director of television Simon Shaps has rebuilt his commissioning team from scratch using only the finest materials, and created quite the buzz in the process. In factual, Shaps has just brought in BBC lifer Alison Sharman as director of factual and daytime. In entertainment, he has appointed Duncan Gray, who returns from a three-year stint at ABC in the US.
Sharman (known to those who don’t like her dynamic management style as ‘The Sharmanator’) spent a short time as head of children’s programming at the BBC, but it was her previous role as BBC head of daytime – responsible for commissioning all daytime content for BBC1 and BBC2 – that will have caught Shaps’ eye. It was there that Sharman gained a reputation for bringing peaktime qualities to daytime shows.
While much of her daytime output was fairly mainstream, Sharman showed a willingness to experiment when she bought into All in a Day, a series of films from Alan Hayling’s department that documented the lives that ordinary people lead, whether it be the birth of a child, leaving home for the first time, coming out of prison or out of the closet. Each film was shot within a 24-hour period and provided an unusually thought-provoking piece of content for UK daytime TV.
Gray, meanwhile, will be responsible for ITV’s entertainment juggernauts, such as Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, The X-Factor and Dancing on Ice. Since 2002, he has been working for ABC Entertainment in the US as VP of alternative series and specials (under risk taker Andrea Wong, see page 50), developing and overseeing primetime programming including the Sunday night franchise Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and the pilot of Wife Swap.